Monthly Archives: August 2010

Cheap Get-away

I’m back: rested and rejuvenated from a much-needed anniversary trip to celebrate eight years of matrimony. 
It was our first vacation without the kiddos, and they enjoyed time in the country with their grandparents.

We camped at Lake of the Woods, Jackson F. Kimball State Park, and Crater Lake National Park. The highlights included hiking every day, swimming nearly every day, drinking from headwaters, pleasure reading, no “bed time,” and beating Hubby at Scrabble with my all time high score of 327! The only misfortune was a freak hail storm that left our hood with 15 dents, thankfully we had just gotten off the trail!

We are saving up for our big trip to Denmark, so we needed to keep this trip cheap.  Here’s the run down on our budget:

Camping 4 nights (17,10,26,26) = $79
Gasoline = $84.91 (1/3 tank leftover)
Groceries = $119.65 
Eating out ($20 brkfst, $12 drinks, $130 anniversary dinner at Lodge, $6 ice cream) = $168
Bear book for kids = $8

Minus dinner tab = $330.56
5 day camping trip  = $459.56
7 days, including family meals en route = $529.46

$75 per day is pretty good for a family of four. Back when we did our first cross country road trip seven years ago we averaged about the same, although it penciled out better when we didn’t have rent/bills to pay back at home.

We surely could have saved if we hadn’t shopped at a small town grocer, but I somehow feel obliged to support the local economy even when traveling on the cheap. Plus, about a third of the food wasn’t eaten up on the trip itself.

What’s the budget for your trips?

Sustainable Family Finances
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Ebb and Flow – Weekly Recap

Next week we’ll be on vacation for our anniversary. Kiddos will be at g-p’s and we’ll have our first week as a couple in two years! Looking forward to getting reconnected and rejuvenated. Have a great week!

Wrapping up another week…

Heating Up – Are you taking action on 10/10/10?

Burgerville – Can fast food really eco-family-friendly?

Cash, Debit or Credit? – What’s your pleasure?

Boring Sack Lunches – Ideas please…

Sustainable Family Finances
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Boring Sack Lunches

I don’t know about you, but I’m in a rut with my standard boring sandwiches. I’m diligent about making a sack lunch, but it gets very  monotonous: basic cheese/lunch meat sandwich, chips, fruit. I often crave something different, but I’m so used to my basic routine that I make the same lunch week after week.

Our kids still eat in childcare, but I do have this nagging fear of unhealthy school lunches and worry about how I’ll manage to make lunches they’ll want to eat every day. I’ve been sending emails to legislators, and am thrilled that the Healthy, Hunger-Free bill passed in the Senate, and now we need to get the House!

I would love tips from readers about sack lunch ideas…hint, hint…

Here’s a quick video on creating a $2 lunch:

Do you make sack lunches?
How do you keep them interesting?

Sustainable Family Finances
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Cash, Debit or Credit?

Perhaps the prevalent financial question I ask myself on a daily basis is “cash, debit or credit?” It’s so routine that I barely give it a thought.

For small things I wonder whether I have enough cash on hand. I go back and forth between thinking that it’s important to have cash available and knowing that if I don’t have it, I won’t spend it.

Yet, it’s far easier to hand over a debit or credit card than to unclench a fist full of cash. Cash keeps your spending in the moment, rather than thinking ahead to when your next pay date/bills are due.  Cash is hard to track in your budget though, and that’s why I limit my cash use. 

Cards are best for things you may need to reward. I’ve been guilty of losing a receipt or two before, but almost all stores can now swipe your card to get your purchase history. Yes, kind of scary!

Suze Orman has a Back to Cash challenge encouraging us to “get reconnected with your Benjamins!” Aside from my autopayments, I’m ready to take the challenge for a month to see if it impacts my spending. Now I just need to hit the ATM…since I don’t have a dollar to my name 😉

How do you make the choice? 
Would it be a challenge to live on cash?

Sustainable Family Finances
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.


I was the first kid I knew to boycott McDonald’s, and I still don’t believe in eating in a car. But our family has a soft spot for  Burgerville , the local reincarnation of fastfood.  I knew I was hooked when I was 8 months pregnant and deeply disappointed that the Walla Walla onion rings were no longer available. Thankfully, the chocolate hazelnut milkshake was there to console me.

Their sustainability marketing worked on us, and I first started going there after they started sourcing meat and produce locally and in season. I love the fact that they compost everything, and the employees are even willing to dumpster drive a bit to make sure things are sorted properly.

Burgerville certainly isn’t cheap for fast food, but I feel like the quality is worth it. Plus, it’s very family friendly. If I’m going to compromise a home cooked meal, I’d rather eat at Burgerville. Plus, tonight I have an extra excuse, 10% of proceeds go to Project Grow and Hubby has a night meeting!

Here’s a fun little video on the making of seasonal pumpkin shakes:

Here’s a great quote:

“It’s not food if it arrived through the window of your car.”
-Michael Pollen

Does your family eat fast food?

Sustainable Family Finances
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.