Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Budgeting for the Beach

This time last week Jake and I were at the beach (Hilton Head, SC) and I would be lying if I said I prefer being in Athens. Anyway, knowing that a lot of people go on vacation during the summer, I thought I would describe how we saved up for the beach and didn't go too horribly astray from our budget...

Saving up for the beach: We only had about two months to save up for our vacation. The primary way that we did this was making small deposits of money into a "Hilton Head Fund" (located in an envelope in my closet) once a week. I cash my check every week at work, so any one dollar bills I got went straight into the envelope. I also save all my coins in coin rolls, and those helped out a lot. Jake made contributions from time to time as well. 

Image from Buy the Sea

Where did we stay and how did we pay for it? I can't really give you any advice here. My parents have a timeshare on Hilton Head so basically we stayed there for free. If you don't have any resources like this, be aware that you have to be 21 almost anywhere to book a hotel room. Most bed and breakfasts will let 18 year olds and up book, but B&Bs can be pricey

How on earth did you pay for that gas? First, we had to choose which car to take based on the mileage (that would be mine). Then we had to figure out how to pay for the gas. Our Hilton Head fund ended up being exactly $100 by the time we were through saving up. On the day we left, we took about $35 of that in cash to Marathon (because gas at Marathon is cheaper when you pay cash) and filled up the rest of my tank. We went shopping at Publix on the island for our groceries (with money from "the fund") and got a $50 gas card for $40 (via a promotion going on last week). This is how we paid for the gas on the way back, and I still had $15 left on the card for when I got back to Athens.
(By the way, this is a tangent, but gas was SO MUCH CHEAPER there! The cheapest we saw it for was $3.65 at a Shell where you could use your Kroger card to get 10 cents off per gallon, bringing it down to $3.55. We got gas for $3.73 leaving the island. We were not pleased to see the $3.99 prices driving back into Athens.)

Bathing suits and beach stuff: I got both of my suits (Jantzen) at TJ Maxx for $20 each. Jake got one of his at TJ Maxx for $10 and another at Old Navy for $15. For beach towels, we bought two for $6 each at Target over spring break, and then Jake had a couple more. For a beach bag, I advise just buying a 99 cent reusable TJ Maxx shopping bag. It worked just fine and apparently a couple other ladies at the beach had the same idea I did, because I saw a lot of people carrying them out to the water. Keep your eyes open for sales and coupons for summer stuff right now, and especially keep a look out for sales after the season's over! 

Image from Real Simple

Eating out: We only went out to eat once during our 5 day, 4 night stay (mainly because we just like eating at home, plain and simple). It was at a Mexican restaurant, the kind you find in basically any town, where your entire order ends up being about $20 (not including tip). Budgeting for dining is easy if you keep a look out for deals on Groupon, Living Social, and websites like those; be sure to check websites for your favorite restaurants as well. Also, keep getting the paper; there was a $5 off 2 entrees coupon for Outback in the paper this Sunday! (I would use it but Jake gets a 50% discount as an employee, so... :D)

Image from IgoUgo

Stuff I wish we had budgeted for: Renting bikes. You can rent bikes for the week for some crazy prices, but our resort has a $7/person/day rate, so we did that... twice. Next time I will be sure to budget for that. Also, we didn't realize that our sheets wouldn't fit the bed, so we had to go buy some from Walmart on clearance for around $25 (flat and fitted).

It was an awesome vacation and I can't wait to go back (possibly in the fall and definitely next summer) and hopefully go with a group of friends next time! We're also taking a vacation next year to Orlando to go to Islands of Adventure so I'll keep y'all updated on budgeting for that too! 

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