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travel on a budget

Making progress πŸ’ͺ🏻

We have been so BUSY! With good stuff!!

Since I last posted…

*We have have paid $12k on my bonus sons student loan πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰

*We are in the middle of cash flowing summer vacations

*We have now paid over $35k since we began this journey in November!

INSERT HUGE CELEBRATION HERE

For those of you considering changing your lifestyle, or trying to pay off debt… it CAN be done! It’s crazy how “simple” it is. I put that in quotes because it is HARD work and dedication like none other but the principals are simple.

On my Instagram page (moneyonmymind02) you can follow more up to date progress. I encourage you to follow financial pages (debt free hashtags, frugal, etc) as I have found this to be a huge source of encouragement. What’s crazy though are the {dare I say} cat fights I occasionally see in regards to Dave Ramsey’s plan versus the avalanche method. In DR’s plan you pay smallest to biggest whereas the avalanche goes by highest interest rate. I’ve watched people call DR fans “cult members” and I’ve seen others bash the avalanche method for not doing it right πŸ€¦πŸ»β€β™€οΈ

I always chime in and say it is YOUR journey! We started with the snowball plan due to having small debts that we wanted done quickly. That made sense! But then we jumped over to the avalanche method to knock out a high interest credit card. Here’s the deal- follow whichever plan you want! Mix it up! If you are intentional in your finances and are slashing through debt– who cares what plan you are on?? I’ve seen people start with automobiles and leave small debts waiting. For them it made sense to knock those out first. Who am I to judge?

Start somewhere. We took some HUGE leaps and dumped a lot of monthly bills to get going fast. Not everyone can or wants to so that! (Lemme tell ya… I don’t miss cable but I do miss my cleaning lady! 😭😭) Do what works for YOU!

We’ve made some major progress. We are working towards pre-paying (I guess you’d say) our summer trips. So this month there’s no “snowball” so to speak but we still have a plan and that is the most important part.

Anyone knew to the journey? I’d love to hear from you!

Thanks for reading!

For now,

Cara Roxanne

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I mean… Elvis had money!

This weekend we went to Graceland. My child has been begging (LEGIT) to go. We’ve been to Memphis so many times and have been by but we never seemed to have the time to devote to the whole tour part. So off we went this weekend! With cash in hand (errr wallet) we had a plan and a budget! Some fun facts for you!

1. You CAN follow Dave Ramsey’s steps and STILL have some fun! We have been setting money aside for a few months, looking up prices/options/etc., and knew what we could do

2. You can eat your way through Beale street and not spend a fortune! We met friends there and they have a fabulous plan on trips: eat what you want because the calories don’t count. πŸ™ŒπŸΌπŸ˜‚ We ate a small meal, walked a bit and had a dessert. Then shopped, people watched, ate again. It’s the perfect plan!! Surprisingly we never got stuffed and we did not break the bank.

3. Elvis had money. That’s a fact. It’s also a fact that he had ZERO taste!! Graceland was almost comical. I mean it was super cool, don’t get me wrong, but he had no taste!! It was interesting being there looking at “the Kings” house and thinking about how his money didn’t make his life any better. Sure he had a racquetball court and 3 TVs in a room… but that isn’t what makes us happy. Things cannot bring happiness!

It was a great trip! And worth the wait. It was like pressing refresh ya know? We spent money, ate out more than we have in months (in 29 hours πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚), and we came back feeling motivated and energized.

If you are on Babystep 2 I highly encourage you to cut yourself a break!! I don’t mean go on a shopping spree and charge $7k on crap. But I DO mean that you need a break! Go out to eat at a nice place. Look for a cheap weekend get away on Groupon. Allow yourself a little breathing room so that you can stay ON the program! Even diets give you a cheat day. Give yourself a BREAK every now and then… you deserve it.

Thank ya, thank ya very much for reading ✌🏼

For now,

Cara Roxanne

92 days until vacation!!!

I am in desperate need for VACATION!

This week (weeks) has been insanely busy! I am counting down the days until we head to Cancun! My daughter has the countdown going on our market board and I have one going on my phone. Like– this needs to happen SOON!

So we booked the flight and hotel back when we had no clue where our money was headed. It was like a wild teenager– just went and did whatever it wanted. πŸ€¦πŸ»β€β™€οΈ

Now that we are really keeping an eye on things we’ve had to stay intentional about this trip. Flight has been paid for but the hotel will want money upon arrival. So…

1. We have been setting aside money each week to pay at check-in. (We will use our credit card but don’t shame us! We have the money saved!!)

2. I spent time researching distances and transportation options to and from the airport to have a good estimate of what taxis will run us.

3. I’ve been setting aside my daughters allowance so that she has plenty of her spending money! (First time to Mexico and first to bargain… I anticipate a lot of shopping!!)

4. We have researched excursions and outings in the area and have a list of what those run

Bottom line– we are researching, planning and saving!! Preparation is KEY!

How do you financially plan for trips?? I’d love to hear!! Thanks for reading!

For now,

Cara Roxanne

Frugal Flyer

I LOVE to travel!!! I’ve written about this before and probably won’t stop here. Traveling is my favorite pastime. We put off home projects for years because we would look at our money and go “hmmm… we could get new floors OR we could go to Mexico?” Travel will win with us every single time!

That being said… travel isn’t cheap. It costs a LOT of money to leave your house. I go into a trip with more money than I intend to spend. And that typically works out well. This past year was a SUPER year for us trip wise. We were fortunate to be able to go to several cool places and I loved EVERY second of it. I’ve learned some tips on traveling that may help you as you prepare to travel in 2018!

travel

  1. If you don’t have a credit card that gets miles…get one. I know, I know… that goes against everything Dave Ramsey has EVER said. Pay it off every month. Don’t spend more on it than you can pay off. I’ll say it ONE more time– PAY. IT.OFF!!! BUT- let those miles rack up!
  2. Hotel points! Start earning them! Even if you only stay in a hotel once a year, ask to be on their point system. That one week a year in a hotel could equal 1-2 nights free throughout the year. Did someone say…FREE date night?!?! My husband is a Hilton point guy. That particular system pretty much means (and it can depend based on double point offers,etc) that every 5 nights adds up to a free stay. We are in a unique situation in that my husband travels at least 6-10 nights a month for work. But even if he didn’t travel as much we would still be earning points! Those points DO add up. Give it a try. Maybe there is a free stay in your future πŸ™‚
  3. ASK! When you get to your destination ask the front desk for whatever it is you need. Most hotels will pass out toiletry item bags for free. Keep those and store them for your next trip OR for when you have company. Then you can sit it out in the guest bath and look like the best hostess EVER! πŸ™‚ Ask the front desk for coupons, for recommendations, for free stuff! I don’t mean to go in and be a beggar but ask “do y’all do a social hour in the evenings?” “Do you guys do 1 free room service fee per stay?” Find out what you ALREADY have at your disposal. It boggles my mind that people are often afraid to ASK. Why? If you are afraid to ask get your spouse to!
  4. Book a hotel room that has a kitchen. When we travel as a family we ALWAYS stay at the Homewood Suites by Hilton. They have a full-size (semi) kitchen. Full fridge, microwave and 2 burner stove, no oven. BUT that means I can pack lunch meat, mac-n-cheese to cook for my picky eater, and bring my own drinks! They provide breakfast and a social hour (drinks and snacks during the weekdays), I can bring things for lunches and snacks and then we are only out one BIG meal for dinner. It’s perfect! It’s a fantastic way to stay and SAVE!
  5. Speaking of Asking– when we were heading to Chicago back in October my husband asked if they had any upgrades available for free. What do ya know? He comes walking back holding 3 First Class tickets! Upgrade for free, baby! What is the worst that could happen? They said no. That’s it. Totally worth the ask!
  6. PLAN AHEAD! You KNOW that the airport/hotel gift shop jacks those prices up. You have GOT to plan ahead. Hop on pinterest and find lists to help you remember items to pack. Headphones, ibuprofen, motion sickness pills, toothbrush… all of those things could break the bank! You cannot bring liquid into the airport but over the past two years I have seen an increase in the “Filling Stations” in airports. Bring your empty water bottle through security and then go fill it up. A bottle of water at our tiny Little Rock, AR airport is no less than $5 bucks. It’s crazy!
  7. Before we go on a trip I ALWAYS check to see if there are any promos to use on Uber or Lyft. And I go ahead and type in the destination address so that I know what to expect. I don’t want ANY financial surprises on a trip.

There are a MILLION ways to vacation on a budget. This just scratches the surface of some ways we travel on the cheap! Have a question or a suggestion–send it to me in a comment or at roxyrambles02@gmail.com

Thanks for reading!

For Now,

Cara Roxanne

Wrapping up 2017

This really was a terrific year!

I mean sure…a LOT went down this year in our world that makes me sad, but I am choosing to stay positive.

This year was FULL of exciting things for my family!!! Trips, graduating with my Masters degree, starting my “real” job, watching my baby girl hit new milestones and mature in ways that break my heart… It was a terrific year!

This year was full of FUN and laughter!

January was full of hard work as we prepared for our new floors to get installed! My husband is really lucky to have me as a help mate.

hardwork

February was the month of love. Well,. more like the month of me and my bff’s husbands traveling all the time. So us and our kiddos had a fancy V-day dinner at Purple Cow.

vday

But thankfully my husband made it home in time to take sweet Ava to the “daddy daughter dance” at church.

vday2

Aren’t they precious?!?!?!

In March I went to El Paso to see my oldest and dearest friend, Lauren. WHAT A BLAST we had acting like little schools girls just giddy as can be! I even talked her into walking over to Mexico for the afternoon. {I’m still shocked I convinced her to do so!!}

mex1

Then it was off to my best friends wedding!!! Steph and Jake had a beautiful ceremony and I was so HONORED to be a part of it!! Love you both!

wedding1

And let’s not forget that March was also the month of musicals πŸ™‚

march

Phantom of the Opera did NOT disappoint!

 

In April my friend Lindsey had a gender reveal party. I placed all my bets on a girl… and Amber placed all of hers on a boy. Which one do you think won?

baby1

May brought about graduation and a fun trip to NYC!!! #favplaceonearth

grad1

June and July were THE best!!!

My whole family came into town for a week of fun! Jere, Ava and I went to Dallas for a vacation, my sweet baby girl got baptized, and Jere and I headed to Cabo San Lucas for a week of fun in the sun! Oh and I took Jere to see RENT in Memphis. I mean it WAS on Father’s Day and I probably enjoyed it more but… well, surprise! πŸ™‚ Thankfully he LOVED it! #RENTHEAD

Then it was time for back to school and all the excitement that comes with it!

6thgrade

After all the stress of school and work… we needed a break!

So in October we headed to CHICAGO!

Hamilton + some AMAZING sights!

ANNNND the next weekend we headed to San Antonio to watch our beautiful friends tie the knot!!!

ingramwed

November was PERFECT! I met HILLARY CLINTON!!! EEEEK!!! It was so fun! Gahhh–when I stop and think about it I am STILL so giddy!!! {She said she loved my shirt!}

And now it’s December. My FAVORITE month of the year. I love the music, the smiles, the sights… and the celebration of the birth of our Lord and Savior. Tis the season to share LOVE. So share it today. And if you can’t– at least try to be cool like us.

dec

Merry Christmas from the Matthews! You are LOVED!

Thanks for reading!

For now,

Cara Roxanne

Summer is for travel!Β 

I love to travel. WE love to travel! There is nothing cooler than going somewhere new and/or different. 

Everyone has their “thing”. Ours is travel. My husband and I often go to Lowe’s (I despise that place), furniture stores, flooring stores and so on to get ideas for our home. We come home and take a pen to paper to estimate the cost of a new purchase or project. 99% of the time when we see the bottom line one of us will say “or we could go to–” (fill in the blank with a fun destination) and we decide on a trip instead. It took us nearly 4 years to put down new flooring in our house because we kept choosing a trip instead. And ya know what? For us- that’s just fine. 

This summer we have: NYC, Dallas, Memphis and Cabo on the agenda. If only there were time to squeeze in one more. Due to our constant travel, I can safely say we have it down to an art. Here are some tips we have found that help expedite and iron out the trip kinks. 

1. Use a point credit card 

Yes I know that SOME are pathetic with their rewards programs… but not ALL. I am typing this post from somewhere in the sky between Little Rock and Charlotte from an airplane for which we paid $21.00 out of pocket to be here. We use AA Advantage but I’m sure there are others that are just as good. We booked with points (2 tickets to NYC) and we were only out the required $10.50 per ticket fee. Another PLUS: when you book with points you can change your flight. I originally had us booked leaving at 10:57 this morning because I wasn’t thinking about it being Saturday and I booked the flight thinking I would have to get my kiddo off to school. A week later I realized what I had done and I called and changed it with ZERO fees. Not too shabby! The points add up! We use it for everything. Pay everything you can on your credit card then pay it off. You get the points without the debt. 

2. Buy the TSA Pre-Check. It’s $99 dollars. My husband flys more than me (for work) so it’s in his name. But if you book a flight for more than the one who has the TSA pre-check, the rest of you get it too! That saves so much time in larger airports. Doesn’t make a difference out of a small airport like Little Rock but major airports- it’s totally worth it. It’s good for one year. (Possibly 2). 

3. Don’t check a bag! Now with our AA Advantage card we each get a bag checked for free.  That’s nice if we are all 3 flying or if we go somewhere that requires a TON of stuff, but otherwise we don’t check a bag. We go to Mexico every summer without checking a bag. We take a roll on small suitcase (carry-on) and you still get a personal item. So right now I have my carry-on suitcase full of clothes packed away in the over head bin while my backpack full of shoes, makeup and books is tucked away under the seat in front of me. This means that, yes, we have  to keep up with them, but we don’t have to wait on bags at La Guardia. No chance of losing our luggage or watching the luggage roller thing go around and around until we finally see our luggage THROWN onto the belt. 

4. Keep 3 ounce items handy! I’ve never understood the 3 ounce thing and I find it ridiculous, but it’s the rule. I hang onto samples that come with my Itsy or Mary Kay orders and stash them away in a travel bag so that when it’s time to go somewhere they are always handy.  My husband spends a ton of time in hotels and he keeps me stocked with the individual makeup remover wipes and lotion. Do it- you will be glad you did! 

5. Sign up for hotel points. Even if it takes you years to rack up enough for a free night, it’s FREE! I typically begrudge my husband being going so much but those free nights in NYC and Cabo make it worth it. Not only do we earn free nights on a regular basis but we get perks like free wifi, free breakfast (beyond what’s laid out for everyone to pick from), late check outs and early check ins, free drinks and snacks, and more! It’s all about the FREE! 

6. Map it  out. Sounds simple but few do it. Look up restaurants online, view menus and know what prices to expect, sign up for mailing lists from places you’d like to visit so you can get the free appetizer emails or discount coupons. Totally worth it. 

Touching down in Charlotte. Hope this helps you plan your next trip! 

Thanks for stopping by,

Roxy

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