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Northern California Highlights

clear day at the Golden Gate Bridge

As I write this on less than four hours of sleep from our noisy hotel neighbors and a 6:00 AM flight, I’m sure I can’t do the Bay Area justice. We only had a few days, but I feel like we worked in all the things we wanted to see, and perhaps best of all, we returned home slightly under budget! Here are our Northern California highlights. Day 1: Half Moon Bay to Monterey Our first day was cut short because our flight didn’t arrive in San Francisco until 4:00 PM. We rented a car and drove south to Half Moon Bay for dinner. It was beautiful, and I had a delicious red snapper sandwich at Half Moon Bay Brewing Company. The weather was really windy, so we drove on down the coast after snapping a few pictures, arriving at the Embassy Suites Monterey Bay in Seaside around 9 PM. I was very close to a mini fit when our room was not ready, but the hotel redeemed itself by giving us free parking and candy bars. We are cheap dates! Day 2: Monterey Bay Aquarium and Pfeiffer Beach, Big Sur We started the next day at the aquarium as ...

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How Much For a Family Trip To San Francisco?

Cheap vacation to Big Sur

As you read this, we are packing our bags for spring break. Many of our friends and family roll their eyes when we tell them we are headed off for another trip, thinking we spend thousands of dollars and that travel is beyond their reach. In reality, we pay a fraction of retail price for just about all of our vacations. Plus, we trim the fat from other areas in our budget so we can afford the amount we do spend. Cutting cable, buying used cars, and avoiding stores that might tempt us to spend money are some ways we save for the things we value with travel being very high on the list. For those of you who are curious, this is how much we will spend for a family trip to San Francisco. Flights To San Francisco We love to use credit card points and miles for air fare, but that usually means having to drive several hours to a major airport. Since we only have five nights for this trip, there wasn’t time for an extra day in the car. If we wanted to get to San Francisco, we needed to fly from closer to home. We ...

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Why I Love Credit Cards

Beaches in South Kauai

Last week I booked a $700+ per night hotel in the Bahamas for 4 nights over Thanksgiving break. Before you crucify me as a bad financial example, let me share how much I’m actually paying. Thanks to the Chase Ink credit card and a 70,000 point offer that was available last fall, we will only be paying $155.23. Yes, that’s $31.05 per night for a luxury hotel room on a beach in the Caribbean. We plan to fly there using Southwest points and a companion pass. I haven’t booked those tickets yet, but it looks like the cost will be around $300 in taxes for the three of us. This is why I love credit cards. I Am Smarter Than Credit Card Companies As I’ve written about many times, we used to be dumb when it came to using credit responsibly, running up over $30,000 in credit card debt before we graduated from Debt City University. While I don’t necessarily remember those times with glee, one thing I can say about digging deep to pay off the credit debt is that there is ABSOLUTELY NO WAY we will ever pay a penny in credit card interest ever again. I am ...

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Why Do Frugal People Go To Disneyland?

being frugal at Disneyland

As some of you may know, our family has a big trip to Europe coming up this summer. It will be our daughter’s first international trip. In fact, none of us have ever been on a trip of this magnitude.With the transportation and lodging all booked, we are starting to plan what we actually want to do when we get there. We are not cool people who can float with the wind. Without plans, our adventures turn into chaos pretty quickly, and we want to take advantage of any advance discounts. One of the places we’re considering for our trip is Disneyland Paris. Disney can be the bane of a money saver’s existence. Overpriced admissions, food, drinks, and souvenirs disguised in mouse ears can really trip up a travel budget. It almost makes me wonder why frugal people actually go to Disneyland. Our Disneyland Experience We did go to Disneyland California a few years ago. It was halfway through our debt payoff journey. After almost a year of spending as little as possible, we needed a reward. Lest you think we went all crazy with the Pirates of the Caribbean, I can honestly say that this was the first frugal ...

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Family Trip To Europe With Points and Miles

Courtesy: Wikipedia Commons

This post is part two in a series about how I’m taking a family trip to Europe with the help of points and miles. If you are not into travel rewards, feel free to go back and read about debt or retirement. Part 1: My Ambitious Plan To Get 3 People To Europe With Points and Miles When when we last discussed this trip, my family was booked on flights from Durango, Colorado to Boston, then from Boston to Dublin. Now that we’re across the pond, the real fun begins. Let me say, it’s very hard to find basic hotel rooms in Europe that accommodate more than two people. You can’t even sneak in a cot. It’s a money making scheme fire safety rule that you have to either upgrade to a suite or pay for two rooms if you have a family. Since we ARE NOT putting our daughter in a room by herself, I’ve almost made my eyes bleed doing research to find hotels that we can book with points and be able to have 3 people in a room. Some of them are not right in the main tourist center, but that’s OK. It will give us ...

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