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For several weeks I have been facilitating the Personal Finance for Self Reliance  class developed by the church. It has been a wonderful and eye opening experience as we have learned and shared together the struggles of getting our financial house in order. Last week we discussed paying off debt. The manual used as an example a credit card debt of $4,000 at 17% interest. Paying the minumum payment each month it would take 20 years and cost $5,107.62 in interest before the debt would be paid. The interest alone would be more than the original loan. Frightening. If you have debt, commit now to begin making extra payment and get rid of it.

The cost of gas and food are both rising rapidly and you still have debt. This may be the time to plan for a Stay at Home Vacation for this year. You will save not only on gas but also on lodging and the cost of eating out.  If you haven’t already done so, now is the time to commit to getting out of debt. We see families failing all around us and so much of that is due to the burden of debt. There are definitely financial advantages to staying around home to vacation but there are also other reasons to consider a simple vacation this year.

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There are times in every family when we may feel we are out of touch with those who live in the same home. This has become especially true with the dawn of cell phones and other devices. A simple vacation, in familiar surroundings, will give you that extra time to really talk, share feelings of fear or worry, have fun without distractions and create memories to last for not only this lifetime but generations. If you have recently experienced a death in the family or a job loss or change, staying close to home will give you the time together to begin healing. When we take a vacation away, too often we are so tired by the time we come home from the amusement park or beach that we fall in to bed without a word to each other.

Research places to visit in your area that are close enough to return home each night. So often we neglect the attractions near our home that others travel hundreds of miles to experience. Do some research and ask friends for suggestions.

As you begin your planning, get a binder, lined paper, and sheet protectors to keep track of your plans. Gather the family and you are ready to begin planning. Brainstorm together using the information you have gathered and plan a few day trips. Plan days at or near home and consider choosing a theme for those days making them even more fun. What about a Live Like a Pioneer Day or a Backyard Watepark Day? How about at your Live Like a Pioneer Day, you celebrate your forefathers. My forefather came from Germany between 1890 and 1923, so pioneers are not just families who crossed the plains with the Saints. We might eat spaezle and sauerbraten to celebrate. Be creative.

When it’s time to complete your preparations:

  • Make final arrangements with those you have hired to care for larger pets, such as horses or livestock and your home and yard.
  • Get cash from the bank.
  • Make a list of meals for each day.
  • Purchase food for meals, snacks and day trips. Be sure to have plenty of fruit for quick snacks and popcorn for movie night.
  • Prepare meals which can be frozen and reheated–All containers should be disposable.
  • Purchase batteries for cameras, recorders, and flashlights.
  • Purchase supplies for crafts.
  • Gather coupons and maps for day trips.
  • Purchase sun screen and insect repellent.
  • Clean your house.
  • Restock bathrooms with TP, shampoo and soap.
  • Purchase paper products and plastic utensils for meals.
  • Borrow any items you may not have.
  • Borrow or rent DVDs for movie times. Always ask friends before you lay out money for rentals. Borrow a projector and have a movie night under the stars.

Every vacation needs some rules, get the kids to help. Just a few suggestions:

  • We will let the answering machine and voicemail pick up all phone calls.
  • We will use the phone only to order food or in case of an emergency. Dad’s job does not count as an emergency. Let the boss believe you are out of town.
  • Computers will be turned off.
  • Cleaning will be allowed only to mop up a spill or similar minor clean up.
  • Sustaining life is allowed. Therefore watering the lawn or feeding the pets is permitted.
  • Laundry will be done the day before vacation begins– if you run out …oh well.
  • Paper plates, cups and plastic utensils will be used for all meals and we will THROW THEM AWAY or eat out.
  • Beds can stay unmade.
  • Absolutely no working on that to do list, no honey-dos.
  • Have plenty of cash on hand for the delivery guy.
  • Bedtimes are not strictly enforced. If you were away from home you would not stress over bed times. This is a vacation!
  • This is family time only!! No friends.
  • You can not cancel!!! If you had airline tickets you wouldn’t cancel, so cancellations are not allowed.
  • Only reheating, no cooking allowed.

Each day should be treated as a day at a luxury hotel or dude ranch with no responsibilites except to have fun as a family. To accomplish that feeling:

Trade with a friend. If you ask around, there is probably another family who is not planning to vacation because money is tight. Offer to help them with their Staycation in exchange for their help with yours. Ask your friend to come in on days when you will be taking day trips to make the beds and straighten the towels. Make sure they leave a chocolate on each pillow.

Create a breakfast buffet each morning. Buffet staples every day may include milk, juice, and fruits. Add a few items for variety each day.

Buy all those sugary cereals you never allow through the front door. My children loved vacation because we always took breakfast foods with us to save money. It was the only time they got all that sugary stuff.

Breakfast Sundaes are always a hit. I taught an after school cooking class at three elementary schools. The kids loved breakfast sundaes. They are so simple and no dishes! Simply place your favorite yogurt in the bottom of a clear disposable cup (you can use paper bowls but they aren’t as much fun) sprinkle a favorite cold cereal (even one of the sugary ones) over the yogurt, top with cut up fruit and enjoy. Some of the kids I taught told me they ate these each morning and made them when they had a sleep over. 

One morning include hard boiled eggs prepared before your vacation begins and add those to your buffet. Add muffins and you have a meal.

Self reliance is not just about being prepared for an emergency but also about being out of debt and the burden that places on a family. Eliminating debt now will bring peace and create a sense of confidence as you plan for the future. A Staycation can help accomplish this while strengthening your family. As they say, “try it, you’ll like it”.

Today’s article includes excerpts from the ebook “Pack Your Bags We’re Staying Home”

Available at Totallyready.com