Giving New Meaning to “Budget Vacation”

A couple of times a year, I get a hankerin’.  It’s always the same hankerin’.  I want to get a piece of heavily wooded land, build a small cabin, and spend a lot of time there.  I don’t care about access to utilities.  I can pack in food and water.  It would be my little getaway.  More of a “Walden” kind of thing than a Una-bomber kind of thing.  I prefer solitude and that would be a way to get it.

I’ve gone so far as to research real estate listings for property that fits the bill.  I’ve become a student of the small home movement.  I’ve priced out some building materials.

This time, just like every other time, I’ve convinced myself that this is an idea that needs to wait.  There are several reasons why my logical, rational self gets between me and this desire.

From a standpoint of principle, I won’t buy secondary real estate until I own my primary residence.  Simply stated, if there is a risk of losing my home, then why would I own other land with significantly less value?  I try to rationalize it my saying this recreational land would be so inexpensive that it’s not worth worrying about.  Still, there’s the principle.

From a more practical view, when we do have our first (surviving) child, it’s entirely possible that we wouldn’t set foot on the property for a year or two or three.  Since we hope to have that child sooner rather than later, it makes most sense to wait.

If we were forced to move to another part of the country, which would take a lot, then we’d have a piece of property where we couldn’t use it anyway.  It may also be difficult to resell.  That’s added risk.

We came up with a better solution.

Several years ago, we decided to be intentional with our money when it comes to cars.  We won’t finance a car.  Our only option is to pay with actual money.  We started a car fund where a small amount of money gets transferred every week.  Over time, this fund grew to the point that we could replace our oldest car.  We did this three years ago.  I bought the car by swiping my debit card.  How cool is that?  Fast forward to today.  There is currently one and a half times more money in that account than when we bought that car!  We are good to go when we need to replace the other car.

We applied this same principle a couple of years ago for Christmas presents.  We created a gift fund.  Again, a small amount of money go into this account every week.  When the holiday season rolls around, we have to try really hard to spend all of that money.  We have freedom.  We have choices.  We DON’T have stress about it.  We can give freely.  Often times, after we have all the gifts we planned to buy, a lucky waiter or waitress gets a fat tip just for fun.  The goal is to leave that account empty on December 25th.

The new plan? A vacation fund.  If we choose to put a small amount of money aside every week, there will be funds available to travel more and farther than we have in the past.  What I’m most looking forward to is being able to stay in a hotel or a bed and breakfast and not see a dollar sign on everything there.  I have a hard time spending $100 for a night’s sleep.  With intentional saving, I have a feeling that we’ll feel the same sense of freedom that we get from diligently paying in to the car fund and gift fund.

A side benefit to funding our travels is that we aren’t tied down to a specific place as we would be with our own property.  It also ensures that we do take time to get out of the normal grind and experience new things in new places.

I’m not saying we won’t have that little piece of paradise, but we may find out that it wasn’t really what we wanted anyway.  Life has a way of evolving like that.

What do you do to ensure you take time to get away, relax, and recuperate?

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About Raun Lauterbach

Optimistic realist, life enthusiast, outdoor cook, Midwest traveler, husband, father... Follow me: Twitter | Facebook | Get updates in your email
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  • Barbralauterbach

    Really good thoughts.  I feel as you did in the end about buying the land.  It sounds good but I like to go to new places and see new things.  If we had land then we would feel like we have to go there to get our monies worth.  Now that YOU guys (all the kids) have flown the coop there is a “what’s the point” feeling I have.  On the other hand, your father would most likely feel the opposite from me.  He continues the search for property.  Maybe we’ll buy the property and give it to you!

  • Raun Lauterbach

    It’s weird to want something and be indifferent about it at the same time. As the Garth Brooks song goes, “Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers…” It will happen if and when it is time. That time isn’t now.

  • Josh Bulloc

    The more I think about the more I am interested in owning a smaller home. Not super small but smaller than the norm. It will cost less, will be less to clean, we will have less of a need to buy stuff to fill it, and it will force our family to be closer together.

  • Raun Lauterbach

    Those sound like good reasons to me! Our place is under 1100 square feet, but there is plenty of space. The longer we live here, the more we like living here.