Tag Archive for Budget

Vacation in Northern California on a budget (part 2)

In my previous blog I discussed a few ways that I was able to get a good deal on airfare and hotel rates on my trip to Northern California. In this post I am going to discuss specifically how I was able to keep the transportation costs down.   Once off the plane, with minor confusion in finding my mom’s gate, we connected, and were on our way to downtown San Francisco via the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) train.  The cost of a one way trip via the BART to downtown was $8.50, much cheaper than a taking a cab, which would have cost us around $50.  The quick half hour BART trip dropped us off only a few blocks from our hotel, although that did include a steep uphill climb with our luggage.  When we got off the BART we where right near the welcome center and that is where we bought our MUNI passes.  The MUNI pass covers all public transportation, which includes bus, streetcar and the ever-popular cable car.  We purchased the three-day Muni pass and it cost $22.  I added up the amount we would have paid if we purchased single tickets and in the first day alone we would have surpassed $22.  We did also rent a car to go to Napa valley, but I was still able to find a good deal via my AAA membership.  For a two-day rental including gas and additional fees, and insurance it was still under $200. 

Stay posted for my final blog about my trip in which I will discuss how we were able to affordably dine out and site see while vacationing in Northern California.

Vacation in Northern California on a budget (part 1)

I recently took a trip to San Francisco and Napa Valley.  It was a mother daughter vacation as I flew my mom in from Wisconsin to join me for the trip.  My flight only ended up costing me $50 because I had some money left over on a flight voucher (see my blog Delayed flight could lead to a perk for your pocket book).  That allowed me the opportunity to pay for most of my mom’s flight as a birthday, Christmas, mother’s day present for her for the next year…or two.  I will admit I really didn’t do much research on the cost of taking a trip to San Francisco until after the flight was booked.  When I started looking into booking a hotel room I began to realize how expensive it was going to be to stay in downtown San Francisco.  After lots of research and reading many reviews on Tripadvisor, I was able to find a good rate on a great little boutique hotel in downtown San Francisco.  This great deal did come with a bit of a catch, I had to pre-pay to get the rate and it was non-refundable.   If you are willing to take a risk when you travel, you could end up saving a few hundred dollars by prepaying for your hotel room. 

Stay posted for my next blog where I will share other ways I was able to stick to a budget and save money while vacationing in Northern California. 

The Evolution of Managing My Money

While I was moving into my new home I found a box with some of old notebooks from about 10 years ago which I used to keep track of my finances in. It was an eye opener for me how differently I managed my money then. I used to spend hours planning out money for the coming months, writing down each paycheck and the bills that would be paid out of it, logging my loans and deducting the principle each time I made a payment, and hand writing out my budget.

In addition to the notebook I would also enter every transaction into Microsoft Money, categorize it appropriately and carefully watch how I was tracking to my budget during the month. This made it incredibly easy for me to do my taxes at the end of the year or identify areas that I could cut back on to create more funds in my budget. It was Microsoft Money that informed me that I was spending $80 a month at the coffee cart by my house and that I should kick my coffee habit.

It made me think how my money management has changed over the years. I no longer keep a notebook or use Microsoft Money. Being recently married we still are working to find the groove in how to handle our money and we’ve been able to create some processes and find some tools that have really helped us. Still, I am realizing that possibly due to having time and a larger comfort level in what I’m doing I am not spending the time and keeping the same level of details I did 10 years ago. Since I’m one of those that really enjoys working out my budget and scrutinizing over where each penny I spend goes I wonder if I should maybe revert back to my old ways a bit?