Pocket Change


Last week we made a trip to the local bank and found out that’s how much change we had in our jar that we put our pocket change into at the end of each day. This jar is always earmarked as “vacation money,” so even when times are super tight (like now), I refuse to use that money for anything else. This girl needsΒ periodic vacations in order to recharge!Β We also use our credit card for most purchases, and that card earns us air miles (1.5 miles for every dollar spent), so between our air miles and the air miles my parents are continually gifting to us (thanks, Mom!), we can usually book our air travel for free. This is a huge bonus since we live in the middle of nowhere.

We were hoping for $300 in that jar, so to have substantially more than that was a welcome surprise for our vacation plans last week!

Here’s a breakdown of what we actually spent:

$100 – rental car + gas
$85 – checked bags (1 each way + carseat) + airport parking. Pre-Stella we never checked bags, but with diaper bag + Β kid + stroller + car seat + carry on for cheese on the way home, it just seemed like a necessity this time. πŸ™‚
$150 – two tickets for the Cardinals baseball game
$70 – eating out (most meals we ate at home, so we saved a bunch here thanks to the generosity of friends/family)
$70 – beer & food at the baseball game on Saturday – mostly beer πŸ™‚
$20 – beer for Saturday night
$495 — only $27 over our “free” vacation money!

All in all, I’d say that’s pretty darn cheap for a 5 day vacation for 3 people! It helps a lot to get free airline tickets (booked with air miles) and have free lodging (3 nights with Charlie’s aunt & uncle, 1 night with my blog friend Ann). The Cards game was the biggest expense, but it was also the #1 thing we wanted to do while we were there, and it was worth every penny! A lot of fun stuff (the arch, the zoo, etc) were free, so that was nice as well.

We also had a few expenses I don’t count as vacation cost – Stella would have needed those things (well, except diapers) either way, and the cheese is Β a grocery item! πŸ™‚

$60 – Target (food/milk, Tylenol & diapers for Stella + 2 pack’n’play sheets)
$40 – 10# of provel cheese from Imos that we brought back (we actually brought 20#, but only 10# was for us). Yes, this is ridiculous, but it’s good stuff, and the shipping price is exorbitant if you buy online!


Overall, I’m pleased with our spending and thankful we decided to do the trip, even though money is tight. I only missed 1 day of work (I work 4 day work weeks so I just switched my days off), and it worked out that Charlie wouldn’t have had work last Thurs/Fri anyway, and he went to work Monday at 1pm when we got back, so he got a half day in and only missed 1/2 day of work, so even our “missed income” cost wasn’t very much for this trip. Charlie refuses to consider lost income as vacation cost – but I’m anal and always do. πŸ™‚

At any rate, this trip was the perfect mix of family time and friend time. We got to have dinner with Charlie’s grandpa & aunt/uncle on Thursday night, met up with two of my IF blog friends and their kids on Friday (Arch MamaΒ and Stephanie) after going to the STL zoo before spending the afternoon/evening at Charlie’s aunt/uncle’s house, spent all day Saturday downtown at my blog friend Ann‘s place and went to the Cardinals game, and went to the Arch Sunday morning with Ann and her boyfriend before spending the rest of the day Sunday back in the suburbs with most of Charlie’s extended family. Thursday and Monday were EARLY travel days (6am flights), but it was definitely nice to be at our destinations by around noon both times (we have to fly with layovers most every where we go, so that includes 2 flights + layover on both of those days). Flying early in the morning also reduces the chance that we’ll spend much money in the airport. I packed sandwiches, fruit, and string cheese for us on this trip, plus it seemed like too early early to drink beer. πŸ™‚

So ya, for pocket change, we got to have a pretty awesome trip last weekend. It’s the first trip Charlie and I have done together since our honeymoon 5 years ago that wasn’t 100% family based, so it was definitely a much needed vacation together as a family!

Below are a few of the highlights from our trip — for all the pics, check out my family blog!


  1. Jessica · · Reply

    Love it! We have a change jug too, we are thinking of cashing it in soon to help with some bills, but I like your idea way better! πŸ™‚ Although, I find we so rarely have cash, so we rarely get any change!

    1. Yeah, I rarely use cash, but my husband always does, so I’d bet 90% of that jar was from him. πŸ™‚

  2. You had me at “carry on for cheese.”

    We’re currently saving pocket change for use at the ice cream shop around the corner. This will prevent us from using debit and expanding our waistlines. In theory…it’s not an airtight plan.

    1. Right?! His Mom gave us her “cheese bag” to use (apparently she’s done this so many times over the years that this is the dedicated bag for carrying back four 10# blocks of frozen cheese). It was silly, but I tell ya I’m happy about the cheese in my fridge and freezer right now! It’s the perfect melting cheese. πŸ™‚

  3. mcmissis · · Reply

    You are now hereby named The Patience Fairy! (Can you see how much fairies have taken over our lives?) Traveling with little ones makes me want to scream. A lot. Congratulations on feeding your travel bug with a toddler in tow πŸ™‚

    1. I honestly think it’s been easier traveling this first year and a half of her life than it will be the next few years. She’s 5 trips / 20 flights in after 16 months though. Not bad! πŸ™‚

  4. You are my hero for spending that little on this trip and it almost entirely coming from pocket money!! That is awesome!!! πŸ™‚ We always spend way too much on vacation and usually money we don’t have to waste so this is a great plan. We need to try this but even when I have tried before, we always end up digging in the change a week later because we need it for something.

    Also.. LOVE the cheese carry-on!!!

    Great photos of a great trip! πŸ™‚

  5. nikip22 · · Reply

    That’s awesome you guys were able to go on such little money spent. It looks like you guys had a blast, except for being stuck in an elevator for an hour!!

    1. Even that part was pretty fun, honestly. πŸ™‚

  6. This breakdown has me feeling like we could actually make a brief family vacation happen. NEED TO PONDER THIS. I am inspired (but also terrified, haha)!

    1. Do it! Do it! At least you’re not outnumbered with kids to parents yet. Do it while you have a fighting chance of controlling the chaos! πŸ™‚

  7. This is a really great idea! We put a lot of our change in Sofia’s piggy bank, but I think with there being coins for the 1 and 2€ denominations you kind of feel like you need to hold onto change instead of tucking it away. Like it’s REAL money still. Ha.

    Anyway, can you believe that I did not know you could buy cheese directly from Imo’s? I’m shocked! Both that you can and that I didn’t know that. I admit that we’re Cecil Whittakers fans a bit more than Imos. It’s a ugly truth, but a truth nonetheless. πŸ˜‰

    Ok, enough rambling. I’m glad that you had such a fabulous trip and that you were able to finance it so “easily!”

    1. Ya – we actually like Cecil Whittakers better too (same thing, half the price!), but that provel man…it’s good stuff. I made homemade mac’n’cheese for Stella this morning with the provel. Num num num….

  8. Great job! I’m in awe πŸ™‚ Hubs and I have our own ways of saving our loose change, but I’ve been thinking about seeing if we can get a communal jar to save the coins in.

    You’re my hero for going on a family vacation that cheaply!

  9. Miss Mac · · Reply

    Great way to spend that change and it’s motivation for the next adventure I’m sure:] Looks like fun and a nice way to recharge, pics are great!

  10. sifinalaska · · Reply

    That’s an amazing way to save up for a vacation, and not feel guilty about it in the end! It looks like you guys had a blast too!

  11. I’m so impressed with the money you spent! Looks like a wonderful vacation!!!

  12. This really makes me want to take the two Budweiser bottle banks we have and see how much we have “saved.” I know Babe has dipped into it occasionally for parking coins but he used to replace with cash. This might just pay for our next trip πŸ˜€

  13. Sounds like a GREAT trip…especially since you did it all with your change jar! How refreshing! The pictures are very cute. Looks like you had a great time. I love how you often get together with blogging friends in real life. If you’re ever in my neck of the woods (Minnesota) let me know! It would be fun to have a little playdate with the girls…and maybe a few drinks for us!

    1. I shot you an email too – let me know where in MN you are! That’s where I’m from, so we get back a ton.

      1. Weird! I didn’t get your email. Hmm…I don’t want to leave my address on here so I’ll try to find your email and send you one.

        1. Okay, great! We have emailed you from PAIL as well for the Monday Snapshot and never got a reply. Maybe check your trash?

  14. so glad you had a wonderful trip! sounds like so much fun πŸ™‚

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