What I Learned About Money From Our Road Trip to Grandma’s

Road Trip and MoneyThis past weekend, my family and I took a road-trip to my Wife’s Grandmother’s House, visiting with her and my brother’s family, who also lives close.

It was a 9.5-hour car trip (one-way) from North Carolina to Cleveland – not a simple undertaking with three young kids in a Honda Odyssey.

Today, as we prepare to head back to North Carolina, I thought I would reflect on a couple of the lessons I learned about money over the weekend.

It’s important to set a budget for your trip (Even though it might be hard to keep)

If you are going to take any kind of trip, especially a road trip, it is important that you set a budget for your spending. If you don’t you can easily let things spiral out of control.

We did NOT set a budget for this trip, in part because I didn’t really know what to expect in terms of food. (My Wife’s Grandmother is 90 and doesn’t cook. And she also gets really stressed out when other people use her kitchen. So planning for normal meals is difficult.)

That being said, we didn’t necessarily overspend on food. Between scavenging for snacks throughout the day, a cookout at my brother’s house, and a couple pizzas, we managed to spend surprisingly little on groceries and meals (less than $100 for 5 days, not too bad).

The only other major expense, besides two tickets to the Indians-Yankees game (see below), was boarding for our dog, which came to about $240 (ouch, dogs are expensive, but we love her anyway).

I Had Some Slip Ups Money-Wise

I decided that I wanted to take my son to his first Cleveland Indians baseball game, and I slipped up. I started off smart, bringing bottled water and peanuts we had bought ahead of time.

But then my weakness for french fries (just about the only thing I can eat at a baseball game since I’m a vegan), and hunger induced splurge on a veggie dog around the 5th inning, caused me to spend more than I would have liked on this outing. Add to that the compulsory ice cream cone for my son, and it became evident that my self-control was seriously lacking.

Afterward, my Wife, (knowing that we are trying to stick to a budget), asked me how much money I spent…

Next time I go to a game, I’m taking cash and leaving the credit card at home. When the cash is gone, so is the food for the day.

I Was Able to Connect to the Internet and Pay Down $2,400 on a credit card, as well as contribute an additional $2,500 to a Roth IRA

Things weren’t all bad this weekend.

My Care Credit card bill was due on the 5th, and I had moved some money around earlier in the week so that I could pay down $2,400 of this card – the portion that was subject to a high-interest rate.

In addition, I took a required minimum distribution from my inherited IRA, stashed that money into a Roth IRA, and promptly purchased a total stock market index fund through Fidelity with a 0.09% expense ratio.


  • Hey, I recently took a 7hr road trip with two kids in my Odyssey. I was actually able to turn the whole thing into a profit by using a few road trip travel hacks and hustles.

    Yea, things start getting expensive when you have a family. It is important to plan any family vacations far in advance to prepare your budget for the expense.

    • Being frugal, we do NOT have movie screens in our Odyssey. So the kids had to take turns passing the ipad… But regardless, flying would have been a lot more expensive (and stressful).

    • I totally agree about planning ahead. Unfortunately, we didn’t get serious about our finances and budgeting until a few months ago. This trip had already been planned.

      On the flip side, the biggest expense was gas and the kennel charge for our dog. Not too bad. But for the holidays, we will need to budget ahead of time!

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