I think Missouri gets a bad rap for being “boring” – but this past (long) weekend The Big Guy, baby RB40 and I discovered that it’s anything but during out trip to Branson and the Big Cedar Resort. Not only did we have an awesome time, we spent very little money!
We just spent 1 night at the Hampton Inn in Branson, MO and 2 nights at Big Cedar Lodge just outside of Branson. While we were there we did a TON of walking around the beautiful Big Cedar campus,
canoeing, and enjoying the beautiful weather! There are tons of things to do in and around Branson – but seeing as most of them are pretty hard to do with a child under 1, we took stock of the activities for a later date and enjoyed relaxing and doing a lot of walking!
We did this a couple of different ways, but let’s look at straight costs first, and then I’ll get into how exactly we paid for it!
Groupons – $40
Other Meals/Groceries – $335.38 (Yeah, we like to eat)
Total Cost = $557.38
Hotel costs seem pretty reasonable (even before learning that we didn’t actually pay for them), but our food costs were through the roof. We had intended to take full advantage of the kitchen in our room and cook, but we’re ridiculously lazy on vacation and just ate out most of the time!
Now, let’s talk about how we paid for it!
We paid $32 for our night at the Hampton Inn in Branson ($29 employee rate…whoop whoop!). The other $150 we paid for out of pocket, but due to a “special” Bass Pro Shop was running, we were “reimbursed for $100 of this in Bass Pro Gift Cards. Basically, on Monday we attended a 2-hour timeshare presentation in exchange for the gift cards. Now, we couldn’t use them to pay for our room (we had prepaid for it) but we could use it for anything on the resort, or later at the Bass Pro Outlet, like I’ll talk about in a minute.
I paid for the groupons and other meals/groceries our of our pocket, but to cover those I redeemed $365 in credit cards rewards (from our Chase Freedom $200 sign – up bonuses!), which left us with $92.38. That’s pretty good for a 3-day getaway, I think, but stay with me, because it gets better!
Most of the groceries we bought we didn’t eat, let’s say $60 worth, so I’ll be adding that part to our grocery budget. Also, we only used 1 of the 3 groupons that I bought, so I’ll be returning the leftovers for a $23 refund.
Unfortunately, though, it’s not quite that simple. We paid the $150 out of pocket for the 2 nights at Big Cedar, but we reimbursed $100 in Bass Pro Gift Cards. Since we couldn’t actually use them to pay for our stay, I probably shouldn’t have subtracted them from our total vacation cost above. But, it’s kind of hard to take the gift certificates into account. I suppose we could have sold them for 60% or so of what they’re worth online, but instead we stopped at the Bass Pro Outlet on our way home because we need a tent.
Well, we don’t really NEED the tent, but we really want one.
And camping is a really frugal way to take a break.
So we stopped at the Bass Pro Outlet and bought:
A tent: $179.00
Tent Light: $10.00
KId Boots: $20.00
Swim Top & Bottom: $60
Bedside Holster: $20
Total Retail Cost; $304
….But we actually paid $46 after $100 in gift cards!
So I guess the most accurate way to sum it all up would be to add our little shopping spree together with the actual vacation, huh?
Less Credit Cards Rewards: $365
Less Gift Cards: $100
Less Returns: $23
Total Vacation Cost: $215.38
A bit on the high side, I’ll give you that! But we’re learning… We had a blast, but we also learned a few things:
- It is MUCH easier to visit a grocery store near our vacation destination than to try and pack a bunch of food. It might be more expensive than our home grocery stores, but it will save us in the long-run.
- If I don’t cook up a bunch of chicken and get the steaks marinating the first day, it won’t get done!
- We have to plan for splurges. Room services is going to happen, as is a late lunch when we’re exhausted from playing. But, by shopping near our vacation destination and cooking the first day while we’re still fresh and non-sunburned, we can minimize how often we eat out!
- We can say “no” to high-pressure salespeople! Not only did we survive the timeshare presentation, we were the first couple out of the office!
So there it is, our first actual vacation as a family!
Have you ever been to Branson or listened to a timeshare presentation?
Linked up at:
Think Pink Sunday, Sunday Showcase, Happiness Is Handmade,Nifty Thrifty Sunday,That DIY Party, It’s Party Time, Sunday Showcase, Around Tuit, Mix It Up Monday, Creative Mondays, Bloggers Brag ,Made By You Monday ,Monday Pin It Party ,Motivate Me Monday ,Thoughtful Spot Weekly Blog Hop ,Monday Funday, Marvelous Monday ,Titus Tuesday ,Tuesdays at our home ,Tell Me About It Tuesday ,Tip Me Tuesday ,Tuesdays With A Twist ,The Inspiration Board ,Tutorial Tuesday ,Create Link Inspire ,Making a Home ,Something Fabulous Wednesday ,The Mommy Club ,Wow Me Wednesday ,Wake Up Wednesday, Adorned From Above Wednesday, Cast Party Wednesday ,Your Whims Wednesday ,The Project Stash ,Whimsy Wednesday ,We Did It Wednesday ,Wednesday Round Up ,Wine’d Down Wednesday ,Inspire Me Wednesday ,Whatever Goes Wednesday ,Something Fabulous Wednesday ,Wow Me Wednesday ,The Pin Junkie ,What To Do Weekends, Inspiration Gallery, Artsy Corner, Inspire Us Thursday, Thrifty Thursday, That’s Fresh Friday, KitchenFun and Crafty, Friday Frenzy, Inspire Me Please, Craft Frenzy Friday, Anything Goes, Pin Me Linky Party, Pin Worthy Projects, Friday Favorites, Best of The Weekend, Link Party Palooza, Friday Flash, Flaunt It Friday, Family Fun Friday, Frugal Friday, Weekend Bloggy Reading, Saturday Show and TellS, aturday Spotlight, Strut Your Stuff Saturday, Saturday Sparks, Saturday Sharefest, Serenity Saturday, Show and Tell Saturday, Get Schooled Saturday, Dare to Share Saturday, Skip The Housework Saturday, Silver Penny Saturday, A Little Bird Told Me