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This summer, our family of two adults, two pre-teens & one golden-doodle are planning the road trip of all road trips. We are hitting The Mother Road (aka Route 66) from Chicago to Santa Monica, CA! Along the way, we will be visiting all the towns in the famous song, “Get your kicks on Route 66” by Bobby Troupe.
If you ever plan to motor west
Travel my way, take the highway that is best
Get your kicks on Route sixty six
It winds from Chicago to LA
More than two thousand miles all the way
Get your kicks on Route 66
Now you go through Saint Looey
And Oklahoma City is mighty pretty
You see Amarillo
Gallup, New Mexico
Don’t forget Winona
Kingman, Barstow, San Bernardino…
Yep, we are that crazy. 😉
Since it takes days of non-stop travel just to get out west, we knew we would need to take enough time to make it worth our while. But, that also means, more hotel nights, more travel expenses, etc. When we considered what our hotel bill would be for such a long trip, hubs thought that we would need to camp. I am morally opposed to camping. I thought, “There has to be another way!”
Thank God, after doing a bunch of research online, I found a way to pay for ALL of our hotel nights. And, I’m not talking about La Quintas, either! We found fantastic deals on great hotels. What I am about to share with you has enabled us to take our entire family on a huge tour of our country, without breaking our budget. It’s really amazing!
I was unsure whether or not I should share this, because I am a big believer in cash budgets. And, because this requires rock-solid organization and attention to your finances on a weekly basis. Don’t attempt this if you are not committed to a budget and you don’t have an emergency fund built up. Those are priorities that I would encourage you to have in place before spending money on a vacation.
This is what we did:
- We took advantage of credit card deals that offered a sign-on points bonus for spending a certain amount of money in a certain amount of time.
For example, we signed up for a Chase Sapphire credit card that gave us a bonus of 50,000 points if we spent $4,000 in 3 months. That is a lot of spending on a credit card, but it gave us the equivalent of $625 in travel money. I signed up, and also had hubs sign up as well. That doubled our rewards!
- We paid all of our bills with our credit card, then paid off the credit card the same day.
- We purchased pre-paid debit cards for our cash budget, then used them as we would use the cash in our envelopes.
For example, say our grocery budget is $400, we would purchase 2 prepaid debit cards in the amount of $200/pc, place them in our spending envelope and spend normally. (Many places do not allow you to purchase prepaid debit cards with a credit card, but there are places that will allow you to do that. Do a little research on store in your area. We were able to purchase ours at a Speedway Gas Station.) If you would like to know more about using a cash budget, check out this post here. After we purchased our debit cards for the month for all of our spending, with a credit card, we immediately paid off the card.
- We checked our credit cards weekly, so we wouldn’t be surprised by a large bill at the end of the month. We paid our credit card bills with our checking or our cash envelope debit cards.
- You can check the balance of your Vanilla Debit Cards on OneVanilla.com. Or, I used a small post-it note to keep track of the balance. For example, for a debit card that I had in my grocery envelope, I would have a starting balance of $200. Each time I would make a purchase, I would subtract that amount from my beginning balance. To double check my figures, I would log on to OneVanilla.com and check my balances from time to time.
- We continued to use our “cash” envelopes so that we stayed within our budget on groceries and eating out. The only difference was, we had prepaid debit cards in the envelope instead of cash.
Tips for maximizing your use of points.
- Don’t keep the same card forever and ever. A great way to earn more points that you will spend is to sign up for a new card and meet the spending requirement.
- Remember to sign your spouse up for a separate credit card with the same rewards. (That means double the savings. Yes, we signed up for two Chase Sapphire Rewards and saved $1100.00 in hotel bills!
- Keep track of when your account began (the credit card account) and each payment you make. Make sure you are on target to meet your goal.
HERE ARE THE BEST CREDIT CARD DEALS OUT THERE RIGHT NOW (May 2016):
Here are the cards we used:
Chase Sapphire Rewards Visa (x2) = 100,000 bonus points (50,000 points per card)
Make $4,000 in purchases within first three months of opening card
Hilton Honors Visa Rewards Card = 75,000 bonus points
Spend $2,000 in purchases in first three months of opening card
Starwood Preferred American Express = 35,000 bonus points
Spend $3,000 in purchases in first three months of opening card
For 50,000 points, I was able to purchase 5 nights of hotel stays, but it all depends on your hotel choice. So, after I use all of these points, I should be able to pay for about 17 nights of FREE HOTEL STAYS. Amazing!
This blog has great information if you are interested in signing up for cards. He has reviewed cards extensively. Check this out before signing up, so you maximize the amount of points you can earn.
And because I love ya, here is a PRINTABLE to help you keep track of your rewards card spending!
If you would like this free printable, as well as MEMBERS-ONLY access to my free library of printables, sign up here!
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