Category Archives: Savvy Spending

Yearly Spend Revealed

Money comes in , Money goes out

Every year at Traveling Wallet we spend, spend, spend, Spend!

But its not all bad. If you try, every year can be better. For us last year was an interesting year and the first full year we had in which we didn’t need to spend a single dime on loan or debt repayment.

Not one dime.


We did spend a lot of money and this post is all about analyzing where it all went. Continue reading Yearly Spend Revealed

Weekly Pain & Gain: Halloween and Dancing

This month is really one of my favorites. I really have lots of fun during Halloween.


October has had some un welcome surprises in the automotive department. Like I mentioned we are in the process of getting ready for a move and things have gotten a little harder thanks to car issues. Currently we are down to one vehicle and because of our imminent move this has caused a lot of issues.

This automotive issue is being felt with time limitations and later will be felt with our wallet.  However, the dollars are less of an inconvenience then the time constraints. Right now we are in serious need of flexibility but instead we are now more constrained. UGH! the timing couldn’t be more off.

It is frustrating and truly a pain.


Of course on the bright side this weekend has had lots of fun.This weekend we got to start celebrating Halloween fun and donned our costumes to go dancing. It has started to become a tradition for Mr. Roamer and I to attend contradancing* for Oct as our date. It is held every 4th sat of the month which was this past sat.

Mr. Roamer and I ready to steal the ninja treasure! ;) Actually, ready to dance.
Mr. Roamer and I ready to steal the ninja treasure! 😉 Actually… ready to dance.

Even though it was a family affair it is still a date for me because Mr. Roamer is taking me dancing. Its also a pretty affordable date $8 per adult. So we spent $16 total. Not bad as date costs go. Now the reason this has become tradition is that in Oct it is a costume contradance and I really love dressing up, and Dancing! So if Mr. is being pushed to go dancing, at least in Oct we get to kill 2 birds with one stone. #WIN!

For me Halloween is a time of creativity and that for me equals fun. But I also know Halloween is  another of those times when having a good time is normally equated to spending money.

Halloween fun ≠ Big $$$ spent

Here is how my family lowers the cost of Halloween.

Tips for Keeping Halloween costs down.

  • Use the internet for ideas. The internet is a great source for ideas on how to re-purpose items for a costume. For us this meant discovering how to make a t-shirt into a ninja mask.
  • Use what you have. After hunting for ideas you might find that all you need to do is think outside the box. Once you do that you might discover you have everything you need to make a fun costume. See t shirt= ninja mask. Also saved paper towel tubes for nunchucks.
  • Plan ahead. Granted this should be the first thing and one week before Halloween is not planning ahead. But if you start thinking about your costume in advance you can make decisions to save. One year I found a cute Chinese outfit at a thrift store in June for $5. Yup that’s right June. And this year I held on to 4 t shirts, that we were going to donate, for some ninja accessories.
  • Remember made at home = unique. Buying stuff for Halloween means you’ll most likely end up looking like someone else. ( I am not a fan.) The little quirky additions to your ensemble that happen from making it at home will mean no one will be your exact copy. YAY!
  • Purchase real clothes instead. If you are going to buy something make it something that can be used for more than the costume. It will be cheaper and versatile. For my son’s ninja costume we bought some blue sweat pants and a blue t shirt for a total of $10.78. A quick search led me to a blue Ninjago costume that cost only $14 but was really $25 after adding shipping and handling. So I saved and the clothes I bought will actually serve him for the fall and winter season. Which if you want to get all mathematical means the the cost per use is going to drop way down. As appose to a one trick pony pre-made costume.
  • Made at home = family time. Another reason to in-source the costumes is that making them becomes a fun way to spend time with your family and builds no cost traditions. Instead of feeling like you need to go out and watch the latest scary movie you can cut, glue, sow and paint up your costumes.
  • Find out whats happening in your community. If you aren’t scared of standing in long lines with a bunch of kids you might be able to score some free stuff. One year we went to the malls Halloween celebration and receive 2 free full sized carving pumpkins to decorate with stickers. Sweet. Tip: most event are held the weekend before Halloween.
Sparing or dancing? I don't know but I do know smiling is going on under our ninja masks
Sparing or dancing? I don’t know but I do know smiling is going on under our ninja masks.

So there you have it, having fun for Halloween doesn’t mean spending loads of $$. We have honestly only spent the $10 listed above and I don’t foresee anymore spending.

How do you save on Halloween? Tell me in the comments below.

The Roamer traveling wallet



*click if you want to see a contradancing example.

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Frugal Back to School shopping

Last week on Tuesday Jr went back to school. Not only that, I also realized I’m getting old he’s getting old. I mean he’s in 2nd grade!

( inhale ,exhale, inhale, exhale)

What happened to the surprise baby. 🙁

After the initial shock I had a thought. And it went like this.

“Oh yeah, wasn’t there a shopping thing I was supposed to do to get ready for today”

I didn’t prepare at all. I didn’t even really think about preparing for it at all. Other then  “oh Jr starts school next week “.

Instead of think about it in regards to money and purchases. I thought about it in regards to time.

How are our schedules going to change? Adjust?

But wait a minute

I want to go back to this money and back to school shopping thing.

We all know that there is an endless barrage to buy. That is no different when it comes to kids and school. Actually my research showed its the 2nd most consumeristic time of the year. The message to buy was rampant. Even so I hardly noticed it myself.

The truth is I didn’t get a list so I wasn’t worried about having to check items off that list. Still, I got curious about this back to school shopping practice so I did  some research.

How much are parents spending on their back to school shopping sprees? And on what?

A standard list of items for back to school shopping even for young 2nd grade students is pretty extensive.

Back to school list

Writing utensils, Art stuff, Paper. But this list didn’t even include clothes.

Checking off all the items on the box + clothes will leave you $630 poorer says NRF’s study.

As an aspiring minimalist I have to say the list  I found looked a bit much. I recall my days in school and a few back to school shopping trips. (I don’t think it was as popular a thing back then.)  You know what else I recall having plenty of left overs at the end of the year.

It’s not over yet

After checking the last items off your list, walking around with a lighter wallet, you are finally ready to say good bye to the school related spending.


While it sounds like most parents (American parents?) spend a lot of time thinking about the initial cost of school few discuss all the other costs.

Yup that’s right closing your wallet after picking up the last 3 ringed binder on the list is not the end of your school related spending. Oh no.

Whether you plan to pay for them or abstain its a good idea to at least acknowledge all the other costs.

$5-10 PTA membership. We receive the little envelope the first week of  school.  We pass on this because I don’t have time to participate.

$20- $60 Class pictures. Okay these are kind of nice special since we don’t go take professional pictures as a family every single year ( actually never do this).But the costs can get up there.

Growing up we always got full picture packages. You know how much good it did us?

Zero good, well zero to buy so many. Being the only family to live in the USA, it would have been nice to send them to family outside the country. But we  never did, instead we end up with hundreds of paid pictures that we didn’t need.

Maybe that was just my family but I’m using it as a lesson. We do buy them but only exactly how many we need. Which usually is the smallest package or 1-2 sheets. Usually $20-$27. Though still ridiculously over priced in my opinion much better then the $60 or more you spend if you want everything.

$5-$10 Field trips, ~2 per year. If you really like experiences, don’t forget to account for these later in the year. But the older your kid gets the more expensive. I was in marching band growing up and we had 3 field trips a year at about $45 each.

$20-$60 Spring pictures. The class pictures twin brother is the spring pictures. If your going to buy Ask yourself the same question. How many do I need exactly? We did not purchase these last year.

$????? Team fees, gear, and uniforms. We actually don’t have to worry about this, this year, but I know its a cost many parents place upon themselves. So make sure you account for it.

Also expect to get plenty of solicitations for, PTA garage sales, cookie sales, valentines day grams , mothers day grams, father’s day grams… Well you get my point. There’s a lot more spending to be done if you don’t keep your priorities straight.

Finally Hidden Costs

In my family and maybe yours too I know we will see Increased car usage. I recognized it right away that we would be using the car much more  frequently. Doing 2 round trips every day to school. This is going to cost more in gas usage. I am keeping an eye out to see it reflected in my monthly accounting.

Destroyed clothing. I don’t know what it is but during the summer break Jr did not put any holes in his clothing. However during school last year he was putting holes in his knees non stop and part of the dress code is no ripped clothing. So not only is there clothes shopping at the beginning of the school year  there is potential for it during the year too.

His Dad ended up purchasing him new jeans(multiples) more then once and we even did too. So I am expecting this cost this year as well. Though I am not scared of patching holes in knees for Mr. Roamer and myself. Jr’s tiny leg holes made the whole process much more labor intensive and time consuming. So I am thinking just purchasing replacements. Through thrift stores of course.

After all that bad news.

Tips for saving

  1. Wait to actually get a list from a teacher.

If you Google your child’s grade level there are plenty of lists of must haves available and the lists can be very inclusive.

Instead of doing this wait to get a list of items from the actual teacher. Then question the validity of them all. Every single item on the list. After all they are only suggestions so identify the real and true must haves, then move on to step number 2.

We still have lots of pencils and erasers at home.

2.Check at home first. A cluttered house can make it difficult to find items but you should try anyways. Likely you have at least pencils, pens, eraser, glue and crayons already at home.

3. Realize they don’t need it new every year if it works fine still. School is not a fashion show.  Back pack, lunch box? You don’t need a new one every year.

Finally we are going to address the excess driving by increasing my biking.

So far we have spent zero dollars on our back to school shopping. But I know that will change as school term progresses.

Alright all you parents or students. Did you go back to school shopping? How did you save? If you didn’t cause you don’t have any kids what would you do with the extra $630 you might have spent?





FinCon 2015, Help!

Just a little over a month away FinCon 2015 is hot on my mind.

I’m starting to get nervous for multiple reasons. You see like any good personal financier I am getting worried about the numbers.

What is going to be my ROI? How will I make sure its good?

Though we can afford it in one sense, it is a big investment. I mean there’s the conference pass, the hotel stay, the plane ticket, lifts to and from the airport, food. There’s a lot of money tied into this thing. But its not just that, there are other costs too, specially in the realm of time. My vacation time and weekend both things that are for my family won’t be. My husband and I will have to go 12 days without really spending any time together. It’s a sacrifice, and I need to make sure its worth it. I need to make the most of it. That’s a lot of pressure.

So I’m hunting. Hunting for any information to make sure I do the right things.

Cost so far

  • Airplane $480.70
  • Hotel $515.17
  • Fincon pass $408.95

That’s a total of $1404.82 and that’s not including food or lifts.

Though I did save with the pass because I signed up for FinCon mailing list and so I saw the note about the 48hr sale. Hey if I’m going to go I might as well get the best deal. I’m not sure if I should have saved more by purchasing a regular pass instead of the pro pass. Am I at a point that a pro pass is necessary?

FinCon 15

Purchasing so far in advance is also a big commitment and back then I wasn’t 100% sure I would be going. But it was  their policy that allowed for transfers that put my mind at ease about purchasing 9 months in advance.

Though I probably could have saved more on the pass I think I did pretty good. However, I really messed up with the airfare. My poorest financial decision and biggest regret was not pouncing on $282 for flights. Seriously. Uber fail on my part. Securing the best deal on flights is usually my number 1 concern when I travel.

Accomodation costs are also high but I signed up during group pricing. Are you heading to FinCon? Message me I am looking for roommates. Ladies only though. 🙂 I booked the 2 beds room in anticipation of finding roommate(s) to cut down costs. It will be a fun adventure and its only for 3 nights. As Finance bloggers I’m sure we can all agree that cutting costs is valuable. I am looking for roomies to cut costs down all around.

 At this price this is not just for fun it is for business. I mean if it’s just for fun that is really expensive fun for just myself. My husband and I could have done over 10 organized races(fun runs) for that, taken classes and paid for babysitting, or even taken a week long family trip somewhere.

All alone

I guess another reason I’m scared, worried is that I’m going by myself. It’s intimidating. I have had the good fortune of attending conferences before during college ( shout out to SHPE) but it was always in groups.

Not having anyone to fall back on means I am going to have to be super proactive, so that I’m not that weirdo standing at the edge of the room.  Luckily I never had a problem with that and most say I’m very outgoing. But it has been a long time since I’ve been in this situation.

Being outgoing and making connections is what’s going to make this trip a success.

As preparation I have read/watched and re visited these 2 resources. I really recommend you check them out.

Pat Flynn’s Spi TV conference tip

Bugetblonde’s conference hustle advice 

So let me know in the comments about any other good work I should read before September 17. Not only will you be sharing with me but any other readers aswell. Planning ahead and being prepared will benefit us all.

Mixed bag of feelings

Even with all the nervousness weighing on my chest. The  excitement is steadily building as well. This is going to be a big adventure.

Ahhh! 😀 how amazing!

I am going to hopefully see more then just the inside of a fancy hotel room. I will have the chance to explore a new city I’ve never been too. Traveling! Hooray!

Then I am going to be surrounded by people who share similar interests.  Making connections and meeting all these inspirational people who have impacted my life. Never before have a gone to a conference where I know people even though we’ve never met.

Are you going to FinCon? Let me know it would be nice to meet in person. Are you looking to cut cost ? Send me a message. And don’t be shy with any recommendations. More good tips on maximizing the experience are highly welcome and greatly appreciated.






Family Travel: Colorado 2015

The months are flying by and I am keenly aware of the fact that summer will be upon us. Summer is usually filled with lots of travel and high sticker prices to match. We enjoy travel ourselves but this year our trips were schedule outside the summer window. We took a trip to Colorado and we plan to take a trip to Michigan in winter this year as well.

Traveling efficiently is something I am becoming more keen on. It wasn’t something I use to worry much about. I could sleep in the car, travel in a bus or drive all night when I was younger but as I am now in the trenches of parenthood and marriage my trips require I take other certain things into consideration. Still I maintain not needing to stay at the poshest suites or eat at the hottest restaurants.

After the trips I enjoy calculating how much we spent. Usually because I don’t really budget for a trip, frugal muscles are developing and questioning purchases at the source have made me not worry too much about the end result. But it still seems foolish to not check at all, so I gather my data and get to it.

We enjoy seeing this view at least a few times a year.
We enjoy seeing this view at least a few times a year.

Now let me clear something up. When I say we don’t budget for a trip I mean that I don’t say we have $200 for entertainment,$500 for food and the such. I do budget early on in the planning stages, specially when it comes to buying the plane tickets.

In the Roamer household I “budget” $150 a month for travel, which amounts to $1800 a year which normally is about right. Last year we spent almost $4000, but we had some out of state weddings we attended which we didn’t optimize so they ballooned our normal travel expenses.  Anyway like I was saying the budgeting I do for the trip is usually insuring we pay the lowest amount we can for airfare. Which in turn has a drastic impact on our final numbers.

The Costs of Roamer clan’s Colorado trip

This year we took an 8 days/7 nights trip during our son’s spring break to visit family. Even though we traveled during this high travel time frame we were  able to snag some good airfare. The table breaks out the rest of our costs.

This breaks down all the major categories into a more detailed view.
This breaks down all the major categories into a more detailed view.

So what did we do on our trip?

The Flight

We were able to score some great prices on airfare. How can you? Well I would recommend following these tip or tricks.

  • Buy your tickets on the weekdays. Maybe its an urban legend but Tuesday prices seem to consistently be much better when I check flights, then when I check flight on Saturday or Sunday.
  • Plan ahead. I like to buy tickets at least 3 months in advance and again I usually see much better prices.
  • Fly on the weekdays. Tuesday – Thursday are the most affordable times to fly in and out of your destination. If you can be somewhat flexible then you can get a better rate on most flights.

So we did just that, we flew in to Colorado on a Wednesday and out on a Wednesday. The strangest/ newest thing about this trip is that we did day flights. I strongly stand by red eyes or evening flight when flying with kids. But we survived and only had a bout of about 30 mins of crying on our flight back.

The Accommodations

We were able to save on accommodations by qualifying for a family employee discount. Before the trip we booked multiple hotels during the time we wanted to stay and continued looking and booking as we saw better deals. Then a few days before the trip we looked at all our choices and decided on the best deal given our personal preferences. In this instance we traded distance for more amenities. We could have stayed right in downtown which would have put us a walk away from family, but the hotel was very fancy, (read it expected you to go out for every single meal and had no microwave or even small fridge in the unit). On the other hand the other location was an extended stay type of hotel with a kitchen and it included breakfast everyday and dinner 3 nights.  Oh and it was cheaper too. So we stayed on the outskirts.

The Activities

snow fun roamers
Enjoying the free entertainment and the novelty of snow.

We enjoyed low cost and high cost activities. From the low cost spectrum like playing in the hotel parking lot and basketball court, to parks, hikes and swimming. To the high end stuff like a Zoo visit, and fancy restaurant meals.

On our first day stay we were greeted by a light snow cover. YES! free entertainment. We went out multiple times that day to play in the snow.  The hotel also featured a basketball court and swimming pool. So we also did that while we hung out at the hotel between our more expensive excursions.

For the not free activities we went to the Denver Zoo. But we were actually able to save from the standard cost. This is how that played out. Son got in for free because it was his birthday the next day ( what nice and friendly employees and what confident proactive grandmother who made the ask), also brother in law used their free guest passes to get me in . Minnie Roamer was under 2 so free, so we paid for only 1 adult entrance. That’s some good activities hacking and it wasn’t even pre-planned. Then Mr. Roamer and I enjoyed a grown up night out to the movies with my brother in law and his significant other. This on the other hand was very poorly thought out. We knew we had some movie credits but we didn’t plan ahead with regard to snacks and we went to watch something that just released so it did end up costing us more then we had expected. 

The Food

The most delicious thing I ate on this trip. Not a fan of Hollaindaise sauce so this version of eggs Benedict was exquisite!

On our trip we had a mix of home cooked, restaurant, and comped meals. As we already discussed the hotel already included breakfast every morning and dinner 3 nights during our stay. We took full advantage of the buffet breakfast and ate to our hearts content. We did need to purchase some food for Minnie Roamer as I am more particular about what she puts in her mouth and we also had to encourage Jr. Roamer to have some of the healthy options, yogurt, oatmeal, along with his syrup covered morning waffle. But we all let loose, and as to be expected there is a cost for such a diet and after a few days I was breaking out thanks to all the morning breakfast sausage. C’est la vie.

We also visited the grocery store and bought and prepared our own meals a few times. The biggest thing was buying fruits and vegetables, as those were what was hard to come by during all the other meals. If you are traveling I would highly recommend you buy at least all your snack foods at the grocery store instead of on location at excursions. You can save by packing your own fruits, carrots, nuts and even your own junk food; chips and soda.

On this trip we did indulge in some fancy higher end meals, we ate at 2 very nice restaurants. This is where we planned to spend a nice chunk of change and we came prepared. But if you look closely they are followed by zeros on the table. All I can say is we have some nice family. My favorite dish was trying the eggs Benedict, Tomayo  style.(pictured). I am happy we got to have these nice experiences.


The only other major thing we spent money on was gas, and we also had some random expenses( all shown in the table above). Total our 8 day/ 7 night trip cost the Roamer clan, a family of 4, $1072.40. not to bad a compared to the national average.

Head to Head 2014 Vs. 2015

Finally I wanted to compare it to last years Denver trip. Did we spend more? Did we spend less?

So I set it all up in a table

Roamer vacation

Comparing the numbers straight its clear we spent less. $1072.40 compared to last years $1915.37. But then I thought wait a minute this trip was 2 days shorter. So did we spend less or is it only because we were out less time. So I calculate the per diem spent.

9 day trip was $1915.37/ 9 = $ 212.81

7 day trip was $1072.40/7 = $153.20


Truthfully though this all seemed rather funny to me since I felt we were much looser with our money in this trip.

Why were we in a much more spendy mindset? Because we came armed with several $100 gift card that needed spending. (The initial idea was to use these card to buy our monthly groceries but I disliked how they complicated the bookkeeping so we decided to set them aside as funds for the vacation.)

Looking Forward

As we prepare for our future travel there are a few things that are or have changed which will cause our costs to potentially increase.

  • Minnie roamer is turning 2 which means no more free flying. If you are a parent of young children. Use their age to your advantage and travel while they are free.
  • We now have a desire to visit family in Colorado and Michigan. Before we planned for only 1 trip a year, we might need to account for 2.

Of course with any travel the best part is being able to take time off work and spend more time together. Since we have family spread out across the U.S. it is a goal to visit them regularly. So with each trip we also get to check off some yearly travel goals.

Are you planning summer travel? how do yo keep your costs under control? Is travel a part of your family’s yearly goals? Let me know on the comments below.

Do you put your money where your mouth is?

I made a lot of changes last year. Honestly though, they were easy changes to make. Math, I trust it. And it showed me it would be no problem to reach my goals.

Today I’m going to make a big change. I am so scared. That is so depressing in itself, when did I become so complacent. I have been with my company since 2008. The last 2 years I have suffered through it. I wasn’t proactive enough, maybe. Truth is it doesn’t matter, I just never did much about my situation. I see now that I’ve stayed because it was safe. I’ve been saying, “I am ready for a change,” but I haven’t done anything really.

Just last year I changed positions but I’m still with the same company.  I’ve tried to shake things up without shaking them up too much.

Do I really want to work at this company until I reach F.I.?

I changed positions because I foolishly thought I can keep doing this until we are financially free. But today I chose to not let the next 10 years be a sacrifice,  instead they would be a wonderful growing experience.

What was my big decision? To put my money where my mouth is and sign up for ZTL. It promises to help me understand the systems to set up an online business and show me the steps to actually get it done.  What? Why an online business? Lets jump back a bit.

Old Dreams and Goals

I don’t know when the idea first popped in my head, but I have wanted to to start my own business for a long time (some people call them side hustles). The kind of business has morphed, and it has included all these:

  • Own a Rental property, When I was in college I rented a house with roommates. I could tell that the landlords where making a killing.  So I could see the income potential. I wanted to find a way to purchase a house and rent it out. Right there in our college area.(I’m still interested in this)
  • Start a Restaurant, I also thought that a restaurant that served authentic Latin food would be an instant hit, especially in MI, where the food variety is quite lacking.
  • Start a class, I know how to do some crafty things and I wanted to try my hand at teaching it.
  • Do Consulting, If you read my about page you would know I am a lean manufacturing engineer. Lean consultants help businesses become more efficient and improve their bottom line. Not to mention I’d get to work with different industries. Sounds good.

So I have been wanting to start my own business for a while.

Are FEARS  holding you back?

Yet here I am, I haven’t done any of those things. I had excuses for all of them. Lean Consultant? I’m not actually certified. I didn’t have the money. I didn’t have the time. I wasn’t a professional chef or even had any culinary training. I got pregnant!

If I look back on my yearly goals, I have had a goal to get certification on there for at least 2 years. But the cost never made sense. Honestly I was miffed that my company wasn’t offering me the same opportunities they had offered other people. (People not even interested or appreciative of those valuable courses, yes I am going off on a rant). Some where along the way I learned that I needed to do it myself. That if I wanted certain certifications, I would have to get them myself.  But again I wasn’t setting aside the funds. I wasn’t making it a priority.

Do you make goals for self improvement? What keeps you from taking action on them?

Why now?

Like I said I have been wanting to go out on my own for a while. Try something new. But it never seem to be the right time. So whats changed? Why now?

  • Financially Secure: Finally our Family is in a good financial place right now. We are debt free and have reduced our expenses and have a cash flow cushion.
  • I’ve already started with baby steps. Staying up at night and having this blog on my mind constantly, I am committed and have the drive pushing me forward.
  • I am seeing returns already with putting myself out there . I’ve made new connections with great people who I check up on and who check up on me.
  • I don’t want to wait until I retire to live my ideal life.  I am aware that its possible to start living it now.
  • An Increase in courage, post like, Why I choose to spend 7K for a coach by Good Financial Cents have shown me the value in investing in personal growth.
  • Spend more time with my family, Starting an online business and making it viable will give me the freedom to work from home. I am ready to make the sacrifices (lose sleep) to get there.

The Cost to invest in myself

So this course, ZTL, I am signing up for isn’t cheap. It’s advertised at $199 per month. That means I would have spent $2388 by December. My frugality didn’t disappear, so once I had it in my head that I was interested, I wondered if there was some way to save on that by paying all at once. Sure enough in very small letters there it was save $391 by paying all at once. So I spent $1997 and saved almost 2 whole months of payments.

In the end it was really a cost vs. value question.

The new Goal

As time has passed my goals have morphed and their priorities have changed. Thinking about when I would even have time has also changed when I had projected to achieve them. Since becoming more financially savvy I have been able to positively impact my business goal. It has changed from….

  • Own my own business someday (before I die)
  • Own my own business after I retire (10 years out to even start)
  • Own my own viable business by 2016!

Signing up for this course has made me feel like I should be able to have something by the end of the year.


Are you investing in yourself?

It doesn’t have to be 7K like Jeff or 2k like myself, it doesn’t even have to be $100.

You can start by reading books or blogs that make you take control. Things that will lay the ground work, the foundation for the next step.

I’m Currently reading 7 habits of highly effective people. This book in itself will help you get into the mindset where you can honestly ask if paying to learn is worth it. A mind set where you don’t just automatically say its too expensive and not worth the cost. But where you can ask if you are emotionally, physically, mentally and financially ready to make such a commitment.

I’m nervous, but I’m excited too. Paying money is just a financial manifestation of the fact that I am ready to make the changes I need to get out of my current job situation.

What is an investment you’ve made recently? Leave a comment down below no judgments here. What do you think is the first step to investing in yourself?


2014 travel wrap up

Guess what? For calling myself the Roamer and this site Traveling Wallet,  In 2014 I had made no written goals that we were going to travel. It wasn’t that we weren’t planning to. We have a standing trip to the In-laws at least once a year. It just wasn’t something I was going to focus my attention on.

My baby hadn’t even turned a year old so travel was not even on my mind. I mean how do you travel when you have what I would consider a newborn. (Less then a year is a newborn baby to me). So other then the trip home to Michigan which was required, specially because we had said baby, we had no other travel plans.

Yet even like that, in 2014 we all still hopped on a few planes as a family, as well as just the grown ups.

But before I jump into our Vacation wrap up lets talk about what the average American vacation looks like. This will give me something to compare to later.

So I guess first off the average american doesn’t take much vacation. It says so on the internet, and I can attest to that, as at my current job several employees have accumulated over 200 hrs of vacation.  Why would anyone do that? Then there are those who don’t travel anywhere for it. They didn’t call them staycations before but that is what happened.

However those who do vacation seem to spend quite a bit per family member.

So what does the standard vacation look like and cost. According to a few sources the average American family spend about $4,000 on vacation and it usually covers 4 people for a week now lets just assume it was a full 7 days and not 5 days.

According to families should budget 5-10% of income. Hmm, so they are saying the more you earn the more you’ll spend.Then this other site has a nice info graphic.

So with all these rules of thumb being thrown around lets just go with the american express survey numbers. $1145 per person or $4580 for a family of 4.

I don’t know about you but that seems pretty pricey for the amount of time you get. So now lets see what the Roamer clan did this year.

Comparing Figures

How much did we spend on vacations/ travel all year?


How big is our family?

4+1=5 , If you haven’t figured it out yet, our family of 5 consist of: Me, Mr. Roamer, Little boy and little girl and my Mom. So 3 adults, 2 children. Yes I live in a multigenerational household. (that’s a story for another time)

How many days of vacation per person?

  • 1 got 24 days- My mom**
  • 4 got 10 days- The Roamer clan
  • 2 got an extra 6 (that would be us, The Roamer and Mr.Roamer)

Where did we go?

All of our trips required flying as we live in California and our trips took us to

How much do standard american families spend?

A lot! And they don’t seem to get very much. Below I have a chart of what you’d get at the “standard family vacation”.  Seems like with a bit of planning and some savvy spending you can get much more bang for your buck.

Affordable Family vacations

For us the short impromptu trips were due to being invited to some weddings. We had known they were coming in 2014 but we didn’t really decided that we were going until late. Those trips were the most expensive per person per day.


All in all it was a fun year and it look like we made out better then the typical Jones’.

We also saved a whopping $7496 compared to the average Joe (and Family). Sounds good to me I don’t miss traveling like the average joe one bit.

During our travels we learned some new things so Lets play a quick game of

Did you Know?

Did you know?

It is absolutely no trouble at all to take the bus from the airport in Milwaukee (MKE) to downtown.

It cost very little about 2.50/ person and the bus was mostly empty and felt safe. So if you’re ever flying in to that airport and staying in the downtown area. Skip the cab and the rental car. The buses work great and its a very walk-able area.

Did you know?

Denver has this awesome tool for transportation called the bcycle.

Its a pretty cool business and in a city were there are major bike routes it just makes so much sense. So if you are in Denver you might want to remember to pack your bike helmet and skip the car rental as well.

If your looking for low cost entertainment mixed in with a little nostalgia stop by 1 up arcade. I’m not a drinker but adult beverages are served and most(all) of the games are the standard quarter(check out their FAQ in you don’t believe me). I’m not an Xbox or PlayStation gamer but I really enjoy arcades(Pack-man please)

Oh! The power!
Oh! The power!

If you have kids like I do, another great thing are public parks and pools. Growing up I had never been to a community pool that included a mini water park for the kids. I thought this was awesome The cost? Okay I don’t remember exactly but it was about $2 per person.

Curtis Park, CO you can't tell in this google maps picture but it is so much fun
Curtis Park, CO you can’t tell in this Google maps picture but it is so much fun!

Did you know

El Salvador is home to these popular sites. Blah! I’ve never actually been. I really wanted to have some cool insight but without having been there well I’ve got nada.  When I get there on my own 2 feet I’ll share. Until then if you ever are in my neck of the woods I can cook you some authentic Pupusas!

Yum! Thanks Wikipedia for better quality pictures then I can take.

Thanks for reading

The Roamer

 How did you make out last year did you travel as much as you wanted too? What do you have planned for this year?

* Some thing to consider is that our total cost likely doesn’t include some numbers for example food costs. Some food costs might have been sorted to our standard monthly food budget. Still I checked and on our vacation months we did not go over our food budgets.  Same for gas. All this means is that if we were gone for a week we spent the same money we would have otherwise spent on food. It wasn’t above or beyond which is usually the case for vacations. Anything that was above and beyond was included in our cost.

** We only paid for the flight, all other costs were incurred by my mother. However I wouldn’t peg her spending anything more then $250 while she was out.

*** I am not getting paid for any of these awesome recommendations. I just think these are cool. Plus Mr. Roamer said that’s what he’d include if he was writing the post.  

Design your own Wedding dress

Hi everyone today at Traveling Wallet we will be talking about wedding dress design.

Design your own wedding dress

  • Let’s talk about why you would want to
  • Tips for how to
Why design your own dress?

The Cost

Do you know the range for the cost of already made wedding dresses?

The average is $1,100

But designer dresses can even be north of $6,000. ( Boing, as eyes pop out of sockets)

The average cost would have been 20% of my budget.

I designed my own wedding dress and as it were my actual dress cost was $173. Which was more like 4% of my total cost.

Its funny I thought that designing your own stuff meant it would be more expensive. Guess I was wrong. 


I’m going to play to the crowd here and say most women ( major generalization I know) are mortified about going to a party and someone else wearing the same dress. Not likely to happen at a wedding, but if you design your own dress then no one else will have it! Plus you can insure you have all the different features, something that is very hard to do when shopping ready made.

It would be one of a kind.


Come on, how awesome would it be when someone says “oh I love your dress its so beautiful ,where did you get it? or who’s it from?” And you say I designed it myself. Extra point if you make it yourself too.

How to design your own wedding dress.

Find some inspiration

Roamer wedding inspiration inspiration 2 Wedding Roamer

I looked at pictures for ideas of features I liked and wanted to include. In my case a low back, mermaid silhouette and tiers? ( not sure if that is correct term). But the one thing I couldn’t find was an off the shoulders dress. So find yourself some inspiration.

Sketch up a design

Traveling Wallet Wedding dress design sketch
I drew many sketches but this is the one I provided to the seamstress.

I drew multiple sketches up trying to get my mind around the features I wanted to include. Perhaps you need a bit of drawing skills but as you can see by my picture it’s nothing like what you would see in patterns ( those things people buy at Joann to make clothes at home)

Add specific features. Outline the material, color , and any embellishment.

Find a seamstress

Once you decide you want to design your own dress and have it made, verbalize your goals to people. This will help you use your network. I found my seamstress through a friend who was also getting married and who’s mother was getting services also.

Vet her/ his work most have other jobs in progress hanging from racks. Look at them. You don’t have to agree just because you are there already. Poke around and look at the quality of the work.

Ask the following Questions

  • Ask about the schedule?
  • Have you worked with this material before?
  • How many times would you meet?
  • How many fittings would you get?
  • Can she meet your deadline?
  • Find out cost based on material and time and know you upper limit?

Hire someone

Draw up a contract . Sorry but verbal is just not good enough. This is to protect yourself specially if its someone you don’t personally know. I was fortunate everything went well enough, but I did have some issues with a different vendor which I also didn’t have a written contract. It should include most of the information up top.

After this the seamstress gave me options. I had to pay some money up front so she could buy the materials. Or she said I could buy the material myself.

I bought material, this is where my dress color was decided. I wanted a color initially: red, orange, yellow. Champagne? I’m not going to lie probably has something to do with my infatuation with Asian culture.

Red is my favorite color
This would be more my style then a big puffy princess gown

But I also wanted a specific material cotton eyelet. This material is predominantly sold in white. As in I had more options with white. So white it was.

Don’t make these mistakes

Since this was my first time ever in this situation I was timid. Don’t be timid you are paying the agreed on price.

On the last day after she had finally put everything together and I stopped by I wanted to try on the final product, but she had dry cleaned it already she said. So I just pulled it out of the bag and looked at it. It look great. Then paid and was on my way.

When I got home I tried it on anyway. I was disappointed to find the shoulders were in the wrong place so I had to make some alterations. I’m not shy around a needle so I was able to fix it but I felt upset.

  • Put it on ! Check it again before you pay and leave.
  • Speak up during the process!

When you work with a seamstress you are working with a dress that is being built not a finished product that needs alterations. So stuff is being pieced together. Speak up  during this process, I want the neck line lower, less ruffles. You have lots of opportunities to make the needed adjustments and when its done it should be made just right for you. You shouldn’t have to unstitch and resew.That is what I got hung up on.  You have to put it on when its all done. Rookie mistake on my part.

Traveling wallet roamer wedding dress
Some pictures of the final product. Can you tell it wasn’t store bought?

Wedding or Marriage

To be 100% honest the real recommendation I should be making is wear a dress you already have. I got a bit wrapped up in the fantasy of it all too. But in retrospect most of it is just plain old unnecessary. But lots of people don’t want to let this dream go so I hope this helps you to save as much as possible while following the dream.

Guys send your ladies over to this post because even though it was lady centered, it really helps everyone out to cut costs on any item on the wedding budget.

 Can you include a picture of you in your wedding dress in the comments*? Seriously!

* I honestly don’t know if that is possible in the comments but thought I’d ask anyways.