Dear Mary: I wanted to tell you the secret of sticking to a budget on our family vacation–something we’ve had a hard time achieving in the past. This year, we let our teenage daughter plan the vacation. Seems too simple.
We told her the amount we had to spend beyond the cost of overnight accommodations. We told her she could spend the money any way she wanted. We could eat out every night or cook dinner in our kitchenette. She could spend it all on the Boardwalk.
My spendthrift daughter became Ms. Frugality. She wanted to parasail. So she had us eat every single meal in the room and spent less than twenty dollars at the Boardwalk. We parasailed and had the best time ever. We came home with cash in our pockets. Best of all, we are enjoying the priceless accomplishment of teaching our child the value of money. Madeline
Dear Madeline: Wow, way to go! What a great idea and I am so proud of your sweet daughter for accepting the challenge of such a big task. I’m going to predict that this event will stay with her for a lifetime and will begin to shape her money life. Never again will she think you have unlimited sources of money. She’s experienced how making good choices with a limited amount of money can result in positive outcomes.
You gave your daughter the opportunity to make her own independent financial decisions, and she scored. Please give her my heartfelt congratulations and a big frugal high five!
Dear Mary: Living on a fixed income and given the nature of the economy, we are thinking about switching to pre-paid cellphones to cut expenses even further. If I terminate my current cellphone service, will I still be able to use the camera feature on my phone? I take pictures and download them to my computer to share with family and friends, though I do not have a data plan on my phone. B.J.
Dear B.J. I don’t know which phone you have, but generally, the camera will still work even if you cancel your phone service. If you have an iPhone it will continue to function except for connecting to the internet, making calls or texting. Please confirm this information with your phone’s manufacturer before pulling the plug on your service, just to be certain. Then you’ll know that your decision is fully informed.
Dear Readers: I absolutely adore getting mail from readers of my Everyday Cheapskate column. Do you have a question, comment or money-saving tip to share? Please write to me at mary[at]everydaycheapskate.com. While I read all of my mail, I cannot always respond personally due to the volume of mail I receive. I respond to select letters in this column. Many thanks, in advance.