I’m usually a tightwad. I’ve been called frugal, cheap, thrifty, and every shade of grey in between. 99 percent of the time, I’m so frugal that I forget to have fun with what my husband and I have earned. So when Crystal from Budgeting In The Fun Stuff challenged her readers to a “Fit In Some Fun” Challenge, I decided to chuck my obsession with saving money to the side – at least temporarily – and, as Crystal would say, budget in the fun stuff.

The Challenge

Crystal’s challenge to have some fun had three rules:

  1. It could be anything, as long as it qualified as “fun.” (So no doing the dishes or putting away laundry… check!)
  2. Ideally it should be something I wasn’t planning to do already.
  3. Cost wasn’t a factor, meaning it could be big ticket fun (we’re going to Europe!) or fun on the cheap (Two Buck Chuck!).

Since I’m a stickler for following the rules, I quickly had to rule out the following pseudo-fun:

  • Taking a “mom day.” Yes, handing care of the kids over to my husband would make me happy, but doesn’t exactly translate to “fun” for him. I decided that Rule #1 would require my entire family to have fun.
  • Our upcoming trip to Asheville wouldn’t count; even though it was definitely going to be fun, we’d already planned it before Crystal issued her challenge.
  • Since we’ve recently found more financial freedom, I figured this was our chance to go big or go home. And I didn’t want to go home.

Searching for “Fun”

My husband and I spent an entire evening plotting out what we could do for some “fun.” We’ve recently come to the realization that we’re minimalists, so buying something physical that would provide us with fun – like a new TV, tablet, or even a rice maker (my hubby’s suggestion – we eat a lot of rice) – would have been antithetical. Instead, we decided to focus on an experience, something all four of us could do together to create a new family memory.

We considered getting tickets to a sporting or theatrical event, but trying to persuade our two young children to sit still for more than five minutes at a time didn’t sound like fun to either of us. We considered going out to a nice dinner, but unless the restaurant has paper tablecloths and crayons, it’ll only lead to a pounding migraine for my husband and me.

Seemingly out of ideas, I turned to – where else? – Facebook. As I scrolled through my news feed, a picture caught my eye. It was a photo of one of my friend’s children, happily splashing in a wave pool at an indoor water park resort. The image got my brain working again. Just a few days earlier, my daughter had been asking why we could go to the pool anymore, and was sad to learn it would be closed until next summer – which, to a four-year-old, sounds really far away. I knew there was an indoor water park report about an hour’s drive from our house, and the light went on.

Breaking Down The Numbers

I was lucky to snag a last minute deal to spend a night at the resort – with water park passes for the whole family included – by bypassing the resort’s website and calling directly instead. In addition to our $159 room rate, we also scored a free breakfast buffet for the whole family – a $40 value. Even though Crystal said money didn’t matter, but I’m a personal finance bloggers – so here’s how the numbers broke down:

  • $159 for the room, plus an overall hotel tax rate of 13.5%, bringing the one-night total to $180.47
  • Since we arrived after lunchtime and had our breakfast comped, we only had to pay for dinner the first day and lunch (before heading home) on the second. We went to a BBQ restaurant for dinner, which cost us $28 with tax and tip, and ordered a large pepperoni pizza poolside for lunch on day two for $15.99
  • It was a 94-mile round-trip, and we filled our tank for $3.35/gallon before heading out the door. I average about 24.5 mpg with my car, meaning the transportation cost us roughly $12.85

That was it! For a grand total of $237.31, we had a great trip and definitely made some memories that will last long after the bills are paid off (which will be the day the credit card statement hits my inbox – I charged it to get the cashback bonus).

Reader, what’s the last thing you did JUST to have fun?

Libby Balke

Libby Balke