That Time Dave Ramsey Said We Could Take a Vacation...
This post originally appeared on Ashley Glover's blog, www.hopefulmosaic, on July 20, 2017.
We haven’t taken an actual vacation in almost five years. For our 5th wedding anniversary, before we had children (and were gloriously chugging along with two, full-blown salaries), we went to an all-inclusive resort in Jamaica. We swam in turquoise water and ate jerk chicken and drank fruity drinks until we couldn’t stand ourselves (Burch revoked my all-inclusive drinking privileges when I started saying “mon” after everything to anyone we encountered on the beach). Then, we had some gracious and generous friends who allowed us to stay in their beautiful beach home the following summer in Daytona, FL. So that was amazing, for sure, especially because we didn’t really have to pay for much besides food and a cleaning fee. Since then, we really haven’t gone anywhere. Burch’s sister was kind enough to fly us out to D.C. for the 4th of July when our kiddos were about 9 months old (Ginny and her cousin are only 10 days apart), which was so much fun. Even so, I will contend that carting a breast bump through two international airports doesn’t really feel like true R + R.
So we have not taken an actual splurge-and-spend-money-on-a-real-get-away-from-it-all-type of vacation since Jamaica in 2012. Part of this is because, well, traveling with babies/toddlers is hard. But more than that, it’s because we are die-hard Dave Ramsey groupies.
Some of our closest friends encouraged us to do Financial Peace University when we first got married, and we were about $40K in debt at the time. Burch still owed money on his car and his undergrad degree. I still had to pay off all of my master’s degree, which was tricky because I was still student teaching at the time and couldn’t apply for an actual, paying job until the following summer. Still, we rolled up our sleeves, lived in the WEIRDEST little apartment (for you Marietta natives…we lived right behind Montana’s Bar on Johnson Ferry Road above an office building!), and we did it. In just over two years, we were debt-free, and we began saving up a down payment for a house.
Then we bought said house. And we began saving for what Dave nerds call “Baby Step 3,” which is building up an Emergency Fund of 3-6 months of expenses. And then we had Ginny, and I lost my resolve to return to work. Mainly because she was such a difficult newborn that I feared that someone who had not actually carried her in their own body for nine months might resort to child abuse. Seriously- I thought someone else might kill her. I could make it through this, because my blood was running through her veins. I could remind myself, between her constant screaming and nursing strikes, that God gave her to me and that I ASKED FOR THIS (Colic + reflux are the WORST).
So we dropped down to one salary, and Burch made a pretty significant career change. Money was tight, and then, well…we had some emergencies. The A.C. went out. Ginny had some eye issues that caused us to meet our deductible. We had a few car wrecks (and I know that the natural assumption here is that all of those were me, because we all know how awesome I am behind the wheel, but they weren’t. Burch went through 2 cars in 18 months. It’s okay, it’s okay – I would’ve assumed it was me, too). My in-laws were beyond generous to help us with our car issues. Even so, over time, down went the emergency fund. But hey, that’s what it was there for. Through my work from home gigs we were able to stay debt-free, and through Burch’s raises here and there we were slowly able to build up our emergency fund again. We promised ourselves when we got about half-way through saving the 3-6 months of expenses, we would splurge on a good vacation.
So the last weekend in June, we left Ginny with my parents (bless them) and rolled off into the sunset at the Ritz Carlton at Lake Oconee. I mean, every Ritz property is beautiful, I am sure, but this was truly stunning.
And honestly – it was the perfect distance from Atlanta. It was far enough that you felt like you were really “getting away,” but it was not a long car ride and did not involve airplanes or rental cars. No stress. We were waited on, catered to, and soaked in an infinity pool until the sun went down. We did “Pontoon Bikes” (yes, that’s a thing, and no, we didn’t last for more than 15 minutes #athletes). They had live entertainment – who knew that James Taylor’s brother was also a talented musician? Didn’t seem B-team at all. He was awesome and super personable! And they end each Sunday night there with a beautiful fireworks’ show.
Other highlights? I discovered that I enjoy reading for pleasure again, HA! I read an entire novel, cover-to-cover, in 72 hours. Ah-mazing. (I have since read two other novels…expect some book reviews soon. Disclaimer: It took me a few years to recover from solely reading five-paragraph essays on classic literature by 8th graders, but I think I’ve finally made it).
Basically, we just enjoyed three solid days of adulting, and it was glorious. The perfect little getaway to celebrate sticking to our financial goals.
I hope you and yours are getting some time to rest, recharge, and be renewed this summer :).