How to afford family travel (and love doing it)


When it comes to reasons why families say they don’t travel, money is one of the most common concerns. The moment you are traveling with your children, all your expenses increase. Family travel is not cheap—but family travel can be affordable. Even better? You can figure out how to afford family travel, set aside the resources so you can travel with kids, and even love doing it.

In this family travel guide, we’re going to talk about how we set aside money for family travel, enjoy the process, and take incredible trips.

“If we can do it, you can also set aside money, prioritize how to use money coming in, and travel with your kids, while they are still kids.”

Family and business budgeting through YNAB is how to afford family travel

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Why you can trust us

During 2021, we set a goal to travel every month as a family, and we did it.

We are also a working wife and working husband, with too little time on our hands, too many things to do,  children to homeschool, food to cook, a business to run together, and plenty of financial concerns. We are not rich (well, not yet, but we’re working on it). Honestly, a lot of people would be pretty surprised if they saw our bank accounts and then saw that we regularly travel for many, many weeks out of the year with our two children—without racking up credit card debt.

We are also two parents who are doggedly deliberate about what we prioritize, and we have prioritized how to afford family travel. From our home in Oregon, we have traveled with our children throughout the United States. As of this writing we are gearing up for long-term international travel for the foreseeable future, funded through a combo of our day-to-day work and money we have been setting aside for years.

Struggles with low income and high debt? We’ve been there.

“The key to setting aside family travel money has far, far more to do with how you take total control of your money in general.”

Wondering how we were going to pay bills while also trying to figure out how to stop racking up credit card charges? Oh, yeah. That was a tough battle. It was also key to helping us understand how to afford family travel. We also transformed our family and business finances. Our personal wealth is on an upward trajectory.

Above all, we have been able to figure out how to do the things we want to do with our kids, while they are kids. For us, that’s travel. If we can do it, you can also set aside money, prioritize how to use money coming in, and work out how to afford family travel with your kids, while they are still kids.

Best way to set aside family travel money and love doing it: You Need a Budget (YNAB)


Replying to @learnersandmakers It’s no secret that Disney has a hefty price tag. What do you think? Was Disney the most expensive part of our 6 week trip?#greenscreen #disneyland #disneyfamily #disneytravel #familytravel #fyp #fypシ

♬ Disney Pictures Intro – Disney Pictures

Caution: We’re about to use a dirty word.

If you are trying to figure out how to afford family travel, saving money, or any other improvements to your finances, odds are you’re coming here after hearing a lot of the same darn thing. You know: “Stop buying lattes. Cut down the Target runs. Cancel Amazon Prime.”

Sure, those things can indeed cut down your expenses. They may also be the right choice for you and your family. However, they’re not the whole solution. Whether you are decreasing expenses, increasing income, or both, what ultimately matters has less to do with what you’re bringing in or keeping. It has far more to do with how you prioritize how you want and need to spend that money.

The key to setting aside family travel money has far, far more to do with how you take total control of your money in general.

Now it’s time for that dirty word.

See, in order to take control of your money, you need something. It’s something a lot of people don’t like to think about or talk about, much less even use.

But in our experience, it’s been an essential, game-changing companion for our family and business finances. It’s made a huge difference in how to afford family travel.

“With one click, we can now budget about 90% of the following month.”

You…Need… A… Budget.

Of course, that’s also the problem. “Budget” gets associated with deprivation, or arbitrary allocations in complicated spreadsheets that you manage to mess up every time you update them.

We used to struggle with those problems too. We don’t anymore.

Nowadays, if “budget” is a dirty word, then we love to swear.

Our secret to traveling as a family

Our secret to traveling as a family, even though we have modest incomes, is that we use a budget.

After all, we do have limited resources. And you know what? When you get down to it, most people do. Limited resources don’t have to stop you from doing the things that matter in your life. We budget because that helps us get the most out of our limited resources. Instead of saying we can’t do something, we look at what we want to do, see what resources we can make available, decide where our priorities are, and juggle things around as necessary.

Of all the things we’ve tried over the years, our subscription to You Need A Budget (YNAB) for short, has made all our family travel possible. Here’s what it is, how we use it, and how we think it can help your family prioritize and find resources for travel too.

What is YNAB?

For starters, it’s pronounced “Why nab.”

YNAB is a reminder that like good family finances, incredible tools can have difficult and not-ideal beginnings. Why do we say that? Because YNAB began in 2003… as a spreadsheet.

Before you panic and dash off, fortunately, the spouse team behind YNAB left behind the spreadsheet long ago. Since 2010, YNAB has moved into the world of bespoke software. From 2015, the YNAB app and online service have made his little budgeting tool a versatile, flexible, powerful online subscription financial improvement powerhouse.

Forbes, PC Mag, and Clark Howard are among those who have tipped their hats to the little company with the strange acronym that could. Why? Because YNAB isn’t just a service. In its own low-key way, it’s become a sort of way of life for thousands of subscribers.

From YNAB’s beginning as a husband-and-wife team, today the company employs about 100 team members in a remote workforce. YNAB is also a company people can feel good about. Fortune named YNAB “#1 Best Place to Work in Small Business”… in 2020. If a business can land an honor like that in that year, that’s really saying something.

At its heart, YNAB does 6 things

  1. Securely connects to your accounts to show you what money is coming in and what’s going out.
  2. Syncs manually or automatically. Most of our accounts we have set to what’s called Direct Import, for automatic syncing. If you need or prefer though, you can also either manually enter in individual transactions, or download and import transactions from your bank.
  3. Set goals and track your progress. One of our favorite features. Need to pay auto insurance in six months? You can set that goal’s date and amount, and YNAB will tell you exactly how much you need to set aside each month.
  4. Enables you to prioritize what money should be going where, be that this month, next month, or a future date.
  5. Gives you simple reports on your overall financial status, spending, and net worth.
  6. Helps you power up your finances so you can get to where you want your finances to be.

Built on a foundation of 4 principles

YNAB isn’t just about dealing with your money though. Every aspect of the service, from its spreadsheet beginnings to the powerful online app you log into today, is built on a solid foundation of 4 principles, which YNAB refers to as their “secret sauce”:

“Aging your money is like the ultimate way to pay it forward: Your past self is covering your future costs.”

1. Give every dollar a job

Most budgets don’t work for the same reason most diets fail: All drudgery, lots of complicated nonsense, and no fun.

YNAB’s focus is on intention. Your budget isn’t about restricting your spending. It’s about making sure every dollar has a job to do, whether that’s paying the electric bill, buying your favorite latte every day, or building up a travel fund for your next family trip. Even more importantly, it’s about something else: Knowing what your money is doing.

That’s the power of YNAB—and it’s a big reason it’s kept our love, fascination, and warm and fuzzies for so long. When you have specified what your money wants and needs to do for you, budgeting stops being the financial version of a trendy diet. Instead, YNAB becomes a sort of companion, a budgeting bestie who’s there to help you do and get what you want out of your financial life.

2. Embrace your true expenses

When you accept that expenses are part of your life, you can more constructively deal with them.

For some expenses, that’s easy—such as that tasty, frothy, milky latte. Some, like rent or a mortgage payment, might be a little tougher to swallow, but they’re there, and you can plan for them.

Where Rule 2 really shines is when it comes to the infrequent stuff. You know, like that car insurance premium you pay every six months. Or how much to spend on gifts for the holidays. Or an annual subscription whose renewal always sneaks up on you.

Rule 2 helps with the even bigger, more out-there things. As we write this, we’re about to renew the registration for one of our vehicles, which we have to do every two years. We also recently renewed our passports, so we’re also planning out what we need to set aside five years from now, when the kids’ passports will need to be renewed, and ten years from now, when we adults will have to renew again.

3. Roll with the punches

And oh, do the punches sometimes come. A doctor’s visit. A car or house repair. A sudden school event. (Or, as we write this, having to replace all four tires on our Outback—we knew it was coming, but hadn’t planned to do it right bloody yesterday.)

We’ve certainly dealt with our share of punches. For example, during a trip to California’s Mojave Desert, bad weather turned what should have been three days of (cheap) popup camping on federal land into three nights in motel rooms.

Do those punches suck? Yup. But thanks to our budget, we can roll with those punches. When we need to, we can reallocate funds within our budget, so a bill is always covered. Through our many years of relying on YNAB, we’ve also been able to build up buffer money, or emergency funds, so we can cover an unexpected expense. Sure, there may still be some sweating and swearing, but we can manage, pivot quickly, and get on with our lives.

4. Age your money

A few years back, Anthony carried some debt in his small business, and he got really, really annoyed about it. So he set a goal: By the end of that year, the business would be out of debt. Once out of debt, his business would have money freed up for other things, from replacing an aging computer to increasing his take-home pay.

Anthony met that goal. Once he did, the “Age of Money” became one of his favorite parts of YNAB.

Age of Money is based on a simple idea: The more purposeful you are with your income and expenses, the more you can grow the amount of money you are keeping, such as in savings or investments. That, in turn, “ages” your money. Before you know it, you can cover tomorrow’s expenses not with money you got today or next week’s payday, but with money that came in last month or even earlier. That frees up today’s money to cover, say, next month’s expenses.

As of May 2022, the Age of Money for our business is 97 days. We are covering expenses for a given month with income that came in over three months ago.

Aging your money is like the ultimate way to pay it forward: Your past self is covering your future costs. In turn, the peace of mind this brings opens up your heart and mind to look forward. You can imagine, dream, and goal-set meaningfully. Instead of constantly worrying about how to pull together two ends that just won’t meet, you become in the moment not only with your money, but with your life.

Can you use YNAB without these four rules?

We hear ya. Rules? We don’t need no stinking rules.

Sure. You can use YNAB without the rules. It might work great for you, and we hope it does. In our experience, the four rules have helped us prioritize better, and do our best with our money, especially when trying to budget for family travel. YNAB’s four rules help you do so much more with the money you have.

But we get it. The word “rules” can make some folks bristle. If you don’t like that word, peachy. Sub in “guidelines” or “principles” or “friendly nudges”. Whatever works for you.

The question is, are you the person who wants to have more control over your budget, so your money can do more for you and your family’s travel goals and more?

“Our goal was simple. We were surviving. But we didn’t just want to survive. We wanted to thrive.”

YNAB is for the family who wants to realize their life goals and financial dreams

Families of all shapes and sizes have financial pressures, goals, commitments, and dreams. YNAB is integral in helping any family not only take greater control of their money, but making more of their financial dreams into reality.

YNAB helps families put their money to work for their needs and wants:

  • Manage, reduce, and eliminate debt, such as credit card debt
  • Understand loan and mortgage commitments, from monthly payments to payoff
  • Allocate windfalls, such as a tax refund, inheritance, or bonus
  • Roll with unexpected expenses
  • Cover regular costs, such as groceries, haircuts, utilities, etc.
  • Plan ahead for occasional costs, such as oil changes, insurance premiums, vehicle registration renewals, etc.
  • Realize big goals and dreams, such as family travel!

Since we started subscribing to YNAB in 2016, we’ve found it integral to our family. Managing our business and personal budgets through YNAB has transformed our family and company finances, taking us from barely managing debt to building wealth. For families who want to put their money to work in better ways, YNAB can help you realize and achieve the things you want to do with your money, not just the things you need to do.

Our YNAB story

A calm day tubing the Upper James River
A calm day tubing the Upper James River

In 2011, two major things happened in our lives. Not suddenly or unexpected, mind, but even after years of planning, each wound up being far harder than we had anticipated.

“At best, all we were doing financially was treading water, and constantly worrying we would slip under.”

First, Anthony left his old job to start his content creation business. Second, we started a family. We’d been working toward both of these changes for a long time. We discussed how we would work, and how we’d try to manage Jodie taking a maternity leave, where she wouldn’t be teaching music for a few months. We delved into how we wanted to be as parents and small business owners.

Hard times

Still. Financially, the next five years were a really hard time. Did we have some savings? Yes. Did we keep plugging away at business? Yup. Still. We racked up credit card debt, trying to stay on top of money going out with very little coming in.

All the same, we managed to always pay our bills on time. We never missed a mortgage payment. Food insecurity was never an issue. Were we in dire financial straits? Not quite… but barely. At best, all we were doing financially was treading water, and constantly worrying we would slip under.

Feeling our debt load, trying to figure out how to improve our finances, we started looking for tools we could use. A lot of budgeting tools really put us off. Spreadsheet-based ones just made our eyes glaze over, and there was way too much manual input required. Plus, the moment we messed up one cell, we could wreck the entire finicky mess.

We looked at various online tools, but again, we didn’t find them useful. Then we remembered: Years prior, when YNAB was very different, we had taken a look at it. Jodie started checking it out again, and saw how different it had become—not to mention how much more intuitive and useful. We first signed up for YNAB in 2016. Beginning with the household budget, we soon set up budgets for each business as well.

Our goal was simple. We were surviving. But we didn’t just want to survive. We wanted to thrive.

Rags to riches?

Uh, no. Our story is not one of rags to riches. Are we way, way, way better off than we were? You bet. Are we building toward wealth and, dare we say, riches? You bet your gold-plated toothbrush. Yet while we appreciate extravagance or luxury, they’re personally not purposes of our own. We’re not budgeting for extravagance. We’re budgeting for building wealth, financial independence, and our dreams and goals for us and the kids.

In reality, we live in the same single-story, 1,500-square-foot ranch house we bought in 2006. (We do own two boats though, if by “boats” you mean a couple of inflatable tandem kayaks.)

But our bills are more than paid. We are saving and investing for our future and our children’s future. Plus, we are funding our travels and other life dreams.

Ongoing small wins

The story we hold dear is the seeming overnight transformation of rags to riches. Truth is, a lot of good change, real change, is slow change.

Our story is not a path of financial struggle where we magically dashed to fabulous wealth. We are simple, workaday people. Are we financially wealthy yet? Not yet. But here’s the thing: We have been doing better every year since 2016, and we can directly attribute those improvements to YNAB.

When we came to YNAB in 2016, we got better at allocating our money. Our budget also helped us figure out other financial moves that could help. We saw where we could trim some costs. We started paying down debts.

While we will of course gladly accept massive sums of money—and give every one of those dollars a job in YNAB—our improved financial health is the result of regularly reviewing our budgets to help us identify, realize, and roll with ongoing small wins.

The real story

Through YNAB, our family has been able to save more. We can more easily identify areas where we can cut costs. Or, sometimes, we can even identify areas where we can increase our spending. Sometimes that’s been groceries, or how much we are investing.

But usually it’s travel. We are always working on how to afford family travel—and more of it.

YNAB helped us eliminate debt in our businesses. Jodie has actually stopped teaching music. Instead, we work together on creating content, especially around family travel and disabled travel. Our only debt is our mortgage, and Jodie has some student loans.

We’ve taken our kids on incredible multi-week road trips. We’re funding our retirement and investment accounts. When a tree branch totaled our car a few years ago, we were able to manage replacing it—and within a year, we had paid off its modest loan.

We are building wealth for ourselves and our children. We are traveling together, the way we want to travel. And every month and every trip, we are still balancing the books.

Today, we are thriving.

In fact, we’re doing better financially than we were when Anthony had a full-time “real job.”

Do we still have some struggles? You bet. Do we navigate changes? For sure. But with YNAB in our corner, we have been able to handle those struggles and changes much better—so that we are not just surviving, we are thriving. We are not just making ends meet. We are funding, and fulfilling, our life goals for us and our children, from investments to travel.

8 things we love about YNAB and how it helps us afford family travel

1. This month brought to you by money we earned months ago

We used to live paycheck to paycheck. Now, we are paying for May’s expenses with money we earned back in, say, February.

And the money we earn this month? That will pay expenses months down the road.

Think about that.

When you are living paycheck to paycheck, you constantly worry about what you will get to first: your next pay period or your last dollar. But when you break that paycheck-to-paycheck cycle, your money really starts working for you. It becomes easier to manage not only day-to-day expenses, but to plan for the things you want your family to do, the goals you want to meet, and the dreams you want to make come true.

The peace of mind of paying for today with money we made months ago doesn’t just help us sleep better at night. It also helps us both plan more long-term, while also knowing we can enjoy the moment. When it comes to how to afford family travel, it is much easier to plan a trip knowing that our regular life expenses are under control.

2. One-click budgeting.

We’ve tied most of our expense categories to amounts we budget each month. For example, our cell phone bill is typically about $108, so we have that as a budget goal. Our groceries can vary, but if we set a monthly goal of $600, that’s enough in the ballpark to work. We do something like this with just about every category in our budget.

Then, when we do our budgeting for the month, we can fund every category with a click.

With YNAB’s Auto-Assign features, we can click “Underfunded” to automatically budget about 90% of our expenses. Then, throughout the month, we can adjust budgeted categories as we true up the budget against our real-world income and expenses.

3. No downloading files or entering transactions manually.

Other budgeting tools require a lot of data entry, and that becomes one of the biggest failure points for people trying to budget—including us. When we had tried other budgets in the past, accessing accounts, downloading transactions and then trying to finagle them just took too much time. Plus something always went wrong, such as the date range not being quite right, and then we had to spend heaps of time troubleshooting all that nonsense.

Not anymore.

Our checking, savings, and credit card accounts all send transactions directly into YNAB, through a little feature YNAB calls Direct Import. YNAB pulls in the transactions for you. Then you go through a list of transactions under each other, make sure it has a category, and boom: transactions entered. From there, you can check your budget and reallocate funds as needed.

4. Tracking progress on paying off loans and credit cards

Whether credit card debt, an installment purchase, car loan, or your mortgage, YNAB can help you see at a glance not only how much you need to pay each month to pay down the debt, but your payoff timeline. Especially when we were getting out of debt, these easy reference points motivated us to stay on track.

A really great little touch? For purchases on your credit cards, YNAB auto-magically transfers the funds budgeted for those expenses into your credit card payment category.

5. Setting goals

We can set a dollar goal and a deadline for when we need the money, and YNAB will tell us exactly how much we need to budget each month to make that happen. We also set monthly goals for our main expenses, especially ones that are either fixed or vary within a certain range, so we can easily set an amount. When we are planning how to afford family travel, setting goals helps us set aside general travel money. Or if we know a specific cost, we can start budgeting right away.

6. Split one transaction into multiple categories

You know how sometimes you go to, say, Target, and your purchases might include groceries, clothes, housewares, toys, and goodness knows what else? That can be tricky to budget for. There’s no one category that the one transaction neatly fits into.

YNAB can actually take this into account for you. When categorizing transactions, YNAB gives you the option to “split” the transaction into different categories. If you spent $100 at Target, you can separate that out into the $40 for groceries, $20 for clothes, $10 for toys and $30 for housewares.

7. Any account you have can be in YNAB, but it doesn’t have to be in the budget

Not every account has to be part of your budget. For example, you might allocate funds toward investment, retirement, and/or education accounts. However, you don’t necessarily need to see those accounts inside of your day-to-day budget (but you may want to see their impact on your net worth in YNAB’s reporting section).

Through YNAB’s Tracking Accounts, you can list out and view accounts that are part of your financial life, but not part of your everyday budgeting. For example, each of us adults have a Roth IRA and a 401(k). Each child also has a 529 educational investment account. We can see those balances, include them when looking at our net worth, and track transfers into those accounts. By listing them as Tracking Accounts, we keep them out of the budget, and that prevents confusion as we set the budget each month.

8. One YNAB account can have multiple budgets

Our YNAB account works hard for us. When Jodie was a private music teacher, she managed her studio’s budget in YNAB. We also maintain our content business’s budget through YNAB. Our household budget is in YNAB. We even have a budget for each child, combining their cash allowances and their savings accounts. (Eventually, they’ll have Roth IRAs tracked in YNAB too.)

YNAB’s multiple budgets help us manage not only our personal and business finances. We also use YNAB to work with Connor and Aster on understanding money and how it can work for them as they become adults.

Potential flaws and challenges

As much as we love YNAB, nothing is perfect. Here are some potential challenges or downsides to keep in mind:

Monthly or annual subscription

YNAB is not free. As of May 2022, a monthly subscription will run you $14.99/month, which adds up to $179.88 for 12 months.

However, the MUCH better deal is the annual plan. At $98.99/year, the annual plan saves you $81 over paying month to month. That annual plan cost breaks down to $8.25 a month. Given how many thousands of dollars YNAB has helped us save over the years, that cost has been well worth it. We’ve been able to go from paying off debt to consistently saving and investing, we manage our business finances, and we are giving our kids a solid financial foundation. We definitely find that worth the equivalent of a couple of lattes.

On the plus side, YNAB also offers a 34-day free trial. That gives you ample time to really kick the tires and see how YNAB could fit into—and benefit—your life.

On another plus side, since you’ll be using YNAB, you can budget for your annual subscription like any other expense. We set up a YNAB category in our budget. Every month, we set aside $8.25. That way, when renewal time comes, the money is already ready to go.

Learning curve

There’s no sugar-coating this: Odds are you will not necessarily just dive into YNAB, magically set up your budget, and immediately start financially thriving. YNAB is a long game. That’s not a flaw, either. That’s reality. Financial wellness is a long game too. Like any long game, initial setup can be easy to start, but there’s going to be some learning curve.

YNAB is well aware that they are not just asking you to subscribe to their service. They are asking you to invest in yourself, your family, and your dreams and goals. That can take some internal work. It can involve confronting uncomfortable topics. But when you are ready to do that work, you also see that you are not investing in YNAB. You are investing in yourself and your family, and that makes any learning curve worthwhile.

Given the company’s long track record, they have a pretty good idea of what people’s challenges, reservations, and pain points are. YNAB also has ample free resources to help you come to YNAB your way, including guides for where you are in your financial life, video courses, live Q&A sessions, community challenges, how-to guides, a book, and more.

Importing transactions is not always seamless

Online security is crucial, but that can be occasionally irritating. It’s sort of like how sand in your swimsuit chafes, but a day at the beach is still wonderful. YNAB gives you the option to connect your financial accounts to your budget. You can also enable what YNAB calls Direct Import, so transactions auto-magically show up in YNAB, ready for your review and budgeting.

We love Direct Import. There’s no need to download and upload multiple files from multiple accounts. We can focus on our actual budget, not a bunch of data entry.

For us, Direct Import works well about 95% of the time. Sometimes, though, banks update a protocol, or an IT change mucks something up, or something just flat isn’t working. That’s not necessarily YNAB’s fault, either. In our experience, often when there are difficulties, they have more to do with something on the financial institution’s end than YNAB’s. However, Direct Import has gotten a lot smoother and more consistent over the years, and it’s one of our favorite features.

Some financial institutions might not support connecting directly with YNAB. Nowadays, this typically won’t be a problem (and we’ve never run into it). If it is, odds are you can download transactions and drag and drop the file into your YNAB interface.

What does it boil down to? Direct Import is awesome but not perfect—but such can be said about many aspects of life. Given how much Direct Import does—and does consistently well—the occasional inconvenience is not a big deal.

Is YNAB for everyone?

No, YNAB is not for everyone.

YNAB does a lot for you, but it can’t do everything. You’ll have some onboarding time of getting accounts set up inside of YNAB, figuring out your budgeting categories, understanding where your finances are and, most importantly, where you want them to be. 

YNAB is not going to help you self-delude. If you are in debt and don’t want to admit it or don’t feel ready to face it, YNAB might be too big a shock to the system. And that’s okay. Maybe you’re still doing some work to get ready to tackle debt. Then you can come to YNAB when you’re ready.

For the family who wants to understand and improve their finances, plan how to afford family travel, as well as make progress toward their life and financial goals, YNAB is a powerful tool that can be perfect for your family budget. That’s what it has become for us. For most people, we think YNAB is a crucial tool that will help you do more with your money than you might have thought possible.

“YNAB is a powerful tool that can be perfect for your family budget. That’s what it has become for us.”

How we use YNAB to budget our family travel

Inside of YNAB, every month we siphon money into an overall “Travel” category. For some trips, we might also break out sub-categories like airfare. Whether on the road or at home, we also use and fund some of our day-to-day categories, such as groceries, restaurants, and transportation.

The importance of goals really comes through to us when we use YNAB to budget our family travel. When we know what some of our costs will be ahead of time, we can adjust our travel category’s goal so that we can set aside what we need and track our progress toward having that money in place.

The really nice thing? When we travel, we’ve already budgeted our costs, so we already know how to afford family travel. Since we also use our family travel rewards credit card to cover our expenses day to day, YNAB also automatically shifts funds for those transactions into our credit card payment budget category. That way, we also know that we can pay for our trip and not accrue any credit card debt.

How long does it take to update our budget?

One of the reasons people don’t want to budget? They think it takes forever. Here’s how we do it.

Business budget

Anthony checks the overall budget and finances about once a week. This usually takes about 15 minutes. The first week of the month might take around 30 minutes, since Anthony is reconciling statements and updating some monthly numbers for the business.

Household budget

We update and check our personal budget once or twice a month, usually while Anthony is also checking and reconciling statements for our personal accounts. During one of those sessions, we also budget the following month. With one click, we can now budget about 90% of the following month.

Typically, checking and updating our personal budget takes about 15 to 20 minutes.

While traveling

When we’re on a trip, Anthony keeps tabs on our accounts and budgets as well. Usually a couple of times per trip, Anthony checks transactions for any mistakes, problems, or potential fraud. He also goes over the budget, and sees how our spending is measuring up with the budget. Sometimes he’ll do this via web browser on his laptop, but usually he takes care of everything from the YNAB app on his phone.

Keeping an eye on our budget during a trip keeps us more conscious of our spending, and when we get home, we can use that understanding to help us figure out how to afford family travel for the next trip and beyond.

Children’s budgets

When each of our kids turned 5, they got their own weekly allowance. Each Friday after breakfast, Anthony would set out 3 jars for each kid, plus an envelope with cash, so they could allocate their allowance into their “save,” “give,” and “choose” jars. He also pulls up the YNAB app on his phone. Inside of each child’s budget, he set up an ongoing transaction. Every Friday, the transaction shows up in the budget, already divvied up between each of their 3 allowance jars. All he has to do is click or tap “approve.”

“Since we started relying on YNAB to manage our household and business budgets in 2016, every year has ended with our finances in a better place than before.”

Budget in your browser or the YNAB app

Anthony does most budgeting from his browser on his notebook computer. When we’re on the go, though, he relies a lot more on the app. Plus, if we need it, we can log a transaction into YNAB right from the app. We don’t use this much for our personal or business budgets, but if the kids buy something, logging the transaction helps us keep things straight with their cash budgets.

YNAB can help you budget for life, travel, business, kids, and more

When we look back years ago, pre-YNAB, our finances were not in the place we wanted them to be. Since we started relying on YNAB to manage our household and business budgets in 2016, every year has ended with our finances in a better place than before.

Whether credit cards, checking, savings, investments, and even our children’s allowances, we are able to budget to the penny not only for the current month, but into the future. We’ve been able not only to figure out how to afford family travel, but pay off debt and put more money toward other personal and professional goals.

YNAB can help families travel more and do more with their money:

  • Give every dollar a job
  • Understand how your money is really coming in, going in, and what you want to do with your finances
  • Plan better for long-term or occasional expenses
  • Roll with the punches from unexpected or emergency expenses
  • Set budget categories as broad or narrow as what works for you
  • Budget from your desktop browser or mobile app
  • Link in all your financial accounts so transactions can automatically import into your budget
  • Save time budgeting with goals and shortcuts that can help you budget with one click
  • Pay off debt and track your progress
  • No need to download files or manually enter transactions
  • Set up multiple budgets inside your YNAB account (like we do for business, household, and kids)
  • Make how to afford family travel and other goals a paid-for reality

Start your 34-day free trial [PLUS get an additional FREE month]

24 Hours in Silverton and Silver Falls State Park, Oregon

YNAB’s 34-day free trial makes it easy to try out YNAB. You’ll be able to see over an entire month’s budget, and that gives you a great sign of what YNAB can do for your finances.

PLUS, when you use our link and sign up for a subscription, YNAB will give you an additional month for FREE. That will push out your renewal date another month (so if your subscription would have renewed in September, it’ll renew in October instead, at no extra cost to you).


How to afford more family travel

“If budget is a dirty word, then we love to swear.”

YNAB has become an essential part of our financial well-being both at home and at work. It’s helped us transform our lives and businesses, from heaps of credit card debt to funding savings goals and traveling extensively. And we think it can help you not only afford more family travel, but make more of your family goals into reality. YNAB has been our secret weapon for how to afford family travel, and we think it can be yours too.

Start your 34-day FREE trial + get an additional FREE month

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About the author
Learners and Makers
We are the St. Clair Family: Anthony, Jodie, Connor, and Aster. As Learners and Makers, our family of four slows down, connects, and enjoys the world and each other's company. We have been traveling full time since 2022.

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