My semi-frugal family vacation

I really like Dave Ramsey, too. Wish his show was on here in Atlanta, but Clark Howard is so popular (local consumer radio show) that getting the Money Game (Dave Ramsey’s show) would be a tough sell. If you have the time, I highly recommend listening to one of his show archives – it’s great reinforcement for getting rid of debt. To listen, go to, and follow the links to the radio show. The archived shows are listed at the bottom of the page – you’ll have to scroll down to see them. I try to listen once a week. If you’ve never heard his show – check it out!

As for credit cards, we are down to one – an American Express card that we have no choice but to pay in full every month. I prefer this approach to a debit card, because when we buy with Amex we’re covered by the consumer protection laws that do not cover debit card transactions.

This is where I part company with Dave Ramsey – he advocates using debit cards exclusively. I think that’s too risky, because once the money is out of your account, it’s gone. If you use Amex, or any other credit card, you have charge back protection. Federal law also limits your liability if someone uses your account fraudulently. If someone gets a hold of your debit card, they can clean out your checking account and you are at the mercy of your bank. That’s just too risky to me.

BTW, I just got back from a fun, semi-frugal trip with the kids to Chattanooga, TN. If you haven’t been there recently, the city has really done a great job of reinventing itself as a family-friendly tourist destination. Our kids love the Aquarium and the Creative Discovery Museum.

We used the free electric shuttle buses to get around (saved $ on parking), and stayed at a Holiday Inn (kids ate free, including a huge breakfast buffet). The hotel had 3 pools, 2 with water slides. What more could a kid want? The whole vacation cost us well under $500, including gas, food, hotel, tickets to attractions, take-home goodies, and more. We could have done it for less, but I wanted to splurge and stay in a really nice place.

Laura in Atlanta