House Poor Summer Tour: Staycation Shenanigans

In the spirit of “staycationing” in our new home, I’m writing a new series of posts about ways to save money and live frugally without being extreme or insane. I used these methods to save for my down payment, and I continue to use them to survive being a new, yet thrifty, homeowner.

Let’s embark on the House Poor Summer Tour 2013!


Being house poor doesn’t leave much room in the budget for vacations.

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As much as I love cruises (Our honeymoon on the Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas was the best) and exploring new places with little road trips, I’m fortunate to live in a beautiful city with lots of cool stuff less than an hour away, and you don’t have to spend a lot to have a great “stay-cation”.

A few months ago, I bought the Enjoy the City coupon book. You can buy these online or through fundraisers for schools, churches, sports teams, etc. The books are usually about $20, and the coupons are good for the whole year. There’s a ton of coupons in the book, including many we will never use (fast food anyone? Thanks but no thanks), including coupons for restaurants all over Charleston.

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I gave many of the coupons away, since we won’t drive to Monck’s Corner for Mexican anytime soon. Clay took some to work, since he works in a different part of town, and the guys use them for lunches out. Most of the coupons are high-value, like buy one get one free, so it’s easy to save what you paid for the book using just a few coupons.

I took Monday off work and drove to pick up Nadine, then we headed to Whirlin’ Waters at the Wannamaker Park in North Charleston. This park is just down the road from Charleston Southern University and very convenient to Ladson, Summerville, and Goose Creek, but there are two other great county parks in Charleston that also have water parks.

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We hopped in the ticket line, and with my buy one get one free coupon, paid $19.99 total for two admissions to the water park. It’s not a huge water park, but there’s a wave pool, a lazy river, a few slides, and two kids areas (one for very small children like toddles and one for school-age kids). There’s also a restaurant, gift shop, locker room, etc.

Whirlin’ Waters is pretty no-frills, but it was fun and well staffed with lots of lifeguards. We didn’t encounter any crazy, rowdy kids either- so I guess they are serious about throwing them out if there are any incidents. Nadine and I stayed for a little over two hours and enjoyed the beautiful (not super hot and no rain!) weather and short lines for the slides.

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With growling stomachs after a morning playing in the water park, we looked through the coupon book for something to use for lunch, and we agreed on the nearby Atlanta Bread Company. You bought two drinks and an entrée and got an entrée free, so we headed to ABC. Both of us ordered the “Pick 2”, and she had French Onion soup and salad, and I had a veggie sandwich and salad, with iced teas to drink.

Our total for two lunches was just over $13, so not bad for big lunches.

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After our Atlanta Bread Company food, we saved some room for dessert at Bruster’s.

Bruster’s is one of mine and Clay’s favorites because we went there on our wedding night and on our first anniversary. Every March, they have a promotion where you wear your pajamas and get a free waffle cone, and since Bruster’s was so close to us, we participated. Needless to say, Bruster’s holds a special place in mine and Clay’s hearts.

I think Bruster’s is an east coast thing, so it was Nadine’s first trip and I was excited to introduce her. Armed with a $3 off coupon, we got two sundaes with caramel vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup. Our ice cream was just over $5 and neither of us could eat it all- the sundaes are huge!

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And yes, I am wearing a Moore on Running Couch-to-5K shirt while eating my sundae. Sorry I’m not sorry.

For reference, I paid $10 for my Enjoy The City book through an online deal. Using coupons on Monday, we saved a total of $19- which pays for the book as well as saving us $9.

Could we have saved more? Technically, yes. Sure, we could have done without the ice cream or gotten 50 cent cones of soft serve at Burger King. We could have eaten off the dollar menu or packed peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the water park. We could have skipped the water park in lieu of my neighborhood pool.

But, life and “staycations” are for enjoying and splurging- and I’m glad we could use the coupons to save money on a fun day out in North Charleston. It may not be a cruise or fancy vacation, but for less than $40 total, we had a pretty amazing time.

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12 Responses to House Poor Summer Tour: Staycation Shenanigans

  1. I need more staycations and less vacations haha – so poor. Looks like you had a great time!

  2. spectacuLAUR says:

    You’re lucky to live in an area near a little water park! And I definitely love to find Groupons for things like haircuts and stuff! And I agree with spending a little more for QUALITY meals. I mean, you can get things off a dollar menu but they’re also loaded with who knows what! And it’s always okay for a little splurge on ice cream, especially Brusters!

    • Amy Lauren says:

      Groupons are great too! And thank you for that idea, because I should probably do a post on using those as well. Clay and I don’t buy too many groupons but occasionally we do, and we get good deals out of them. You can use them after they expire as well, just for the face value (so it’s not like you “lose” your money with them).

      Oh and we definitely spend more on quality food!

  3. We actually have those coupons in VA Beach too. I agree though, even if you save 20 dollars the entire year you have gotten your moneys worth out of them. You cannot be frugal about everything (I somewhat just incorporated that into my post today) and life is about spending a bit of money and enjoying yourself. Though 40 dollars to do all of that is incredible!

    • Amy Lauren says:

      Definitely! And you are right about being frugal- one of the goals of these posts is to show that you can use coupons and be frugal without being like the people on “Extreme Couponers” or “Extreme Cheapskates” because those shows give saving money a bad name.

      I think most areas have those coupon books or something similar… and if you like to eat at restaurants or do things, try new places, they really are a good deal.

  4. olivetorun says:

    We have a book similar to that in Triangle Area of North Carolina and we always buy them. I find that even though we don’t use a lot of the coupons they definitely pay for themselves with what we do use and we usually give the other coupons away (like you mentioned). Big fan of that.

    For how much I LOVE ice cream I find it hard to believe I have never have Brusters. WHAT?!

    • Amy Lauren says:

      This was the first time I’ve been since moving here. The Charleston Bruster’s is located in North Charleston and we live in West Ashley (technically, we live on the Southwest Side of Charleston).

      So, we are pretty far away from it… and when we want ice cream we want it then so we just go somewhere close :).

      In Florence, we were super close to Brusters and went more often. But, you should definitely try it if you’re ever close to one.

  5. Woohoo, another staycationing entry. I love this series! 😀

    Aw, I still haven’t been on a cruise. I would love to someday though. I really enjoyed reading about your cruisin’ adventures. Of course, with the food and swimsuits in today’s pictures, it looks like you did something tropical.

    I would like to go back to a water park. I sometimes did Soak City when I worked at Cedar Point, and I did go to a small water park with the new students at MVNU back in 2009… where I got a triple sunburn… one from the sun, one from the water reflection, and one from my persperation. Ouch. It lasted for a good two weeks, and all of my new professors had to see me crisp to the bone, since I was a transfer student. Haha. Oh well.

    Looking forward to more staycationing posts!

  6. Sounds likes you had a fun week/weekend! 🙂 Always a good thing when you don’t have to pay “full price” 🙂

  7. allieksmith says:

    I love how you make the best out of your situation. Staycations are so much fun and honestly, I think they’re much less stressful than vacations that are far away!

    • Amy Lauren says:

      It was a lot less stressful, considering we didn’t have to drive far or worry about anything. Plus, unlike when I’ve planned cruises, my productivity at work didn’t tank for the weeks before when I was researching things to do!

  8. LilMysNinja says:

    I have one of those books for my town in my glove compartment in the car. Thanks for reminding me about it and how I can still find things to have fun with in my own town. 😉

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