Budget conscious Chicago mom learns her lesson on a Florida road trip

Last week, I willingly agreed to journey south with three kids, a grumpy husband, and two years’ worth of People magazines. We were road-tripping to Florida!

I was practically Ma Ingalls.

That is, of course, if Ma Ingalls ate Cheez-Its in her covered wagon while perusing Kim Kardashian pregnancy photos as she traversed the New Frontier.

Admittedly, our family vacation got off to a poor start when I realized I hadn’t adjusted our schedule to reflect the new dates of the CPS break. For whatever reason, they moved Spring Break back a week because of the school strike. I refused to believe the boys until I located the lost memo stashed between a hot lunch order form and a holiday wreath fundraiser notice.

Despite disagreements over radio selection and who could spot the Waffle House signs the fastest, we arrived in Daytona in one piece. Joe took that opportunity to begin asking questions about the condo I had booked.

“How many bedrooms does it have?”

“Two. And I got it for $585 for the WEEK, including taxes, fees, and cleaning!”

“Wait. This place cost only $585? Marianne, that doesn’t sound right.”

“What do you mean? $585 sounds AWESOME.”

“Every place you looked at was well over $1,000 for the week. There is definitely something wrong with it. Nobody is paying only $585 for a weekly rental.”

“WE ARE because you married a financial GENIUS. $585! $585! $585! Weeeeeeeee!”

As we walked towards our rental unit, we passed a large dumpster and climbed up a narrow stairwell. I began to sweat. What if Joe was right? What if the place was a disaster? What if there were BUGS? Or worse…


My husband let out a huge sigh of relief as we entered. It wasn’t exactly the Ritz, but it was clean and livable. But then a wave of horror and desperation hit as I read the notice on the refrigerator:

While Joe relaxed on the couch and congratulated me on finding a nice place for half the cost of other rentals, I hyperventilated in the kitchen and tried to do the math on how long it would take to handle laundry when I wasn’t allowed to run the washer and dryer at the same time. When I explained to my husband that I would now be up until 2 a.m. every day in order to keep up with clean towels and clothes, Joe’s reaction?

“But we’ve got HBO AND Showtime!”

Somehow, I didn’t feel the slightest bit like Ma Ingalls at 1 o’clock in the morning while watching “Dexter” and eating the kids’ Easter Peeps as I awaited the final wash cycle. But then again, Ma Ingalls would have never scored a $585 rental like I had. No siree, Bob.

She would’ve just made Pa Ingalls build her a beach house.

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