“It’s not in my spending plan”
Hey, remember that trip to Palm Springs your friends always talk about taking but never put on the calendar? It is happening. And while this upscale hotel sounded divine on 1 a.m. nachos, some folks are worried about their wallets now that the trip planning has really begun.
Variable expectations are killing weekend trips. Differing income levels, spontaneous extra activities, and no budget add stress to what is meant to be a fun getaway. Yet we tend to avoid financial conversations with friends because they are uncomfortable, even though they would make everyone more comfortable in the long run.
“We really can’t talk about money without talking about the emotions of money,” says Becky White, founder and CEO of Los Angeles-based Root to Rise Therapy. “A lot of people aren’t used to being candid about where they are and what they can budget for, and the fact that we’re all in really different places.”
While you don’t need to circulate your paychecks, it’s helpful to assess how much each person on the trip is willing to spend. White recommends changing the language we use to talk about money: instead of saying, “I can’t afford it,” try, “It’s not in my spending plan.” This switch emphasizes what you’re willing to spend rather than what you can spend.
Keep in mind that finances are just the tip of the iceberg, says Gitu Bhatia, who holds a doctorate in psychology and practices in Los Angeles. The discomfort of talking about money isn’t often about the money itself – it’s about the power struggles that come with it.
“That’s the other thing: how people grew up, what their family’s attitude is towards money. All of those things aren’t obvious to most of us,” Bhatia says. “Even in relationships, one person has an easier time spending money, another person can have a lot of fear related to money. So there are deeper things that sometimes get talked about without people in it. be aware.”
A vacation with friends is a lifetime memory at best and a relationship sever at worst. To keep your time together as peaceful as possible, try these financial tips:
Are you staying in an upscale bungalow or cramming into the cheapest Motel 6 you can find? What activities do you do? How much are you willing to spend on dinner? Some may be able to pull off Vegas trips on a whim, but don’t assume everyone can. Talk about these factors in advance.
While we often want to be spontaneous, planning ahead gives friends time to budget, says Flynanced founder Cinneah El-Amin, who teaches working women how to build wealth and save for travel. El-Amin notes that not everyone has disposable income to immediately spend on an Airbnb or flights, so time is of the essence.
The biggest challenge is often agreeing on expectations and finding ways to merge the desires of luxury and budget travelers.
“If you don’t set these expectations early in the planning process, people may feel like they’re spending more than they want, spending more than they can afford, or just can’t attend altogether, which isn’t the best feeling,” El-Amin says.
In some cases, a friend may offer to cover another’s costs. It can provide a sense of relief, but also change power dynamics, Bhatia says. “There are times when things will be easier for you, and sometimes it might not be so easy for me. So this time it’s my turn to step in, and next time maybe be that you can intervene.”
If you offer to help a friend pay for a trip and they accept, make the payment promptly. It’s uncomfortable for a friend to have to ask for money afterwards, White notes.
Decide who books everything — and make sure they get reimbursed
Someone has to risk depositing their credit card for the hotel. If that’s you, El-Amin suggests waiting until you get deposits from everyone.
Once you have agreed on the dates and chosen the accommodation, give the group a deadline for payments. Once everyone has paid, go ahead and book on your card. That way you don’t find yourself in financial trouble if friends go out on bail – and people are more likely to commit to something they paid for. “If you’re going to put down that deposit, it really means you’re serious about this trip,” El-Amin says.
Beyond accommodation, other costs can snowball throughout the trip. Activities and meals are often listed on one person’s card, which can become difficult to keep track of, especially if different people are paying for each event (there is then the hassle of keeping receipts). Both El-Amin and White recommend apps like Splitwise, which can log and split payments among the whole group or specific members.
“It’s been a huge lifesaver, especially among friend group trips, because then there’s so much transparency about what people owe,” El-Amin said. “And there’s not that awkward post-trip conversation of, ‘Hey, girl, you still owe me this.'” Build setup into your departure day so the details are ironed out before anything gets done. not everyone is coming home.
Don’t be afraid to part ways
White remembers splitting the bill at a more expensive than expected dinner party and the sadness she felt about how her budget was blown. While your friends are traveling together, you can break into smaller groups to better fit everyone’s budgets.
White advises being clear about your own boundaries. If the group decides to change plans and splurge on fine dining, especially while splitting the bill, others can try a less expensive restaurant. Don’t be afraid to do your own thing.
Mix in group activities or meals that everyone is comfortable with, White says.
“It’s so important to honor what you want out of your vacation and then have a lot of flexibility and patience for what other people’s needs might be,” she says.
Stick to your budget
In her early twenties, El-Amin, now 28, traveled spontaneously not knowing how she would pay, but it got her into debt. Then she set up a separate bank account where she deposited a portion of each paycheck to build up travel funds.
“Whether or not I have a trip that I am actively planning, I always make sure that a portion of my paycheck is dedicated to saving for the trip. I can take advantage of it when friends contact me or I see offers to fly to a really cool place, I already know I have the money,” says El-Amin.
The designation of travel funds creates opportunities and sets financial limits. Going over budget for this vacation could mean sacrificing another trip later.
El-Amin also recommends investing in travel insurance on group trips. Suppose half the group contracts COVID-19 and the excursions are non-refundable, then travel insurance could protect you.
When all else fails, stay calm
It’s important to keep communicating every step of the way. Rising tensions may be due to issues that go beyond money (like who got which room in the Airbnb or who didn’t clean up after breakfast).
“A lot of times if there’s an emotional reaction to something, it’s not just one thing,” Bhatia says. “It could be relationship issues that have happened before and may be an inappropriate reaction. They may be upset about something else, but that will be the only thing they could focus on and the reason they got upset or upset.”
Bhatia recommends allowing time for rest as well as active communication. “Talking about things thoroughly makes for a better outing.”