Budgeting for Vacations, Other People’s Weddings, and Other Summer Stuff (Yay Summer!)

Vermont Studio Center (photo by Ester)

Mike: So Ester, it officially feels like summer! Maybe because it was 90 degrees the other day (but I still haven’t put in my air conditioner, perhaps to Josh Michtom’s delight). But I will! I did it in July last year.

Ester: We haven’t either! I always hold out ’til the last possible moment, til I feel like a wax person whose own skin is melting off my body. For environmental reasons.

Mike: I guess for me it’s part environmental reasons, but also because I don’t think it’s so terribly hot yet? I’m also not home very much, so that may be one reason. I’m at the office right now, and it’s usually on, but it’s quiet here today so I have turned off the a/c and opened the windows. It’s below 80! Who needs it? Okay, so, the thing I wanted to ask you is whether you have summer travel plans and if you planned for it financially in advance.

Ester: Last summer, as you may recall, my husband Ben, babygirl and I decamped for seven weeks — we stayed in Vilnius, Lithuania, in an AirB&B that thankfully did not burn down (the Lithuanian rain would have taken care of that right away anyway I guess), in a couple different places in England, and then in a family friend’s house in Spain. That was pretty amazing — and kind of ate up our travel budget for two years. So we don’t have anything planned for this summer, really, except to figure out how to have, entertain, and enjoy time with a kid in the heat without leaving NYC. How about you?

Mike: I have a savings account through Ally that is specifically for vacations. I just checked and there is $400 in it.

I don’t think I planned anything for this summer because of my recent trip to Playa Del Carmen. I have a black tie wedding to go to in a month. And then at the end of summer, I have another week-long work trip to Park City, which although will be for work will also kind of be a vacation? That’ll be all paid for by the other company I work for.

Ester: How long do I have to work for you before you take me to Park City? :)

Mike: Hah, um—we can do a Billfold Trust Fall retreat at Coney Island if you want and hotdogs are on me.

Ester: YES. Let’s take this show on the road! Anyway, my only travel things are wedding-related too. Do you budget for weddings via the same Ally vacation account? (How do people budget for other folks’ weddings?)

Mike: No, I don’t have a separate account for it, but have mentally budgeted for it, including the fact that I will be buying a tuxedo. The reason I’ll be buying is because I looked at rentals and they were about $200 for these cheap tuxes, and there is nothing worst than renting a cheap tux (I remember them from high school!). But also, I have been looking at tuxedos for a month and cannot decide.

Ester: Please oh please write about the experience buying a tuxedo for the site. One of my most cherished memories about my wedding is that Ben went out and bought himself one — for the same reason as you — and then realized, the day of the ceremony, which was in D.C., that he had grabbed the wrong garment bag and left his tuxedo in New York. He ended up wearing an extra suit jacket that his groomsman had with him. Maybe you should try on THAT tuxedo actually! I don’t know if Ben has ever even finally worn it.

Mike: I’m pretty sure it won’t fit me! It’s likely I will buy one off the rack and then have it tailored to fit. I’ve been looking for a while. Also, some of my friends were like, “Oh, and you can wear it to the Met Ball,” because that is obviously happening to me in the future. (NOT HAPPENING.)

Ester: Or any ball! One never knows when one might get invited to a ball. Maybe one wakes up one day in a Jane Austen universe, or in “Downton Abbey” where a tux wouldn’t even be good enough for certain occasions. Anyway, I like the idea of you owning a tux. It feels right.

Mike: I do remember that “Downton” episode. Okay, so I do have this other $400 that is supposedly for some kind of vacation. If you had $400, what would you do with it travel-wise?

Ester: I would hire a babysitter and then go screaming naked into the water somewhere, drunk with freedom. But that doesn’t say much about what you should do. Um. I would do one of two things, probably: either pick a small city not too far away that I hadn’t been to yet, like Charleston or Savannah (or Montreal!), and arrange a trip for a (long?) weekend; or I’d try to round up some friends and rent a house somewhere in the middle of nowhere and be languorous and indulgent together. Actually we’re sort of doing that next weekend for a friend’s bachelor party. (Said friend defines “bachelor party” very loosely.)

Mike: So for the Fourth of July, some friends and I are going to a cabin upstate, but the cabin is family-owned so it’ll be a cheap weekend getaway, which is along those lines I think. The other thing I was thinking about was to just, like, not spend the money at all and keep it for next summer when the account will have more than a grand in it, and I can go to Italy or something.

Ester: Totally! That makes a lot of sense. Or you could split the difference and spend some of it on a day at a water park to or from the cabin, say, and a really nice dinner? It is really awesome that your new company is springing for two trips for you, essentially, one at the beginning of the summer and one at the end of it; next year might be different for some reason, and it makes sense to budget for that. But you should still do something nice and splurge-y for yourself.

Mike: Hah, I am a BAD SPLURGER.

Ester: Duh! I imagine that’s why you have a VACATION FUND in the first place, to remind yourself to take vacation. (Did you read my piece on this? it makes you more productive and a better worker, seriously, science says so.) I am a bad splurger too though so I sympathize.

Mike: Yes, and I trust science. It’s funny because I just bought a $50 gift certificate to an airline for a friend’s birthday and when I sent it to her, I was like, “use this to have fun and find yourself a new adventure!” I should send that note to myself.

Ester: Me too! SCIENCE. I’m writing this at my improvised standing desk right now. But yes, totally. A relative gave us $100 once and earmarked it for something “frivolous” and I swear we took that injunction so seriously — what was sufficiently frivolous? We talked and talked and finally settled on Splish Splash, a water park on Long Island, and it was the best ever. We had so much fun. Another thing I might do with $400 though if I were only responsible for myself is visit a friend who lives elsewhere. I have friends and family on the West Coast; I might visit them. That only counts if they’re friends or family you actually enjoy spending time with though. Obligatory / guilt-related family visits do not count as vacation.

Going back for a second, though, #RealTalk: black tie weddings? During the summer? I’m looking at my monitor kind of askance. Is it black tie optional at least?

Mike: No, it’s black tie required! I have a really nice suit already that I would have worn were that the case. But I have a feeling this won’t be my last black tie event, so I feel okay about going out and getting one. My inspiration has been looking at all these old classic photos of Sean Connery and Cary Grant and just finding something similar. Also, I kind of just want to wear it to the park and have a picnic? Like, why not, it’s my tux and I’ll do what I want with it.

Ester: Yeah! I’ll have a black-tie birthday party. It’ll be great: we’ll get to dress up baby girl, and everyone can identify their old-school style icon. The trouble is maintaining that glam retro cool while sizzling in the sun. That is also my issue with black-tie summer weddings. Like, there better be a pool next to which to lounge in a stupor like Daisy in the Great Gatsby if you’re gonna make me wear a gown, you know?

Mike: It’ll be indoors! And I think there is a rooftop with a pool? It’s a Manhattan wedding.

Ester: Oh my god, you know such amazing people. My next big wedding is at a rustic rural New Hampshire summer camp. There will be streamside yoga and campfires.

Mike: Hah, um, that sounds kind of fun? My secret is that I actually like going to weddings.

Ester: Me too! I cry at the ceremonies and dance at the receptions. But I’m also totally that guest that notices everything, from whether you invited too many people and it’s crazy cramped, to the timing of the toasts (while we’re still in the buffet line? come on).

Mike: Hah, I’m good with whatever the couple wants. Want a big Wedding Industrial Complex wedding? OK! Want me to show up at the courthouse with yellow tulips? Will do! Don’t have enough food? I’ll make something!

Ester: Hey, I said I *notice,* that’s all. I too am good with yellow tulips or the whole shebang; in fact I’m helping a groom’s mother pick out a dress this afternoon, and I am always available to write and deliver a last-minute speech. I love pitching in. Weddings are great! I wish they were slightly less costly and inconvenient, often, to the guests as well as the couple, but overall they make me really happy.

 

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15 Comments / Post A Comment

ThatJenn (#916)

Mike Dang: Probably great at everything but splurging and swearing.

Ester, I love your plans for your imaginary $400.

I am putting myself on temporary travel restriction. I can go see family as usual but otherwise no vacations outside of Florida/Georgia, at least for the rest of 2014. There’s plenty to do here and it’s cheaper to stay nearby and just take short weekend trips. We are doing OK financially but I want to really focus on paying off our last bits of debt and making sure we’re 100% prepared in case my dude finishes school in Dec 2015 and does not find a job for a while. I am supporting us both now – he doesn’t have a job, he’s paying for his school costs out of his savings but I’m paying the rest of our expenses – and I want to make sure that’s absolutely maintainable for well beyond the 18 months over which it will definitely be continuing. The first year has gone well, I think – honestly, if anything knowing it was all on me made me better with money so we actually got significantly ahead financially over the year despite going down to one income and paying for some major dental expenses and our wedding. Tomorrow’s actually the one year anniversary of the day I got my current job and the day my husband put in his notice at his job to go back to school full time. Hurray! 40% of the way there, now.

ThatJenn (#916)

Oh, also: I went through the massive glut of weddings in my friend group a few years ago, when I really wasn’t able to travel to any of them, so I actually don’t have any on the horizon except a local friend getting married in March. It’s nice not to have to spend all my available $$ on that, especially as I live far from nearly all of my close friends so it generally involves travel (paying for both me and my dude), and we are not near a major airport so that’s even more $$.

ThatJenn (#916)

@ThatJenn Turns out this post was timely. Over the weekend a friend left a voicemail saying he and his intended had found their wedding plans (backyard wedding at her parents’ house; parents were insisting on controlling details & guest list) for next March were getting WAY out of control, so they did the math and realized… it’s cheaper for THEM if they have a destination wedding in Ireland! Exciting for them, and honestly I’d love the excuse to go, but since we are one-income right now it’s just not a good time. My dude couldn’t go anyway because he’d be in school and we’re not doing a “weekend trip” across the Atlantic, and I couldn’t afford to get us both there anyway. Going alone feels kind of mean to him and also a bit wasteful with my vacation time and money. Though I haven’t said no quite yet… maybe I’ll win the lottery or something. :)

mike dang in a tuxedo?! PIX PLZ :D

jfruh (#161)

It took me a minute to realize that Mike wasn’t in the wedding party, but rather was going to a wedding where *everyone* was wearing tuxedos, which: SWANKY. I was in a couple of weddings some years ago and had the thought that it would’ve been cheaper to buy a tux, but when you’re a groomsman generally you all have to match, like the birdesmaids, so you usually end up having to rent no matter what swanky clothes you actually own!

Re: saving for travel, I have $250 a month budgeted for travel and move that amount into a CapitolOne Online account (RIP ING) on the 15th of every month. Obviously we don’t actually spend that monthly but that’s generally what it works out over the course of the year. Generally speaking there’s enough in there to cover our travel expenses, though sometimes I have to “borrow” against the future (i.e. I’ll be $500 short but I just won’t put money in for the next two months) and we generally have enough if all-purpose savings to handle that kind of float.

ceereelyo (#3,552)

@jfruh – I was also in a wedding in which the bride and groom called for black tie, so we had to rent a tux for our boyfriends (now husbands) and it was such a pain in the ass. When we got to the tux rental place (where they had like steered all guests too), OF COURSE the one my SO wanted was the same one the Father of the Bride was wearing, so that was a big no-no. And considering it was some typical North NJ banquet hall (with all the typical NJ wedding fixins) it looked like PROM. It was also a strange wedding, as there were no groomsmen, TEN bridesmaids, a MOH and a ‘Woman of Honor’, so all the pics are the groom surrounded by a softball team of women in long black gowns (barf) and he was also twenty years older than the friend, so you know, yeah. I don’t talk to her anymore.

As for travel and other summer plans, we blew our latest vacay ‘fund’ on our anniversary trip, so probably just do some weekend trips and hang out. We’re not planning on any big trips right now, since we are considering starting a family, so we’d like to move to a bigger place, etc. We have one wedding that we have to stay over for in August, which should be fine because we don’t have any big plans. i believe there is a wedding shower, but they didn’t send out invites and instead are spreading the information word of mouth, so since it’s out of town I’m just going to pretend I didn’t get a shower invite? I am usually pumped for showers, but I have two other ones in July and also, call me a stickler on etiquette, but like an evite would have sufficed?

joyballz (#2,000)

I have a separate savings account for my friends’ weddings and I have automatic deposits into it on paydays. I’ll transfer money out at the end of wedding season or if I know I have fewer weddings than the year before.

Heather F G (#6,074)

@joyballz WHOA. Smart thinking award of the day goes to you.

joyballz (#2,000)

@Heather F G I found myself getting salty about the expenses adding up and once I opened the savings account, I could actually enjoy the day (and bachelorette party and shower and hair apppointment and so on).

My dad has been pressuring me to take my two children and my girlfriend to go visit him in Portland, OR, which would be OK, I guess, except enormous cost + two children on a cross-country flight + MY DAD. But I didn’t quite know how to say no, and then my friends had the good graces to invite me and my girlfriend to their wedding in Puerto Rico, which is also a lot of money, but PUERTO RICO.

I told my dad that if he wants me to visit more he should move to Puerto Rico.

eemusings (#6,021)

I love/hate that a grand would pay for a trip to Italy. (I’m just bitter because I couldn’t even fly to Italy one way for a grand.)

@eemusings Ugh, right? I went to Italy last summer and was totally (for some reason, I have no idea why) thinking that the flight would be less than $1000 – maybe like $800 tops. That was… not true.

chic noir (#713)

@Madeline Shoes ooohhh tel me more. How do you go to Italy for less than 1k. Which sites do you use?

samburger (#5,489)

I already took my $$$ summer trip to see my very best friend for a week, languorous and indulgent style. Now we’re beating back the desire to GO CAMPING EVERY WEEKEND because it gets pretty expensive pretty quickly but man oh man do I want to go up north and sit in the woods for like three weeks.

We’re budgeting not only money but vacation time for a big trip we want to do a year from now. I am really excited about planning the trip but I want to go somewhere this summer SO BAD. We are lucky to live somewhere that there’s a lot we can do in little weekend trips, but I want to get on an AIRPLANE. I feel like it’s been so long since I’ve flown anywhere. I went on a little trip last October, and that the only time I’ve flown in over a year. Which, flying sucks, but going somewhere far away! I miss it.

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