Vacationing in Debt-What Do You Say?

Like many PF bloggers out there I am in debt, but I have a plan to rid the debt, get back to EVEN STEVEN, and become Financially Independent. I have a BUDGET all set up for expenses and even have my a large portion of my 7 year plan mapped out sitting in an Excel sheet. With a vacation coming up, this got me thinking are vacations part of my Financial Independence plan? There is many different views out there, let’s take a look first at the always controversial  but very well-respected, Dave Ramsey.

In a question and answer on The Christian Broadcast Network, a reader asked how much of a percentage should they dedicate to vacation while they are in debt?  Here’s what Dave Ramsey had to say:

“I think you should put vacations on hold while you’re trying to get out of debt. My family and I didn’t go on vacation for nearly 10 years while we were getting out of debt. Why? Because we had work to do! We had bills to pay and kids to feed. That’s just the way it goes sometimes.”

Dave Ramsey didn’t go on vacation for 10 years?!?! I mean he is a multi-millionaire so I can’t argue with the end results, but are you ready to skip seeing Grandpa and Grandma in lovely Montana or decompress from work with a beach vacation in the Bahamas? Let’s see what other PF bloggers have to say.

I checked out the other side of the coin and found Vacations While in Debt, that doesn’t sound like 10 years of NO vacations at all. The article asks a couple of questions:

“So, should I have taken this trip? I’m in debt after all, about the get married and go on a honeymoon. Did I really need it? Should I have taken it even though I still have $8,700 of debt left owing?”

My Alternate Life answered some of her own questions here: “I’d say this vacation was actually much more important that being debt free a few weeks earlier than scheduled.”  This is far away from not taking a vacation, they make it clear, they know this will hurt their plan, but it will have a small effect on their long-term debt free plan.

Are you ready to take your trip and not make that big payment next month so you can have a Pina Colada and work on your tan? Does this put your Ragnar Lothbrook attack on hold? Are you just holding the battle-axe for show?

Well we have seen both sides, No Vacation Ever and Vacation is For Me, I’m sure there is something in the middle, there is more than one road in personal finance. I came across Frugal Rules on his thoughts on summer vacation while blogging on Dimespring.   Here’s a quick summary from Frugal Rules on his thoughts about Vacation while in Debt:

“If you do find yourself in debt, I would say, without a doubt, that you should be focusing on paying that off, especially if it comes in the form of some sort of consumer debt like credit card debt. Beyond that, it becomes more of a gray issue.  If you’re a reader of many personal finance blogs, you know that you can pretty much find at least one person who’ll agree with you no matter what side of the issue you land on. That said, the question of going on a trip or a summer vacation is one that can be a tricky subject.

While I would be cautious about going on vacation while in consumer debt, I do also know that life gets awfully boring awfully quickly if you’re all work and no play. Take it from someone who has been through it: debt payoff fatigue is real and you want to avoid getting close to it as it can possibly impact your debt repayment.  The key is to analyze if that fun will be worth the cost and give you a breather in the debt repayment game.”

Here’s what I took away from Frugal Rules.  Pay off debt, especially if it’s consumer debt, but you know that paying off debt isn’t the most fun in the world so go ahead and go on vacation just don’t make your vacation staying at the Ritz Carlton, spending your next 3 paychecks so you can relax.
Wellheeledblog has a similar dilemma of the go on vacation while I’m in debt conundrum. She maps out the numbers and even a couple of scenarios, she’s just not sure what to do, go on a vacation of a lifetime to the Galapagos Islands or Just Say No like a DARE promotional video.  That’s the thing it’s a really tough decision to make. Live in the moment and go on a vacation or strive for the future happiness that’s off in the sunset? What do I say in this Vacation on Debt Argument? I’m glad you asked:)

Here’s some of the rules I follow.  I believe you should be able to take a vacation even when you are in debt. However the vacation must be paid for in cash, it doesn’t make much sense to be attacking your debt to only let a vacation to South Beach drown you in an ocean of debt.

The vacation cost must be to visit friends or family.  Taking a vacation to see the people who matter to you is important and I don’t think that should be cut from anyone’s life.  This also does a couple of money saving things for your budget.  It allows you to stay at their house thus cutting any hotel costs from your vacation.  The second money-saving opportunity is it allows you to cook and eat at home. Maybe your friends and family will offer to cook or you can go to the grocery store to make some new home cooked meals, but this will cut out all the expensive meals that go along with your vacation.

Those are the rules I follow when I vacation, I make sure to save up and pay cash, stay with friends and family, and cut costs with cooking at home whenever possible.  Yes I vacation while in debt, I’ll be going to see my parents very soon.

Now that you have read and seen what others do, what do you have to say about Vacationing in Debt?


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12 Responses to “Vacationing in Debt-What Do You Say?

  • Last two years ago when we still had a debt, we also had a quick vacation with my daughter and one niece. Luckily I availed the promo package that the resort offered that month that’s why I decided to go for a vacation for three days.
    Marie @ The Money Template recently posted…Carnival of retirementMy Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      4 years ago

      I agree that a vacation is needed from time to time, if you can get a great deal that you pay cash for it’s right in my proposed guidelines.

  • I think it’s possible to find a compromise in there… No vacation is kind of rough and it really does suck the fun out of life. Maybe going to Hawaii might be out of the cards, but how about a national park? I live in the Bay Area, and it really isn’t that expensive to just drive to Yosemite for a weekend. You don’t have to spend much to have a memorable experience. When the consumer debt gets paid off, then go to Hawaii! 🙂
    FI Fighter recently posted…Global Entry: Getting Ready for International Travel!My Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      4 years ago

      You bring up a great point about a mini-vacation like Yosemite, which I consider any time that you don’t take vacation from work and the commute is less than a 4 hour drive. Those should be done way more than that beautiful Hawaii vacation that everyone dreams about.

  • I’m a proponent of vacation. It can be used as a reward and motivator. The end result for Dave Ramsey was great as you said he’s a millionaire but for most the idea of becoming a millionaire is a far reach.

    I do think you can be in the middle just as long as you don’t add to the debt. You use the vacation as a way to reward yourself for reaching a milestone. There are many ways to budget for a vacation at the same time you pay off debt.

    It’s the same reason why people get depressed at payday. They get paid and end up spending it all paying bills. Then they ask, “is it worth it to work just to pay bills?” No. The answer is to save some first then pay off the bills. So there is something left that you can see grow.
    The Phroogal Jason recently posted…99 Things to Do Instead of Spending Money This SummerMy Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      4 years ago

      I agree becoming a “multi-millionaire” is a far reach, I’m one of the crazies who think becoming a millionaire is only a couple steps away. Yeah I need to work on the rewarding myself for reaching a milestone, more rewards and less what’s the next goal! I’m a big proponent of sprint and then relax method of debt repayment, sounds like a future blog post, thanks Phroogal Jason.

  • I think vacations are so important for staying motivated. Of course I wouldn’t recommend anything extravagant. But it’s good to have a goal your working towards… that isn’t ten years away.
    Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life recently posted…Budget Travel: CouchSurfingMy Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      4 years ago

      Staying motivated is so important. I have done a good job of setting goals, but I don’t really set an achievement for reaching that goal. Might have to add that to the things to do list. Although this vacation happens to occur the same time that I set a goal and reached it. So this is my first reward!

  • Great post about a timely topic! Living with consumer debt doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take a break from work. But you should definitely make your break as cheap as possible. One approach: schedule a stay-cation where family members travel to visit you instead of you traveling to visit them. Show them around your local haunts and favorite sites. Treat them to outdoor BBQs and your best home-cooked recipes. When the visit is over you can return back to work fully refreshed without having put any big dents in your recovery program.
    Noonan recently posted…Send Your White Elephants PachydermingMy Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      4 years ago

      I’m not a fan of the phrase stay-cation and many others, but I certainly do like the results, my current vacation will involve all of this except 2,000 miles away from home. A break is needed and cheap as possible is certainly the way to go, thanks FrugalFringe.

  • Great article. I just got back from Chicago for a vacation for 5 days and 4 nights. It was awesome to take a break. I paid off 8 consumer credit cards in
    4 months.

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