Leif’s dilemma: Vacation

By | October 8, 2013

In the second week strength training Leif’s financial avatar, he told me he was planning a 2 week vacation. Oof, this was the equivalent of telling your personal trainer that you were gearing up for an amateur pie eating contest. Leif expressed concern about the timing as well and and floated the idea of shelving the financial makeover for a bit….a time when he wasn’t planning a vacation. Double oof.

There will always always always be  a reason to procrastinate on starting. You’re planning a vacation. You’re on vacation. You just got back from vacation. It’s the holidays. I just got a hamster and you want to come over and see it.

None of that matters! Taking a vacation and wielding the power of thrift can coexist. My most powerful advice comes from building up habits that will improve your financial health. I only make suggestions, some big, some small and use my fun visuals to persuade you, but ultimately it’s your life and only you can live it. If any of my suggestions stick, that’s a good start.

And I take vacations! My crossing-items-off-lists obsession extends to visiting states and countries. But I use frequent flier miles zealously, couchsurf, camp, eat from grocery stores whenever possible, learn public transportation and walk wherever possible.

After convincing Leif, he told me about his vacation plans. He wanted to fly to a big city on the west coast, take a road trip with a good friend, and then go to the Burning Man festival. I had not yet parsed the details of Leif’s savings, so here were my initial suggestions.


Pay for this vacation before you go on it.

  • Have a yard sale.
  • Go busking.
  • Take an extra shift.

How much should I raise?

Good question! Do the research and figure out how much this is going to cost you. Fill in this sheet.

Leif’s Vacation Budget: [  ] days on the west coast

August 18th – September 2, 2013

  • Transportation Total:

    • To/From the Airport:

      • Public Transportation ($2.25) is very very convenient. I cab from the airport if it’s late at night, but taking a train or bus TO the airport gets you off on the right foot and is easy to plan and do. Also, the lighter you pack, the easier your life will be.

    • Flights:

    • Trains/Boats/Buses:

    • Cabs:

      • Walking lets you see the place you’re visiting!

    • Rental Car:

  • Accommodations:

    • AirbNb:

    • Hotels:

    • Campsites:

  • Food:

    • Suggestion: Take out $150 cash and only spend that. Try cooking at the AirBnB apartment when you can.

  • Entertainment:

    • Burning Man tickets:

    • Museums:

    • Drinkin’:

  • Souvenirs:

  • Incidental Damages:

    • Expenses incurred because you took this trip. Example: Someone steals your driver’s license and you pay $25 when you get home to get a new one.


Price per day:

After making Leif’s charts and realizing what a tight position he was actually in, I advised him to delay his vacation. If he couldn’t bear that, I advised a shorter vacation. And sure enough, after showing Leif my presentation on his spending, he decided to cancel the second week of his trip! Unfortunately, he also changed his dates more than once and spent much more than expected on flights. Win some. Lose some.

Make your own vacation budget here. (as soon as I learn how to link properly anyway)

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