Author Topic: Expensive Family Vacations  (Read 1163 times)

Captain FIRE

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Expensive Family Vacations
« on: September 12, 2017, 12:12:58 PM »
*Warning: Vent*

DH's family is talking about a family vacation.  I looked into it, and it'll be close to costing 3x what our other vacations are this year.  DH really wants to go.

I'm super frustrated because:
1) We already have two vacations planned.  We've generally gone on just one a year, so it's a vacation heavy year that we'll need to make up later.  Wish we could spread the joy over other years.
2) It'll be the most we've ever spent on a vacation - while being on the shorter side of our trips.  The longer ones were international too.
3) The vacation they're planning has no childcare options.  So,  my friends point out to me, it's a family trip not a vacation.  If we waited 1.5 years to do the same vacation, our kid would be eligible for the kids activities.
4) DH is constantly complaining about the rising cost of everything (groceries, food at our work, transportation costs to work, daycare raising rates substantially weeks after we started, etc.) while our salaries are stagnant.  He's even suggested brown-bagging it regularly and weekly meal prep, something he's fought against for years, which is amazing.  Yet although he wants to save the pennies here, he's just rolling over and doling out the dollars for this trip without a whimper.  He doesn't even want to push back at all and propose less expensive alternatives to his family.  This is beyond frustrating.

This is leaving me to a resentful unmotivated saving place.  I'm feeling the "why bother" bug now, when we're apparently going to blow all of our excess cash on vacations this year.  I've suggested canceling one of the other two vacations to pay for this one, and we'll only be out $300, but he's not game for that.

Not really sure there is a solution here so I'm mostly just venting.

Fishindude

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Re: Expensive Family Vacations
« Reply #1 on: September 12, 2017, 12:21:27 PM »
Put down your foot and tell him you and the kids are not going.
Let him go by himself.

My wife likes sunny beach type stuff which bores me to tears and I'm not a fan of heat either.
She wanted to take kids to Florida, I said, go head but I'm not going.   Kind of whizzed her off for a while but they went anyway and made out alright.
Didn't wreck our marriage.
« Last Edit: September 12, 2017, 12:24:02 PM by Fishindude »

Megma

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Re: Expensive Family Vacations
« Reply #2 on: September 12, 2017, 12:28:51 PM »
OP, maybe you can approach it from a non-financial angle by saying that it would be better for your family if you can wait and all go together when your child is older and can do the kids activities? I think this is super reasonable and secretly I bet other family members would also appreciate more notice for saving.

Propose this first to your DH and then go to his parents (I assume they are organizing). This will spread out the spending/vacations.
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Laura33

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Re: Expensive Family Vacations
« Reply #3 on: September 12, 2017, 12:47:06 PM »
Honestly, I don't know what to tell you, other than to prepare for this to happen with more and more frequency, so better to come up with some kind of compromise now.  After all the kids married and started having grandkids, both of our sets of parents started planning these family vacations to see everyone and get together.  And it's a freaking command appearance, so you can't really be the bad guy and say no (and, really, we all like everyone and would theoretically like to spend the time together) -- but then we resent the locations, the money, the time off work, etc.

OTOH:  My stepdad died very unexpectedly a few years ago, within a month of my MIL's being diagnosed with cancer, and it changed my view of these command appearances 180 degrees.  We had two trips with my stepdad before he died, and the first one cost so much I almost had a panic attack beforehand.  But I said fuck it, it's just money -- and in retrospect that was the best decision I could possibly have made and don't regret one penny. 

Seems to me that there has to be a compromise here.  If you guys have a vacation budget, and this will push you over, then either he can ask his family to cut the costs or subsidize you, or you can cancel one or both of the other vacations, or you can cut something else to cover it.  It's sort of magical thinking/immaturity to insist on adding this in without dealing with the impact on the budget.  If it were me, I'd probably tell vs. ask -- i.e., "which of the other vacations shall we cancel?" instead of "should we cancel one?"  And then if he's resistant to that, "ok, so what other expenses would you prefer to cut" (caveat that he can't choose something that falls on you).  The only thing that isn't acceptable is sticking your fingers in your ears and singing "lalalalala" while your DW is asking you to act like the grown-ass man you are.
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lbmustache

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Re: Expensive Family Vacations
« Reply #4 on: September 12, 2017, 12:56:27 PM »
Honestly, I don't know what to tell you, other than to prepare for this to happen with more and more frequency, so better to come up with some kind of compromise now.  After all the kids married and started having grandkids, both of our sets of parents started planning these family vacations to see everyone and get together. And it's a freaking command appearance, so you can't really be the bad guy and say no (and, really, we all like everyone and would theoretically like to spend the time together) -- but then we resent the locations, the money, the time off work, etc.

Yep. OP, is the vacation already set in stone (the family one)? If so, maybe you can talk to your husband and see if he can talk to his family about something a little more modest? Maybe different location, accommodations, anything?

Instead of canceling a vacation, maybe one can be re-arranged or postponed for another time?

Captain FIRE

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Re: Expensive Family Vacations
« Reply #5 on: September 12, 2017, 01:54:11 PM »
OP, maybe you can approach it from a non-financial angle by saying that it would be better for your family if you can wait and all go together when your child is older and can do the kids activities? I think this is super reasonable and secretly I bet other family members would also appreciate more notice for saving.

Propose this first to your DH and then go to his parents (I assume they are organizing). This will spread out the spending/vacations.

I did :(

I drafted an email suggesting this, focusing on the better for the kids approach, and less on the cost (though I expressed concerns).  Sent the email to DH first to read and that's when he came back that it didn't bother him and he wanted us to go.

The others are very secure financially, all with better cash flow than us and probably higher net worths.  They don't particularly care about cost or need to save up.  And we can definitely afford it, which they know, I just don't want to pay that much for it.

(and, really, we all like everyone and would theoretically like to spend the time together) -- but then we resent the locations, the money, the time off work, etc.

[...]

Seems to me that there has to be a compromise here.  If you guys have a vacation budget, and this will push you over, then either he can ask his family to cut the costs or subsidize you, or you can cancel one or both of the other vacations, or you can cut something else to cover it.  It's sort of magical thinking/immaturity to insist on adding this in without dealing with the impact on the budget.  If it were me, I'd probably tell vs. ask -- i.e., "which of the other vacations shall we cancel?" instead of "should we cancel one?"  And then if he's resistant to that, "ok, so what other expenses would you prefer to cut" (caveat that he can't choose something that falls on you).  The only thing that isn't acceptable is sticking your fingers in your ears and singing "lalalalala" while your DW is asking you to act like the grown-ass man you are.

This exactly.  I want to spend the time with them so my kid gets to know his cousins, but not so expensively.

We didn't go last time.  They planned a very last minute trip to Zika-land with long flights for us when I was pregnant.  That was an obvious no-go.  I think that's why DH feels like we have to go this time even if it's not ideal.

I totally agree with your proposed approach, but it doesn't seem to working so far.  I'll keep trying though.   

Yep. OP, is the vacation already set in stone (the family one)? If so, maybe you can talk to your husband and see if he can talk to his family about something a little more modest? Maybe different location, accommodations, anything?

Instead of canceling a vacation, maybe one can be re-arranged or postponed for another time?

I don't think it's set and want to nudge it along in a different direction, but he seems to be refusing to do so.  I think I would be less upset if he were willing to at least try.  One challenge is we all live quite far apart.

CheapScholar

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Re: Expensive Family Vacations
« Reply #6 on: September 12, 2017, 04:11:56 PM »
Like others said, you need to make some sort of compromise or nip future trips in the bud.  Vacations are expensive and I don't feel anyone should have to pay that kind of money to be stressed out.

I do hope that you at least get along with your in-laws and have a nice time.  I value vacation more than almost anything, and my wife really doesn't care so much.  About 3 years ago I was forced to go to Disney World with the in-laws.  I'm not a big Disney person (not a corporate hating Disney person, but I think it's crowded and way overpriced).  Anyway, the trip was pretty awful from my perspective.  FIL and MIL are both diabetic and overweight.  They had trouble walking around and complained about the heat (it was in the 70s).  They're the kind of people that are cynical and criticize everything, from every meal, glass of lemonade, to how long a line is. 

So yeah, be careful about making this a regular thing.  My in-laws rarely travel, but if we're ever sitting around and someone mentions going to Disney again, I nuke that idea pretty fast with "we already have vacation planned for next year."  I'll also admit that I plan vacations they'd never in a million years think about asking to join (National Parks).

Goldielocks

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Re: Expensive Family Vacations
« Reply #7 on: September 12, 2017, 05:07:03 PM »
Can you turn it around?   Say how much you want to spend time with his family and ask for his help to make it happen?

Find out what the total $ spend is, then ask your spouse to help work with you to come up with that money?  e.g., cut out dinners out for x months, sell something in your home for cash, work overtime, have him pick up a part time job?

Make it a "us saving together for a vacation" sort of thing?   I also think your suggestion to cancel one of the other trips is spot on.   

I would treat this like a "destination wedding" required expense for a close relative, except you get to spend better quality time with the people going.

Laura33

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Re: Expensive Family Vacations
« Reply #8 on: September 13, 2017, 07:14:16 AM »
I'm sorry he doesn't seem willing to compromise.  Any idea why?  Does he think you are criticizing his desire to spend time with his family?  Does he secretly want to go to this location but won't tell you?  Does he think you have plenty of money and it's stupid to worry about one silly little vacation?  Does he feel uncomfortable pushing back against his family and feeling pressured by you to do so and so is just choosing to not engage with anyone?

There's something going on here that is triggering this passive-aggressive "I'm going to insist we go but not push back on cost or plan for the extra money, and I'm not going to tell you why."  You need to figure out what that is so you can work around it.  E.g., if he really wants to spend time with his family, then you can start with "I really want us to spend this time with your family, and it's awesome that they invited us -- so let's figure out how we can afford it"  Or if he really wants to go to this particular location, then maybe you stop asking him to push to change the location and work on your budget to fit it in.  Or if he avoids conflict with his family at all costs, then maybe you volunteer to take the lead on negotiating the location/cost with his family (or just give up on that and again focus on your own budget).  Etc.

FWIW, though, if you can't get through to him, it is perfectly reasonable to draw a line in the sand that says "I am happy to do this trip with you, but we need to make room for it in the budget, so I am going to cancel X other vacation unless you work with me to make that money up somewhere."
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Captain FIRE

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Re: Expensive Family Vacations
« Reply #9 on: September 13, 2017, 07:43:36 AM »
Laura33,

1) He doesn't like to push back against his family.  His usual tactic is to talk to his mom and she talks to the others.  This has varying effectiveness.  In general, he's less apt to want to make waves than me.  He doesn't like me pushing back either.

2) See 1

3) He thinks it'll be a memorable vacation, as no one (except me) has been there before.  (I lived there a few years.  I'm happy to go back, but do wish it'd be when DS would remember it.  So, odds are end up wanting to go back yet again when DS will remember it - and can participate in more activities.)

4) He thinks we can afford it (true, but it will consume all of our free cash flow, leaving no savings beyond the 401k for months).  I think he mentally ballparks this type spending as a must not a want, and thus doesn't see it as negotiable at all.  He truly doesn't see any incongruity between spending a lot of time focusing on the pennies, but letting this big budget item in.  I don't know if he thinks I can also get these costs down more manageable because I did a lot of work to get the other two vacations more affordable - but I've already looked into it and 3x would be the very best case scenario I could do.  His family may make choices that make it even more expensive.

Quotes:
"I realize that it is expensive and will blow the budget a little bit, but I think we can probably compensate by doing something less expensive the next year, if they really want to do it."
"well, it is what it is....it would be a very memorable vacation, and I don't know if any of us have gone to [there]"
"yes, but we got those vacations down to a reasonable cost, so I don't necessarily think there is a huge problem in making an exception to go to a vacation with my family, which we have never done"

We have date night planned later this week, so hopefully we can talk it through then.

ETA: I'm thinking on this, and he's always been willing to pay a large amount without batting an eye for family peace, so perhaps this falls under that umbrella for him.

His mom (divorced parents) gave each of the kids financial help in different amounts, ways, and times (e.g downpayment money, graduate school costs, investment money).  This has led to some uncertainty over how much money each child received, so it can be fairly accounted later down the road at inheritance time.  (The most well-off sibling, by a far shot, is the one concerned about this...)  I've begged his mom to try to figure it out as best as she can now, and explain it to the siblings, so it doesn't become a problem later.  She's inclined to hand wave figure it out, which isn't going to satisfy the sibling.  DH has said he will disclaim all inheritance (which is likely to be multiple times any potential discrepancy between kids) so that this sibling doesn't feel he's getting gyped/upset. 
« Last Edit: September 13, 2017, 07:58:23 AM by Captain FIRE »

SC93

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Re: Expensive Family Vacations
« Reply #10 on: September 13, 2017, 11:04:58 AM »
The little woman used to have a hard time telling her family, "NO!!". When we first met, they pretty much told her where to be and when to be there and it had been that way her entire life. Then I came in to the picture..... and I started saying, "NO!!". Blame it on me, I'm ok with it. So she started telling them, "NO!!" and guess what? Little by little it has came out that no one wanted to do those things except 1 guy. At first I always thought they thought of me as the new prick that is messing everything up but now I see that deep down they were like... YES!!

Laura33

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Re: Expensive Family Vacations
« Reply #11 on: September 13, 2017, 11:17:18 AM »
Yeah, ok, so this is really a mis-alignment in values.  He is willing to sweat the small stuff so he can do the big stuff that he really cares about.  You would like to be efficient in everything and so don't like spending on the big stuff that is inefficient (e.g., if the purpose is to go to this expensive place, let's do it when the kids are old enough to remember it; if the purpose is to be with family, let's do it somewhere cheaper).  He is extremely conflict-averse with his family, you prefer to be up front and see no harm in asking for something that makes more sense.  So you are arguing efficiency and logic, when he is focusing on emotion and relationships.

I think the key to compromise here is to find a way to speak his language.  Recognize that he is not hearing "perhaps we can convince your family to look at a less-expensive place?" -- he is hearing "she thinks I am a failure because I don't want to risk upsetting my family."  You think you are saying "let's find a way to pay for this," but he is hearing "I don't care about the things that matter to you."

The way to break the impasse is for you to figure out how to talk in his language -- talk about the emotions, not the math.  The first thing you should do is get a bottle of wine.  :-)  The second thing you should do is spend the first, say, 10 minutes being very supportive of the idea of the trip and acknowledging its importance to him -- I can see how much you love your family, I love them too, boy I wish we were closer and could spend more time with them, I really want our kids growing up knowing their cousins/aunts/uncles.  Validate his emotions.  When we feel attacked, we get defensive and put up walls.  This opening is really important to help him relax -- he needs to know you get it before he will feel like he can trust you to have his back on the things that matter to him.

THEN you can turn to your concerns.  But again, frame them up in terms of emotions -- e.g., I know that you feel like we make enough.  But I feel scared/insecure when we cut back our savings.  You know I'm a planner; having a budget, and knowing what we are going to spend on what, makes me feel safe and secure.  So when something like this comes out of the blue, I get scared and insecure.  I need to have some order and control just as much as you need to be connected with your family.  And I know I'm good at finding deals -- yeah, that's my superpower -- but trust me when I say I have looked here, and there just aren't any.  So I would really appreciate it if you could help me figure out some way to keep this within our existing budget -- the most logical approach seems to be to cut the other vacations, but I am open to other things as well, since I know how important our time away is to you.

Or, you know, whatever your emotions actually are, vs. whatever it is I am pulling off the top of my head.  :-)  The key is that you start with showing him you have his back, and then you ask him to have yours.

Also:  adjust your expectations.  Yes, it is stupid and illogical and self-defeating not to even question family decisions or make other suggestions.  But that's also who he is, and attempting to change that (at least right now) is only going to make him feel attacked and get defensive and shut down.  So look at it as a personality quirk that is worth the rest of the package, and figure out another workaround.
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Noodle

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Re: Expensive Family Vacations
« Reply #12 on: September 13, 2017, 11:31:34 AM »
This sounds like it is pretty important to your DH and you are not going to get very far in trying to talk him out of it, because emotions are driving his perspective rather than logic. That said, I think when you talk about other accommodations, specifically the possibility of cancelling one of the two other vacations, talking about your emotions (I would feel better narrowing it down to two trips) may get you farther than a logical financial argument. If his feelings get to be respected, so do yours. (I know it is frustrating to think about changing plans, but sometimes life doesn't present things in the optimum chronology--although if there was a long track record of having to rearrange things for his family, I might answer differently.)

One of the other posters wisely pointed out that this is not likely to be the last time this kind of situation arises, so you might think about longer-term strategies as well. Some people want to change their relationship with their family of origin, and a spouse can play a supportive role, but it doesn't sound like your DH is interested in that right now. So what could you do that would lessen your frustration? Be pro-active via DH and Mom to get the kind of vacations you want on the table before the siblings come up with something more expensive? Start a special savings account for "DH's family stuff" so that it doesn't feel like your family priorities are being affected?

Once my family got too big with in-laws and grandkids to gather at one person's house, we made an agreement that we would all prioritize an all-family vacation every other year, and the alternate years everyone is free to do as they choose. (This is partly because one sibling works for a govt agency that has limited and strictly enforced vacation policies and an annual family vacation meant she never got to do anything else.) We actually take turns organizing it, so presumably someone with strong feelings about cost/location/etc would get their way on a regular basis.

Captain FIRE

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Re: Expensive Family Vacations
« Reply #13 on: September 13, 2017, 12:08:59 PM »
Thanks, very helpful thoughts.

I also think one thing to point out to him is that we can either do really expensive, but very infrequent vacations with his family - or less expensive, but more regular ones.  So if the goal is more family time, it's better served by asking everyone to reconsider the plans. 

Valhalla

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Re: Expensive Family Vacations
« Reply #14 on: September 13, 2017, 03:36:04 PM »
I have the opposite problem, I can't convince family and friends to go on vacations!   I've got family that make great money, save a ton of cash, but won't take vacations no matter what.

I plead with them about doing something nice, no one will bite. So I end up not going on nice vacations, lol.  I just travel by myself to various places on the cheap instead of paying for a nice family type of vacation.
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