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Holidays away can be a big test of a relationship - and not only about the money side of it. But being smart about money on holidays can avoid unintended stresses before, during and after, says Lynda Moore

Personal Finance / opinion
Holidays away can be a big test of a relationship - and not only about the money side of it. But being smart about money on holidays can avoid unintended stresses before, during and after, says Lynda Moore
unhappy couple on vacation
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The phrase, ‘We’re going on holiday!’ conjures up a range of wonderful thoughts, from adventurous roads trips to winging away for a spontaneous adventure.  It invokes images of pool side, beach time, powder ski slopes, visiting historical sites, visiting family, the list is endless.  And the anticipation is amazing.

Then reality sets in and a myriad of questions pop into your head.  How much is it going to cost?  When do we have to pay for it?  Who is going to look after the cat/dog, water the plants?

What about the kids, are they coming too, or can Mum & Dad look after them?  Is my passport current?  Do we need a visa?  What about injections?  Ohh, I need to buy more…

Holidays are great fun once you get there but the planning and the preparation can often be very emotional and testing on any relationship.  Going away for a few days with your partner is a good test of the relationship.  I would imagine that countless relationships have ended during holiday time away.

What are some of things that can trip you up when going on holiday with your loved one?

Are you emotionally attached to the destination?

If you are emotionally attached to the destination?  For example, you have relocated countries and going back for family is important to you and you will be willing to spend more on the trip.  Here is where the thought, ‘costs aren’t important’ can kick in.

However, if your partner doesn’t share the same sentiment and they would rather go someplace else, they may start to push your buttons about how much the trip is costing and suggest cheaper and supposedly better alternatives.

You (the emotionally attached one), may react with “but you promised me when we got together that …….”  And before you know it, the holiday planning ceases to be fun and can become a battle ground.

What often happens is that you compensate.  You make an extra effort to see that you both have a great time and ending up spending way more than you intended.

We’ve arrived!

I am guessing I am a typical traveller.  When I travel, there are things that have been paid for before leaving home and other things are on the pay as you go basis.

For couples, what can happen is one of you goes into the, ‘Yay, we’re on holiday!’ mindset where money doesn’t matter, while the other is more cautious.  “We wouldn’t spend $300 on a dinner at home, why are we doing it now?” so they start watching and commenting on every cent that is being spent.

If you have put the money aside for the trip and you have preloaded your card, the ‘money doesn’t matter’ mindset is fine, you have the money, go ahead and enjoy.

But more often than not (certainly from our experience working with clients) the money isn’t set aside and it is a case of, “put it on the credit card and worry about it later.”  So, while one of you is having fun, the other is worrying about the mounting credit card bill, which doesn’t make for a happy holiday.

We’re home!

You made it back home.  The suitcases are full of shopping, souvenirs and a few pressies for friends and family.

At some point you are going to have to steel yourself and see just how much the holiday has cost.  If you get a nasty shock from the credit card statement (as they’re prone to do), be careful not to slip into the blame game.

“I told you we shouldn’t have gone to that theme park, it wasn’t worth the money!”  Which can lead to, “well you did this...!” and the lovely memories and experiences you have had are pushed into the background.

Once you have paid the credit card off, its time to plan for the next one and the process starts all over again.

What do you need to do differently?

First, learn from previous holidays.  If you know who you are travelling with well enough, you will know their patterns of behaviour (and this doesn’t just relate to how they spend their money).

Prepare to be adaptable, know when you need to compromise and what is going to push their buttons and when they are going to push yours.

Doing a little research beforehand (even if it’s a short break where you don’t leave the country) will give you lots of ideas of what you can do and how much it will cost.  This way you can fit things around both your tastes and your holiday spending mindset.

OK, I confess, I keep track of spending when I travel.  For me, it’s a great way remember what worked (or didn’t) so I can use that information to help plan the next trip.

On one of my first trips overseas for several years, I completely underestimated the cost of transport. This was a great learning for the next trip and it made for a much more relaxed time.

Lastly, a tip from Dan Ariely (a behavioural economist).  “Pay as much as you can before you go on holiday while leaving room for last minute excursions.  Because, if we pay for something before consuming it, the actual consumption of it feels almost painless.  There is no pain on paying as you enjoy not worrying about paying in the future."

Sounds good to me!

*Lynda Moore is a Money Mentalist coach and New Zealand’s only certified New Money Story® mentor. Lynda helps you understand why you do the things you do with your money, when we all know we should spend less than we earn. You can contact her here.

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If you’re arguing about money on holiday, chances are you aren’t on the same page financially in general.

I don’t understand why holidays are so contentious for couples, do people not enjoy spending time together?


A lot of the problems seem to stem from going somewhere, one person identifies how astronomically more expensive doing anything at the destination is from home, and then lamenting every transaction.

And then things get compounded by the other half getting into spendy/shopping mode.

Unless you've got the pockets, you should be selecting destinations that have significantly cheaper costs of living than NZ. Asia, South America, and the poorer parts of Europe.


Or be happy where you are and don't churn and burn the carbon.


Bali, Thailand, Vietnam, resort with breakfast included and you are sorted....   who wants to see elephants dance anyways...

Gold coast for those with less dosh, or sunshine coast is great with public pools etc , aussie zoo and the mountains to explore, rent a car at brissie airport for the 1-2 weeks,  theme parks gd for kids, need not be expensive if you plan and budget.  That said many have little spare this year and plan to goto NZ Beachs for some sun and surf, can't beat it, get a sun shade tent at boxing day specials!!!   have a big breakfast at home before going, take a chilly bin with an ice packs and a few beers and stop at a bakery on the way for filled rolls etc, take bbq meat and cook on the free BBQs all over AKL....

I am taking kids to beach days this year... super cheapo