I Spent How Much?! My Birthday Trip to the Bahamas

by Guest

This Yakezie blog swap post is  from LaTisha D Styles who is a finance graduate teaching young adults how to invest, budget and manage your money however little you may have at Young Adult Finances.  Read my post at her site today on Splurging for Bells and Whistles on a Car.

Bahamas VacationHave you ever spent way too much on a vacation? I did. As a broke college student, I had no right to take myself on a trip for my birthday. But I was turning 25 and I was ready to let loose. I had about $20,000 dollars in student loan debt and plenty in credit card debt, but I still splurged with almost everything I had saved to that point.

I decided to take a spontaneous 3 day weekend cruise but unfortunately, my friends were not able to make that last minute weekend getaway. I decided to take my sister. At the time she was paying off her own debt and she was on a very strict budget. I offered to pay for her cruise ticket so she could go with me.

We drove from our home in Georgia down to Ft. Lauderdale where our Carnival cruise ship planned to depart. Once we made it to our staterooms and dropped off all of our bags, we were called to the evacuation deck to learn emergency procedures. Then the real fun started! I attended bingo night, sang for karaoke night and visited shops and restaurants in every port.

By the time the cruise was completed and I received my bill, I realized that I had spent the equivalent of two additional cruise tickets just on extras! I was shocked and as we headed home I thought about what I would do differently next time.

Keep a Running Tally

When you’re on a cruise ship, there’s no need to swipe your card every time you decide to make a purchase on the ship. Everything is billed back to your stateroom and you don’t see the total until the end. I kept the receipts that I was given every time I made a purchase but after a while I stopped really looking at them. However, I did check the receipts against the final bill once I had a chance at home. I would have written down each charge and kept a record of the dollar amount that I was spending. I know that would have helped me to stay within a budget.

Make a Budget

That’s the second thing that I would have done differently. I actually didn’t have a budget. Yes, I had a loose dollar amount that I didn’t want to spend over, but that was largely determined by my credit limit on one of my cards. I should have carefully planned how much I would be spending on excursions, drinks and other surcharges. I made the mistake of assuming that by booking a vacation on an all-inclusive cruise ship, I wouldn’t need a budget, but I quickly learned that a well-planned budget is always in order.

Would I do it again? Maybe. Would I watch my money better? Definitely. But at the end of the day, the memories I have were worth every penny. What about your experience? Have you ever splurged on something that was totally worth it? Are you still glad you did?

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The Prudent Planner February 25, 2011 at 7:46 am

To add to your cruise line tip…if you pay off your balance every other day for example on a 5 day cruise then the damage at the end of the trip won’t be so surprising. Plus paying off a little of the balance every other day helps you to keep track of expenses and discover mistakes such as double charging for an item or service when it’s not warranted. If you wait until the end of the cruise, you won’t remember all the things you paid for (maybe b/c you had too much of a good time) and the list of charges will be several pages long…much harder to reconcile.

Kay Lynn February 28, 2011 at 5:44 am

Prudent Planner, I think it is important to check your balance throughout the cruise. Some ships have interactive TV where you can view your bill. Otherwise, just go to the purser’s desk and ask for the current bill and they’re happy to print it out.

Christine McCarthy February 25, 2011 at 7:56 am

You’re not the first I’ve heard about being surprised by the running tab.And the ships play well on it. They know… you’re on a cruise to have fun. Who wants to think about budgets? And 99% of us don’t.

Those are great suggestions. And taking 5 minutes a day to keep a tally – can save you ALOT of money. But it sounds like you had a blast. And time with your sister…priceless. 🙂

LaTisha @FSYAonline February 28, 2011 at 8:02 pm

I did have fun, it was one of the best decisions I ever made.

101 Centavos February 25, 2011 at 4:59 pm

This brings back memories of other vacations where money just dribbled out of our hands….I think we’d follow your sentiments, just watch money a little more carefully, but still do it all over again.

Kay Lynn February 28, 2011 at 5:47 am

101 Centavos, you’re right about going on vacation again. It’s so worth it. I save money so we can vacation a couple of times a year for the rest of our lives.

Jacob @ My Personal Finance Journey March 4, 2011 at 11:25 am

Boy can I ever relate to this story! Expenses on the cruise ship are crazy! They lure people there with a low base price, but it doesn’t include alcohol or any of the side trips! I was very proud because I took a cruise in 2007 and had a $0 bill at the end! Great success!

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