How To Turn Down a Friend’s Trip When Finances Are Tight

A reader writes:

Hello Rebecca, 

My friends and I have been trying to make time for an annual girls' trip for years, and this year we decided a luxury weekend away would do us good. Amanda took on the planning duties, renting out a large and lavish home, arranging a private yoga class in addition to one fancy dinner out. While our incomes are all different - ranging from middle-class to high-income - the cost of the retreat ended up being far more than I can afford at the moment. Taking into consideration that it's been so long since we've all been able to get together, I really don't want to pass up on this opportunity; yet, I know my credit card bill would take too much of a hit if I did go ahead with it. With that said, how do I politely decline the invitation without any of them questioning my financial situation?


Go broke or go home?

It’s true that maintaining and nurturing relationships with friends is not only beneficial for emotional well-being but also for physical health.

Numerous studies have demonstrated that strong social connections can lead to lower levels of stress, reduced risk of depression, greater happiness, and even improved immune system functioning.

Not to mention, a weekend getaway with beloved friends sounds like an amazing way to spend some quality time together!

Unfortunately, in many cases, financial constraints can make it difficult to plan such an outing.

However, there are ways to work around this problem. Consider asking friends to pitch in or split the costs of the staycation among yourselves.

Alternatively, you could look into rental sharing services like Airbnb or VRBO which offer more affordable prices than traditional hotels.

Lastly, don’t forget about the free activities – going on hikes or walks at local parks and gardens is a great way to enjoy each other’s company without breaking the bank.

See If You Can Find A Compromise

Explore Potential Compromises For A Win-Win Solution

For many people, discussing finances with friends can be an uncomfortable topic.

Amanda, however, has made it incredibly easy for her group of friends by laying out the expected costs in her invitation.

When reviewing the itinerary, it’s important to consider what activities you can afford without having to use a credit card or stretch your budget too far.

If money is tight, you could let Amanda know that you won’t be able to attend for the entire weekend and ask if there are any activities you can still participate in; such as dinner or yoga.

Additionally, if some of your other friends are also financially constrained you could suggest less expensive alternatives such as cooking a meal together rather than eating out and streaming a yoga class instead of hiring a private teacher. 

This could help offset the overall cost of the trip without sacrificing quality time together.

If You Can’t Go This Time, Be Honest About The Reason

Openly Share Your Reasons For Skipping a Friend’s Trip.

If your budget won’t stretch to cover this year’s trip, it is important to be upfront about this and make sure you are included in any future invitations.

Don’t hesitate to let your friends know that you would love to join in the celebrations, but that the cost may be prohibitive.

Being honest and open about money issues can not only help avoid awkward situations but demonstrate trust.

It could even lead to a more positive outcome than expected – some of my clients have found that their friends responded with relief or empathy on hearing about their finances.

It doesn’t have to mean missing out on time with friends either – there are plenty of ways to spend time together without breaking the bank.

Try looking for free activities such as museum days or a walk in a local park. If plan ahead, you could save up for future trips by setting aside an amount each month – if your estimated cost is $1,000 for a yearly weekend getaway, putting away around $80 each month will give you enough funds for next time.

If that isn’t realistic, don’t worry; there are still many other enjoyable alternatives that won’t strain your budget too much!

Propose Or Organize a Future “Pay What You Can” Gathering.

Organizing a hen party or bachelorette party can be a difficult and daunting task, especially when trying to figure out how to divide the costs.

Emma Edwards, the founder of the financial platform The Broke Generation, offers an ingenious solution: “pay what you can.”

Guests are invited to contribute as much or as little as they can afford, creating an anonymous system that allows everyone to feel comfortable with their contribution.

For example, prices could be $100 for a low-price option, $250 for a medium-price option, and $500 for a high-price option.

This system isn’t just limited to hen parties; it’s also great for birthday parties, milestone celebrations like anniversaries and graduations, and even trips with friends.

After everyone has paid their portion of the cost (which is collected through Venmo to guarantee privacy), if there is enough money to carry out the activities planned then great!

If not, the host should consider trimming some activities from the itinerary; but if there is more than enough money then special surprises like yoga lessons or rounds of mimosas can be added in.

Paying what you can may not work for every occasion, but it’s worth considering when planning group events in the future.


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Propose Alternative Ideas For Strengthening Your Friendship.

If your host has requested that you partake in a lavish event and you can’t afford to, it is important to be honest with them and yourself about your financial constraints.

You can politely say no and offer an alternative way to catch up such as going for coffee or brunch.

It is essential that you remember to stay true to your finances and not let anyone pressure you into doing something that could place you in an uncomfortable situation.

Additionally, using your credit card for the trip might not have the best outcome later down the road when the bill comes due.

Practicing self-care by being honest with your friends and financial boundaries is a valid choice that should be celebrated.

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