Spring Break Budget

Spring break the moneysmart way

Spring break is awesome—but if you’re not careful, it can kill your budget. Get some tips for having a trip to remember without credit card debt you’ll regret.

Podcast transcript


PETE: Welcome back to How Not to Move Back in With Your Parents here on the IU MoneySmarts Radio Network. I am Pete the Planner and that is Alex.

ALEX: Hey.

PETE: Hey, spring break edition of How Not to Move Back in With Your Parents.

ALEX: All right, this is the one they were looking forward to, isn’t it? Or not looking forward to, if you think about it.

PETE: Yeah, I went on a spring break. Spent the money. Went to Florida. Did the whole stayed in a room with like 5 million other people. It was very communal.

ALEX: Yeah.

PETE: Listen, it was fun, though. And you’re going this year.

ALEX: Right. I have not gone my first year, so, I made a point that I was gonna go this year.

PETE: How much is it gonna cost you to go? Let’s break this down, let’s talk about funding. But first of all, did you go to high school on your own [INAUDIBLE]?

ALEX: No, we did a family trip, and I would kinda, just not anything huge though not high school.

PETE: All right, so where are you going? Do you know where you’re going?

ALEX: It’s iffy right now, because there is a big group trip that a bunch of different people were doing to South Padre, South Texas, a classic place. And with the cost and everything involved there, I wasn’t sure I was gonna do it. So we might be staying.

PETE: What was that one gonna cost?

ALEX: It was gonna be 850 with the whole package including flights, hotel, but not all-inclusive. So you can count in a lot of other expenses were food and stuff like that it would have been probably over $1,000 at least.

PETE: Okay, so you put the kibosh on that, are some other of your friends still following through with that and now you’re going with a different group?

ALEX: They are. It was three 330, if you didn’t include the flights there and back, so it’s gonna be 500 basically for there and back flights. They could find cheaper flights.

PETE: That’s a lot of money for flights.

ALEX: Yeah, to get it down to like 600 and something for the not all inclusive, that’s still honestly more than I wanna spend.

PETE: Okay.

ALEX: So I have two options right now I’m thinking about. One is Gatlinburg, Tennessee, actually. Get some buddies, go get a cabin up in the mountain, hang out for a week.

PETE: You gotta watch out for the bears there.

ALEX: We are not scared.

PETE: I went there, do you want to hear a story?

ALEX: Let’s go.

PETE: I was out for a run. My wife and I were in college and so we went to Gatlinburg with some friends a trip. We are out for a run, we are running around we were running in the mountains, turn the corner, just a bear.

ALEX: Bear.

PETE: It’s a bear. He’s just standing there like on his feet.

ALEX: Yeah.

PETE: Not all fours, standing up.

ALEX: Did he wave hello? You know, send you on your way.

PETE: No, I was just like I didn’t even know what to do. So we kind of just backed away slowly. You don’t want him to see you running.

ALEX: Right.

PETE: My point-

ALEX: Don’t run away from bears.

PETE: Be very careful.

ALEX: Because they are fast.

PETE: Yeah, so be careful with the bears, and so that’s one option, what would that cost?

ALEX: That’s one option, so depending on the group and how many people we get, we’re thinking maybe like six to eight people right now, over a grand total for like five night stay. So that will be a lot cheaper per person.

PETE: Yes, and you know what? It’s still touristy, as Florida or South Padre are gonna be. So you’re gonna have a little bit of increase. But if you’re at the grocery store and you just get a bunch of food, they got a bigger fridge, and all that other stuff.

ALEX: Yeah, and usually the cabins up there have great amenities. So you can get a huge grocery store trip beforehand, get it all out of the way, and it’s-

PETE: We don’t have the beach life. I know you like to run around in a speedo and do that whole thing, and-

ALEX: Of course. And so you can’t do that in Gatlinburg cause the bears are attracted to lycra.

PETE: Right, and I'm gonna pretend I know what lycra is.

PETE: It’s a-

ALEX: I don’t know that word.

PETE: Swimsuit material.

ALEX: No idea.

PETE: What?

ALEX: Lycra? Really?

PETE: Bing it.

ALEX: Bing, anyway, but the other option is Florida.

PETE: Sure.

ALEX: So one my buddies has a friend who just graduated and lives in Panama city so that could be very local cost way to go to Panama city.

PETE: Yeah.

ALEX: That we are considering.

PETE: Go crash his place?

ALEX: Yeah.

PETE: [LAUGH] He just graduated it’s not like he’s got a compound-

ALEX: He has a house.

PETE: Really?

ALEX: Yeah.

PETE: In Panama City?

ALEX: Yeah.

PETE: So you’re gonna go there, you would drive there I assume?

ALEX: Yeah.

PETE: So then there would be no expenses involved with that. So you think you’ll get out food, stay everything for what 400 bucks?

ALEX: My hope is to cap it off at 5 or $600 at the most.

PETE: I think that's reasonable.

ALEX: Yeah.

PETE: So this is all got to come down to the fact that you’ve seen people in the past just lose it. I would argue, this is where most college student credit cards began. Is that they find a way to get a credit card to fund airline tickets and to fund restaurants and things of that ilk down on vacation. I would argue that this is the beginning of the end of irresponsible use of credit.

ALEX: Yeah and people blow so much money on spring break, it is insane, thousands.

PETE: Yeah, look, we are not gonna paint any specific pictures here. But we know when you are just have a good time, that doing the right thing financially. No matter what your circumstances, generally isn’t at top of mind, you now what I mean?

ALEX: Right, definitely not. You’re not thinking about how much money you’re spending, not at all.

PETE: Do you think the money you’re gonna take with you, now you’re going to have to have some emergency source of money for some reason if something goes awry. But how do you plan on limiting access to the rest of your money when you go down there? Because it’s a slippery slope, right?

ALEX: Right, and honestly it’s self control. In which, struggle with in some things, better with at others but it’s a fact that say, either Gatlinburg or Florida no matter where you’re going. If you can do that plan out your pre-grocery trip. Get all your foods. Say you’re gonna not go out to eat as much as you would like to and limit that. You can really control your spending by saying, we’re getting this all for the week. This is lasting us this week and I’m not gonna touch it other than that. So it’s setting those limits that will be really important.

PETE: What are some of the crazier spring break trips that you can’t believe people are blowing that money for week as a college student?

ALEX: My buddy’s just booked one for this upcoming spring break, Las Vegas.

PETE: That’s a bad idea, are they 21 at least?

ALEX: No comment.


ALEX: Anyway, [LAUGH] but no. So those guys, and I’ve talked to a few of them, some of them are being dumb about it some of them are being smart. They’re saying like 600 for the room for the week I don’t know how they’re going on that but some deal. And some of like, yeah, under a thousand bucks for this whole thing. But one of my roommate who's going, he’s like, no, it’s gonna be 1,000 to 1,500 bucks I already know.

PETE: Yeah.

ALEX: So it’s crazy.

PETE: Again, you and I both agree on this Alex, college you’ll have the least amount of financial responsibility from a, you have bills in your life. And so, you do kind of offer yourself and allow yourself some creative and financial liberties. And spring break happens to be one of those time-tested and time-honored traditions. Nothing wrong with it, you just can’t go crazy.

ALEX: Best use of your life, have fun. I’m stingy with my money but I’m to the point where I almost regret not going on spring break just because it’s a fun experience. It’s something you do when you’re young in college.

PETE: Yeah, do you know a lot of students that go all four years or do you think more students these days are just taking one or two years to do it? What’s the trend now?

ALEX: In my experience, being in the greek system is different because they plan out trips with a bunch of different houses get together, get a big group rate and you go to one place. So a lot of people are going four years.

PETE: Of course, the other option here and I don’t want to sound like a stick in the mud anymore than I normally do. You could also not go on spring break and work for a week and do the reverse. Instead of spending 600 bucks, try to make 600 bucks. That could be an interesting way to go too.

ALEX: Not as fun, obviously not as fun. But if you’re in that situation that it’s a necessity you have to take that into account.

PETE: Here’s what I would do. Final tip of the week. I would offer tours of spring break. So I would have students pay me to take them on spring break and show them where the beach is. Show them where their hotel room is. It’s only 600 bucks. Pays for my spring break trip. I’m making this up by the way.

PETE: No one would actually do that. [LAUGH] I’m so sorry. Terrible idea.

ALEX: Yeah, you tried. You tried.

PETE: For more tips like these, except the last one, go to moneysmarts.iu.edu. This has been How Not to Move Back in With Your Parents here on the IU MoneySmarts Radio Network.