Girlfriend Getaway? Don’t Let it Derail Your Money Goals

woman and friend coffee
April 12, 2024

You can’t put a price on fun…unless it’s a girls’ weekend. And in that case, the cost is usually a lot higher than you anticipated. Deciding whether or not you can afford these events is half the battle. But it’s not just about the numbers, you also have to consider your financial priorities. “You have to think, is this worth it?” explains Lindsey Stanberry, a personal finance expert and the founder of the Substack newsletter The Purse. Here’s how to approach this tricky scenario and gracefully say “no,” if you have to.

Tips to make room in your budget for the trip…

Think ahead

Taking a six-to-12-month bird’s-eye view of your calendar can help you assess how much wiggle room you have in your budget to potentially attend an event. 

Hint: You likely know which friends have milestone events coming up. Communicate with them, so an invite isn’t a last-minute surprise. 

Use credit card points and perks

Credit card rewards can help extend your budget through free miles and hotel stays. Remember, rewards are only worth it if you pay your balance in full. 

Pro tip: If you’ve got a jam-packed calendar of getaways, it might make sense to consider a card with a rewards bonus, which you can use for the trip. 

Add some buffer

“There are little expenses you forget about,” says Stanberry. “Sunscreen is crazy expensive these days. Do I need a new swimsuit? Also cabs. These expenses add up in ways you’re not anticipating,” she explains. 

Having a buffer in your budget for these unexpected expenses can help you avoid $$$ stress later.

Consider being the trip planner

If you’ve got a group of friends who are trying to organize a getaway, one way to get ahead of the budget is to plan the activities yourself. 

If you’re someone who loves travel deals, spreadsheets, and opinions, this can be a great role to take on. Plus, your friends will thank you.

How to respond when you get an invite…

If your friend says…

“I’m planning a 30th birthday party in Miami. Are you in?” 

Respond with: “I’d love to celebrate with you, but I’m watching my budget. Can you give me an idea of the anticipated itinerary, so I can see if the numbers work?”

If she responds…

We’re planning to stay at a hotel for a weekend, hit the pool, and hit some clubs.”

Respond with: “That’s outside my budget right now. I’ll have FOMO, but I’d love to celebrate when you get back. Can we plan a drinks date?”

Or, if she responds…

Still deciding on details. What’s your budget?”

Respond with: “I can’t afford more than $1,000, all-in, for the weekend.”

Giving concrete numbers can help your friend plan. But if it’s just not in your budget, simply tell them. Saying “maybe” or “I’ll have to think about it” when you know the answer is “no” isn’t fair to them. 

“I've always been somebody who's pretty open about these things,” says Stanberry of talking about your finances with friends.

When in doubt, the best thing you can do is to be honest with yourself and your friends.

Or, if she says…

“I went to your bachelorette! I can’t believe you aren’t going to even try to come to my party.” 

Say: “I know, and I was so glad you were there. Let’s plan dinner and drinks at my place to catch up and celebrate when you return.” 

Girlfriend getaways aren’t always an even trade. You should go if it sounds fun, but not feel a sense of obligation or that you “have” to attend just because she came to yours. Setting aside time to hang out, writing a card, or otherwise showing up is just as important as swiping your credit card for a pricey trip. 

“It’s OK to say: Actually, I adore you as a friend, and I know I'm going to feel FOMO about this, but it doesn't work into how I want to spend my time and my limited resources,” offers Stanberry. 

When prices are getting out of control on the trip…

On paper, the trip worked out within your budget. But a brunch here, drinks there, and covering for the birthday girl or bride has brought your budget over the edge. Here’s what to do to reign in expenses before you feel credit card regret. 

If the trip organizer says…

I’ll just pay for everything and we can divide the tab up later."

Say: “Great. I’ve budgeted about $50 for shared groceries. I can Venmo that to you, or I can be in charge of getting the chips, desserts, and a bottle of wine.”

Avoid resentments by being really clear about your budget before anyone makes shared purchases. For complete control, you can also take the lead in shopping for shared expenses and communicating the costs. Apps like Splitwise and Trip Splitter can be great ways to ensure everyone has visibility into shared costs.

Or, if she says … 

“I just got us a reservation at this Michelin-starred restaurant for Brit’s birthday dinner. She’ll love it!” 

Say: “That’s outside my budget for today. I can look up some options on Yelp, or you guys can go. We can have a Champagne toast at the pool later.” 

Everyone has different budgets, and you can’t expect the trip planner to be a mind reader. It’s fine to turn down plans, but it’s a good idea to have a few options in your back pocket. There’s also no rule you have to do everything together. You can always opt out of certain activities, and then come back and spend time together later. 

Tips to cut costs if you’re the trip planner…

Plan for your core group 

One easy way to make sure everyone is aligned is to focus on your core group. These are the one to three people you most want to come with you. Consider asking them what their budgets are, and then come up with a plan that works for this core group. Anyone else is a bonus.

Decide whether you’d like to treat (it’s OK if you don’t)

If you’re in a position to do so, you might want to consider covering for someone who otherwise couldn’t come, like your friend who is between jobs. This should be a gift given without strings or expectations. 

If there’s one item on your want-to-do list that everyone else is eh about (ex: the matching T-shirts or the bike tour) consider covering it for the group. 

Encourage budget conversations

As soon as the trip is a go, talk through money issues and expectations, and give people options. If you really want to hit up that $$$$ restaurant one night, maybe counterbalance it with a second night of making pasta at the Airbnb. 

Be OK with changing plans on the fly. And remember: It’s not about the money, it’s about the quality time. 


Clear communication and budget boundaries are key when it comes to girlfriend getaways. Don’t be afraid of sharing what you can afford, and remember that it’s OK to decline if it doesn’t make sense for your financial situation. Combat that FOMO with a backyard hang, happy hour drinks, or a quick phone convo. 

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