Should Lisa Charge a Trip to India, or Skip It?
by Mike Dang and Logan Sachon
Logan: Mike, meet my friend Lisa. She has a question for you.
Lisa: Hi Mike.
Mike: Oh, hey.
Logan: I will recap: Lisa has 10K in credit card debt. She’s in pay-off mode and has mostly stopped using her cards. She got invited to a wedding in India in the fall and wants to go. WHAT SHOULD SHE DO? I think she should go because, WHAT AN EXPERIENCE. But we wanted to know what you thought.
Lisa: What an experience!!
Mike: Well, it would really depend on who the person is. I’ve missed a lot of weddings because I couldn’t afford to go.
Lisa: He’s one of my closest friends from home. We’ve been through a lot and there is no way I will miss his wedding. However…he’s having a second wedding in NJ for his American friends. That’s a more fiscally responsible option, yet: less fun.
Logan: In my opinion, it’s not just about the wedding. It’s also going to a country and experiencing a different culture in a way that isn’t just being a tourist. WHAT AN EXPERIENCE.
Logan: What if: You found a card that has 0% interest for a year or whatever, and treated it as a one-year loan, and paid that back after a year.
Mike: No, no, no. Logan, stop.
Logan: Wait, this might be good, because: Okay let’s say you spent $3,000 on the trip. To pay that back in a year would be $250/month. Can you find $250 a month? If you’re not willing to pay it back within a year, then you know it’s not worth it for you to go!
Lisa: I feel like I’m in the middle of a fight my parents are having.
Logan: I think the real question is: If you get hit by a bus in a year, would you be more happy to have been a responsible adult or to have gone to India and maybe fallen in love with a German traveler on a gap year?
Mike: Logan just said out loud in real life, “Lisa and I are the same. She asked me because she knows I will give her the right answer, which is just the answer she wants to hear.” Well, if Lisa and Logan are the same person, Logan is currently the girl with $20,000 in credit card debt, and who had to hand over her credit cards to her friend (me). And in her position, Logan should not be telling other people to finance a trip on a credit card.
Logan: Mike Dang does make an excellent point.
Lisa: I would like to think I’m slightly more responsible than Logan (no offense).
Logan: Oh, none taken.
Lisa: I rarely tip anyone [this is a joke! in reaction to my earlier admission that I overtip as a rule. Lisa has since assured me she does the proper 20% just as all good people do. — LS], and I don’t buy nice presents unless I feel like it’s appropriate. Plus: Aside from this week when I lost my debit card, I haven’t used a credit card in six months. Maybe more — eight months?
Logan: So many months
Lisa: So many months!
Mike: A little reminder: Like you, Lisa, Logan was in pay-off mode with her credit card debt, and moved home to her folks’ to start paying it off, plus, she had to refinance her car to get her debt under control. And THEN she decided to go to her friend’s wedding in Germany because WHAT AN EXPERIENCE, and now she has $20,000 in credit card debt and for the past month, I’ve been hearing, “What have I done to myself.” And, “My father thinks I’m an addict.”
Lisa: Ooooh yeeeeah. I forgot about that.
Logan: Ooooh yeahhhhhh. I forgot about that too.
Lisa: How do you feel about that Logan? Do you wish you hadn’t gone?
Logan: Don’t listen to me, I guess.
Lisa: YOU FORGOT ABOUT THE EXPERIENCE???
Logan: No absolutely not. In fact, I climbed a mountain in Ireland, and I think about that all the time. NO REGRETS.
Lisa: NO REGRETS! Let’s get tattoos!
Logan: Mike Dang is shaking his head.
Lisa: Mike: Is there any information I could give you that would make you think this is a good idea? Like, if I told you my salary is over $100K/year? (It’s not.) Or that I’ll be coming into a very large inheritance soon?(I’m not.)
Mike: The thing is, the mountain in Ireland will still be there. India will still be there. You can still have these amazing experiences, but it doesn’t have to be now. Children think, “I want this now.” Adults think, “Let’s be grownups and get our act together, and then do things when the time is right.”
Lisa: But then I’m going to get married and have babies and India will be so much further away. What if I told you I was pregnant? Could I go then?
Logan: Are abortions cheaper in India? Then yes. But: Can we please just acknowledge that you’re only young once?
Lisa: Well, unless you’re one of those elderly ladies on the old woman basketball team — they don’t grow up because they don’t stop playing.
Logan: I don’t know what you’re talking about.
Lisa: I’ll send you the link. It’s a really inspiring documentary about old ladies who play basketball. It keeps them young! They can’t go to India, though. Travel is hard on the knees.
Logan: I shouldn’t have gone to Europe in the fall, as I had no money, but I’m so glad I did. It was the best part of a very hard year. But I also recognize that this year is going to be that much harder because I did go. Or rather, a year further in the future, when I am still paying off my debt. But: You already have the debt. You’re already paying it off. This will just be a matter of paying it off a little bit longer. I mean, obviously at some point you have to stop. I’ve reached my point. But maybe you haven’t reached your point.
Mike: If you are going to get married and have babies, India won’t be far away. I can put you in touch with people who got married and had babies, and are traveling the world. You want to be the person who gets married and have babies and can tell your kid, “Hey, guess what, for your birthday, I’m taking you to Disneyland.” And then you see your kid’s eyes light up, and it means everything to you. You don’t want to be that mom who says, “Hey, I can’t do anything for you this year, because mom took a trip to India when she was 27, and I have to pay that off, so you’re going to have to eat this can of frosting I got for you from the liquor store. Happy birthday.”
Logan: That was dark, Mike.
Logan: Lisa: I think the consensus is that you probably shouldn’t go to India, but that if you do, it won’t be the end of the world.
Mike: No, my thing is: Go to the wedding in NJ. And then you can reward yourself to a trip to India when you can actually afford to do that.
Lisa: Le sigh. Okay. I’ll just print this conversation out and send it in with the RSVP. Thanks for your help.
Mike: I mean, if you can find a way to make it affordable, totally do it. I magically went to Spain last year because I found a $250 roundtrip ticket. I wouldn’t have gone if that wasn’t the case.
Lisa: $250 roundtrip ticket?? That sounds illegal That doesn’t even cover fuel.
Mike: Haha. I called the airline to make sure it was legit. And it was! The tickets were only available in a certain week, and you had an hour to buy them before the prices shot back up. It was just good timing I guess.
Lisa: Yes, that sounds very lucky. One more thing that my friend just mentioned. I really like Indian guys. What if my husband is in India, at this wedding?
Logan: Don’t ever make decisions based on boys. That’s some real talk from my mom.
Mike: I’m just really passionate about being responsible with my money because it’s opened so many doors for me. It’s given me so much more life than a trip to India would. Because my dad got seriously injured at work this winter, and my folks couldn’t pay their mortgage, so I was able to write them a check, and that was a big deal. Heck, I was able to loan Logan $500 for her rent and various other things because she ran out of money last month. I couldn’t quit my job and start this website if I didn’t save money. And this gave Logan a job too.
Lisa: And the opportunity to be able to help your friends and family is better than a vacation.
Mike: It has opened doors.
Lisa: I’m much more selfish than that.
Logan: I wish there was an emoticon for how squished up and uncomfortable my face is right now. And red.
Mike: India will always be there. Also, there are lots of Indians in New York, so while you’re in NJ, you can hop on a train and say hello to them.
Lisa: That’s good advice. I will wave to Indian immigrants, and I will still see my friend get married, and I will have less debt at the end of the year. And maybe that means one day I can give Logan a job.