Do You Switch “Frugal Mode” On When You Come Back from Vacation?

by David Ning · 13 comments

should I walk or take the taxi
Have you ever came back from vacation and felt a different side of you take over? How about when you go on vacation? I believe it’s quite normal for us to feel and act a little different during days where we are away from home, but how dramatic are the differences?

Yesterday, I came back from my trip to see my parents and I wasn’t even home yet when all of a sudden a rush of money saving thoughts hit me. Should I grab a bunch of biscuits on the plane so I don’t need to get dinner at the food court? What about the taxi ride home? I could theoretically walk home and drive the car back to pickup Emma and all the luggage. It might take me about 30 minutes to get home and another 5 to drive back, but it will save me $12 on the taxi ride. We are tired and it’s 11 o’clock at night (more like 2am if you factor in timezone differences) but hey, $12 saved is $24 earned.

Luckily, I came to my senses and we got a cab in the end (a decision that I’m sure my wife applauded with hint of relief). I’m not even sure why (or for that matter, how) those thoughts got into my head. If I was still in Canada, there was no way I could even think of something like this. Do I have a “vacation mode” where I shut off part of my frugal senses? Or do I have a “frugal mode” where I can completely turn things off?

I’m sure most people’s spending habits change when they are on vacation, especially when it’s coupled with the happiness that typically surround the end of the year (less stress at work, more gatherings). So perhaps when discussing something like this, it’s not the answers, but the questions themselves.

For those of us who are out and about, have a great trip. For the rest of us, Good Morning and cheers for another (going-to-be) great day.

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

marci December 30, 2008 at 7:12 am

Saving your wife from having to find the luggage and juggle it alone while you went for the car was worth triple bonus points at home – so that negates the cost of the taxi.
Ya need to look at the whole picture sometimes :)

I think on vacation we have budgeted and saved for the spending – it is already in our minds that we are spending ‘so much’ and therefore we do not think about the every little penny going out – it has already been decided and budgeted for. Once home, yes, we go back into save mode and the decision making processes for each penny out the door.


Ms. SP December 30, 2008 at 9:55 am

I heard when I was young, “You never regret the money you spend on travel.” I find that to be true. I’m aware but not stingy on vacations.Of course I save a proper vacation fund before I go so I do feel comfortable about spending that money. :)


Entertainment December 30, 2008 at 10:03 am

really i have, not only myself all will have this.


MoneyNing December 30, 2008 at 10:40 am

marci: I hope Emma reads your comment and starts letting me “redeem” those triple bonus points soon. :)

Ms SP: The older I get, the more I want to travel. Maybe it’s because I know that when I have kids, it will be tough to be in other places.


Mike P December 30, 2008 at 11:08 am

For me, I find that location has a lot to do with spending. Whether it’s vacation, work, or something else, if I’m away from home, it’s harder to be frugal. One random example: It’s hard not to go out to eat when you’re away from your home kitchen.


Linda December 31, 2012 at 5:55 am

The point is that if you’ve budgeted so much for a holiday, including meals, why blow it all on a few meals, especially if there’s a market or a supermarket nearby and you can buy or cook your own food.


Craig December 30, 2008 at 1:38 pm

Nothing wrong with being more frugal once you return home. Doesn’t even take vacation, the holidays are doing that for me. Between New Years and Rose Bowl festivities I will be sacrificing this upcoming social weekend to save more.

I have backpacked and that requires the whole trip to be frugal, I know that is different circumstances than normal, otherwise I would definitely spend more.


Play Games Win Prizes January 1, 2009 at 10:07 pm

You are the man when it comes to saving. You surely know what to do and what not, but I’m really surprised your wife also abides to your doings.



SimplyForties January 6, 2009 at 11:10 am

I think being frugal becomes such a habit that you don’t really switch it completely off when you go on vacation (at least I don’t) but you probably relax a bit. If you didn’t turn it back on when you got back, things would get really bad really quickly.


Hilary Kay January 26, 2009 at 10:41 am

I find that I spend whatever I want while on vacation. Then on the way home it suddenly dawns on me that I should start saving money to make up for money spent. Or I save money for the next trip. Interesting post.


Linda December 31, 2012 at 5:57 am

I only have a certain budget for the fortnight or month, and I try to make it last until my next period, be it a week or fortnight or month.

Any left over in between times is a bonus.


expert witness October 2, 2009 at 2:48 am

That’s really a fantastic post . i added to my favorite blogs list..

Nothing wrong with being more frugal once you return home. Doesn’t even take vacation, the holidays are doing that for me. Between New Years and Rose Bowl festivities I will be sacrificing this upcoming social weekend to save more.


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