In my last post, I talked a little about curbing travel spending.
The last time Tim went up to Seattle, he ended up spending more than expected. A windfall help pad the expenses, but the upcoming October trip is a little nerve-wracking for me.
We’re still debating the merits of cash versus prepaid debit cards as a means to track his spending while he’s gone. An additional bonus, we could load up the plastic for his holiday shopping, which has historically gone over budget despite his best efforts. Still, the idea of paying for a debit card irks me.
No matter what method we use, there will be a lot of situations where Tim will need to exercise his self-control. First and foremost, I find that spending on trips just seems easier. I guess it’s the factor of being away from home, which means away from bills and your normal financial routine. Whatever the cause, money just seems to flow out faster when you’re traveling.
Then there are the more tangible factors. He’ll want to visit his Tacoma friends, bringing costs on two fronts. Drinking ensues, so he’ll need to go to the liquor store. I’ll ask him to keep it cheap — and it’s definitely more affordable than a bar.
Second, there’s the issue of food. He tends to spend hours at a time at friends’ houses when he visits. Part of this is their laid-back style, just hanging out is the norm. But also, if Tim zooms off for food, there’s every chance his friends will be gone when he gets back.
People in that neighborhood seem to exist on a time entirely their own. They’ll go without calling to let you know or waiting for you to get back. They may be going for an activity or just a “few minutes” — either way, it’s usually an hour or more.
In other words, as ridiculous as it sounds, Tim can’t even drive back to his parents’ house for a meal unless he’s prepared to come back and have no one around to talk to.
Another problem: Tim usually doesn’t even think about food until he’s ravenous. That then gives him about 20-30 minutes before the painful stomach cramps/puking start. But, if he tries to eat when he’s not hungry, he can also make himself sick. It’s a delicate balance for those with delicate stomachs.
I’m going to drill into him that he needs to eat before he leaves his parents’ house. Assuming he’s remotely hungry, which is a big question mark. Ideally, he’d set an alarm every two hours or less to remind him to check his hunger levels.
Unfortunately, his phone doesn’t have enough alarms for that and the iPod Touch’s alarm is apparently too quiet for him to notice. He is now carrying it on a lanyard around his neck, so maybe the newfound proximity will be enough to catch his attention. It’s worth trying.
Luckily, Tim is spending two or three days with our friend Seth. When Seth actually remembers to eat, he tends to cook at home. So if Tim pitches in for some groceries, he should stay fed for most of the time there.
A lot of his success, though, will boil down to how much sleep he gets. When you’re sleep-deprived, inhibitions and filters drop away, much like when you’re inebriated. So, the less sleep Tim gets, the harder it is for him to curb his impulsivity — including spending.
He already doesn’t have the best sleep schedule, and the bed at his parents’ house never gives him a good night’s rest. Meanwhile, at Seth’s, the futon should suffice more or less. But the two guys make each other very hyper, so I’m not expecting a whole lot of sleep to go on.
In the end, Tim can only do his best. And I should do my best to accept it without freaking out at him. Of course, sending him up with a set amount of money should greatly ease my mind.