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Woe Is Me! “I Cannot Afford a Holiday Trip With my Friends. How Do I Tell Them?”

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Dec 25, 2022

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Woe Is Me! is a series in which The Swaddle team indulges your pity party with advice you’ll probably ignore.


“I haven’t met my friends in a long time since we are all scattered across the globe. This Christmas break, everyone is returning home, and we have plans to take a trip together. I am excited to see them again, but my financial situation is not great — basically, I cannot afford to go on this trip. I don’t know how to tell them, though. And I’m worried that if I lie about the reason, they’ll be mad at me for backing out at the last minute. What should I do?”

— Broke for the break

DR: Well, tell them! I’ve been in a slightly similar situation before: when I was in my final year of college, I was supposed to go on a trip to the mountains with my friends. I was paying for it, in part, out of the money I’d earned through my internships and freelance gigs. For the rest, I relied on my parents. However, at the last minute, my mother refused to pay me. I was upfront with my friends, who actually offered to contribute that sum. I didn’t feel comfortable about it, so I never took them up on the offer. As a result, I couldn’t go. But I was glad they knew the reason behind my cancelation. And, frankly, it didn’t change their perception of the person I am in any manner whatsoever. In fact, I recently met them all at one of their weddings and reminisced about college. This is, basically, my long-drawn way of saying that an economic hurdle shouldn’t have the power to dismantle your friendships with people you love and trust. If it does, well, it’s time to make some new friends in the new year. But, until you know that’s definitely what’s going to happen, have faith in your friendships, I’d say!    

SM: You are not alone. Many people face this problem, and I’ve often discussed it with friends, especially around the holidays. It seems like you are close to your friends and care about them, which is why you don’t want to upset them by lying. Maybe you can be honest, and just tell them that, unfortunately, while you would love to hang out with them, you can’t afford to take this trip right now. I know it might seem difficult, especially since we’re so closed up/private when it comes to money matters, but stating this upfront might be a good lesson for you in communicating openly and honestly with your friends. It would also enable your friends to understand you better, and maybe, even make alternate plans which work for all of you. For all you know, other friends of yours may be dealing with the same problem, but just like you, they are also afraid of bringing it up — you could end up opening the floodgates for them, too.

QG: Hello, the key to your answer here lies in a certain recurrent word in your woe: “friends.” If these people are truly your friends, honesty should come easy. I realize this is much easier said than done, and you must have a valid set of reasons inhibiting you from being honest. But I would advise you to lean into the comfort of friendship. At the core of friendship is the ability to be real with one another. If this is something your friend group has afforded you, I suggest you let go of whatever is holding you back, and be upfront about your current situation. They will understand. And if they don’t, maybe you can be on the lookout for friends who have more empathy than that. 

AS: I think the best thing to do here would be to tell them the truth. I know it’s an uncomfortable situation, but honestly, people should understand that not everyone has the exact same financial situation, and that it would cost them nothing to be a little considerate. If they are your friends who really want your presence on the trip, they would not peer pressure you into going to an expensive place. Instead, maybe all of you can discuss heading to a place that’s cheaper, or finding some other kind of middle ground. 

RR: Start a Kickstarter campaign, titled: “I Cannot Afford a Holiday Trip With My Friends But You Can.”

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Written By The Swaddle Team

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