Ex’s awkward demand after romantic trip
It was the romantic holiday dreams are made of.
Brisbane woman Amanda McBride and her boyfriend of 18 months had a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Europe: picnicking beneath the Eiffel Tower at sunset, riding bikes through Munich, visiting a West End theatre in London, seeing the sights of Amsterdam at night.
The loved-up couple spent months saving for the trip, budgeted at around $8000. It was more than Ms McBride, a uni student, could afford, so her partner covered her share of the costs.
But when the couple broke up soon after the trip, not only did Ms McBride find herself suddenly single - she now had to repay her ex-partner, who, not unfairly, was calling in the debt.
Ms McBride, 22, told news.com.au she and her partner were so excited by the idea of a European trip she deferred to part-time studies so she could work full-time to save.
"I had about one month to find full-time employment and essentially saved everything I made during my time with the company I was working for," she said.
"It was a very tight six months between deciding to go and then actually going.
"My ex and I both knew I was never going to be able to fully cover the trip expenses prior to leaving and neither could he at the time, so we opted for a Greek group-style tour that could be paid off at a later date."
Ms McBride said her ex-partner had savings - which she didn't - and he was better placed to fork out for flights and accommodation.
She said the pair had been "swept up in the whirlwind" of planning their first getaway together.
"The excitement of the trip - plus how much we needed to plan for - meant I didn't have time to worry about the financial aspect of the trip," she said.
"In my mind, the money that was owed following our return was a 'future Mandy problem' that would be stressed over and dealt with later."
The couple went on the holiday and had an amazing time - Ms McBride said that despite what followed, it was "one of the highlights of my life".
"What I remember most fondly is getting lost in a new place with my best friend every day and not having a care in the world, (and) just how lucky we were to experience a chapter of our life together in one of the most magical places in the world," she said.
But a few months after they returned home, the honeymoon was over.
Ms McBride had quit her job so she could take the trip and found herself struggling to secure solid work while studying full-time. That made it hard to cough up the $1000 she owed her partner.
"For a few months it didn't affect our relationship at all - we were very much so still on cloud nine and closer than ever," she said.
"Slowly Josh, rightfully, started to ask for the money that was owed in a lump sum (and) it started to create a sense of resentment in our relationship."
"I was somewhat used to being able to bank upwards of $500 a week while working full time but then the reality of casual work sunk in where I was lucky to save $100 if that."
Ms McBride has since paid off the debt and come by some valuable lessons from the experience.
"I think we got swept up in the romance of a holiday together and the realities of paying back money didn't occur to me until after the fact," she said.
"The stress and business of organising everything, along with juggling studying and work, meant the true cost of our holiday didn't hit us until we got back."
She said she would never again go on a trip without having a job to return to or, at least, savings to fall back on.
"Realistically, if you can't pay it upfront, it's probably best to just hold off until you can. I guess in our case, like many other young people, excitement got the better of us.," Ms McBride said.
"If you do still travel despite knowing you can't afford it straight away, at least have the conversation with your partner about a realistic plan to pay them back when you return, so you are both then entering into it openly and honestly."
CUA millennial money spokeswoman Emma-Beth White-Reese said people who borrowed from their partner needed to approach repayments in the same way they would with a real loan.
"As a first step, consider setting yourself realistic regular repayment targets that you both agree on," she told news.com.au.
"Where possible, look for opportunities to go above and beyond your minimum repayments by making proactive, additional contributions to help reduce your total debt."
She said couples considering their first trip together should find time to talk through a budget months in advance.
"Align on what you both see as priorities for the trip ahead, such as where you both want to stay and see during your holiday, and use this discussion as the foundation on where you both agree your combined money should be spent," she said.
"From there, you might also want to consider each having a personal daily spending allowance to ensure you have adequate funds set aside for leisure and activities to enjoy in your own time."
Ms McBride said the pressure of owing her partner money "was a factor" in their break-up, but it was hard to regret the travel experience she had.
"While we are not in each other's lives in the same way we used to be, I will forever treasure the memory of a once-in-a-lifetime adventure with my best friend," she said.