How do I budget with my brother for a surprise vacation for my mother?

Photo Credit: JetPunk.comDear Gwyn, My mom’s 60th birthday is this Spring and my brother and I would like to surprise her with a trip to Costa Rica. I budgeted to share the cost of the plane ticket with my brother, but he is expecting me to also pay for all of the accommodations too. How do we share the costs and without turning this gift into a headache?

What an absolutely lovely and generous gift you and your brother are giving your mother! As we grow into our own lives, taking the time to come back together as a family and show your appreciation to your mother in such a thoughtful manner is truly heartfelt. It’s a shame that you have to go through the stresses of budgeting with your brother, but making the upfront effort will take the stress out of the trip.

In order for everyone to feel comfortable and happy with their decisions, you must take the time to decide a few things:

  • Know Your Budget: Regardless of how you decide to spend the money, you must first determine your budget. Not only is going outside of this budget irresponsible it will make you unhappy in the long run and hardly can be what your mom is expecting of you.
  • Discuss Your Budget: Once you determine your budget, share it with your brother. Discuss how you can apply the budget to the trip. Perhaps it is half the plane ticket, or a nice dinner on the beach. Be clear in what you can afford and stick to your guns.
  • Share the News with Your Mom, but Not the Budget: Before you buy plane tickets or book hotels, you must let your mom know your idea. As thoughtful as the gift is, it is important to confirm that she can take time off from work, and afford the elements of the trip that you are not covering the cost. Most importantly, whatever cost you and your brother decide to cover, your mother does not need to learn the cost or what percentage either of you choose to contribute.

If your mother turns down the gift, I am happy to fill in on the vacation!