Get Control of Your Post-COVID Summer Spending 

 May 27, 2021

By  Ted McLyman


Yeah, summer is almost here. COVID appears to be winding down. The country is moving back to "normal" - whatever that means. And billions of dollars of pent-up demand for everything we missed last summer is about to be unleashed.

Your feeling brain is primed with your favorite happiness neurotransmitter - dopamine. According to Dr. Smitha Bhandari, MD, dopamine "Dopamine plays a role in how we feel pleasure. It's a big part of our uniquely human ability to think and plan. It helps us strive, focus, and find things interesting." The brain releases dopamine when we plan a vacation, contributing to feelings of pleasure and satisfaction. It's part of our natural reward system.


Your five steps to highly unsuccessful summer spending

Your brain on dopamine after a year of lockdown is a spending disaster waiting to happen. Now is the time to get your summer spending under control. Because the emotional pain you will feel when the bills start rolling in after you return might be significant. Especially after you realize the matching authentic designer island wear you bought in the hotel boutique for a sunset cruise only seems to work, as much as you try, in the islands.   

I’ve been working with people and money for years. I’ve learned - money makes us crazy! I’ve even written a couple of books on the subject. Summer is here. Try not to blow up your budget! Keep these points top of mind as you load your car or board a plane for your “Vacation of a Lifetime.”

1. “I can do it. Just watch me.”

You are overconfident that you can control your summer spending. Are you convinced you can manage your spending behavior?

  • You take the teaser “no interest if you pay by” credit card on vacation because you believe that you will pay it off before the interest kicks in.
  • You go to a Timeshare presentation because you are in sales and know all the “sales” tricks.
  • You pick an “all-inclusive” package, so you don’t have to worry about over-spending but spend more on extras.
  • You ____________________ .
2. “I know I’m right, and I can prove it.”

You rationalize and confirm your vacation spending decisions.

  • You don’t like to be wrong, and losing money hurts emotionally - a lot - so you do your research.
  • You ask “experts” and friends, who agree with you, to confirm your spending choices.
  • You discount or ignore anyone who disagrees with you.
  • You can and will rationalize your spending decisions - because it’s been a rough year, and “you deserve it.”
  • You ____________________ .
3. “I’m smart.”

You think your skills and abilities are such that you will not overspend or get “sucked” or spend like the “typical tourist.”

  • You may have a Ph.D. in math, but doing currency conversions in your head at a crowded outdoor market might not turn out well.
  • You might be in charge at home, but everything at the resort you painstakingly selected is designed from top to bottom to separate you from your money. And they are very good at it.
  • You must avoid any situation where terms like “Hold my drink.”, “It’s an investment.”, “Yeah, this is great. Let’s come back next year.”, or “I’m sure it will look great in our living room.”, are expressed by anyone.
  • You ____________________ .
4. “This time is different.

You want to believe that a lousy spending choice in the past won’t happen again.

  • You will likely continue to spend the same way you always have.
  • You aren’t very good at figuring out risk and probability.
  • You are human and will always spend emotionally and unconsciously.
  • You ____________________ .
5. “I have enough time to get my spending under control.”

You never have as much time as we think.

  • This summer, you will spend money that you can better use to pay off bills and save for long-term needs.
  • You will never get the money you spend back.
  • You will make both good and bad spending decisions. The question is, how long do you have to recover from the bad ones?
  • You ____________________ . 


If you are honest, you are probably not as good with money as you think.
  • You don’t like to make the hard choices about your spending decisions.
  • You are emotional with money.
  • You seek to confirm your spending.
  • You uses rules and information that is often incomplete or wrong when you choose.
  • You "see" what you expect - not the truth.
  • You will spend more than you planned.
  • You ____________________ .


Discovering your Money Temperament will unleash your Money SuperPowers and make you a better spender. And you will reap the emotional and economic benefits of Behavioral Financial Wellness. Remember this when you are paying off your vacation credit card charges.


Understanding your relationship with money and creating a one-size-fits-YOU money mindset is easy to do. The sooner you start, the better the outcome. Preferably before you go on vacation; if not, read Discover Your Money Temperament. A Common-Sense Guide to Financial Security on the plane. It will save you a bundle. 

Action: Discover Your Money Temperament and Unleash Your Money SuperPowers

Remember, how you spend this summer will impact your future lifestyle. Spending money is hard work. Take the time and ask yourself:

  • As much as you think you (they) deserve a "special" vacation, can you afford it?
  • What are your opportunity costs? (The value of what you have to give up to choose something else. In a nutshell, it's a value of the road not taken.)
  • What's your vacation spending track record? 
  • Will this vacation be different?
  • Is the dopamine hit worth it?

Meet Ted

Ted McLyman, Author, MPA, MS

Author | Entrepreneur | Business Owner | Speaker | Trainer | Lt Col, USMC (Ret) | Ironman Triathlete

Over 30 years of award-winning experience, helping individuals and organizations achieve peak performance.

Founder MyApexx Behavioral Solutions Group and Pathfinder Coaches Academy; Director, Behavioral Finance, and Advisory Board Member at www.DreamSmartAcademy.com; retired financial advisor/agent; economics instructor, US Naval Academy; Aide to the Under Secretary of the Navy for Financial Management; Head, Marine Corp Training Management Division; Commander, USMC Financial Management School; artillery officer; Executive Office, Battle Assessment Team, Operation Desert Storm.(www.tedmclyman.com www.pathfindercoaches.com @tedmclyman)

BA Social Relations, Colgate University; MA Public Administration, Pepperdine University; and MS Performance Technology, Boise State University.

Authored three books on behavioral finance, money temperament, and spending behavior. Ted's author site: www.TedMcLyman.com

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