DEAR HARRIETTE: My girlfriends and I have taken a trip together almost every year since we were in college. Not everybody can go each time, but we try to go because it’s a lot of fun, and it helps us to stay connected. The plan for this year is to go to Costa Rica. I had intended to go, but I was hit by the government shutdown. I should get my back pay, but my credit got dinged when I couldn’t pay my credit card bills. I feel lucky that I have a job where I can recoup the wages, but I feel uncertain about spending extra money on credit when I’m not back on my feet yet. My friends really want me to join them. What do you think? -- Push and Pull
DEAR PUSH AND PULL: Because you and your friends do these trips regularly, if you don’t go this year, it is likely that there will be another trip soon. Before backing out, go over the logistics and costs for this year. Costa Rica can be an affordable destination. Look at the details, and talk it over with your friends. Tell them your predicament, and discuss the plan openly. If you remain concerned about the expense, pass on this trip. You might also suggest hosting a gathering stateside that is affordable and still gets the group together.