Tomorrow, when you arrive at your office, look around and you will most likely notice that some seats are unoccupied. They are not there, and they will not show up for a few days: it’s vacation season. While the world sees the American way of life as an overwhelming, non-stop work culture where people sacrifice balance over career, the trend has been changing and workers are finally using their PTO (Paid Time Off). In fact, in 2017, American workers took an average of 17.2 hours of vacation time, one of the highest numbers in the past decade. In addition, more employers today are encouraging a culture of work-life balance, promoting the use of vacation time to their employees.
I believe that if most people had the opportunity and the means to enjoy a well-deserved vacation, they would hastily take it. However, it seems to be not that simple. In fact, despite the average 17.2 hours used in 2017, 52% of employees in America did not take advantage of their earned time off by taking a vacation. This begs the question, ‘why?’. The reasons associated with such a high number of people not using their vacation time are very diverse but among them, the lack of financial resources comes poignant. We could argue that overall, there is a sensation of the American economy doing better and it sure seems like it. Nonetheless, it hasn’t impacted vacation use much. We could conclude that personal finances play an undeniable role in the planning of vacations for employees.
An article published on Forbes.com states that American employees would spend 10% of their income on vacations. Wow, considering what I make, combined with my wife’s income, I can fathom spending that much on a vacation. Well technically, we could; but would it be a responsible and sound financial decision? Absolutely not. So, let’s be conservative and assume NerdWallet’s number of $1,500 charged to credit cards. That’s reasonable, you may think. Is it? Considering millennials, some of us 40-year-old and younger are not doing so well with savings. When a single person has barely $3,000 in a savings account, is it recommendable to splurge $1000+ on a getaway? My answer is no. With the influence of social media and influencers, many people succumb to the temptation of overspending on extravagant, luxurious getaways, jeopardizing their money. Remember that not all influencers are created equal. There are those who indebt themselves to enormous credit card balances, while on the other side, others are being paid very generously to market to their following.
The goal is not to deny taking vacations. That is not healthy emotionally and physically. We all need at times, a bit of rest to recharge and think. Simply taking time away from your regular daily activities can be very energizing. Besides the scientific advantages of taking a vacation: stress reduction, heart disease prevention, improved productivity and better sleep, we can’t ignore the joy and the memories that are created travelling, discovering new places and spending time with family and friends. So, are you planning to take a vacation this summer and upcoming fall? Now that we’ve laid the groundwork and understand that it should be done wisely, here are a few tips on how to enjoy time off and not suffer from it financially.
- First, do you deserve a vacation? We mentioned above the benefits of taking time off and its necessity, but I believe it is also important to self-assess your finances and your productivity. If the only reason why you’re taking a vacation is to impress your friends, you may not need one.
- If you are not able to spend money at will without any limit, a budget is a non-negotiable. It is important to determine exactly how much you can freely spend during your vacation and not worry about the repercussions on your finances. The budget for your vacation is limited to your travel arrangements; it must include food, attractions and unexpected expenses.
- Sometimes, we must sacrifice or delay for better gratification. While everyone is taking time their vacation, it may be a season of opportunities for you. Are there projects are work that you’ve wanted to work on for a while that suddenly got scheduled? Are there assignments you could work on that would add weight to your resume? Consider these when planning time for vacation.
- With a budget identified, find the accommodations that match your finances. This is crucial. Not following a set budget can get you in trouble.
- When the financial resources are limited, it is still possible to have fun and enjoy a good time on vacation. There are plenty of activities that can fill your time and help create memories without damaging your pocket.
- Be a local tourist; a couple years ago, I discovered onlyinyourstate.com, a website that gives fun, interesting and attractive insights about states in the USA. Looking for a fun road trip, try it and you won’t be disappointed.
- Visit family.
- Travel during the off season.
- Go on your vacation with friends and share the cost.
- Skip a season and save for the next.
Are you ready for your next vacation? If avoiding financial stress and being financially stable after your time off is important to you, these tips should be kept in mind and applied. Again, it all starts with your budget, the financial GPS that guarantees your financial stability.
It’s summer, have fun and create some incredible memories!