Summer is approaching, schools are almost out, it’s time to get excited about vacation!  Financial planning is not all about saving and investing for tomorrow.  It’s equally important to spend today and enjoy what you have.  Though vacations are still expensive, they are totally worth it!

Hopefully, you’ve booked a vacation for yourself, significant other, or maybe the whole family including kids of all ages.  I’ve long been a fan of spending freely on experiences and taking breaks throughout the year.  This offers a way to recharge and spend quality time with those you care about.  Here are three reasons why it’s important to take a break during the summer months.

First, burnout is real and can tackle someone in their 30s as easily as it can someone in their 60s.  Calling a time out and getting away for a long weekend, a week, or three is refreshing.  Breaking the cycle of work from home or commuting to the office once a week is necessary.  It’s critical to get away and just relax, why?

You need time to think clearly, to gain clarity on your priorities.  Most of us are running hard balancing family and work responsibilities without time to think.  Moving from one task to the next without setting time aside for yourself is unhealthy.  This is often where problems begin and where we can become lost and lose our enthusiasm.

Getting outside onto a paddle-board to explore a lake, or taking a walk on the beach, matters.  Strolling around a new city and enjoying a bite to eat at a café is important.  All these activities create time to think and reflect on what you’re doing and why.  When we slow down and think about our why, we can ask ourselves questions that often go unaddressed in the busyness of life.  Are we happy with the choices we’re making?  Rarely will these answers arrive until we change our environment and allow our mind to wander.

Two, the definition of work and when to retire is changing.  Professionals are working longer, taking risks later in their career, changing professions, and realizing maybe they don’t need a gazillion dollars to enjoy more vacation time now.  Putting off travel and accumulating PTO for your later years is a mistake.  Where you spend your time and who you’re hanging out with matters while you’re still working.

I’ve been studying people and their behaviors around money “unofficially” for close to three decades.  Those who get away, taking small or long breaks from work, can truly unplug from the hamster wheel.  This leads to being more present in the moment, (both at work and on vacation) and a higher level of engagement.  Creativity, leadership, and better decision making are all made possible by getting away on vacations.

The ability to step back and away from work is invaluable.  This leads to increasing self-awareness about what’s important and the choices one may create.  One of the best ways to do this is by taking a vacation and leaving the laptop at home.  Turn off your phone and go live your life outside your inbox.

Repurposing your time can be test-driven as you take a vacation.  How long do you want to keep running at the current working pace?  If you could change one thing about your time and where you spend it, what would it be?  Vacations offer time to think and to try new hobbies and explore new interests.

So much of who we are today is wrapped up and defined by what we do.  This is a real challenge for all professionals, labeling ourselves by what we do at work.  This lesson is learned the hard way when workers retire or leave an employer without a plan guiding their time.  The key is not defining yourself based on what you do day in and day out.  It’s healthy to have other interests and fill your time learning and growing beyond your prior employment.  A vacation may allow you to consider possibilities that previously seemed out of reach.

Third, let’s face it, spending money is more fun than saving it.  It’s important to balance both, but on a vacation, you should enjoy yourself.  It’s healthy to spend time on experiences and things that are important to you.  Deferring gratification indefinitely will leave you sour and unhappy.  Spending on vacation is made possible by a financial plan that balances other priorities and essential expenses.

Defining what enough means allows resources to be available for near term spending without jeopardizing long term sustainability.  When you don’t define what enough means, the default answer is more.  When more takes over, then your future decisions on spending and where you distribute your time become hazy.  More doesn’t want you to take a vacation, it wants to own you in front of your computer or rushing around in meetings.

Get away, spend what you have, and know that you’ll be back to work soon enough to pay off your trip.  You may have set money aside in advance in your vacation fund to pay the bill.  Big trips, small trips, long weekends, or three weeks away, it’s good to spend your time and money on a vacation.

Advisory services through Cambridge Investment Research Advisors, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor. Cambridge and Flowerstone Financial are not affiliated.

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