Saturday, August 29, 2015

The Vacation You Want Vs. The Vacation You Need...

This past year has presented some challenges for me that has left me feeling exhausted.  It was the kind of exhaustion that gets under your skin and into your bones.  Most of the exhaustion has come from a great number of changes, many of which are good:  a new position teaching high school English, a move across the country, turning our house into a rental (and unexpected repairs that came along with it), and a number of other things.  Sometimes even the most wonderful changes can leave a person feeling extreme fatigue.  When this happens, we have to do something to rejuvenate ourselves because let's face it, we can't be of any use to others when we are running on empty...  When we get to this point, many of us find ourselves uttering the words "I need a vacation!"

...And we're probably right...

Now be careful of the "vacation trap."  Just the though of planning a vacation drums up images of exotic locations, palm trees, dinners out, drinks with little umbrellas in them....  Then we find ourselves searching the internet for discount tickets to the French Riviera or a resort in the Bahamas.

You are to stop and go no further.

I know, I get caught up too.

This is when we all need to have a very frank conversation with ourselves about the vacation we want versus the vacation we need.  These two things are not always the same.

Step 1.  Review your financial goals and your honest progress toward them.
In my case, this is easy.  I wanted to be out of credit card debt by the time school started again in the fall.  When I considered my progress toward this goal I realized that it was attainable, but it would take most of my extra cash to do it.  I could not divert these funds to another cause and still meet my goal.  Besides, if I have credit card debt, I can't afford the vacation.  Tough pill to swallow, but true.

Step 2.  Think through the vacation that you want, and compare it to the money that you actually have available (only after completing step 1)...
I really want to take a trip to Europe (Italy to be specific) with my partner.  I have done my research, and know how much money that I realistically need for this vacation.   I cannot plan this vacation this summer and still meet my goal in step one.

Step 3.  Be honest about the best thing for you...
The best thing for me is to put  Europe on hold, and create a savings plan to work toward that goal.  I also know that I need a vacation.  I gauged my own exhaustion, and know that this is more than a want.  The absolute best thing for me to do in this case is to get creative and plan a vacation that I can pay for without getting in the way of my financial goal.

How did this turn out for me?

I wanted Europe, but I did not do that.  What I did do, is take a couple of camping trips where I could relax in a different environment.  I also paid off all of my credit card debt this summer.  I feel like I made the best choice for my family because now this Europe trip can happen without being a setback.  Of course we have other financial goals, but this is a huge one that was checked off the list.  Now, I can start planning that vacation of my dreams and save for it in the process...

How successful are you at balancing want versus need when it comes to vacation planning?

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