Summer has arrived and its vacation time! Travelers will be crisscrossing the globe in search of the perfect family vacation. Individuals will spend between 10 to 20 hours researching their vacation. Proper planning will make your vacation more enjoyable.
Deciding where to go is only half the battle. Once you pick a location, then everything else will fall into place. How will you get there? What will you do? Etc. For example, if you’re going to Hawaii this rules out driving. A trip to Death Valley means you won’t be scuba diving.
Early planning can enhance your vacation experience. It will give you more options and potentially better rates. Last minute planning is frustrating. If you wait until the last minute to plan your trip your choices may be limited and more expensive.
Vacations aren’t cheap. The average cost is $1,145 per person, so a family of four can expect to spend $4,580. About a quarter of the population will finance their trip with credit cards, personal loans, or a short-term payday loan. Financing your vacation can add an extra 20% to 25% to your cost.
I love planning – all types. A few years ago, my family and I spent three weeks trekking around Europe by planes, trains and automobiles. It took me a year of planning to work on the logistics. Colored spreadsheets helped me with our travel plans, side trips, dining options, entertainment, and budget. It was one of our best family trips.
National Plan for Vacation day is January 30. According to travel research, they recommend a planning window of two to three months. The same study mentions that Americans leave 662 million unused vacation days on the table each year resulting in a “$236 billion missed opportunity for the U.S. economy.”
Missed vacation days and poor travel planning won’t be detrimental to your family’s future but failing to plan for your financial future will be.
Unfortunately, people spend more time planning their vacation than they do their financial future. If you spent 10 to 20 hours per year on your financial plan, it may have life changing results. In fact, Individuals who complete a financial plan have three times the assets of those individuals who do little or no planning.
Financial planning is not as fun as planning for a family vacation, but it’s necessary, especially if you want to maintain your lifestyle in retirement. Financial planning will give you options. It will give you flexibility. Your plan will confirm your current lifestyle or give you suggestions for changes.
Spending one to two hours per month reviewing your financial status can pay lifetime dividends. Your plan will direct your steps, like a trail map. It will give you a financial destination. Once you determine where you need to go financially, everything will fall into place. Deciding on how much money you’ll need in retirement is paramount. Here are a few planning tips to get you started.
- Take an inventory. What is your current financial situation? Where are your assets? How are they performing? What fees are you paying? In addition, track your expenses. Get a handle on how and where your money is being spent.
- Set goals. What do you want to do when you retire? Travel? Setting financial goals is just as important, if not more so, than goals like losing weight or getting in shape. According to the Peak Performance Center, “Your goals give you a clear focus on what you believe to be important in life.” If a goal is important to you, you’ll figure out a way to make it happen.
- After taking an inventory and setting goals, it’s time to prioritize your list. Your list might be long, so spend some time culling it. Reduce your list to three to five items you can pursue because too many goals may lead to inertia.
- After you’ve figured out what you have and what you want to do, put it to work. Activate your plan. Once your plan is up and running, then you can spend a few hours a month reviewing and tweaking it as needed.
- Hire a planner. If you’re not comfortable creating and implementing your plan, hire a Certified Financial Planner®. A CFP professional will help you quantify and prioritize your goals. In addition to developing your plan, they’ll act as your accountability partner. Hire a planner with the CFP® designation who works for an independent Registered Investment Advisory firm, is fee-only, and acts in a fiduciary (best-interest) capacity. You can search for an advisor in your area on these websites: feeonlynetwork.com, www.napfa.org, or www.cfp.net.
Your financial plan can give you a lifetime of vacations if you plan accordingly. It will free you to enjoy your trips. Don’t wait. Start planning today.
Enjoy your summer and safe travels!
No matter what happens, travel gives you a story to tell. ~ Jewish Proverb
Bill Parrott, CFP®, CKA® is the President and CEO of Parrott Wealth Management located in Austin, Texas. Parrott Wealth Management is a fee-only, fiduciary, registered investment advisor firm. Our goal is to remove complexity, confusion, and worry from the investment and financial planning process so our clients can pursue a life of purpose.
Note: Investments are not guaranteed and do involve risk. Your returns may differ than those posted in this blog. PWM is not a tax advisor, nor do we give tax advice. Please consult your tax advisor for items that are specific to your situation.
 https://www.vacationkids.com/vacations-with-kids/how-much-time-does-it-take-to-research-and-plan-a-family-vacation, Sally Black, June 20, 2017
 https://www.creditdonkey.com/average-cost-vacation.html, Kim P, October 8, 2018
 https://www.finder.com/vacation-loan-debt, Website accessed June 19, 2019
 https://www.travelagentcentral.com/running-your-business/stats-less-than-half-americans-take-time-to-plan-vacation-days, Newsdesk, January 29, 2018. Website accessed June 19, 2019.