In the world of finance, advisers and planners are often asked what investment yields the greatest dividends. They may have the answer to financial investments, but have THE ultimate answer, and it is NOT what anyone ever expects!
The single MOST IMPORTANT INVESTMENT one can make that pays dividends FAR GREATER than any stock option, market trade, 401k, or IRA is:
What?! Have I lost my mind?!
Yes! When I spent years asking financial advisers and experts what the best investment was, I quickly learned they were ALL WRONG!
VACATIONS and spending time with your family ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT investments you will ever make, spiritually, financially, personally, and professionally!
Having worked in the travel industry, and now owning my own travel agency (by the way this is not a plug), I can tell you that everyone wants a vacation, but few people truly get the value of cost associated with it.
Once, again, it comes down to priorities and mindset.
People are always in survival mode, so vacations are not viewed as a necessity the same way as food and water, shelter and transportation, education, utilities, insurance, or even for that fact, entertainment (television and internet). Yet, I have learned from personal experience that vacations are equally as important for your health.
In a recent 2014 survey conducted by Expedia, 59% of Americans feel "vacation deprived," meaning they are long over-due for a vacation. And while the same study shows that employers are more supportive than ever regarding vacation time, the majority of employees don't take advantage of their vacation days.
Over 35% actually cancel or change their scheduled vacation days off due to work. And 18% prefer to cash out their unused days.
Then there is the household income factor. Frankly, according to a recent Forbes study, the more money you make the more you vacation, and the less money you make the less you vacation - all for obvious reasons.
Typically, the average cost for a vacation for a family of four is about $4,000. Whether it is a trip to Walt Disney World or doing a cruise, a good vacation will average about $1,000 per person for a seven-day break.
And that's where it gets ya! Everyone automatically sees the dollar signs, and it immediately persuades them to re-think their vacationing habits. In many cases, people opt to just staying home or doing things in their own communities (commonly referred to as "staycation") such as visiting zoos, museums, local amusement parks, or outdoor activities.
Here is where mindset kicks in.
Why do people work? The answer is to meet their needs. And they work in hopes of one day retiring. Often I hear people say they are saving up for retirement so they can sit back, relax, enjoy life, and travel the world if they want to.
NEWS FLASH - by the time you retire, you're going to be "re-TIRED" and too TIRED to travel! Not to mention the body won't be what it used to be, making it much more difficult and less enjoyable than first thought.
Think about it. Don't you want to enjoy life now, rather than waiting to enjoy it later? Don't you want to create memories with your kids before they are all grown up and have families and priorities of their own? Don't you want to experience new and exciting things while you still have good health and energy to do so?
Waiting until you retire to vacation is simply PROCRASTINATION! And procrastination is just a ticking timer counting down the moments each of us has left.
Yes, a vacation may cost you $4,000 and you may have to save up for it. But here is the return on your investment:
Studies prove that people who vacation at least once per year have a DRAMATIC decrease in blood pressure and health issues.
VACATIONS allow you to "unplug" and "unwind" from the continual daily stresses of life. This increases your mental and spiritual wellness far beyond measure.
They provide opportunity for people to bond and give undivided attention (for the most part) to important people in your life.
When all is said and done, you won't remember the bills you had to pay, the countless hours of work you put into it all, and the daily struggles of life. But, you WILL remember the memories you made while on vacation.
Vacations also provide experiences you won't find in a textbook or by watching a video on the internet. Vacations give you an educational experience unlike any other, which in turn increases your knowledge, explodes your expertise, and greatly contributes to your social development.
It provides you an opportunity to explore new communities, be exposed to other cultures, admire beauty beyond your own boundaries, and rejuvenate the senses.
Work-wise, it actually increases your value and productivity because it gives you a much needed break from the mundane, and actually allows your mind time to heal.
And that's only the beginning!!
Don't let money (or lack thereof) be your excuse for not taking vacations! Include it in your budget and set aside even a small amount toward your annual vacation fund.
There are certain things you can trim from your budget to help save for vacation.
You spend how much annually on a daily cup of Starbucks frap-a-rappa-cafe-latte-mocha-chocolate-whatever at $4.50 el grande, (which would equal $1,170 a year if you bought one per day x 5 days a week for 52 weeks) combined with a $100/month gym membership (equal to $1,200 per year), and God knows how much on health insurance.
Add to that all the mini-entertainment addictions you have that include going to the movies, television cable/satellite bill, internet, Netflix, PlayStation subscription, and the plethora of other mini-modules of pleasure.
If you really added it all up, you could easily pay for a VACATION!
AND, the great thing about VACATION is it usually includes all the things you enjoy anyway - Food, Fun, Entertainment, Exercise...and the list goes on and on!
I know people who haven't taken a vacation for decades. That's just sad! They're burned out on life, depressed, exhausted, overworked, overwhelmed, and over-done! At the end of their ropes!
Stop and think about how much easier life would be if you made a commitment to have a break at least once a year. Sometimes you just have to stop the world and get off! Vacations give you that opportunity.
You can't turn back time and TIME is what vacations give you! It's the greatest return on investment you will EVER make! Live now because putting it off until retirement or you have enough money to do it will leave you with regret.
Don't wait. Or you will be too late. Kids grow up too fast, people die too young, and life happens. Cherish the time you have and make each moment count.
P.S. - And if you need a good travel agent for your memory-making adventure, I know one ready to get you booked! (Now the shameless plug: www.lcgtravel.com)