Written by Jason D. Nickerson, CFP®, EA
Ahhh, summer is coming.
Warm weather, sunshine, the great smell of a freshly mowed lawn, the lap of the water on the shore of a lake or ocean, Beach Boys and Bob Marley music, I mean, what can be better than all of that?
I am sure reading this, being a financial blog, you are assuming the first thing I might say is, “watch your spending” or “make sure you stay on track with your savings and investment plans,” but that is not it. I want to take this in a bit different direction and advise you to GET OUT AND HAVE SOME FUN!
Listen, we have just come through a very rough time that has impacted physical and mental health. As pandemic restrictions continue to ease, you probably find yourself yearning to get out and have some fun. Maybe a trip, or a stay in a hotel. I get it, and you should do it. Over the last year, I have had many discussions with clients about how much they have saved in that period due to lack of travel, parties, and other outings. So much so, they find themselves with excess money that would have typically been spent on these types of fun events. Naturally, you might think my advice would be to get that invested, what an excellent opportunity to get ahead in your financial plan. In general, it has not been my recommendation. It has been more to keep things where they are and ask about their plans to make up for some of that lost time doing those fun things they like to do.
Does that mean we should “binge” and take double the vacations? No, but don’t look at the last year and say, wow, I could save more money if I don’t do these things. That thought process is not healthy. We need these leisure activities; we need to get out. We need to unplug and get away. We need the reset, and we should not be ashamed of spending some of our money. Can you splurge a bit? Sure! Remember, if you didn’t spend last year’s vacation budget, take 50% of it, add it to this year’s, and upgrade your vacation. That still leaves you 50% you can do something extremely responsible with.
I recently lost one of my very best friends unexpectedly. He was like a brother to me. I learned a lot from him, and I am sure he learned some from me. In our relationship, I was the responsible one. I was making the right decisions, especially financially. It’s not that he was irresponsible; he was just more of a free spirit. He was 44 years old and left behind two children at the ages of 9 and 6. His big thing with them was “mini-vacations”. Long weekends, even just at a hotel so they could swim in the pool when it was January. Or being “explorers” and going on hikes in the Adirondack Mountains. His mindset was that this gave the family something to look forward to at shorter intervals. It was great family time and just great to get away from the day-to-day grind, even just for a couple of days. My point in telling you this is that life is short. We don’t know how short, and isn’t that the beauty of it, the unknown?
To summarize, I want you to get out and enjoy this summer. Don’t blow the budget; keep an eye on the credit card, so it doesn’t get out of hand, keep your automatic savings strategies intact. As my friend did, have some fun. It gives you something to look forward to and helps keep the broader long-term plan intact. If we don’t incorporate all of these things, we will likely go nuts one day and do a blowout vacation and totally wreck our financial plan. I am telling you it’s okay to spend some money now and enjoy so we don’t have a build-up to a total financial plan apocalypse.
You deserve it.