What Does a Vacation and Retirement have in Common? It’s Not what you Think!

Have you ever gone on a vacation? I’m sure most people have gone on a vacation once or twice in their life. When you decided that you wanted to go on vacation, what did you do? How did your go about making plans?

There are 5 key elements I’m sure you covered. The first four may not be quite in this order – you decided when to take vacation, where you wanted to go, what you wanted to do/see and how you were going to get there.

Were you vague about these aspects or were you very specific? For example, did you decide to take vacation some time in November, and go some place in Florida to do and see something?

Or were you very specific – I’m going to on vacation November 19 –26, staying in Ft. Lauderdale at the Hilton Hotel, I’m going to swim and visit family and have Thanksgiving with them and I’m going to fly Delta Airlines.

What was the reason for being so specific? Well, if you’ve ever gone on vacation without planning it is a lot more stressful and I imagine less enjoyable. Also, being specific helps us address the last element – How much is it going to cost?

Being specific you can fairly well figure out the cost of the trip. Once you have those numbers you can decide if you have the funds to support the trip. If you do, you can set things in motion.

But what if you see your funds are short in supporting the trip? Do you forget about the vacation? Perhaps. However, I imagine you would re-examine the vacation plans to see if there was some modifications that would bring the vacation in line with your budget.

Kimberly and I did just that in a vacation we’re planning for November. Originally, we were going to fly into Ft. Lauderdale to meet family for Thanksgiving. We had the date to leave all set – that is until we found out the cost to fly!

Airfare was outside of what we wanted to spend for this vacation. Canceling the vacation wasn’t an option for us so we needed to re-examine our plans. One option was to drive. The thought of driving 12 hours wasn’t exactly appealing yet cost wise it was. Then we hit on the idea, if we took off a few days longer, we could stop half way. This would put us in Savannah, GA – a city we’ve had on our list to visit.

Even stopping in Savannah for two days and driving we were well below just the cost of airfare. So our trip is on and we’re looking forward to what we’ve set up.

So, what does this have to do with retirement? There are several issues, but before I get to them let me ask you another question. Have you ever skipped the first four elements of the planning a vacation? If you did, did you have the same results as a planned trip?

Chances are you may be saying it’s crazy not to plan for your vacation. How would you know if you had enough money? Besides, if I didn’t know where I’m going, how would I know what to do or see?

Exactly! So, what is the reason that 60-75% of those retiring don’t plan for their retirement? Most of us have a financial retirement plan in place before we even know the when, where, what and how!

By doing the financial planning first aren’t we putting the cart before the horse? How do you know that you’ll have enough money for retirement? How will you know when to retire? How will you know if you have money to do what you want to do?

Surely, this is not the way to win the retirement game. Without a game plan you’re setting yourself up to sit on the bench or worse yet in the bleachers. We spend more time planning for vacations – a small slice of our time – than we do our retirement – 20-30 years of our life! What would compel you to leave this large chunk of your life to chance, yet spend hours planning for a vacation?

If we take basically the same approach we do for planning vacations to plan our retirement we would feel much better about our approaching retirement! Once you’ve clarified what winning looks like, what you want to do, how you’re going to get there and when you want to retire, then you can find out how much you need.

A financial advisor can do a much better job in forecasting what it will take to get you where you want if you have established a game plan. If the numbers don’t support your plans then you can adjust your plans until you have a working solution.

If you have a financial plan in place without a game plan all is not lost. Begin developing your retirement strategy today. Then go to your financial advisor with it and see what modifications will need to be made in both plans. Keep reviewing both plans as you approach retirement. Your financial advisor should review any changes you make in your non-financial plan to make sure the financial plan is still on track. I encourage you to spend more time in planning for your retirement than your vacation. Be the 25-40% who have clarified what winning the retirement game looks like and will retire happy, wild and free! Put YOURSELF in the winner’s circle! []

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