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Vacations, Financial Planning and Big Rocks

Posted by Shanna Tingom, AAMS® on Nov 1, 2017 4:55:18 PM

When it comes to vacations, big rocks, and financial planning, I am the travel agent for our family. Whether it’s the trip to Maui, Hawaii that I am planning with my husband Eric, or reviewing my clients’ financial portfolios, the process takes time, patience, and input from others.

My husband Eric and I LOVE to travel! As you may have noticed on my profile on the website, I’m an advanced level SCUBA diver, so our vacations usually include heading to some place with warm water…since we live in the desert.

Vacations – What kind of experience do we want to have?

As the travel agent of the family, I am typically the one who researches destinations and resorts, reading reviews and planning the big rocks on our vacations like where we will be scuba diving. We’re also foodies so where we eat, including the view and overall experience, are big rocks for us. You might wonder where my husband falls in this process and it’s as passenger on the adventure. He travels as part of his work so he lets me have the fun of vacation planning and I love it.

Big Rocks – What are our goals?

We’ve been traveling many years together and have seen amazing beaches and destinations. One of our all-time favorite places is Maui, Hawaii where we already have a favorite hotel, flights, and big rocks. It’s easier to plan this trip than others simply because it’s less stress for me. Less stressed Shanna means a happier Shanna which also means a happier Eric!

While we have our must-experience places, the big rocks, it is also striking to me how much vacation planning and financial planning are similar.

Vacations aren’t a one-time event.

Just as you don’t save one time for a wedding, home purchase, or retirement, vacations aren’t a one-time event. I start one year or more before a trip researching locations, reading reviews, talking to friends and family who have been to a location. This helps me figure out how to narrow my options or even exclude some.

As much as I’d love to go to New Zealand or Australia, I know myself well enough to know I couldn’t do that flight all at once. Because I’d have to break it up, and I don’t really want to take 2-3 weeks off, we can cross those destinations off the list, for now.

In the months leading up to the trip, I make lists of what to pack, extra attractions I’ve found, and if-we-have-time destinations. They’re not big rocks but they could be fun if we have the time or energy. After the trip, sometimes on the plane coming home, I make notes of everything that went well, and what didn’t. I leave reviews for hotels, restaurants, and excursion spots, both good and bad. This helps me start to think of the next trip.

Prepare for the unexpected.

Medical events, early retirement, and other life events make it necessary to prepare for the unexpected when it comes to financial planning. The same can happen on vacation.

Last summer while we were in Maui we took a catamaran trip. It was a beautiful day, but on the way back I was sea sick so I laid down on the bough, closed my eyes, and fell asleep. In the sun. Even though I had sunscreen on, I was no match for the sun, and I gave myself a horrible sunburn. The very next day I had scheduled a very technical drift SCUBA dive. I was excited about it, but when I woke up that morning I knew there was no way I could concentrate on the technical aspects of the dive, much less get into a wet suit with the burn I had, and I scrapped those plans. While I missed being able to dive, I knew it was the right decision. Financial decisions can be like that too. You may have the best of intentions but circumstances force your hand.

A guide is helpful.

If you’re planning your financial future, a financial planner makes for a great guide. On vacation it might be worth it to be part of a tour group or hire a guide to help you identify locations and excursions that you may not have otherwise known existed.

The first time I went to Maui as an adult, I found a GREAT food tour on Maui. We bought tickets for us as well as my parents and brother and sister-in-law who were traveling with us. While it was a greater cost, it was totally worth it. We discover new restaurants every time we’ve gone since that first trip. (If you’re heading to Maui, I recommend Maui Tasting Tours. Tell Gigi I said hello!)

Without a guide, I don’t know much of the culture, hidden gems, and local secret hot spots we would have seen. While it is always one of our most expensive excursions, it has saved us immeasurable time and money.

Having a good financial planner is like having Gigi show you around Maui. We know the hidden pitfalls, things to look out for, and how to plan to hopefully avoid them. A good planner will save you more money than they cost you.

Whether you’re planning a vacation or financial future, I’d love to chat with you. Schedule a complimentary appointment today and let’s talk about making money fun so you can afford your next vacation.