Ah, summer. It’s the time of year where the ladies wear more revealing clothes, which in turn moves blood from the heads of the guys out there to their, uh, extremities. Baseball season is in full swing, which is great news for all nine fans up here in Canada. Large amounts of ice cream and slurpees will be consumed, mostly by yours truly. And, of course, everyone gets all jacked up for the family’s yearly vacation.
Where will they go this year? Somewhere warm, even though it’s July and plenty warm already? Somewhere wooded, even though I’ve scientifically proven camping sucks? Maybe the trip of choice will be to the big city, somewhere like Toronto or New York, both bustling metropolitan areas with all sorts of cool stuff to do and see.
Here’s the problem with going anywhere. It costs money. Not only does a trip come with built in expenses, it can also cost money in lost wages if you’re an employee that’s paid hourly. The trade off every person has to make at vacation time is whether the trip they’re planing is worth the expense. Sure, Australia might be cool, but not all of us want to drop close to 5 figures on a trip. Besides, a dingo might eat your baby.
The alternative is to take your holidays and stay home. I’m only going to lightly mention the topic of a staycation because every single blogger has wrote about one, and I try not to do that. It’s the low hanging fruit of the blog world, and I prefer to aim a little higher up. That’s where the good fruit is.
So anyhoo, let’s say you decide to take your vacation each year, for 40 years of your working life from when you’re 22 to 62. Hey, you’ve worked your hands to the bone slacking off by the water cooler or flirting with that cute blonde in accounting. You deserve that two weeks every year. Hell, you start a countdown a full month before vacation starts because you’re so excited. Like clockwork, you spend $5000 each year on an awesome vacation.
Let’s compare that imaginary person to another person, but this one is real. My Dad hates holidays. He hates sleeping in a bed that isn’t his. He hates driving in an unfamiliar place. He has never been on a plane and has no desire to ever do so. He has been to Saskatchewan and Alberta, and that’s it. Mock his attitude if you will, but the cost savings cannot be denied. Since he’s the frugal type, he takes that $5000 and puts it away, earning an 8% return over a 40 year time frame.
You can probably guess where I’m going with this one. At the end of 40 years, putting away $5000 per year and getting an 8% return on it will turn into a nest egg of $1.5 million. This calculation doesn’t take taxes into configuration or anything like that. It’s just simple math. That’s the cost of taking an annual vacation.
Travelers reading this post will be quick to jump on the cracks in my logic. What’s stopping a traveler from putting the money aside AND travelling? Well, nothing, I guess, but we both know the average person isn’t doing both. We all know morons who finance their trips to Vegas on their credit cards. It is possible to do both, and people are. It’s just unlikely.
The other argument travelers will have is the invaluable experience travelling gives you. And, to a degree, they’re right. I’ve stood at the edge of the Grand Canyon. I’ve watched my Toronto Blue Jays play live at home, even though they got beat pretty soundly by Texas. I’ve rode Space Mountain at Disneyland and I’ve golfed a course that the pros play on. (Torrey Pines in San Diego) Those experiences were awesome. But what’s better- a mind full of memories or financial stability? I bet the Wal-Mart greeter Leonard would lean pretty heavily toward stability.
The fact is, with household debt levels reaching record amounts in Canada, hardly anybody is saving money and taking a vacation. If you extend that logic, everybody who has credit card debt is borrowing to take that holiday and is paying a really crappy rate to do so. If you have credit card debt, you shouldn’t be spending money to go on a holiday. Period. How many people do this every year?
But you’re not doing that. You’re a little smarter than the average bear, which is why you’re here. The question remains- is your yearly vacation worth losing out on $1.5 million dollars? It takes on a whole new meaning when you look at it like that.
I think if you’re young, and putting away 10% of your income, go ahead and take the trip, assuming it’s paid for from additional savings. That way there’s a nice mix of responsibility and fun. You worked hard at saving money, so the trip is a way to reward yourself. Go out and see the world.
And if you don’t achieve the financial goal that every young person should be striving for? Google probably has lots of fun ideas of things to do on a staycation, courtesy of the PF blogosphere.