Brooklynites, June is traditionally the month for romantically elegant weddings, impressive school proms, and family barbecues or fish frys. June begins the warm and exciting summer season. With the first day of summer quickly approaching on Wednesday, June 21st, have you planned your much-needed vacation yet?
According to research conducted by Project: Time Off, “more than half of American workers surveyed — 55 percent — left vacation days unused in 2015.” Their research goes on to show, “the 55 percent of under-vacationed Americans left a total 658 million vacation days unused. And for the past fifteen years, American workers have used less and less vacation time.”
The proven benefits from employees taking planned vacations are many and include: higher productivity, improved mental and physical health, more rewarding personal relationships, and a reduction in stress. The obvious question is, why are so many employees choosing not to use their valuable vacation time?
Project: Time Off cited several reasons for the reluctance to take time off – from intensified connectivity to office computers and new technologies to the fear of being replaced while away. Some employees say they are too busy and many Brooklynites simply can not afford to take a vacation. Last year in June, OurBKSocial informed, Brooklyn is the most expensive place to live in America. And the cost of housing is the biggest financial factor facing Brooklynites.
Despite an apparently desperate financial situation, lets begin today to plan that vacation. Let’s invest in ourselves by living a healthier and more enriching life we can afford. It will take some discipline, but nothing good comes easily. Begin by creating a daily expense sheet. Track all the money you spend each day. Record everything, from your morning Starbucks to the cellphone bill. After about two weeks of recording all expenditures, seriously review what you have written.
Analyze what was spent and consider what frivolous expenses or impulse buys can be eliminated, either permanently or temporarily. If you have done this exercise strategically, you will have earned a couple of extra dollars for your vacation fund. As Benjamin Franklin said, “beware of little expenses; a small leak will sink a great ship.”
Plan on reducing your debt. Pay all bills on time. Make the minimum monthly payment except to the bill with the highest interest rate. You will want to pay that one off first. Pay more than the minimum monthly payment on that one. Once that bill is completely paid off, take 10% of the total amount you were paying monthly towards the debt and put it into your vacation fund. Use the other 90% to pay off the next credit card with the highest interest rate.
Another exercise that can help you find money in your current situation, requires three large garbage bags. Label one bag, garbage, another, donations, and the last one, stoop/yard sale. Go through your house or apartment and fill up the bags. Freely release clutter from your home. Most of us, through the years, have accumulated way too much stuff.
Things you don’t want and can’t be used by someone else, because they are old, broken or soiled, go into the garbage. Items you don’t need and are gently used can be donated to charity. Furniture, sporting equipment, tools, movies, video games, and books in good condition that you’ve outgrown can bring in cash at a stoop/yard sale. By clearing out the clutter in your life, you are opening up space for prosperity to pour in. “Nothing exceeds like excess,” says Al Jourgensen. Remember, the money received from items sold at the stoop/yard sale go directly into your vacation account.
It’s a big world out there. As your vacation account grows, consider where you want to travel to – Africa, Asia, Australia, Antarctica, South America, Europe, or stay within North America? How do you want to travel – by bike, car, bus, train, ship, or plane. When do you want to travel – July, August, September, October, or November? What type of accommodations best fits your pocketbook – hotel, motel, Airbnb, renting a house or condo? Then do the research. Regularly check prices and fares online.
If you take the time to plan your vacation, you will find something amazing and affordable. All-inclusive packages and last-minute deals tend to be more cost-effective. Traveling during the week is usually cheaper than the weekend. Avoid travel during major holidays and the month of June. Plan to do grocery shopping and cook while away, you could save lots of money. Before traveling, research online the cost of tours, activities, and monetary exchange rates. Many times you can find information on free concerts, walking tours, or theater in the park. Go on your vacation prepared and ready to have a great time.
PRO TIP: Looking for vacation packages on Sundays via Expedia and Travelocity will prove to be cheaper than the rest of the week. Also use outlets like Hopper and WhichBudget to find the cheapest flights.
If you are interested in cruising, shop for a ship leaving from New York. A New York port saves you the cost of flying to another state to pick up the boat. Roll clothing when packing luggage and fit everything into a carry on bag. Many airlines today are charging passengers hundreds of dollars to check luggage. Make a list of everything you want to take with you on vacation; buying items you have forgotten at home can be costly. (see SmarterTravel for the Ultimate Packing List)
Brooklynites are talented, entrepreneurial, professional, and hard-working. They have earned vacation time and understand the importance of using their annual leave to live a well-balanced life. It’s true you will miss the borough while vacationing. There’s simply no place in the world like Brooklyn. However, manage your money wisely, regularly search for vacation deals and packages, and make vacation planing an important part of your life. Brooklyn will always be right here when you return.