A while back I wrote an article about our potential plans for a cheap week of vacation. Well, last week was the week. It was an adventure. We hiked, took pictures, canoed, picnicked, caught fish (keepers even), my wife’s ankle got bruised by a golf ball, I singed the hair on my head in a grilling incident….. In short, we had a great time! I really wouldn’t change any of it.
Looking back at the plan I laid out in the other blog post, we mostly followed that plan, although decided to adjust a few things. For example, due to some previous negotiating, we owed my son a trip to ride the go-karts and play mini golf. We upheld our end of the bargain on that and also decided to rent a canoe at one of the parks, which added a little expense.
All in all, it was a cheap week compared to what vacation could be. And that’s as in depth as I am going to get on the money issue in this post.
What? You were looking for more about money? Tips and tricks to get more for less? Well, let’s take just a little bigger look at this.
At the beginning of the week I did contemplate tracking every single penny we spent for the sake of this follow-up blog post. I quickly realized I could easily become lost in the details of the dollars and miss the week I had with my family. I might have missed the jokes, or the sights, or the embarrassing stories (enter the bruised ankle and singed hair). I may well have simply missed out on the time with my wife and kids. That was something I was not willing to sacrifice on my week of vacation.
When we at the Center for Financial Resources are teaching budgeting and financial fitness, we most often start by talking about goals and priorities. Without being intentional about identifying and working towards our priorities, we can often skip right by them as we deal with the details of daily life. It is important to evaluate most of our decisions based on our bigger priorities. Without doing so, we will never set ourselves up to succeed in our priorities.
Sorry. I was not going to let details for a blog post rob me of the priority of time with my family.
So where are your priorities? Have you ever taken more than a moment to consider, evaluate, and even prioritize your priorities? What really is the most important to you? It reminds me of the Harry Chapin song, “Cat’s In The Cradle.”
My son turned ten just the other day
He said, “Thanks for the ball, dad, come on let’s play
Can you teach me to throw?” I said, “Not today,
I got a lot to do.” He said, “That’s ok”
And he walked away, but his smile never dimmed
Said, “I’m gonna be like him, yeah
You know I’m gonna be like him”
Later, this is followed by verse 4:
I’ve long since retired and my son’s moved away
I called him up just the other day
I said, “I’d like to see you if you don’t mind”
He said, “I’d love to, dad, if I could find the time
You see, my new job’s a hassle, and the kid’s got the flu
But it’s sure nice talking to you, dad
It’s been sure nice talking to you”
And as I hung up the phone, it occurred to me
He’d grown up just like me
My boy was just like me.
Yes, I will always tell you that we all need to be better at watching our spending, tracking our budget, reducing our debt, and so on and so on. But don’t lose the forest in the trees. Be intentional about setting your priorities and goals. Write them down. Post them where you see them. Always ask yourself how you are doing at keeping them. Maybe even have someone else check in occasionally on how you are doing at keeping them.
While money and financial fitness are important, they are simply a means to achieve our other priorities in life. When you identify those priorities, you also find your motivation for sticking to your budget. Even as I recover from the exhaustion that a week of vacation can bring, I’m already ready to start planning and saving for the next extended, intensive, exhausting period of time with my family (i.e. vacation).
There are a lot of resources out there to help you lay out your priorities, goals, and budget to achieve those goals. If you would like an objective person to help with that, the counselors at the Center for Financial Resources would be happy to help you set your goals and a budget to achieve them. All you have to do is call us at 605-330-2700.
The grilling incident that shortened my hair for me? Well, we’ll save that for another day….
written by Breck Miller
images really are from our 2015 family vacation