By the Sea, Sure
I’m sitting here on the beach, writing a blog post.
Well, technically not on the beach — But we’re pretty darn close.
I can hear the waves crashing right outside the window where I’m sitting. And I can see the surf breaking, all white-capped and angry, in a hypnotic swirl of repetition.
It’s my family’s annual beach vacation. And right now, it’s raining in the Outer Banks. But from my current perspective, that is totally okay. Because I’m away from work, surrounded by almost all who matter most to me, and am able to relax for a few days.
And I’m writing a blog post.
Why, might you ask, am I blogging while on vacation??
I really couldn’t say — except sometimes blogging is just in the blood. Ask any of my online cohorts, they’ll tell you — there’s something enticing about the entire process of content creation.
You get pulled in, and can’t get a moment’s peace while various ideas swirl around in your head.
Whether it’s the writing itself, or a new topic idea, brainstorming ways to promote existing content, or digging into the numbers from your analytics.
You can get lost in all of the required tasks. But it’s a good lost, because you wind up with some solid gold ideas of what to do or try next. And you end each day by saying “Whoa, I can’t believe I just learned [xyz]”. How cool is that?
Okay, so I may be romanticizing the creative process a bit. But it’s only to convey how much this does not feel like “work”.
Which is what makes this activity so easy to fall into, even during a week of planned relaxation.
This is the 6th year in a row that my family has vacationed on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Which is kinda cool that we now have this tradition. Especially since I didn’t take a lot of vacations growing up, and we never really vacationed when my step-sons were little.
They were actively engrossed in almost every sport possible, so we never had a full week free to get away.
Although one year, we did spend a week in Cooperstown, New York. Yes, that’s where the Baseball Hall of Fame is located. And it’s also where my oldest son competed in a Little League tournament one summer.
So we vacationed — at a baseball camp.
And we watched baseball games, day in and day out, for that entire week.
It was awesome (said not me, ever.)
But it was the experience of a lifetime for my son, and gave us lots of family memories to look back on.
There’s a common saying that goes something like “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”. Well, one of the highlights of my pre-vacation preparation is updating my ginormous “Vacation To-Do List”.
It’s an Excel spreadsheet I started several years back, to make sure I wouldn’t forget to pack crucial items. Or to remind myself of things to do before leaving, like putting the mail on hold.
And each year, the spreadsheet is modified slightly to accommodate specific plans for that particular excursion. It’s helped me a TON, when it comes to packing for myself and also for our dogs. (Yes, they come with us on vacation).
Our dogs are kind of high maintenance, so there’s always a slew of accessories, medications and other odds & ends that we need to bring with us.
For me, staying organized is a necessary component of [trying] to remain stress-free on vacation.
And isn’t that something that could benefit us all, in most situations?
I mean, has anyone ever actually said “Gee, I wish I just hadn’t been so darn organized when doing such-and-such. It really screwed things up in the end!”
Nope, not that I’m aware of …
When you’re planning for an annual getaway, there may also be some activities you want to do once there. Whether you’re looking forward to just relaxing on the beach, or want to do something a little more active — like kayaking, or going on jet skis, or zip lining. Even if you’d like to plan a spa day, with massages and facials all around. (I wish!)
These are things you’ll also need to prepare for, to coordinate things like days/times available, pricing, reservations, and any pre-work or training required.
So the planning process is useful even when you are just looking for some rest and relaxation. Especially if you have several different personalities in your party, who may have differing opinions on their definition of “fun”.
Having a Financial Plan
Another huge part of planning a vacation has dollar signs written all over it. Literally.
You need to make a plan for how you will pay for your trip. Even if it’s just a road trip to the beach, or the lake, or to your Aunt Tilly’s house in Poughkeepsie. There will be some sort of expense involved.
And one of the most gratifying things you can feel once you are on vacation is the knowledge that it is fully paid for.
Although there are many people who would use a credit card to fund their vacation, strictly for the reward points. But I think you’d need to be confident in your ability to pay the entire card off, as soon as you are back home. Because if there’s any chance you might not follow through, that could result in a financial setback.
But if you pay for your entire trip up front with cash, you’ll be able to enjoy your vacation without guilt or regret. And that’s one of the best feelings in the world — to enjoy something that you know won’t come back to bite you in the backend.
Additionally, here are a few other things that turn out so much better with proper planning:
- Saving money for college
- Paying for a wedding
- Starting a new business
- Building your career
- Planning for retirement
What other things do you look forward to doing, and try to make plans for?
Here’s one that some of you might be doing at this very moment — Planning to attend FinCon.
(For those non-money nerds, FinCon is a financial conference for content creators like bloggers, podcasters, YouTubers and freelancers. It’s focus is on learning, collaboration, and networking. It takes place in the Fall, and is typically an event to remember.)
Sadly, I will not be attending FinCon this year, mainly because of where I am today. The timing of the conference didn’t fit in well with our pre-existing plans for our annual vacation.
But my heart will be with those who will be attending, and hopefully I can live vicariously through them.
And strangely enough, I’m actually up for an award — for the 10th Annual Plutus Awards, which takes place during FinCon. I’m one of the finalists for Best Entrepreneurship/Side Hustle Blog.
Which feels super weird, since I’m still not convinced anyone actually reads my blog. But I also have a massive case of impostor syndrome, and don’t feel quite worthy of receiving accolades, like, ever.
Regardless, it’s super cool to be acknowledged, which is not something I take lightly! So thank you to anyone who threw my hat into the ring. I’ll do my very best to pay it forward, in some way, to others in the future.
Life is Short, Buy the Beach House
Here is where I think I’ll end my mid-vacation post. And maybe this is where I should have started to begin with.
This is a sign that’s currently displayed in our beach rental. And it’s been really bugging me since the day we arrived.
Because I’m not quite sure how I feel about it.
I very nearly sent out a Twitter poll to gauge others’ thoughts on the statement. But then relented because I didn’t feel fully committed to monitoring the results (while enjoying my supposed relaxing week off).
On one hand, this message does resonate with me.
I agree that life is, indeed, short. And you should do what makes you happy. Live life with no reservations, no regrets. If living on the beach makes you happy, then you should find a way to make that work for you.
But on the other hand — the fact that the sign says to “Buy” the beach house is a sticking point with me.
Are they suggesting we take out a second mortgage to purchase said beach house? Take out a loan for the down payment? What if we just don’t have the money to buy the beach house of our dreams?
Does that make our lives meaningless, since we couldn’t obtain the one thing that would surely bring us joy??
Perspectives – Life is Better at the Beach …?
I almost think the sign should say “Life is short, rent the beach house.”
Or crash there if your buddy happens to have it for the week.
Or maybe just go to the beach when you want, provided you have reliable transportation, a sturdy tent or sleeping bag, and have packed a few PB&J sandwiches.
Isn’t it a little irresponsible to suggest we go ahead and buy the beach house? The sign maker doesn’t know us from Adam. We may be drowning in debt. And it might be totally inadvisable to buy anything at the moment.
But the fact is, that sign is selling a dream. A quaint little saying. Something for the Greenwich PTA ladies to pick up in that crafty little shop by the shore, to place on display in their solarium.
Yes, you can buy the beach house.
Just be sure you’ve done the proper planning, end-to-end research, and saved up enough money to put down so you’re not drowning in payments.
Even better, save enough to buy it outright. Although if it’s in the Outer Banks, it definitely will cost you a pretty penny. Or you can just rent for a week. Take some time away from your busy reality, and enjoy the simple life.
And with that said, I believe I hear the hypnotic waves calling me back.
Robin is a full-time business professional who has worked in the financial services industry for over 20 years. She is also a personal finance blogger who shares her first hand experience with the struggles of money and debt. On Mastering the Side Jam, she focuses on ways to maximize efficiencies to make & save money, pay off debt, and live your best life.
She has been been featured on The Money Mix, Rockstar Finance, The Financial Diet and Women’s Money Talk, and has been quoted in various online publications.