Did you know that the United States has the lowest amount of vacation days for employees than any other country?! Data from the World Tourism Organization (WTO) find that America ranks amongst the lowest in developed countries in the average annual amount of vacation time their citizens receive. Member-countries of the European Union (EU) like Italy, Germany, France and the England receive, on average, 42 days, 37 days, 35 days, and 28 days; respectively for time-off. Canadians benefit from an average of 26 days of leisure time yearly; the Japanese receive 25 days, while the United States trails behind with 13 days per year. What?! The United States is also one of the only developed nations without vacation-time minimums mandated by law. Employees in European Union countries are entitled to four-weeks paid vacation by law. For Canada and Japan, there is a legal mandate that workers receive a minimum of two weeks.
The irony of this phenomenon is that despite the paltry serving of free time, Americans are still reluctant to redeem their vacation time in its entirety. Some studies cite the behaviors of peers and supervisors as a major influence as to their unwillingness to leave the office. Other reports maintain that it is the demands of the workload that keep them chained to a desk and not smelling the roses.
Nonetheless, these reasons do not blur the necessity of taking time away from work. Distance from the job gives you perspective on your career decisions, reconnects you with your family, friends and your inner self. If, however, you are an American that has completely internalized the Puritan work ethic and finds that time away from work is for the idle and weak, take a couple of days off anyway. But do not do it for rest, relaxation and fun, do it for reassessing the state of your finances, charting your next career moves and streamlining your money outflow.
5 Vacation Do’s
1. Put it in writing.
With work not being a priority for a few days, you will best able to reflect, create and think on the shape of your finances. Get comfortable. Find a spot in your home where you are be alone. On three separate sheets of paper, you are going to brainstorm all of your financial accomplishments, your present financial responsibilities and your future financial plans. Writing everything down gives you the beginnings of a blueprint and guide to gauge your progress toward your particular financial goals. Seeing your financial “have dones” and “have not dones” in black and write may allay your concerns, shift your financial priorities, or catapult you into action.
2. Get really defensive.
When it comes to money, we focus our attention on playing “financial offense.” We actively engage in finding positions that pay more. We embark on financially sound endeavors–such as entrepreneurial projects, investment activities and reading fiscally savvy magazines and books. We seek to increase our income by bringing in more money. When we are on-the-go everyday, so it is hard to stop and take total financial inventory. But maximizing our income also has to come from playing strong, if not stronger “financial defense.” Unlike “financial offense,” financial defense focuses on what income you already have and attempts to reduce what money goes out of the budget. Strengthening your “financial defense” can create as much surplus income as a part-time job if done methodically and consistently.
Things to think about during your days off could include: Are there cable services that I do not need? What foods do I seem to let spoil because I don’t really eat them? Have I taken the 6-hour class to reduce my car insurance? Have I checked the website of my health insurance carrier for discounts on health and wellness services? Have I called my student loan provider to inquire if I could defer or cancel my loans in full or in part? Is there a way to reduce the amount of times I eat out? Could I be clipping more coupons?