The Sweet Spot…
How was your trip?
Not that long ago Carol and I returned from yet another of our little vacation trips. We had a good time. We always have a good time. When I see people around town they are likely to ask, “How was your trip?” That’s a hard question for me to answer. Why? I never know WHICH trip they are asking about! Another common question is, “Where’s your NEXT trip? That’s another hard question to answer. Why? I never know WHICH trip they are asking about!
The above got me to thinking. Yes, Carol and I vacation a little bit more than the normal couple. That’s unusual for a couple of reasons. First, we live in one of the best spots in the world, if not the best, just a few steps from the Pacific Ocean. When you’re already in the best place why go anywhere else I’ve been asked many times. What’s the other reason we seem to vacation so much?
We’re in the “sweet spot” and we know it. The sweet spot doesn’t last forever. What’s the sweet spot? I’ll tell you as you read along. We’re in the sweet spot and we’re curious enough to wonder what it’s like on the “other side of the mountain”. Some folks want to get up and go just to see what IS on the other side of the mountain. Others are content to know there is stuff on the other side of the mountain but they aren’t interested in seeing it. Still, others would ask, “What mountain?”
I recognize that everyone is a little different. Most people can’t agree what the best car is, what the best dessert is and the like. However, if you’ve never tried a series of “bests” in whatever category is being considered your opinion is going to be less educated. Take a read at what follows.
Are you in the “sweet spot?” Are you approaching the sweet spot? Have you passed the sweet spot? Please don’t kid yourself. The sweet spot is temporary. It’s the time in your life when you have good health, the time and the money to see what’s on the other side of the mountain. If you think your life passes quickly the “sweet spot” passes even more quickly. Don’t miss it!
Don’t knock it from the La-Z-Boy.
This brings me to the idea of vacation travel. In order to enjoy a lot of vacation travel, you have to have a curiosity and adventuresome spirit. If your idea of a “great time” is to sit on the La-Z-Boy and watch TV you are not likely to be much of a world traveler. You’ll have a difficult time seeing the other side of that proverbial mountain sitting on your butt. By the way, today’s theme is vacation travel. However, seeing what’s on the other side of the mountain is NOT limited to vacation travel.
Take a “mind trip” with me if you don’t mind.
I have thought about this a good deal. First of all, everybody looks at life a little differently. Yes, the folks who call Iraq and Syria home are not looking at life in quite the same way as folks who call Lincoln, Nebraska home. Makes sense huh?
In order to be a “vacationer”, you have to have good health, time and money. Right now Carol and I are in the “sweet spot” for being a vacationer. We have those three things. Let me share some more thoughts about this.
They say you don’t miss your good health until you don’t have it anymore. No one knows how long his or her good health will last. Carol and I have been very fortunate. We take good care of ourselves and don’t have any physical limitations. That won’t last forever for anyone. However, I don’t want to miss out on anything while I’m healthy. I would never want to think that I didn’t have some experience, and then when the health isn’t there anymore, I would never have a chance at that experience.
If you’re going to travel the world you will need time. If you’re “working for the man” you are not likely to have enough time to take that many trips. Of course “the man” will have time because he is benefitting from your labor. However, it is not uncommon for “the man” (I could just as easily have used the word “woman” in place of “man”) to be so intent on pocketing another shekel or two from the worker bees that even “the man” can’t get away and really has no time.
I retired at age 53. That’s pretty young to leave the workforce. I have no idea how old you are. However, if you are older than 53 can you imagine not having had a paycheck SINCE you were 53? If you are younger than 53 can you imagine stopping those paychecks at age 53 and living happily ever after?
Folks can have all the TIME they need when they no longer have to work for MONEY. Have you ever thought about it like that? Some folks don’t think they have the time to vacation. Sometimes that is “code” for a person who thinks (sometimes rightly so) they don’t have the money. Most folks don’t want to tell you they don’t have the money for something. They don’t mind telling you they don’t have the time.
It takes money to travel. If you want to travel while you are the healthiest and while you have the time you had better figure out a way to get the MONEY. Getting the money is not normally an overnight activity….unless you inherit your aunt’s estate. Carol and I both came from families with no money. That was O.K. It just made us work harder for the money we could come up with.
Most people don’t manage money well.
Here’s the funny thing about money especially in retirement. Most (more than 80%?) people do not manage their money well. However, more than 80% of people THINK they manage their money well! What does that mean? It doesn’t mean they don’t have ENOUGH money to last them until the funeral director is paid. It means they might not understand how to enjoy it. I know….some people enjoy their money just knowing it’s in the bank!
Money is good for one thing. You can trade it for things. That’s the real purpose of money. To trade for stuff!
I contend there are lots of ways to enjoy your financial success other than simply having the satisfaction that you have it. You can’t take it with you….but of course, you want enough to get there on (or so goes the country song).
Track with me for a moment.
If you had a million dollars and spent $100,000 a year and lived for 20 years you would have a money problem. How about if you had a million dollars, spent $100,000 a year but were only going to live for two more years? There’s a difference in those two stories isn’t there?
I will never be able to convince the conservative FISCAL folks to change.
Some folks, when they retire, get very conservative with their money. Why? They are afraid of running out of the green stuff. What does “conservative” mean? They might invest only in the most conservative investments, which earn very low but guaranteed returns. I’m talking about bank CDs, annuities and the like. A person who retires at age 60 has a life expectancy of 20-30 more years. That’s a LONG time to invest your money at low returns.
Clueless in Casper.
Others have all the money they need to enjoy a comfortable retirement lifestyle but don’t know it! That’s right. Some folks will never ever come remotely close to running out of funds in their lifetime. Nevertheless, they scrimp and save on things and never get to enjoy their retirement life when they have HEALTH, TIME AND MONEY. As one of my buddies always says, “Travel first class or your kids will”.
Here’s how I look at it.
I figure I earned the money I have. We paid to educate our children through college (UCLA) and even made contributions for education beyond that point. That gave our kids a giant head start over their “fellow competitors”. Now it’s time for Carol and me to enjoy the fruits of our labor for the rest of our lives.
HEALTH, TIME AND MONEY….what are you going to do with it for the rest of your life?
Where do YOU stand with regards to HEALTH, TIME AND MONEY? Do you see yourself in any of the above examples? If you do can you change? Probably not! You see, as a business manager for 30 years at one of the biggest companies in the world I discovered a few things. One of those is that very few people can change very few things about themselves. They just can’t. It’s a human failing.
Please let go of just a few pennies and enjoy yourself.
I hope more people can get out and see the world. If you want to do that you will have to do it while you still have your health. If you want to do that you will have to find the time. If you’re still working your time is going to be limited.
If you have good health and have some free time you will have to come up with the money. That will likely require a good long-term financial plan. If you already HAVE the money but don’t know you can actually spend it you will likely run out of good health before you discover the fact that you could have afforded to travel all along.
If it were easy and a no brainer everybody could do it.
I know much of the above sounds “easy” and a “no brainer”. If it was easy and a no brainer then Carol and I would see a lot more Americans when we travel abroad. We don’t. We can go days without hearing another American.
Anyway “Randy said that”. Good luck. Even if you decide to just hang out on the couch and watch TV for the rest of your life you will still need to be prepared. That remote control is going to need batteries from time to time!