A Financial Plan is Like a Vacation

I recently spent a two-week vacation in Newfoundland. If you’ve never been, I’d suggest you put it on your to-do list. All the clichés are true, with stunning landscapes and warm, friendly people. I was never called sweetheart, my love, or my darling so often.

I traveled with two other women and our planning for the trip made me realize the similarities between vacation planning and financial planning.

  • We all had related goals in that we wanted to take in lots of hiking and outdoor activities. When working with a couple to draw up a financial plan, it’s important they have similar attitudes towards money and similar life goals, or conflict will ensue.
  • Not everything needs to be the same. One woman was a kayaking enthusiast while I prefer my feet on the ground. At times we all went our separate ways to do what we wanted. With a financial plan, as long as the basic goals are in place, each person can be free to use their personal, discretionary funds as they wish and pursue their own interests.
  • We planned the trip ensuring important things were in place. The car was rented and accommodation was booked. This took a worry off our minds knowing we would have somewhere to stay every night and not be driving around in the dark looking for a place to sleep. With a financial plan, it’s essential to have the important things covered. Having a will and powers-of-attorney, as well as life, disability and critical illness insurance in place, takes a worry off your mind knowing you and your family are protected no matter what happens.
  • Be prepared for unexpected events. We had a flat tire (still convinced someone let the air out while we enjoyed a meal at a local brewery) but as I am a member of the Canadian Auto Association, a mechanic came to change the tire. The next day we drove into town to switch cars and carried on. Another time, our Airbnb had to cancel the day before our arrival due to hot water issues.

We scrambled to find another place, but were able to do so. Likewise, a layoff from work, a death, maternity leave or health issue can wreck havoc with a well thought out financial plan. This is the time to revisit and make adjustments.

  • Be flexible. Sometimes our plans would change or we would decide to do or not do something on our itinerary. A spontaneous stop at an out of the way gift shop led us to a treasure trove filled with hand crafted local items. With a financial plan, you may decide to make changes along the way and that is perfectly fine. Just make sure your plan can handle the adjustments.

Whether you are planning a holiday or planning a financial future, remember that it is your life to live as you think best. This doesn’t give you permission to go into debt for a $10,000 vacation or retire on a whim! Plan ahead, prepare and enjoy.