By Marc C. Shaffer
I’ll admit, I can get caught up in over-working and over-scheduling, so I have to prioritize the things that are important to me or else they might get overlooked. One of my top priorities is discovering the world through international travel, and if you were to look at my financial plan, you would see that priority front and center.
Travel wasn’t always part of my plan. For many years, my mentor would invite me on international trips, but I always had an excuse of not having enough time or money budgeted and promised that I’d make the next one. I began to realize that if I kept saying no and making excuses, I would end up doing nothing and going nowhere. After I gave in and took my first trip, I realized how many experiences I had passed up and I wouldn’t let that happen again.
As a financial planner, I know how easy it is for people to spend their life working and not taking time for the things they love. If we don’t prioritize our time, attention and money on the things that matter, we can speed through life hoping that we’ll have time for these important things in the end. I try to help people refocus on their priorities, find out what’s most important to them and understand their goals, and then we build their financial plan in a way that helps them enjoy their entire life rather than hoping to enjoy it “someday.”
Because I plan for an international trip every year, I set aside money each month so that I have the cost covered by the time the trip arrives. Both through my experience and research, I know approximately how much I will need each year to make this happen, so I divide that amount into 12 so I know how much to set aside each month. You may not always know the exact cost of the goals you’re planning for, but we can make reasonable assumptions that can factor into your budget.
People always ask me what my favorite experiences have been when they hear about my trips. I’m sure you’d expect to hear things like reaching the top of Machu Picchu or the Great Wall of China. While the location specific adventures are ones I’ll never forget, the best experiences have been of a different nature. The friendships I’ve made with my travel mates and people I met in different countries, the things I’ve learned about my physical abilities during long hikes or challenging travel, and seeing how different cultures all value security, friendship and family have been some of the most rewarding experiences from my travels. While I could have spent the money on some expensive item that might now be found in the bottom of a drawer, I instead spent it on experiences and memories that I’ll have forever.
Several of my trips have been with Adventure to Serve, a group that plans trips combining adventure travel with service projects. Jared & Stacy Anderson, who own the company shared, “Just because you have a passport and plane ticket doesn't mean you'll come back different in some way. But, if you are open to new experiences, curious about people and new cultures, and willing to get out of your comfort zone, travel can be life changing. It broadens your understanding of the world, promotes empathy for others, often causes you to reflect on your own values and current choices in life--providing you a great opportunity to reevaluate what's important to you, and how you want to spend your time and money. We've also found that travel tends to expand your desire to make a real impact in the world, which again, results in reflecting on where your life is now and where you really want to be.”
What are the most important things in your life? Is your financial plan designed to allow you to spend time focusing on those things? I would be happy to help you PLAN, so that you can __________ (how do you want to fill in the blank?)
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Published on November 9, 2017 by Searcy Financial Services, your Overland Park, Kansas Fee-Only Financial Planner and Investment Manager.