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The Joys of Summer: How much should you really spend on that vacation?

On the most recent episode of our In My Day podcast, Alex, Ryan, and I got into a discussion about our summer plans, specifically how different they look with each of us in our unique seasons of life. It’s a fun episode; here it is if you want to check it out.

I love summer because we have all these opportunities for how we can allocate our newly found free time, but I find when I talk with clients that summer can also be a stressful season. There’s always the pressure to plan that big vacation that we can forget to budget for it and end up paying for that vacation for the next six months. In my case, I’ve got three kids doing camps and getting braces and moving into dorm rooms — there isn’t much money left for the “what Dave wants to do” fund!

But what that’s forced me to do is to get creative with how I spend the summer with my family. I just got back from a weekend father-son camp with my 10-year-old. If you know me, you know that my version of roughing it is a Marriott without a hairdryer. Sleeping on the ground in the woods in 90-degree heat with bugs, that’s not my idea of a good time. But it’s something my 10-year-old asked me to do with him, and I know that it was important. I want him to remember the time dad took him camping and shot BB guns and slid through mud pit obstacle courses and caught frogs. I’m willing to trade my own comfort for that memory. 

And here’s the coolest part: Sitting around a campfire with no screens or distractions, he told me that one of the things he wanted to learn most in life is how to make a paper airplane. Can you believe that? He missed nearly two years of in-person school during the pandemic, and it never occurred to me that those would have been prime paper airplane-making years. So now we’re on our sixth iteration of paper airplanes, learning together how to do complicated folds and get the nose just right.

It’s been so fun that we decided to make a list of things he wants to learn how to do, and, over the next few years, we’re going to attempt to do each of them. The next thing is to go fishing in the summer and hunting this fall. 

Are you using your summer to spend quality time with the people in your life? Maybe you saved for years to pay for that big Disneyworld trip. That’s awesome! Maybe this summer looks more like a $6 paper airplane book from Amazon. That’s going to be a great one too — trust me.

When folks ask me about large purchases, they always think that I’m going to want to look at their budget first. My philosophy is, I only need to look at it if it’s a problem for you. If you’re working with us and have a job, house, car, or kids, you most likely have some sort of financial discipline. Our emphasis is, it’s your money, your summer, your life — you can spend it on whatever activities you want however you feel comfortable.

I just want to encourage you, however you plan to spend your summer, to do it with the end in mind. When you look back, do you want to remember the thrills or the bills? I can’t wait to hear about it. Email me anytime at david.smyth@familyfinancialpartners.com and let me know how you’ll be taking advantage of this season of opportunity.

Article by David Smyth, CLTC, Senior Partner at Family Financial Partners — a financial services firm in Lexington, Kentucky.

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