Think back to early 2009. Gas prices were skyrocketing, 401k accounts were in the toilet, housing prices were plummeting, businesses were closing, and people were being laid off left and right. The general mood was thick with bad news and the constant reminder that today was definitely worse than yesterday.
Yet, through all the negativity, people still needed a temporary ‘escape’ from reality—also known as a family vacation. Three and four years ago, I was writing emails to clients (individually, and en masse) to encourage positive thoughts and to focus on the things that we/they can control. Financial planning is as much an emotional subject as any, and I’ve had to play my share of counselor and psychologist from time to time.
During those dark times, I sensed a real change in the way people viewed money and finance. Hot sports cars, diamonds, exotic vacations, and luxury goods were losing their luster. Maybe it was because those same items that once seemed obtainable (because the market and housing prices were forever appreciating, and with no end in sight) was now too far gone to even be a glint in one’s eye. Or it was possibly the reality check that people needed in order to understand the true difference between “wants and needs.” Regardless of what exactly transformed the mindset of people during that time, one thing was evident: people needed (and do need) a break/vacation from time to time.
2009 was the year the word “staycation” came into prominent use. It referred to taking a vacation at minimal cost, yet still being to enjoy the benefits of a good break. So, to bring back the humble mindset many of us cheerfully embraced during our “great recession,” here’s 5-staycation ideas:
- “Be a tourist in your own city.” As many of those receiving this newsletter live in the Los Angeles area, you already know that people flock here to see Hollywood, the Lakers, Dodgers, Malibu, Beverly Hills, Downtown, Hollywood Park, Disneyland, Venice, Museums, Zoo, etc. If you haven’t seen some the attractions that foreigners fly 5,000 miles here to see, you might want to reconsider. Plus, you don’t have to eat out and spend precious money on lodging.
- Swap houses for a weekend with a friend (or family) in a distant (but somewhat local) city. The housing cost is free, and you still have a kitchen to use. Maybe they have the beach, but you have a pool. Maybe they want to experience the mountains—and you, the city. It is very affordable, and definitely changes things up.
- Vacation right at home. Unplug the phone, turn off the computers, and pretend like you’re in a hotel. Hire a maid to come and clean your house before you start your vacation, and come and clean it right after. Eat out a few extra meals, have a beer at 11 in the morning while watching the game, or just sleep in with no interruptions. Whatever you do, don’t try to do laundry or other ‘normal’ tasks. Remember, you’re on vacation.
- Attend a local school event. High schools are full of events: football, baseball, water polo (got to throw that one in!), plays, choir, music assemblies, and more. These young students love a crowd and the price is usually right. Support your local schools while saving money.
- Hire a professional chef to cook for you in your home. You can find aspiring chef students from Cordon Bleu or other cooking schools who would be glad to try their hand at pleasing your pallet. All you have to do is provide the food, pay a nominal price for their time, and then indulge in a couple scrumptious meals. Have a cleaning assistant come by your home for couple of hours to clean up the kitchen (and rest of the home while they’re at it) and now you are really living—as Robin Leach says “the Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous!”
So let me know what you try. Creativity on a limited budget is what this is all about!