Many of us dream about being able give up the day job and settle into a life of freedom, flexibility, and financial security in retirement. But unfortunately for many Americans, this dream is getting further and further out of reach. The reality is that the average age at which U.S. citizens are able to retire is on the increase.
Being financially prepared is rightly a large concern, particularly because people tend to make big plans for when they do finally retire. It also means that some people put off following their dreams with hopes that they will be better able to afford them later in life.
But if you’re sensible with your savings and clever with your planning, it’s possible to find a balance between securing a comfortable retirement and still living life to its fullest.
Take more time off
Taking vacation is something that shoots fear into the hearts of millions of people. Reasons for this vary from being worried about the amount of work that we’ll face when returning to the job, to fears of losing our job altogether as a result of taking too much time off. It’s a sad fact that the majority of Americans don’t take their full vacation allowance each year, with 55 percent reporting leaving days unused, according to Project: Time Off.
If you’re among the large number of Americans who don’t use their vacation days, then the first step to getting more holidays is simply to take them. Booking your vacations far in advance will allow your employer to plan effectively for the time that you’re not there. It also gives you time to help ensure that whoever is covering you knows what they are doing and is properly prepared.
If you’re already using your allotted time off, consider asking for more. Requesting extra vacation is understandably daunting for many people, but as the old saying goes, if you don’t ask, you don’t get. It helps if you can provide justification for your extra holiday time, like a dream trip to Europe, and it’s even better if you can demonstrate it will have a positive effect on your productivity. In fact, a study by the Harvard Business Review directly linked having more vacation days to an ability to get work done quicker.
Another option that many don’t even consider is to take unpaid time off. Though this may seem counterproductive, it’s basically like buying extra vacation days. If you value your time off then it can work out to be very cost effective.
Ask your employer about “banking time,” which basically allows you to work overtime shifts for regular pay (instead of the regular time-and-a-half), and then use those banked days to extend your holidays or take a few extra days off throughout the year when you need a break from…