Taking regular vacations have become some sort of a ritual among Singaporeans who are able to afford it. Everytime we log on to Facebook or Instagram, we see friends who are posting selfies of themselves in exciting places tagged along with the annoying hashtags #instatravel #mytravelgram and #natureloverforlife.
Going for a vacation requires hard-earned money to be spent. Governments love tourists because tourists spend money in their country. And if you are a financially conscientious individual, then spending on a holiday can make you feel like you are throwing out all your financial discipline.
Rather than to continue feeling guilty while travelling, we have come out with a list of 6 ways for people to feel less guilty whenever they are having a holiday.
Some of these ways will require actions on our part; and the rest of the pointers are simply a matter of looking at things from a different perspective.
1) Your Company Is Paying For Your Vacation
Most of us use our annual leave entitlement to take our vacations. In some parts of the world, these annual leave entitlements are also called “paid vacation day”.
“Paid vacation day” is a good self-explanatory term to describe it. It means exactly what it is called. You go for a holiday but your employer continues to pay for your salary even while you are enjoying yourself in a foreign country.
For example, a couple, who goes on a vacation, earns a combined $6,000 per month is actually receiving $3,000 from their employers to do nothing but to travel for 2 weeks.
So the next time you are taking a 2 weeks holiday in Japan, remember that your employer (and not you) is actually paying for part or even the full holiday expenses.
2) Budget For Your Vacation
People tend to be indecisive when it comes to planning for their vacation. They want to go to as many tourist attractions as possible, dine in the best, and usually, the most expensive restaurants and stay in comfortable hotels. They want to have massages, shopping sprees and cheap alcohol during their trips.
It is important to ask yourself what is the aim of your vacation. Did you choose a particular destination because you wanted to do some shopping and have cheap massages and drinks (e.g. Bangkok)? Are you aiming to spend some quality time with your spouse on the beach with a comfortable villa and good local food (e.g. Bali)? Or do you want to explore the natural sight of a country landscape (e.g. New Zealand) or the historical manmade architecture of cities that are thousands of years old (e.g. Italy)?
This will determine how much you should spend on your vacation. If you want to have a relaxing and stress-free vacation, spend a little more on a good hotel or resort. If your aim is to spend 2 weeks travelling to different places, you can save on lodging but spend more on transportation. If you want to eat and shop, make sure you are spending your money on these things, rather than on a needless package tour.
By choosing what you really want to do on your vacation beforehand, you can plan effectively on your budget and spend within the amount you have set aside; instead of overspending on things out of impulse.
3) Set Aside Your Savings And Investment Funds For The Year First
One of the reasons why you might be feeling guilty about taking your vacation is because you feel that the money you are spending on your trip should have been saved or invested instead.
It is easy to beat that guilt. Set an achievable target for yourself at the start of the year. Perhaps you would want to save $5,000 in your bank account and invest another $5,000 into the stock market. Hit these targets as quickly as you can. If you are able to save $1,500 each month, you might be able to achieve this target within the first 7 months of the year.
Once you have done that, the remaining amount of money you save for the year can be spent on whatever it is that you like, including your vacation.
If you find it hard to save so much each month, consider allocating your entire year-end bonus to your financial targets for the following year. By doing so, you get a good head start on your savings.
For example, if you have a monthly salary of $3,000. Saving and investing a total of $10,000 for the year becomes easier if you allocate your year-end bonus towards your goal.
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Once you have achieved your financial targets for the year, you can spend on your vacation without feeling guilty.
4) Enjoy Your Passive Income During Holiday
The good thing about investing is that you can enjoy passive income. For example, if you obtain an investment portfolio of $100,000 that provides a dividend payout of 5% per annum, you get about $5,000 per year, or $600 per month.
Similar to your day job, your passive income continues to generate income even while you are enjoying your holiday. A $100,000 portfolio may seem far-fetched, but if you start investing while young, you can easily accumulate that before you turn 40.
5) Workout The Differences Between Your Daily Spending In Singapore And Your Holiday Spending
Even when we are staying in Singapore, we are still constantly spending money on a daily basis. Transportation, basic food expenses, meals at restaurant on Friday night and drinks with friends on Saturday. All these things cost money.
For example, a person might be spending about $200 a week on these things. When you go on a 2-week vacation, this adds up to $400 per person that you would be spending elsewhere instead.
If you are travelling to a less expensive country such as Thailand, Indonesia or Vietnam, it might be possible for you to even spend less than what you would have spent in Singapore. As long as you are willing to dine in places where the locals are enjoying their meals and stay in affordable accommodations, you may end up spending less than what you would have spent if you were in Singapore.
The way to calculate how much you spent on your vacation is not always to tabulate the total amount, but rather, the additional amount you spent overseas compared to what you would normally spend in Singapore.
6) Go To Places Where The Exchange Rates Are In Your Favour
Due to the uncertainty in global markets over the past couple of years, currencies (including the Singapore Dollar) have become more volatile. This volatility means that currency pairs between nations could move significantly against each other.
As Singapore residents, we would be interested in how the Singapore Dollar is faring against the currencies of the countries we would like to travel to.
If you have a shortlist of different countries you want to travel to over the next few years, consider choosing destinations based on the exchange rates. You would want to select countries that the Singapore Dollar (SGD) has strengthened against in recent time.
For example, the SGD is now on a 1 to 1 against the Australian Dollar (AUD). Two years ago, we were looking at 1 AUD = 1.2 SGD. The Korean Won has gone from 1 SGD = 810 Won from last year to 1 SGD = 880 Won today. On the other hand, the US Dollar have appreciated against the SGD over the past 2 years so travelling to the US is now more expensive than it used to be.
We are not saying you should deliberately visit countries that you had no intention to go just because the exchange rate is favorable. Rather, have a list of countries that you would like to visit and then give preferential consideration for the countries whose currency had depreciated against the Singapore Dollar over the last year. This way, your SGD would go a lot further.
Enjoy your guilt-free holiday trips in 2016!