If you recall from my previous post, travel was one of the key themes I mentioned we would explore. Though we are all being tasked with staying home during this extreme pandemic, I found myself reminiscing about past adventures. So I thought it timely to explore traveling in terms of what we can learn about life and finance from those experiences.
The processes we all go through when we travel connect to life and finance, such as creating a plan, adapting to unexpected events, and overcoming our fears of the unknown. (I’ve even got my own story to tell about a trip to Italy, more on that soon.)
Planning is essential for both travel and investing
Most of us — for good reason — will have a plan in place before we embark on any trip. This includes answers to questions like:
- Where are we going?
- How long will we be traveling for?
- Who is going with us?
- What will the trip cost?
- What activities are we planning?
- What items and supplies will we need?
While some brave souls may brag about traveling on a whim, even then there will be some thought put into this free-formed approach. After all, you wouldn’t plan on showing up for an African safari with scuba gear on, would you?
The same could be echoed when we think about retirement. That is, that we must have a plan to not only reach retirement — but also the years beyond. We need to understand where we want to go and how we plan to live during those years. We need to consider the costs we expect it will take, if our spouse will retire with us, and what we plan to do. Not to mention the money we may be able to protect through tax strategies and how we will give money to people (and causes) that we care about — the list goes on and on. You get the point, but it is indeed important; I would argue the only thing to be more mindful of than your retirement plans would be your health!
When life happens (or trips encounter snags) we adapt
Back to our travel scenario — you have a plan — that’s great! Then life happens and somehow, your luggage didn’t make it with you on your flight. A language barrier caused you to interpret directions incorrectly and now you don’t know where you are. Things like that; in fact, as I mentioned before, it happened to me on a trip to Italy! No doubt these events can be trying, especially on what we planned to be an enjoyable experience.
However, having patience and revisiting the plan will help you alleviate some of this stress. Let’s think back to that fateful trip to Italy I mentioned. This was before smart phones, mind you. However, because I had my trusty compass in hand (and had thought ahead to bring it) I was able to eventually navigate our group to the mighty Colosseum…. albeit in quite an old-school fashion. Had I not planned ahead, I most likely would have wandered through the unfamiliar streets of Rome much, much longer.
Travel difficulties like this, which so many of us have experienced, teach us to adapt. Life will happen. When it does, we must be prepared to adapt to those changes. What enables us to pivot from life’s curveballs is having a plan: a baseline of what we intend to do. Thus, once the inevitable occurs we can revisit those plans and march forward.
The same can be said for your financial situation and retirement plans, except that instead of losing your luggage or getting lost, the market experiences a sudden downturn, for example.
Overcoming your fear of the unknown
Finally, the elephant in the room for many of us is likely the fear of the unknown. For any of you homebodies out there who are thinking of traveling once it’s safe to do so, I would recommend you start with small, attainable trips. The key is to start somewhere. Fear can be paralyzing. Yet, if we do not take that first step, we forfeit a world of opportunity and understanding. If you muster up the courage to do so, I promise it will be one of the most empowering things you can experience.
Likewise, the fear you may experience when you are staring retirement in the face (or wondering how on Earth you’ll be ready for it in the decades to come) can also be crippling. If you are feeling or have felt this way at any point, I encourage you to reach out to me. With knowledge comes clarity, and with clarity comes understanding what was once unfamiliar and terrifying. Overcoming the fear of the unknown will also give you license to take charge of your financial life.
After all, folks, life is short. Let’s enjoy every moment we can… and learn from those we can’t.
And while we’re all staying safe at home, this is also a great opportunity to channel your inner perspective on a fond memory or two from past journeys. I would love to hear about some of your travel memories and what you learned from them — please feel free to get in touch with me any time.