[Lifestyle Design] Use Your Travel Fund to Alter Your Life

Lifestyle Design
Sometime last year, my husband and I made a quick list of all the places we planned on visiting in 2020.  On Jan 1, 2020, we booked our first escapade which was supposed to take place in April.  Obviously, the trip didn't happen.  And neither will the other vacations we talked about.  Ultimately, we've accepted the fact that we probably won't travel for at least a year or two.

At first, I was really bummed.  But then I had a random thought that completely changed my thinking....vacations are great for a multitude of reasons, but they're expensive.  We would have spent thousands on flights, room & board, food, etc.  That money can now serve a new purpose.  If allocated properly, that money could be utilized to create something new.
If you were fortunate enough to maintain employment during this crisis, your income probably remained fairly consistent.  With the exception of having to buy toilet paper and groceries in bulk, you might find yourself spending a little less than normal.  Less money on gas, not as many trips to Starbucks, and fewer visits to your favorite brunch spot.  Staying at home is probably one of the best ways possible to save money.

But the real question is.  How can I allocate the money I'm saving in a way that produces the most value?

If we have to give up several months (or more) of our social life, wouldn't you want to be rewarded for the time lost?

Let's say you planned on taking a few trips this year and budgeted around $5,000 in expenses.  You technically can allocate that money in other ways. For instance, if you don't have a solid amount in savings, now would be a great time to build it up because we don't know what the future holds. Instead of doing a bunch of online shopping with the stimulus check, put that money towards your emergency fund in case the economy continues its downward spiral. 

If you're comfortable with the amount of savings you have on hand, perhaps you can brainstorm other ways to repurpose your vacation spendings.  In my case, I realize that spending a lot of time at home would be a lot more enjoyable if I invested a small budget into updating my back yard.  Whenever I book an Airbnb, I always choose a home with an amazing back yard oasis.   I'll sometimes spend a little extra just because I love the backyard design of a home.  So now I'm wondering, "what if I were to invest the money that I'd normally spend on plane tickets/housing, and invest in my own back yard?"  That would make this whole quarantine a lot more enjoyable.  Especially since they're talking about how we could be social distancing for a while longer. 

That's just one option.  Another idea I have is to buy individual stocks that have taken a huge hit.  During the last major economic crash, I bought Apple stock and a few other blue-chip companies that were dirt cheap.  This time around, I see a few opportunities in the travel, hotel, and airline industries.  I'm pretty sure that the travel industry isn't dead and will eventually bounce back. But right now their stocks are plummeting. You got to have patience and a long term vision if you plan on buying stocks. But, if you invest in times like these, it might be a decision that future you will thank you for

Another area where I'll be paying close attention is the housing market.

I live in a city where housing prices were steadily climbing.  Purchasing rental property or trying to upgrade to a bigger house was getting more expensive with each passing day.  I purchased my home just before the housing bubble burst so I wasn't able to take advantage of reasonably priced properties.  This time, I'll have my eyes and ears open in case opportunities start popping up.  If you were thinking of buying a house, now is the time to work on stacking up a down payment.  Yes, some mortgage providers are making adjustments for those who aren't able to make payments. But that concession won't last forever.  Some people may choose to downsize to avoid having to make large mortgage payments.   Perhaps there might be an increase in foreclosures in the future.  At the very least, we may see some lowering of asking prices for homes on the market.  I did a quick look through Zillow this morning. Some of the desirable neighborhoods in my city were already slashing prices on homes on the market.  The longer this pandemic lasts, the more the housing market will suffer.  If you've been thinking of buying real estate, the opportunity might be just around the corner.

I'm old enough to have lived through several economic downturns.  If there's one thing I know for certain, a down economy typically bounces back with a vengeance.  It may take a few years but things will eventually turn around.  Soon, opportunities will start to present themselves.  We have to be strategic and purposeful with our time and money. We will get to travel for leisure again. But since we have to be stuck at home, why not take advantage of it?

If you've been hit financially and have lost your main source of income, you can substitute your time in a way that eventually produces income for you.  If you have a lot more time on your hands due to lack of employment, you can allocate that time towards something that will still be standing once the quarantine is over.  Think of all those times when you worked a full-time job while daydreaming of having extra time to work on your passion project.  Although this isn't probably how you wanted it to unfold, you still have the opportunity to make something out of a challenging circumstance.

Time and/or Money are the ultimate accelerators.  They are the fuel needed to take you from one place to another. 

Use them wisely.

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