For many people battling with debt, deciding whether they should go on vacation can be surprisingly tricky. Often, traveling costs quite a bit. Since that’s the case, it may feel irresponsible to spend the money when it could go wot paying what you owe. However, that doesn’t mean forgoing your vacation is always the right move either. If you’re trying to decide if you should go on vacation when you owe money, here’s what you need to consider.
How to Decide If You Should Go on Vacation When You Owe Money
Will Traveling Lead to More Debt?
First and foremost, it’s important to be honest about how you’ll fund your proposed vacation. If you plan on using credit cards or loans and you’re already in debt, then going on the trip probably isn’t a great idea.
However, even if you can cover the cost in cash, you need to determine whether it harms your overall financial situation. For example, if you empty out your emergency fund to cover your trip, you’re potentially setting yourself up for more debt. You won’t have cash for the unexpected, so using that money on a vacation isn’t a good idea.
If neither of those situations applies, then look at the debts themselves. Usually, if you have high-interest debt, paying that off should be a priority. After all, it’s costing you a bundle and hurts your financial well-being.
For households with low-interest debt only and a solid emergency fund, a vacation may be more reasonable. Just consider whether you feel it’s a wise use of the money.
Is This a Vacation You Could Take Later?
Another factor to consider is whether the proposed vacation is something you can reasonably do later. Many destinations aren’t something that’s only available short term. For example, there will likely always be a beach or amusement park worth visiting, so there isn’t necessarily a reason to rush.
In those cases, it may be best to focus on debt now. Then, start outlining what you need to fund that vacation, using it as a reward (after saving up to cover the cost in cash). That way, you have something motivating you to tackle your debt.
Will You Regret Not Going?
While the term “vacation” makes a trip seem entirely recreational, that isn’t always the case. For example, a trip to visit aging family members who may not be around much longer isn’t just about taking time off of work or school; it’s about quality time with someone you may lose soon.
There are times when not going on a vacation could lead to major regrets. If that’s potentially the case, it may be better to go even if you owe money. Again, you’ll want to avoid debt along the way. That way, you aren’t making a hard situation worse. But if you can do that, then the trip may be worth delaying the day you’ll become debt-free.
Is Your Wellbeing at Risk?
While burning the candle at both ends is often viewed as admirable, particularly when you’re digging yourself out of debt, pushing incredibly hard for a long time without a break can harm your well-being. If you’re close to burnout or experiencing an increasing amount of stress, a vacation may be just what you need to recenter and regain your footing. Plus, it may help you return to work rejuvenated, allowing you to be more productive.
If your well-being is genuinely at risk, then taking a vacation may be a smart move. Just make sure you focus on affordable options that you can cover in cash. That way, you can rest without adding to your financial stress.
Should You Go on Vacation When You Owe Money?
Ultimately, whether you should go on vacation when you owe money is a personal decision. Consider the points above and use them to help you determine if it’s a wise move.
In some cases, you may determine that paying off what you owe is right for you. It may give you peace of mind or give you more financial freedom later. If you’re in this group, send the money you would have used to an emergency fund or high-interest debt instead. That way, you can make headway faster while ensuring some financial security.
If you do go, make sure you don’t add to your debt along the way. Instead, save up for the trip in advance. That way, you can potentially get a break without making your financial situation harder.
Do you think that it’s not a smart move to go on vacation when you owe money, or do you think there are solid reasons to do some traveling regardless of your debt situation? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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Tamila McDonald has worked as a Financial Advisor for the military for past 13 years. She has taught Personal Financial classes on every subject from credit, to life insurance, as well as all other aspects of financial management. Mrs. McDonald is an AFCPE Accredited Financial Counselor and has helped her clients to meet their short-term and long-term financial goals.