Retirement and Vacation: Both Need Careful Planning

Smiling family in minivan on beach

By Nick Gertsema, CFP®, ChFC®, RICP®. AIF®, CEO & Wealth Advisor 

There’s so much that goes into taking a vacation, especially when traveling with kids. Choose the destination. Shop around to find the best hotel, AirBnB, or cruise line. Examine the calendar to choose dates that don’t interfere with weddings, parties, or school. Hurray, the date and location are set! 

One month out: Now’s the time to make sure everyone has enough swimsuits and coverups, or sandals that fit. Time to order extra sunscreen and bug spray, and don’t forget the emesis bags for carsickness. Scour YouTube and Google for things to do and see which restaurants have the best reviews. Check out blogs of other parents who have traveled with big families. Are kids under five welcome on that dolphin cruise? 

Two weeks out: Print the checklists. Hit the carwash and vacuum out the car. Grocery lists need to be made, too – don’t forget extra snacks. Get out the suitcases and wash the beach towels. Set aside different items one day at a time, check them off the list, and then go back to repack them and recheck the list after someone took the beach towels from the suitcase after a bath.  

Forty-eight hours out: Clean the coolers. Pack paper plates for sandwiches at rest stops and plastic cups for snacks on the road. Pull out the extra deodorant and toothpaste because your teen has been out for a week and didn’t mention it. Collect the DVD player and Nintendo Switch and all their cords. Print scavenger hunts, then pack coloring books and supplies. Ask the kids which one stuffed animal is coming on vacation, and yes, it can only be one. 

Time to go! The car is packed and filled with gas. The house is clean. The lists are double- and triple-checked. Everyone has a water bottle and their pillow. Pull out of the driveway. Here we go! Except, wait… the four-year-old is unwilling to get into the activities in his backpack because he says they are “only for vacation.” He wants to wait through nine hours on the road (without stops), a night at a hotel, and another eight hours on the road to get to the AirBnB before he does any coloring. He’s afraid to use his vacation things. This is in stark contrast to the six-year-old, who is trying to pass out markers, asking for snacks, and begging for a movie before the car has left the driveway. She’s on vacation now and wants everyone to know it. 

Taking the family on vacation can be a microcosm of life and everything for which a person prepares. They make plans and contingency plans. They overcome hurdles, they go back and redo hard work they’ve done because of something much bigger than a beach towel being used after a bath. They save and save and save for retirement, sometimes without a good idea of what they want retirement to look like or what they’ll do when they get there. Sometimes, they’re even afraid to do the things they’ve said they’re going to do when they get there. It takes them a bit to warm up to retirement and realize it’s finally here, that all their hard work has paid off.  

Others are ready to hit the ground running when they retire. They’re like the six-year-old who wants to eat all her snacks, watch every movie, and can’t wait for the dolphin cruise (even though it’s not for three more days). They want to jump in with both feet and experience retirement to the fullest from the very beginning. 

 There’s no right or wrong way to feel about retirement.

Maybe you’re the one who is a little bit fearful or reluctant about retirement, or maybe you just can’t wait to do everything. But, like coordinating a family vacation with six kids, being ready for retirement can take a lot of planning. It can mean utilizing a lot of things learned from other vacations – like making sure the baby has something under her in the car seat in case of a diaper blowout. That’s why it’s important to have someone in your corner who has navigated the ins and outs of retirement possibilities, especially the hurdles. 

At Gertsema Wealth Advisors, we can’t control what you’ll be like during retirement or how you’ll feel, but our job is to make sure the planning is done to set you on the path toward your goals. We can look at all the aspects of your personal situation and get the legwork done ahead of retirement, just like the planning and prep that goes into a family vacation.  

Whether you need a comprehensive plan or just want to check to make sure you’re on track, request an appointment today. It’s our job to help get you where you want to go because, after all, when it comes down to it, vacation and retirement are about the same thing: creating memories.  

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