Where Did My Vacation Go?

I am beginning this post on a Saturday morning, September 16th of 2017, after a long, difficult and stressful work week.

The end of the week was nice, since my young, inexperienced and aggressive new young boss left early on Friday, although he did continue emailing until later in the afternoon.

It was a payday, and my wife also got a paycheck, having started her part-time job supervising lunch hour at our children’s former school about four weeks ago when class resumed.

I did check my Yahoo! email this morning, seeing nearly 500 since I last cleared them last Saturday, maintaining my average of about seventy per day, but decided to go through and clear them “later.”

I have 457 unread emails in my Yahoo! account since last weekend.

A topic of an upcoming post as well as one of my forthcoming New Years Resolutions, I have been unsubscribing from things here and there, but still have a long way to go.

Also, I kept up my ongoing Resolution of Paying Ourselves First, ourselves referring to my wife as well, by sending $300 to the T. Rowe Price Capital Appreciation fund, one of the two funds that comprise my Roth IRA, this morning.

Account Name Account Number Available Shares1 Available Balances1
Capital Appreciation XXXXXX 504.008 $14,742.23

Confirmation Number: XXXXX Trade Date: 09/18/2017

Bank Account Information: US BANK, NA   – CHECKING   XXXXX

Investment Amount: $300.00

Incidentally, I received my quarterly T. Rowe Price Investor newsletter in the mail today, which includes a note to encourage us to use their automated asset builder program, designating a monthly contribution towards our investments.

I have not used that for myself or my wife yet, but decided in the last few minutes to sign up for it in early 2018, so I no longer have to manually initiate the transaction on the computer, which is easy enough to do, but not automated like the financial gurus would advise.

The point of this particular post is not about email or Paying Yourself First, but looking over my paycheck, I saw that I now have thirty-seven vacation days to go along with my ninety-five sick days and three personal days on the books.

At my place of employment, you are allowed to carry twice the amount of vacation days that you earn per year.  Since I now receive twenty vacation days per year, I am allowed to accumulate a maximum of forty.

Let me be clear on this point.  I would rather be on a vacation day than not, and even though we are allowed to cash out a certain number of vacation days per year (and I have done so before), I would prefer to be off for a day than to receive an extra $300 at this point in my life.  I may truly need an extra multiple of $300, but my mental health benefits more from a day off at this point.

About nine months ago, I made a Resolution to take twenty vacation days this year, but conceded that I would settle for eighteen, which would have been a new record for me.

I had gone over the work calendars that I had maintained for twenty-four years and found that the most vacation days I had ever taken in a year was seventeen, which I took twice: once last year and back in 2000.

So here I am in mid-September, having taken nine vacation days so far this year and only having gone out of town on a vacation with my family for three short days to the Starved Rock State Park area which is not even out of our home state.

I currently have a personal day scheduled for Friday, September 29th, which is Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, for us Jewish folks.  I do have a lot to atone for, so I thought that a good time for some quiet reflection and attending services.

But even that is not a vacation day; it is one of my four personal days per year.  My former boss knows that I am Jewish, but my current boss does not and I do not see fit to bring it up for the purpose of taking a religious holiday off of work.

So I will have gone through nine months of 2017 having taken nine vacation days, two personal days and one full sick day.  My one sick day was March 1st, a day when I got scoped up my schlong first thing in the morning.

How did this happen?

Well, lack of money for one.  Even though I report regularly having ten grand leave our bank account every month, those funds go toward college costs, investing, groceries, maintenance on our cars and home, insurance costs and co-payments, payments toward Disney World trips, eating out thirty or more times per month and so on and so forth.

More pressing for me is my unexpected transfer to a new department and new boss after twelve years in another department working for a much wiser, more experienced and more compassionate boss.

Had I remained in my former department, I still probably would not have made the twenty vacation day goal, but in all probability would have been able to achieve the eighteen day goal.  I most likely would have gone to the upper peninsula for a few days as I wanted to, would take off a few days this month, and a few days per month through the rest of the year.  Perhaps the three days prior to Thanksgiving.

No, my new boss only has a few vacation days on the books, himself, and has far too high aspirations for what he would like me to accomplish than would allow me to do something so unproductive as to spend vacation days with my family.

I did tell him this past week that I intend to travel to New Orleans for a week this coming January, which I certainly hope to do.

It is well-documented that us Americans do not take all of the vacation days that we are allotted, as well as the reasons why.

Project Time Off has a ton of information about this topic, and looking at it just now I found a blog post topic for the last week of next January.  National Plan for Vacation Day is January 30, 2018.

According to the State of American Vacation 2017, the most effective remedy for American workers who want to use more vacation days is better planning. A majority (52%) of workers who say they set aside time each year to plan out their vacation days take all their time off, compared to just 40 percent of non-planners. They also tend to take longer vacations. While three-in-four (75%) planners take a week or more at a time, non-planners take significantly fewer days—zero to three—than planners at once (42% to 18%).

This tells me that I not only need to make a Resolution to take more vacation days, but I actually need to plan for them better.  Even if it is a random Friday in mid-May when I will not be doing anything exotic, taking a day off would still be better than a stressful eight-plus hour day catering to every whim of my new boss.

Insofar as this year goes, I think that it would be good if I took six more vacation days or two per month during October, November and December.

That would give me a total of fifteen for this year, a respectable though unimpressive number all-around.  Unimpressive for many reasons.  One reason is that people who run their own small businesses or have more important jobs than I do, as well as low-paid hourly workers trying their best to make ends meet would typically take less than that.  Many do not take any vacation days at all.

On the flip side, I am more impressed by people who take three or four week-long vacations every year.  Unless they are just going into more debt  by doing so, I envy those people more than I admire the worker bees who do not take vacations.

Image result for worker bees
These workers do not take vacation days.

Because of where we live and who our children associate with at school, and where I work and know many people through there, we come into contact with many upper middle class families.  We know several families where both the husband and wife make six-figure salaries and travel to places like Hawaii, Mexico and other exotic locales for family vacations every year.  A far cry from driving two hours south to the middle of Illinois for a few days.

In closing, taking more vacation days is something that I aspire to. Like many a middle aged Middle Class Guy, I prefer to do well at work and remain gainfully employed than have every day become a day that I do not have a job to go to.  But there should be room for both doing a great job at work and also taking the vacation days that I am entitled to.

I do look forward to identifying six more days, all Mondays and Fridays, to take off during the fourth quarter of this year.  I am looking forward to going to New Orleans in January if things work out the way that I would like them to, and I look forward to planning for more vacation days next January 30th on National Plan for Vacation Day.




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