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How to Budget for a Meaningful ‘Stay-Cation’

Published on March 29, 2013, by in Frugal.

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A Stay-Cation is a nick-name for the time that a person takes off from work to stay at home as a holiday. It’s a holiday that doesn’t involve any travel, but that doesn’t mean that they are no less exciting. Stay-Cations are an important part of maintaining a balance lifestyle because they allow us to pursue those elusive home-based activities that we’ve been wanting (or needing) to get done for a while now. That being said, just like a travel-holiday, we need to take a minute to plan out the finances surrounding our Stay-Cation, to make sure that whatever project we decide to take doesn’t become a burden for later on.

The trick to taking a meaningful Stay-Cation is to have a plan in mind about what it is that you are looking to accomplish, and to make sure that it’s a reasonable one. Biting off more than we can chew at a time like this just means that we’ll be twice as stressed coming back to work as when we left, while not giving ourselves enough to do will just leave us bored and dejected at the waste of time. The trick is to break down the time off into a couple of activity categories, each of which with different levels of personal and financial involvement. Firstly, decide upon what the primary objective of the break is.

This will usually be the most personally and financially involved aspect of the break, because it’s what you’ll be spending the most productive parts of the day doing. Finally going to tackle that kitchen renovation? Maybe clean out the attic? Each of these goals is highly time intensive, and but are not necessarily expensive, depending on how it is that they are undertaken. These primary objectives are what we are going to spend the greatest amount of our time and money on over the break, but they aren’t going to be the only thing we take one. Really now, who wants to clean the attic for 12 hours a day?

A secondary goal for a Stay-Cation is usually something that is a much less active endeavor, but might be a bit more expensive. Perhaps it’s finally time for a crash course in a new language or skill? Maybe you’d like to spend some more time reading, or working on your culinary abilities? Each of these secondary activities is something that would be a good activity when you’ve got some down time. Tired of renovating the kitchen? Take a break and start flipping through that best-seller that you paid $20 for so that it’d be ready for this particular occasion. Done cleaning the attic?

Take a minute to study up on the recipe that needs to be ready for the evening’s masterpiece. Even though these secondary activities are all lower key, they are the ones that will usually require a little bit of expenditure to achieve. You can’t learn Spanish without buying a course, and you can’t cook an amazing meal without buying some groceries. Even though these activities are all relaxing, they should be budgeted for accordingly.

Lastly, a Stay-Cation taker should always have a ‘wild-card’ activity in their back pocket that is ready to go in the event that they find themselves with some dead time. Maybe the primary activity was completed early, or the secondary plan turned into a dud. Regardless, the wild-card is something that can be accomplished somewhat spontaneously, and within a budgeted range. These will usually include anything from a shopping trip to a movie or production. They are usually subject to personal preferences, and are something that can be done to either unwind or let loose. This also means that they can be particularly expensive, making them a part of the ‘in-case-of-boredom’ aspect of the holiday budget.

By taking these three aspects of a Stay-Cation together into a budgetary plan for a holiday away from work, we will be able to see exactly how much it costs for us to take the time off from work, and have a range of possible outcomes of what we get out of the event itself. The end result is that we will know exactly what it is that we’re getting into with the break, and more importantly, know where it is that we stand after all is done and paid for.

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