Wednesday, July 30, 2014
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June Financial Fitness Challenge--Vacation Means Re-Creation



We often pay attention to the cost of doing something—say, buying a car, going out to eat, indulging in a piece of jewelry, or taking a vacation. We less often pay attention to the cost of not doing something—again, say, taking a vacation.

It turns out that Americans are good at skipping vacations. In a survey by travel website Expedia.com, about a third of respondents don't take all the vacation days they earn, and leave about three days behind each year.

But even in Britain and France, employees don't take all their vacation time, although they leave fewer days on the table. And there's another important distinction: The Brits get an average of 26 vacation days and the French get 37, significantly more than our typical 14 days.

Those countries mandate paid vacation; in fact, 137 countries do. The U.S. is the only industrialized country that does not require employers to make paid vacation available to employees. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that one-fourth of nongovernmental workers get no paid vacation.

There are many reasons it might seem logical to skip taking a vacation, especially during tough economic times. Money is scarce, for one thing, so it's an easy way to save some cash. Some workers think sticking around the office shows that they're indispensable, kind of a guard against being laid off. Some companies foster a culture that frowns on taking time off. In other jobs, being away from the office makes stress worse if it just means your workload is heavier when you come back.

Take vacation and come back refreshed

Think how much you'd value an investment that could deliver these benefits:
The people at your credit union can help you find a way to vacation.
  • Improve your sleep.
  • Reduce your stress.
  • Improve your productivity and creativity at work.
  • Extend your life.

A real vacation, where you unplug your laptop and ignore phone calls and text messages from the office, can help do all that and more. Sound like overpromising? Research says otherwise.

The famous, long-running Framingham Heart Study, Framingham, Mass., begun in 1948, found that participating women who took vacations once in six years or less were almost eight times more likely to develop heart disease or to have a heart attack than those taking vacations at least twice a year.

In another study published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Medicine, middle-aged men at increased risk for heart disease had a reduced risk of death associated with the frequency of annual vacations.

Even the risk of depression goes up as vacation frequency declines, according to a study at the Marshfield Clinic in Marshfield, Wis.

Enlightened employers understand the vacation payoff. Traditionally, bosses offered vacations as one way to recruit and retain employees, but many employers now understand the importance of vacation to their employees' improved health and productivity. For example, the courierpostonline.com, Cherry Hill, N.J., reports that for every dollar companies gain from employees skipping vacation, they lose seven dollars in costs related to worker burnout.

That's no bargain for your boss—and it's no bargain for you. See the resource box for ideas about how to get away for at least a few days without adding stress, financial or otherwise.

The U.S. is the only industrialized country that doesn't require paid vacation for employees.

Financial Fitness Challenge

The people at your credit union can help you find a way to vacation, from providing credit and debit cards accepted anywhere to personal loans that let you make that investment in your health and wellbeing. They bring you this website and other tools to help you make the most of your financial resources. The Financial Fitness Challenge continues to look at ways you can make better financial habits no matter what condition the economy is in.

Each month we randomly select five winners to receive $50 Visa gift cards; we choose each month's winners only from that month's entries, so enter often. Remember to register for the Financial Fitness Challenge.

ST
Susan Tiffany, CCUFC
askem@cuna.coop



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