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Things to use vacation days on (besides vacation)

From getting your files in order to exploring your hometown and more…

Americans have fewer vacation days than people in other wealthy countries, yet we’re still reluctant to use them. The number of unused vacation days in the US is around 768 million each year, according to a 2019 study, meaning that we, as a nation, are squandering around 33% of our available free time.

There are various grand, socio-political reasons for this, but there is also a simpler motivation: If you only really have the option to take a day or two in a row, what can you really do with that time? In other words, why bother? Well, we have some answers to that not-quite-existential question, ranging from some very practical uses of vacation days to some ideas that will revive your flagging spirit, or at least provide some well-deserved, easily-achieved fun.

In this article:

A quick primer on how to put those vacation days to use

The key to making good use of one or two vacation days is to plan an activity that you can complete in that time. If you’re using the day(s) for something practical, you don’t want to leave your task incomplete — the feeling that results from that is very un-vacationish. This principle also holds if you plan on using your day(s) for fun. Plan something easily doable in the time you have available. We have some ideas…

The practical stuff

Financial housekeeping

It is well worth taking a day to see that everything is correct, up to date and paid (or set up to be autopaid) in terms of bills, credit cards, 401Ks, mortgage, investments… Once you start thinking about this, the list grows long. Do you have any credit cards that should be paid off or canceled? Where are you at with student loans? Are you saving enough money? Can you get a jump on next year’s taxes? Did you ever cancel that subscription service you no longer use? While no one would describe this process as a holiday, getting it done will give you that post-holiday feeling of relaxation afterwards. (Need help? Eligible Haven Term customers receive no-cost online document storage services from the pros at LifeSite via our bonus rider, Haven Life Plus.)

Physical housekeeping

Do your gutters need cleaning? Is there a loose doorknob in the kitchen? Are there photos that should be hung, artwork to be framed? If you have a day’s worth of minor chores around the house, book some time off from work to attend to them while the rest of your family is at work/ school. Put on some loud music, order delivery, and make a day of it.

Make some end-of-life plans

Sure, watering your plants is nice and all, but sometimes you gotta just go ahead and confront the reality that you, like the rest of us, are mortal. (Those plants are, too, come to think of it.)

With Haven Life and its partners, this is actually something you can deal with in less than a day without leaving the house, and we’d strongly recommend it. Haven Life makes buying life insurance online easy, and our partners Trust & Will and Lantern make it just as straightforward to make a legally binding will (or trust) and to create detailed instructions for end of life care, funeral arrangements and other related matters, via the Haven Life Plus rider. Go ahead, take a nap or pour yourself an adult beverage — or both! — afterward. It’ll (almost) feel just like an actual vacation…

Visit the doctor

An annual physical with your doctor and a regular tooth cleaning/check-in with your dentist will save you time, money and discomfort down the road. But many of us only deal with medical matters once they’ve made themselves unavoidable. Don’t be that person. Take a day to see your doctor and dentist and, while you’re at it, get your eyes checked: if you don’t have glasses or contacts, it’s worth verifying that you still don’t need them, and if you do have them, now’s the time to see if your prescription is still correct.

The fun stuff

Be a tourist in your town

Have you noticed that when people visit from out of town, they do fun, interesting things that make you think “I should do that,” only you never do? Well, now’s the time. Go to your city’s museums (you know, the ones you pass while running errands). Avail yourself of the art house cinema (or the blockbuster theater with the massive popcorn). Sit in the park. See if your partner can take the day off, too, and make a date of it. (Especially if the kids are at school.)

Most places have cool things to do that are overlooked by the residents. Take advantage.

Read a book. A whole one.

If your reading time is usually restricted to commuting and pre-bedtime, try dedicating a full day to reading for fun. Turn off the phone, open up a book (something you can finish in one or two days) and surrender yourself to the world within its pages in a way that you probably haven’t since college.

Not a book person? The same concept applies to listening to records, watching foreign films (or action movies), swimming or riding your bike, or oft-neglected self-care necessities like getting a haircut.

The point is that taking a vacation day to do something simple for yourself is simpler than you think. Don’t leave time on the table.

Haven Life: Life insurance that’s actually simple

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About Michael Davis

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Our editorial policy

Haven Life is a customer-centric life insurance agency that’s backed and wholly owned by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe navigating decisions about life insurance, your personal finances and overall wellness can be refreshingly simple.

Our editorial policy

Haven Life is a customer centric life insurance agency that’s backed and wholly owned by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe navigating decisions about life insurance, your personal finances and overall wellness can be refreshingly simple.

Our content is created for educational purposes only. Haven Life does not endorse the companies, products, services or strategies discussed here, but we hope they can make your life a little less hard if they are a fit for your situation.

Haven Life is not authorized to give tax, legal or investment advice. This material is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for tax, legal, or investment advice. Individuals are encouraged to seed advice from their own tax or legal counsel.

Our disclosures

Haven Term is a Term Life Insurance Policy (DTC and ICC17DTC in certain states, including NC) issued by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual), Springfield, MA 01111-0001 and offered exclusively through Haven Life Insurance Agency, LLC. In NY, Haven Term is DTC-NY 1017. In CA, Haven Term is DTC-CA 042017. Haven Term Simplified is a Simplified Issue Term Life Insurance Policy (ICC19PCM-SI 0819 in certain states, including NC) issued by the C.M. Life Insurance Company, Enfield, CT 06082. Policy and rider form numbers and features may vary by state and may not be available in all states. Our Agency license number in California is OK71922 and in Arkansas 100139527.

MassMutual is rated by A.M. Best Company as A++ (Superior; Top category of 15). The rating is as of Aril 1, 2020 and is subject to change. MassMutual has received different ratings from other rating agencies.

Haven Life Plus (Plus) is the marketing name for the Plus rider, which is included as part of the Haven Term policy and offers access to additional services and benefits at no cost or at a discount. The rider is not available in every state and is subject to change at any time. Neither Haven Life nor MassMutual are responsible for the provision of the benefits and services made accessible under the Plus Rider, which are provided by third party vendors (partners). For more information about Haven Life Plus, please visit: https://havenlife.com/plus.html

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