Sense & Centsibility Blog

Feeling burned out? Rejuvenate without breaking the bank

A recent survey from CareerBuilder shows that 1/3 of American workers say they haven't and don't plan to take a vacation this year.  Sixty-one percent of workers are currently burned out at their job, while almost 1/3 say that work causes "high or extremely high stress levels for them." With that said, taking time off work is a great way to rejuvenate...and summer is the perfect time. Here are tips to take a break from work without breaking the bank nor adding more stress to your life.

Don't spend what you don't have

Facebook is great, but it can be depressing sometimes. We typically only see the 'perfect world' pictures of our friends and family and often they're on vacation. This can make us think "Why can't I be there" or "I deserve a vacation, too". But everyone's finances are different and not all of us can afford to go to Vegas or Mexico or Hawaii every year. We need to realize that some people have more money - for whatever reason - and likely some people are charging trips on their credit cards.

The number one piece of advice I can give is don't spend it if you don't have it. Sure heading somewhere tropical for a week sounds amazing. But will it still feel amazing when you're paying off that trip for the next few years or worrying about how you're going to keep up on your bills with a new credit card payment? If your job already stresses you out, don't add more stress by accruing debt. Instead, find something to do locally; take a hike or visit a nearby waterfall or lake. You still may be able to get those amazing pictures to share on Facebook, too.

Take a stay-cation

Taking a vacation doesn't always have to mean hopping on a plane. While that would be nice, the reality is it's not affordable for everyone all the time. Instead, stay home and enjoy time off work without spending a ton of money. Maybe it's a little gardening therapy or maybe you just sit in your backyard doing absolutely nothing.

I did both this weekend and let me tell you it was fabulous even though I only left my house for a quick greenhouse trip. While I didn't have pool or beach-side pics to show off on Facebook, it was exactly what I needed: a little time away from the daily grind and enjoying nice weather. And I didn't think about work once.


As I mentioned already, social media can be fun, but doesn't always help us with our own sanity. Plus, it can be a huge time sucker. So whether you're on the beach or on your couch, use your va- or stay-cation to unplug and get off of social media for a little while. If you have trouble staying off of certain apps, uninstall them. Or, there are websites/apps that will help you set limits for certain apps/websites. Just Google social media limiting apps or whatever site you want to cut back on. There are some free versions and some that you have to pay for so be sure to watch for fees.

I took a few hours off of social media last week and did some art with some cheap colored pencils. I actually liked the finished product and it was also therapeutic to not think for a while or stare at a screen. So no matter what you decide to do with your time off, try to spend at least a few hours away from screens or monitors.

Don't check your work emails on vacation

This seems like the easiest one, but for some it can be the hardest. I currently have 47 emails in my inbox; for a few months this winter/spring, I was averaging about 230. So for me 47 is amazing (sadly). Because of this, when I know I'm going to be gone for a day or two, part of me wants to check emails just to stay on top of them. But I know that I'm not really on vacation if I'm still checking emails. So I have mastered blocking out thinking about work and don't check my emails on my planned days off.

Double check with your boss/peers to make sure loose ends are tied up before you leave. Also, set up your email out of office assistant clearly stating when you're out and when you'll be back. Then the most important part is don't check your emails while you're out. Even though it might be tough, it's so worth it. If you're burned out, you need to implement this in your life ASAP.  I'm not saying don't EVER check emails from home...I get that important tasks and deadlines come up sometimes. But unless that's the case, I encourage you to practice avoiding work emails when you're not working. It can be done; I'm living proof.

Taking a break from work is necessary for your sanity. Overall there's nothing wrong with saving up vacation days, but to avoid work burn-out you really do need to take one every once in a while to rejuvenate. And in mid-western states like Minnesota we have limited warm weather so you may want to use those vacation days to your advantage over summer!

If credit cards are keeping you from taking that trip you've always wanted to go on, LSS can help. Call us at 888.577.2227 for your financial counseling session or get started online...both options are free. A counselor will create a realistic spending plan with you and provide the best options for paying off your credit cards faster and saving money.

Author Elaina Johannessen is a Program Director with LSS Financial Counseling.