Author Topic: Mustachians who work: how do you handle your vacation time?  (Read 10359 times)

maryofdoom

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Mustachians who work: how do you handle your vacation time?
« on: February 26, 2013, 08:22:47 AM »
Hi friends,

A question for the working Mustachians among us: how do you handle your vacation time?

I get 20 days of paid time off per year (for both vacations and sick time), plus three floating holidays. Our office allows us to carry over up to one year's allotment of PTO, and I have three PTO days left from last year. I've already used my floating holidays this year, so I have 23 more days to play with.

We also get nine vacation days, including Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Eve, and New Year's Day.

I have obligations that will use up 11 of my 23 days (a destination wedding and the national embroidery seminar), leaving me with 12 days to use over the winter holidays. My sister's also getting married in Chicago on December 14. I did the calculations, and if I burn up all my remaining vacation around that time, I could stop going to the office on December 10 of this year and enjoy almost a month off.

Is there any downside to this plan? I guess I wouldn't have any wiggle room if something goes wrong; but I figure that since I'll be waiting until December to use up my vacation days, if disaster falls in September, for example, I could use up a day or two then without any ill effects.

I feel like carrying over vacation from year to year is dumb and that since I've earned this vacation time, I should be able to take it when I want it. And if that means I stop working for 2013 on December 10, then that's awesome. Haters to the left, etc.

What is your philosophy on taking vacation days, working Mustachians? Do you use them throughout the year, or do you save them up for one big glorious burst?

kt

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Re: Mustachians who work: how do you handle your vacation time?
« Reply #1 on: February 26, 2013, 08:32:16 AM »
Sounds like that would work well for you this year, although I'd be tempted to keep one day back for emergencies.
Last year was mine and my boyfriend's first year working full-time and we didn't space holidays out very well (25 days to play with). We were overly cautious about taking anything much too near the beginning of the year but then found by summer we were more than ready for a decent spell off. Overall we took more long weekends than more extended periods (week+). In the end: one week in august, one in september and a lot of long weekends between then and christmas. far too lopsided!
this year we've already taken two long weekends (1 day off each time) and have a week planned in may. planning a few more long weekends spread across year for visiting friends etc (1 day off each time; maybe 2-3 days off for a city break) and another week off in october.
finding what suits us is certainly interesting and not something i'd ever considered when thinking about working life.

giwo

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Re: Mustachians who work: how do you handle your vacation time?
« Reply #2 on: February 26, 2013, 08:57:59 AM »
We get 19 days per year, I generally use 7 days for a summer vacation, 7 days for a Christmas vacation, and the remaining 5 as needed throughout the year. Our company has a PTO sell back program which quite a few people use, but I prefer the time off over the money.

DoubleDown

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Re: Mustachians who work: how do you handle your vacation time?
« Reply #3 on: February 26, 2013, 09:12:53 AM »
I like to treat my vacation stash just like I treat the assets stasch. I accrued it until I hit the maximum amount I can carry over each year. Then I exercise my "SWR", using only the additionally accrued amount each year (so that I don't forfeit any under our "lose or use" policy) and generally not touching the "principal".

I only use the "principal" if there's something specific I want to do, beyond what I've accrued that year. Assuming I don't use it all up, I will just cash it out when I FIRE. By cashing it out when I FIRE, it ends up equaling about 4 months of living expenses (i.e., cuts 4 months off your FIRE date or extra stash for whatever).

jpo

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Re: Mustachians who work: how do you handle your vacation time?
« Reply #4 on: February 26, 2013, 09:26:07 AM »
I like to treat my vacation stash just like I treat the assets stasch. I accrued it until I hit the maximum amount I can carry over each year. Then I exercise my "SWR", using only the additionally accrued amount each year (so that I don't forfeit any under our "lose or use" policy) and generally not touching the "principal".

I only use the "principal" if there's something specific I want to do, beyond what I've accrued that year. Assuming I don't use it all up, I will just cash it out when I FIRE. By cashing it out when I FIRE, it ends up equaling about 4 months of living expenses (i.e., cuts 4 months off your FIRE date or extra stash for whatever).
I do exactly the opposite, try to never roll days over. Seen more than one person leave the job and not get paid for those days.

maryofdoom

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Re: Mustachians who work: how do you handle your vacation time?
« Reply #5 on: February 26, 2013, 09:44:10 AM »
Yeah, we get to cash out up to one year when we leave. I figure that it's my vacation and I'm entitled to use it all each year. When I do get to my retirement year, I'll probably stash it all for that year and cash out at the end.

I figure that using up PTO in December allows for the possibility of using it earlier in the year, if I need to. It just seems absurd to take a few days off to go to Chicago in the middle of December, come back and work for a few days, then start my Christmas vacation. Plus the office practically shuts down over the holidays anyway - people tend to leave as early as they can.

anastrophe

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Re: Mustachians who work: how do you handle your vacation time?
« Reply #6 on: February 26, 2013, 09:53:03 AM »
I like to treat my vacation stash just like I treat the assets stasch. I accrued it until I hit the maximum amount I can carry over each year. Then I exercise my "SWR", using only the additionally accrued amount each year (so that I don't forfeit any under our "lose or use" policy) and generally not touching the "principal".

I only use the "principal" if there's something specific I want to do, beyond what I've accrued that year. Assuming I don't use it all up, I will just cash it out when I FIRE. By cashing it out when I FIRE, it ends up equaling about 4 months of living expenses (i.e., cuts 4 months off your FIRE date or extra stash for whatever).

This is essentially what I do. Partly because of the way my workplace is structured--vacation days roll over continuously, indefinitely, and I can get a cash out when I leave the job. But I don't force myself to go to work when I really want a day off (out-of-town friends visiting, my birthday, other special occasions) just to save it all for later.

mm31

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Re: Mustachians who work: how do you handle your vacation time?
« Reply #7 on: February 26, 2013, 10:30:21 AM »
Your plan sounds good,  a little wiggle room might help if something happens.

My general approach is to take days off in continuous amounts like you're planning on doing. I usually use most of mine on the summer or the winter, when I'm most likely traveling.

Spork

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Re: Mustachians who work: how do you handle your vacation time?
« Reply #8 on: February 26, 2013, 10:35:52 AM »
One of my common vacations is to take a week off and tackle a project at home.  I'm slow as molasses on most long projects and this usually gets a stale project "jump started".  It's like getting paid to do something you were already planning on doing for free.

bo_knows

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Re: Mustachians who work: how do you handle your vacation time?
« Reply #9 on: February 26, 2013, 10:38:47 AM »
We don't really think about it that much. We don't specifically try to accrue a lot of vacation time.  We usually take 1 1-week summer vacation, 1 1-week Christmas vacation (to see family), and a couple 3 or 4day weekend trips to the beach (brother-in-law's house).

Arbor33

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Re: Mustachians who work: how do you handle your vacation time?
« Reply #10 on: February 26, 2013, 11:02:31 AM »
Assuming you have a decent savings and are not living paycheck to paycheck, I wouldn't over think it. Use them as you need them. I'm guessing if you use all of your vacation time and still need to take time off you can take leave without pay.

As to how I approach it:

I get 20 days / year with an additional 11 holidays and unlimited sick time. I have candy dispensers that typically require me to use 1 day a month to do collection and restock candies. That ends up being 12-15 days of vacation. The rest I use as needed without hesitation.

rtrnow

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Re: Mustachians who work: how do you handle your vacation time?
« Reply #11 on: February 26, 2013, 11:29:32 AM »
I like to treat my vacation stash just like I treat the assets stasch. I accrued it until I hit the maximum amount I can carry over each year. Then I exercise my "SWR", using only the additionally accrued amount each year (so that I don't forfeit any under our "lose or use" policy) and generally not touching the "principal".

I only use the "principal" if there's something specific I want to do, beyond what I've accrued that year. Assuming I don't use it all up, I will just cash it out when I FIRE. By cashing it out when I FIRE, it ends up equaling about 4 months of living expenses (i.e., cuts 4 months off your FIRE date or extra stash for whatever).

I do pretty much exactly this. I've carried the max for the last several years knowing that's an additional four months expenses when I ER, quit, or happen to get laid off. My sick days accumulate separately from vacation and there is no limit to how many we can accure. However, those days are lost when I leave my company. For that reason, I use sick days when/if at all possible for the little things. No one seems to bat an eye for a day or two here and there. My vacation on the other hand, I like at least a 2 week block off each year with the rest sprinkled around.

TheDude

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Re: Mustachians who work: how do you handle your vacation time?
« Reply #12 on: February 26, 2013, 11:46:26 AM »
Wow this thread make me jealous. I work for a little company  (9 people). We only get 10 PTO days and 6 holidays throughout the year. I always take 5 or 6 to do RAGBRAI. I also plan on taking a week off to do some bike touring with my father. Then I have kid being born in August I have no idea what I am going to do. I am trying to get up enough courage to ask for an additional week.

Catbert

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Re: Mustachians who work: how do you handle your vacation time?
« Reply #13 on: February 26, 2013, 12:20:36 PM »
Not sure how vacation time is scheduled at your job.  However, if your plan is to take 3 weeks in December be sure your boss is okay with that.  When I still worked time-off at Christmas was highly prized.  As a supervisor I had to ensure office coverage and try to be fair to everyone who wanted time off.  No way would someone have gotten 3 weeks off in December year after year.   

Zaga

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Re: Mustachians who work: how do you handle your vacation time?
« Reply #14 on: February 26, 2013, 01:15:54 PM »
DH and I each get 3 weeks a year, and we use all of them.  Both of our companies encourage this by a "use it or lose it" policy.  Mine does allow a bit to roll over, but I'd lose it if I left the company, so it's really not worth the risk. 

I agree with saving at least some of it to use at the end of the year, last year I got really sick in December, and the one vacation day I had left plus the half sick day I had left is all I was able to take off, though I should have taken 3 days really.  Don't get caught like I was!

As for how I use mine - we go on a camping vacation in early August or late July, and the rest are taken here and there for long weekends and for me to get my schoolwork done.  Though I graduate in May so soon I'll be able to enjoy more of my vacation days!  If we have enough left in December this year I'd like to take a small trip around the holidays.

maryofdoom

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Re: Mustachians who work: how do you handle your vacation time?
« Reply #15 on: February 26, 2013, 01:23:31 PM »
Mary W: I work at a university. Well, at a research center at a university. Most people tend to leave for the year around mid-December, depending on how the holidays work out. If Christmas Day falls on a weekend day, everyone gets a weekday day off instead. For example, in 2017, when Christmas is on a Saturday, we'll get the 23rd and 24th off. But generally the place shuts down around December 20 and picks back up again on January 2.

People also tend to save their three floating holidays for the three days between Christmas and New Year's. We don't work on time-sensitive things around here (like in a science lab running experiments or with computer programs that MUST RUN AT CERTAIN TIMES). And, as a bonus, I have a laptop from the company that I use at home, and is set up to do all the things that my desktop in my office can do (and then some). If work comes in that needs to be done, it can be done.

Iron Mike Sharpe

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Re: Mustachians who work: how do you handle your vacation time?
« Reply #16 on: February 26, 2013, 01:29:13 PM »
We can't carry days over.  But I get a lot of days off.

I actually hate this job, but If I were to go somewhere else, I'd only get 2 weeks off.


I get:  25 vacation days, 2 personal days, 6 sick days, and 9 paid holidays.

December is always rough as people are trying to scramble and use unused days up.  Leads to scheduling conflicts.

sheepstache

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Re: Mustachians who work: how do you handle your vacation time?
« Reply #17 on: February 26, 2013, 01:35:21 PM »
I used to take big chunks to travel.  It's cheaper than making multiple trips.  Just pay for airfare to, say, South America, and then use ground transportation to go to multiple countries.  When possible I would tack it onto the winter holiday (tip: airfare is expensive around Christmas, but not on Christmas!) though as Mary W mentioned, I had to be sensitive to workplace feelings and it was generally understood that I was ceding all other highly-desired holidays (Thanksgiving, etc.) to my colleagues.

This year, however, I've been breaking it up to work outside freelance jobs.

I feel like sick days and personal days are what you're supposed to be able to use for emergencies, so I don't worry about "running out" of vacation.  And my workplace doesn't roll over or cash out so I don't worry about saving them up.

jrhampt

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Re: Mustachians who work: how do you handle your vacation time?
« Reply #18 on: February 26, 2013, 02:33:30 PM »
I get 23 days with the option to purchase up to 5 more.  None of it rolls over, though.  I tend to take one longer vacation (2-3 weeks),  one shorter one (1 week), and some long weekends, saving a couple of days for around Christmas.  Since I can work from home, I don't usually have to take it as sick time unless it's something really dire.

Sparky

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Re: Mustachians who work: how do you handle your vacation time?
« Reply #19 on: February 27, 2013, 11:26:33 AM »
I don't get vacation days from my jobs, we get our holiday/vacation pay paid off ever pay check (the work is short term construction). The negative is I have to work when I have a job, and unless I'm on a long term project (rarely), I don't get vacation, or sometimes days off....

However during quiet periods or I just don't want to work any longer, I go on longer trips to far away places and live cheap backpacking or cycle touring. Currently on a 10 month break, ending next week.

crestheaven

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Re: Mustachians who work: how do you handle your vacation time?
« Reply #20 on: May 16, 2013, 12:54:30 PM »
I joined a hiking/biking/ski club in my area for $25 a year. The hikes and bike rides are otherwise free. We join up for driving and camping. It's a blast. We also have a Christmas party and summer picnic. If your area doesn't have one, think about starting one. Meetup.com has lots of great groups.

foobar

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Re: Mustachians who work: how do you handle your vacation time?
« Reply #21 on: May 16, 2013, 01:16:47 PM »
IN about half the states, employers are required to pay it out in the last paycheck. Unless the company goes bankrupt, you are pretty safe. The value even increases assuming you continue to get raises. Generally not geting paid is something that gets companies in big trouble.

The other states are a bit of a crap shoot.  Some require payouts if your fired, others require the companies to have written policies, and some don't say anything. Google your state for the exact law.

Sick leave and Comp days on the other hand pretty much never get paid out. Use them or lose them.


I like to treat my vacation stash just like I treat the assets stasch. I accrued it until I hit the maximum amount I can carry over each year. Then I exercise my "SWR", using only the additionally accrued amount each year (so that I don't forfeit any under our "lose or use" policy) and generally not touching the "principal".

I only use the "principal" if there's something specific I want to do, beyond what I've accrued that year. Assuming I don't use it all up, I will just cash it out when I FIRE. By cashing it out when I FIRE, it ends up equaling about 4 months of living expenses (i.e., cuts 4 months off your FIRE date or extra stash for whatever).
I do exactly the opposite, try to never roll days over. Seen more than one person leave the job and not get paid for those days.

Iron Mike Sharpe

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Re: Mustachians who work: how do you handle your vacation time?
« Reply #22 on: May 16, 2013, 03:31:17 PM »
We can't carry over any days.  But this was a British company when I started here and after 5 years I was at 25 vacation days a year + 3 floating holidays on top of the 9 company holidays and 6 sick days.  So I can't complain.

I never go on any long trips.  Maybe a couple of short trips each year.  I take a lot of 3 or 4 day weekends throughout the year.  And if I have concert tickets during the week, I normally just take the next day off.

The hard part is forcing myself to use the days early because it can be difficult the last 1.5 months with everyone trying to make end of the year deadlines and also everyone trying to use their remaining days.  I don't want to lose any for not using them.

Just looked at my spreadsheet.  Through the end of June, I will have used 12.5 days with 15.5 left in the second half of the year.  I'm off pace again.

Joet

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Re: Mustachians who work: how do you handle your vacation time?
« Reply #23 on: May 16, 2013, 04:04:17 PM »
I treat mine like a managed bank account/emergency fund. I try to never lose any time through carry-over loss, and try to cruise around ~75% of the limit to carry forward at all times.

I get 20 days + company holidays [12?] + 2 personal days. On average I end up using them all.... once I've filled the buffer to about 75% which only takes 3/4 of a year...

Just a habit, I guess

MountainFlower

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Re: Mustachians who work: how do you handle your vacation time?
« Reply #24 on: May 17, 2013, 08:43:17 AM »
One of my common vacations is to take a week off and tackle a project at home.  I'm slow as molasses on most long projects and this usually gets a stale project "jump started".  It's like getting paid to do something you were already planning on doing for free.

We often do that as well.  I have small kids and it is impossible to do projects any other way.  I burned up a lot last summer in preparation for an appraisal and refinance. 

Also, due to small kids, I nickle and dime my 5.5 weeks.  For example, I let me kids sleep in on Monday morning because we got home late from a mother's day dinner.  I was an hour late.  I typically use up an hour here or there to make my schedule more part time.  We have no money for a vacation, so it works out...I guess. 

ace1224

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Re: Mustachians who work: how do you handle your vacation time?
« Reply #25 on: May 17, 2013, 09:00:06 AM »
my work has a use it or lose it policy as well with a no more than 4 days off in december policy, so i tend to sprinkle my 25 days into long weekends and one week at the beach.  i get 9 holidays so for example w memorial day i am taking the friday before off so i get a 4 day weekend instead of a 3. 
this leaves me with enough days that i can use them if i need to stay home with a sick kind, but i'm not burned out from working w/ no days off.

GuitarStv

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Re: Mustachians who work: how do you handle your vacation time?
« Reply #26 on: May 17, 2013, 09:02:57 AM »
I get three weeks vacation a year.  No personal time off.

I try to save at least a week for a summer project around the house (there's always a summer project around the house that needs time to complete . . . painting, renovating, fixing stuff, etc.  It's nice to take a couple days off around holidays because various family visits are always hectic.  Other than that, a few long weekends sprinkled throughout the year eats the remainder of vacation time.