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The One Employer-Provided Benefit You Really Should Use More

October 22, 2015 at 12:00 AM

An estimated 40% of Americans who get paid vacation days don’t use all their allotted time. On average we’re leaving the equivalent of about one week a year on the table.

I think that’s bad retirement planning. Yep, using your allotted vacation time each year can help build retirement security. Look, I know many of you are determined to work longer before you retire. Well, if that’s your plan, then one of the issues you need to be on high alert for is burn out. Vacation time is one of the smartest ways to avoid burn out.

And let’s talk about your physical and mental health. You need that time off to recharge, refresh and relax. That will make you infinitely better at your job when you return to work.

I get that you may feel pressured not to check out for a long chunk of time, out of fear you may fall behind. Is that pressure internal? If so, I’d ask you to seriously consider all the ramifications of not using your vacation time. I am serious when I say it can hurt your career if you burn out. If the pressure is external (a manager, or the general work culture) I defer to your judgment. But at the very least, rather than leave five or more days unused, put in for 5 single days throughout the year—create your own long weekends. It’s a smart career, and retirement planning move.

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