Part of me feels like I should have it all together before I start writing a particular article. I want you to feel like I'm at least informed on the topic of which I felt inclined to communicate to the world about. On the other hand, I never implied that I knew it all and I'm in fact just a student trying to learn as I go. So, the other part of me doesn't mind fumbling along and sharing my experiences with the learning process. If you have an opinion on this though, I'd love to hear it.
The reason I stated the above is that I'm really seeing the benefit to writing out my goals and coming up with a plan to achieve them. One of the biggest lessons I learned so far in this process is that something I may have initially desired and set as a goal may become less important as I write out what that goal truly is and what it will cost to get it. That became very apparent as I sat down and tried to figure out how to reach my WorldMark goal.
For those of you that don't know, WorldMark is a vacation ownership company. I can practically hear you groaning now, but this is different than a time share in several ways. Time shares generally give you one location, one property size, and one time of year. Also when you die (or even after some time period like 20 years) you lose access. WorldMark has many locations, beautiful properties, you can will it, and choose the time and number of rooms as you need them. My parents are members and I've gone with them several times and the rooms are just beautiful.
To get started you need to buy credits which are not cheap. The maintenance cost after that is about the cost of a normal hotel room a year (depending on the number of credits). Instead of a normal hotel room, though you get a beautiful home away from home. Washer and Dryers that allow you to cut down on the luggage you bring on a plane (expensive nowadays) and a fully equipped kitchen so that you don't need to eat out every night.
We love to travel, so this seemed like a good fit. I figured I needed about 10,000 credits/per year in order to book a 1 bedroom at most places. However, at the prices that WorldMark was charging I didn't think I could ever justify it. That is until I found Vacatation Credits; a site that people are selling their credits at a reduced rate. So I came up with the plan to use our vacation budget to buy the credits and use them to go somewhere local next year.
Here is where the planning process started to change my mind. First I noticed that even with our healthy vacation budget and the cheaper credits we could only afford 7,000 credits after 1 year of saving. So that means delaying the next vacation as well or borrowing more money. Second, it means giving up on a trip now when we're without kids and are more easily able to travel. The savings won't be recognized for some time, so its hard to justify giving up that trip just now. Especially when my parents so graciously invite us along occasionally and we can also buy credits through them for some short getaways.
Once we have children, I think the credits make more sense as we'll need a larger place and the hotel rooms and dining will start to get more and more expensive. In fact I don't imagine we'll be doing a lot of vacationing at all while my wife is pregnant or the baby is young. I can't believe I'm talking about kids I don't have yet! So, why not put the vacation money away at that time when we can't travel, so that when we're ready to go again we'll have the option of staying at these gorgeous condos.
For now though, this goal has been postponed, but hasn't disappeared. If you're interested in my experience with WorldMark, or want to comment on anything I've written here, please ask away.