My recent vacation was a much-anticipated and much-needed one at that. However, this vacation was a little different.
I actually got a few money lessons or revelations of my own. So I thought I’d share them with the readers of The Diligent Advisor.
I took my family on a cruise. You really can’t be some of the deals for cruises including exotic destinations, plus all the food and lodging included. We had stops in Belize and Roatan, which is part of Honduras. The scenery was beautiful. There was crystal clear water, soft beaches and plenty of sunshine.
When we reached Roatan we had scheduled zip lining and a beach break. It truly was a one of a kind experience. The people were very friendly and relaxed. It took about 45 minutes to get to the locations for zip lining. Once we were done for the day, the same driver gave us a ride around the other part of the island which is 36 x 6 miles. Here is where I had my first money revelation.
As we drove around the east side of the island, I got a look at some of the poorest conditions I’ve ever seen in my life. Including my days in the Navy. People living in shacks with very little protection from the heat and weather. Naively I asked the driver if people really live there. “Oh yes”, he said.
That’s when I realized how really rich I am as an American. Not only in the financial sense, but in the sense that we have more opportunity and better conditions. Life is easier here. I’m no different from most Americans, I take my wealth for granted. As I sat down to dinner that night, I spent a little more time thinking about how much we waste and what it could do for others.
Our next stop was Belize. Belize is rich with Mayan culture. It has some beautiful water and beaches. Our day started with a one hour drive to a spot where we rode ATVs through the jungle! It was rough and my back is still hurting! Then we drove about 15 minutes more to go Cave Tubing. Belize has larger underground caves like Kentucky, but a river runs through the one we were tubing on. It was dark, cool and very relaxing.
Once we were done, we got off a large air-conditioned bus at the terminal. As we entered the terminal, a man approached us. If you’ve been to any foreign country you know there are all types peddling their trinkets. He was selling hand-made bracelets.
This was my second money revelation or lesson if you will. This Belizean man put the value of money into perspective for me. So my daughter and her friend found bracelets that they liked. They offered their price, and then he said something that I’ll never forget.
“Just five dollars, please buy a bracelet. It’s not much money to you, but it will feed my family for a week.”
Now it really doesn’t matter if that was the truth or fiction, but I tended to believe it. Just a small amount of money would make a difference for him. As Americans we tend to put a different value on money and we never seem to have enough.
It was a great vacation. I enjoyed the places we saw and the things we did.
I got a reality check about money and wealth during those two days. I know now how blessed I am in my particular situation. I’ve always known I’m lucky to be an American. Sometimes we all just need a subtle, or not-so-subtle reminder.