My wife recently returned from an extended girls’ weekend to celebrate a good friend’s 40th birthday. They left town on an American Airlines flight just before 7am on a Wednesday and returned around 6pm the following Sunday. Rather standard fare for a trip of this magnitude, although what intrigued me most wasn’t the actual vacation, but the level of planning involved. My wife attempted to quantify the amount of trip prep over the previous year by offering some hard statistics on the communication between the quartet: approximately 150 emails, 300 texts and five planning meet-ups.
These aren’t single women in their 20s with nothing better to do than sit around and plan a five-day trip down to the infinite details. These are professional women with more chores than time available who happen to be mothers of both young children and grown men, and yet they were able to carve out time in their hectic schedules to daydream and plan a short vacation that would serve as a temporary break to their daily stresses and responsibilities.
The U.S. Commerce Department recently announced that the personal savings rate across the country had risen to 5.8 percent in the month of February. The only positive bit of news in the report, however, is that the savings rate improved rather than declined. The Wall Street Journal’s Jeffrey Sparshott highlighted the fact that heavy snowfalls and otherwise poor winter weather in general is likely responsible for the uptick in savings. If you are unable to leave your house, it’s difficult to spend the money in your pocket.
The more troubling news is that the 5.8 percent mark is seen as a quality figure. The personal savings rate has fluctuated roughly between 2 percent and 8 percent for 14 of the last 15 years. Only in 2013 did the savings rate extend beyond that 8 percent threshold, cracking 10 percent momentarily. To be fair, interest rates and inflation have long played a role in our country’s savings rate. The personal saving rate was consistently above 10 percent during the 1970s due to high inflation. With interest rates at all-time lows for an extended period of time, the potential return on cash is not worth the effort, or so it appears to many Americans.