15 things successful people do over holiday breaks

The holidays are almost here, which means you might be looking forward to some time off from work.

While this time of year might be a bit chaotic, a break from work can offer you the chance to recharge and refocus.

However, it's crucial that you don't squander the opportunity.

Business Insider spoke with Lynn Taylor, a national workplace expert and the author of "Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant: How to Manage Childish Boss Behavior and Thrive in Your Job" about what smart and driven professionals do when they're on break.

Here are 15 things that successful people do during breaks:

1. They have a plan

"Successful people plan ahead when a holiday break is approaching, because they recognize that it's a rare opportunity to enjoy well-earned leisure time," Taylor says. "Even if the plan is to kick back, they usually have in mind certain activities, such as visiting with family or friends."

2. They compartmentalize

Don't ruin your break by overworking yourself. If you need to get stuff done, there's a way to handle it without dragging down the rest of your time off. "If work needs to get done, assign a period during the day or the break to attend to it," Taylor says.

3. They set boundaries

"Successful professionals let others know when and how they can be reached, so they can truly recharge," Taylor says. "Setting a day and time during the week allows you to get a lot accomplished in an efficient way." So make sure to set up an "out of office" email.

4. They get organized before they leave

It can be hard to relax on break if you've left your work in a state of disarray. "Tying up loose ends mitigates chaos and projects falling through the cracks by the time you return," Taylor says.

5. They assign someone to fill in

"You may not have the luxury of literally handing over your projects to a staff member, but savvy professionals will at least have a contact available who can reach them in an emergency," Taylor says.

6. They set limits

Sometimes, you just have to say "no" to things on break. "Depending on the status of your work and latitude in your position, you may sometimes have to say, 'No,' albeit diplomatically, when asked for things that can wait," Taylor says. "If that's been a challenge for you in the past, this is an opportunity to grow and feel more empowered in your work life."

7. They unwind

Successful people try to detach themselves from their cell phones, Taylor says. It will help you unwind and relax.

8. They visit family and friends

There's no place like home for the holidays. "There may be other times of the year when you have time off and those you care about aren't available," Taylor says. "But this is prime time for reconnecting with your family and friends; they likely have some down time, too."

9. They allow for some slack

At the end of the day, breaks are meant to be relaxing. Don't overbook yourself. "If you book yourself solid with activities during your time off, you may feel pressure, which is counterproductive," Taylor told Business Insider.

10. They plan quick getaways or staycations

Full-fledged vacations can be amazing, enriching experiences, but a lot of holiday travel can also be rather draining. Taylor notes that successful people realize that low-key getaways and staycations can be just as fun during breaks.

11. They exercise

Don't make excuses. Odds are, you're downing a few more candy canes than usual over break, so it's more crucial than ever that you keep up your exercise routine. "Skipping workouts over the holidays can make you feel like you're dragging, and you want to capitalize on valued time off by feeling your best mentally and physically," Taylor says.

12. They engage in their passions

Getting involved in your favorite hobby or pastime, whether it's music, sports, art, reading, or other endeavors, gives you a broader and healthier perspective on life," Taylor says. "It also makes you a more interesting person in and outside of work."

13. They enjoy nature

Taylor says that the holidays are an excellent time to enjoy the great outdoors and get some much-needed fresh air.

14. They detach from work

Whatever you do, don't waste your precious free time on work. You might get ahead in the office in the short-term, but you're risking burnout and sacrificing your own relaxation. "Work-life balance can seem a trite term, but it's how many business leaders define true success," Taylor says.

15. They volunteer

"The holidays can be an ideal time to help others who are less fortunate, especially during this time of year when a sense of support community goes a long way," Taylor says. Plus, helping others may make you feel happier and healthier.

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1. Bank Fees

If you’re always paying bank fees, you might as well just flush your dollar bills down the toilet. Successful, rich people are much too money savvy to waste precious dollars on fees that can often be avoided.

Like many businesses, banks charge fees for their services. For instance, many banks require monthly maintenance fees for certain accounts. The easiest way to avoid these fees? Play by the banks’ rules.

Find Out: How Do Banks Make Money?

For example, Bank of America’s Core Checking account charges a $12 monthly fee. But, you can get the fee waived if you meet one of the several requirements, such as maintaining a specific average daily balance or setting up direct deposit.

Another good tip is to “request an account review with a banker to see if you have the right accounts for your particular situation and to see if you can reduce or eliminate any fees on your accounts,” said Dave Henderson, a certified financial planner with Client One Securities. “If you are a good customer, many times they will accommodate your request to reduce costs.”

(serdjophoto via Getty Images)

2. Interest on Credit Cards

credit card can be similar to eating from a tub of ice cream. You might feel a little guilty for overindulging afterward, but it’s just too convenient. Sure, it’s easy to swipe plastic money — but you won’t catch wealthy people accruing high credit card interest. They know it’s a waste of money.

To avoid accruing interest, transfer or consolidate your debt to a credit card with 0% introductory APR. Just be mindful of the promotional period.

Henderson said another option is to “consolidate any non-deductible debt into a second mortgage or home equity line of credit, which may be deductible depending on your particular situation.”

Once you’re out of the red, live on less than you earn. “If you can train yourself to regularly and systematically put away money for your future, you can build wealth steadily and not need to rely on credit cards or other non-deductible debt,” said Henderson.

Now, that’s truly living like the rich.

(John Lamb via Getty Images)

3. Extended Warranties

Somewhere along the line — such as when you bought your flat-screen TV — you were probably asked, “Would you like to purchase an extended warranty?” A financially successful person has a simple answer when asked the question — no.

Although people want the most value from purchased products, generally, extended warranties don’t give you more bang for your buck. Often, they put more money in the pockets of large companies. In fact, according to Consumer Reports, retailers keep 50 percent or more of what they charge for extended warranties.

People with well-endowed bank accounts want to hold onto their money as much as possible. So, they do the research. For instance, check your manufacturer’s warranty before saying yes to an extended warranty. You might have more coverage than you initially thought. Also, compare the cost of potential repairs versus the extended warranty. If the repairs aren’t expensive, the extended warranty might not be worth it.

So the next time a salesperson tries to sell you on that extended warranty, shut the conversation down fast.

(Alex Hinds via Getty Images)

4. Lottery Tickets

If you truly want to strike it rich, don’t play the lottery. This is a sure way to burn money fast — and rich people know this financial gamble doesn’t pay to play. Your chance of winning the Powerball grand prize is about 1 in 292 million. Those odds are not in your favor.

Now, take a look at the math:

A Powerball ticket costs $2. That might not be much in your eyes, but if you play twice a week for a year — and buy two tickets each time — you’ll have put more than $400 in the hole.

Don’t waste your hard-earned money on chance when you can put it toward wealth-building goals, such as retirement or college tuition. With past studies that show “you are 17 times more likely to get hit by falling airplane parts than win a lottery,” Henderson said rich people normally make a more logical choice and “invest their money in other places.” You should do the same.

“Many studies have shown that people who are considered low income play the lottery much more regularly than higher-income people who typically only play when jackpots get very large and there is more media attention,” said Henderson.

Find Out: 17 Things More Likely to Happen to You Than Winning the Lottery

5. Impulse Buys

Have you gone into a store with your mind set on purchasing one thing but come out with a cart full of stuff? Maybe it was BOGO at the grocery store, so you snagged a few items. Or, perhaps it was a flash sale on your favorite clothing site, and you bought designer shoes. Whatever the case might be, this isn’t a shopping practice of the wealthy.

Successful people are planners, and impulse purchases tend not to mesh with this quality. If you want to emulate their behavior, be much more cautious with your money, said Leslie Tayne, author of “Life & Debt.”

To avoid the urge, Tayne said consider going cash only to curb your spending.

“Use the envelope system, bringing with you only a predetermined amount of money to spend at each store,” she said. “This approach will help you stay on budget and curb any habits you might ordinarily have in impulse buying and overspending.”

(Betsie Van Der Meer via Getty Images)

6. Low-Interest Savings Accounts

Do you like stashing cash in savings because it’s secure and you can pull out money on a whim? Would you like to see more than pennies on your interest? If you answered “yes” to both, change your strategy to truly emulate a financial mogul.

Regular savings accounts don’t earn a lot of interest. The national savings account rate is a meager 0.06 percent — a stark contrast from what you can expect from a high-yield savings account.

You can find these types of accounts by looking beyond a traditional brick-and-mortar bank. Online banks, for example, frequently offer the highest return rates because they have no or lower overhead costs. Credit unions also offer attractive rates. In fact, a recent GOBankingRates.com survey found the best savings account rates in the country tend to be at credit unions, where some rates are as high and 5.00% APY and 7.52% APY.

If you’re looking to boost your wealth by making wise decisions with money, explore your online savings account options.

(PeopleImages via Getty Images)

7. High-End Brands

You might see a lot of designer labels on the red carpet, but many rich people don’t choose designer labels for every purchase. Though they have the funds to splurge at luxury retailers, they understand that doesn’t always mean they should.

“Financially successful people compare shop and understand the importance of both quality and cost,” said Tayne. “They may go for a cheaper item or buy the higher quality item from a cheaper store in order to make the wisest financial purchase.”

Before you buy another $200 pair of designer jeans, stop and ask yourself if it’s really worth the investment — or will $30 Target jeans do the trick? Always shop wisely, and keep your budget and financial goals in mind.

Keep Reading: Rich People Who Live Like the Average Joe

(Neil Hall / Reuters)


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