I have a confession to make. We are planners. We love to plan out our life. We need to know what is coming around the corner. It makes us feel safe. It makes us feel secure. It makes us less stressed. That is why it drives us nuts when things we want to schedule aren’t available yet. I mean, why can’t we book a cruise for 3 years from now? How come I can’t book a room in Vegas for my 40th birthday – which is still several years away? And it is driving us nuts not knowing when the next book in the “A Song of Ice and Fire” series is going to be released! (Did you hear that GRRM? You’re killing us, Smalls!)

OK, so maybe we take planning ahead a bit too seriously sometimes. However, planning ahead can greatly benefit your life. Planning ahead for your retirement is key if you hope not to be eating dog food when you retire. Failing to make it to your sister’s wedding because of your failure to ask off of work is probably going to be a big downer.Β  Dying without leaving your spouse with the appropriate amount of income insurance would also be an epic planning fail.So, while we may take life planning to a whole new level of craziness, here are a few ways that you “normals” can use planning ahead to your advantage.

1) Save Money on Flights and Hotels

If you use an online travel service, there is a period of time where you can save a lot of money on your vacation packages. Usually, these online travel agencies allow you to book between 12 and 18 months prior. Doing this at least 9 months in advance can save a buttload of money. (That is a technical banking term, BTW.) For instance, we saved about $1,000 by booking our vacation to the Dominican Republic about 10 months out. Keep in mind that you can still save money between 6-9 months, but at about the 6-month mark you will pay full price until a week or so out. If the trip hasn’t filled up before then, you may be able to get a nice last-minute deal. Of course, you can always get pretty good last-minute deals if you don’t care where you end up. If you are like us, though, you will want to know where you are going. Planning ahead makes it easy, and it will save you some sweet dough!

2) Makes Scheduling Easy

Planning ahead makes scheduling our events for the rest of the year a piece of cake. We already know when we are going to be on vacation for the rest of 2013. Therefore, we can schedule all other activities around it. Do you want us to come to your pork roast on May 10th? Sorry. We’ll be in Florida. Having a bat mitzvah on the 8th of July? Great, we’ll be there!

3) Gives Us Something to Look Forward To

Once we have finished planning a vacation, we almost always start planning for the next one. Now, you may think that this is pure lunacy. Why start planning ahead for the next vacation when you haven’t even had time to enjoy the one you are about to go on? The simple answer is that it gives us something to be excited about. It gives us something to talk about – ad nauseam – for months on end. It reminds us of why we work so hard in the first place.

4) Work it Into Your Budget

Planning ahead for events that will cost money gives you plenty of time to work it into your budget. Usually, when you find yourself in a financial hole, it is because something unexpected comes up. Schedule what you can early, so that you know how much money you’ll need later on.

Sooooo….maybe we aren’t so crazy after all, eh? Planning ahead helps us to simplify our life. It helps us to save money, and it helps us to stay sane. So, if you feel like you never have any money to go on vacation, you never have anything to look forward to, or are just a giant frazzled mess, try a little bit of life planning. You may find that planning ahead is just the tool you need to help you relax and save money!

Are you a planner? Do you know of any other advantages that planning ahead provides? Let us know about your life planning skills in the comments below!