Planning a High-Impact, Last Minute Trip
Can you believe it’s already the Fourth of July? I hope everyone enjoyed the holiday.
Somehow each summer seems to fly by a little faster than the one before. Now that we’re past summer’s unofficial midpoint, you may be itching to put a trip on the books before your kids head back to school and the end-of-the-year grind kicks off at work.
Just prepare yourself for a little bit more hassle than you may have expected when dreaming about summer travel this year.
Run down this four-point checklist to plan a quick trip that will give your summer’s Return on Life a big boost while keeping headaches to a minimum. We had to pivot on our original plans when one of our son’s summer internships moved from our desired travel location to a room in our home. (It’s too long a story to share in this blog. If you’d like to know more, you’re welcome to ask the next time we talk.) We won’t go away until mid-August. We considered the first two points when planning where to go. Hopefully, we’ll apply the third while we’re away.
1. Make planning the trip a family affair.
A last-minute trip that doesn’t work for every member of the family is going to feel more like a hassle than an adventure. Make sure everyone has a voice in deciding both when you’re going and what you’re doing. You don’t want younger children to be bored. And you don’t want older children to feel like their social and work schedules can be brushed aside so that their parents can drag them out of town.
This is also an occasion where you might not want to let “perfect” get in the way of “really, really good.” If a long weekend is going to be less stressful and more enjoyable for everyone than the perfect week-long road trip you’ve mapped out in your head, trim down your itinerary or look for some shortcuts. If an older teenager really can’t get out of work or doesn’t want to skip a day of sports camp, that doesn’t mean the rest of your family can’t go have a little fun without them.
2. Weigh driving vs. flying.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s recent Air Travel Consumer Report, consumer complaints against airlines increased 300% in April. Post-pandemic staffing shortages, high demand, and the usual ups and downs of air travel have created a surge in flight delays and cancellations this spring and early summer. So, if you’re determined to fly, make sure to build some flexibility into your schedule once you do arrive and prepare yourself for long lines and last-minute annoyances.
With so much chaos at the airports, a family road trip should be more convenient, reliable, and cost-efficient … except that while gas prices have declined modestly the average cost continues to hover around $5 per gallon. And during the recent Memorial Day weekend, hotel demand reached all-time highs.
There’s no best answer when trying to plan the most efficient and affordable family trip this summer. Again, “really good” options like shorter trips closer to home or overnight visits to friends and family might hit the sweet spot between doing something together, not driving everyone crazy, and not breaking the bank.
3. Pledge to unplug.
You’re already trying to squeeze a lot of family time into a small amount of time. Maximize the value of that time by agreeing that while you’re all together, screens stay off.
If you don’t own a digital camera, designate a family photographer who can use their phone to snap some memorable moments without disappearing into social media.
If you’re driving, listen to the same radio station, a favorite album, an audiobook, or a podcast that interests everyone so that you’ll have something to talk about or sing along with. In my family, we often listen to audiobooks on long car trips.
Encourage everyone to be present in every moment and you’ll all share something special.
4. Review your budget.
Did you include an extra vacation in your travel budget for this year? Are you worried that high costs might keep your family grounded and the car in the garage?
We’d be happy to help you run some numbers and settle on a plan for one more enjoyable and affordable summer trip.
This week’s first article discusses the benefits that can come with completing Roth conversions when the market declines. A falling market creates opportunities for you to lower the overall tax cost of your retirement portfolio. You can also check the third and fifth articles for further thoughts about the current market environment.
Here are the links to this week’s articles as well as a brief description of each:
So far, many things have gone wrong for investors. Stock and bond prices have fallen simultaneously. We consider cash a safe haven, but higher inflation erodes its benefits. The ability to complete Roth conversions in a falling market represents one of the silver linings of a falling market. Market valuations have improved. In general, two things can make Roth conversions more valuable. First, you could have an artificially low tax rate. Second, lower security prices allow you to convert more shares. As discussed in this article, Roth conversions could make more sense in the current market. If you would like help understanding whether you could benefit from a Roth conversion, please schedule a quick call. You can also go to this link to find the previous blogs I’ve written discussing some of the benefits of Roth conversions.
If you know a recent college graduate, you may want to share this article with them. Perhaps one of these ideas will resonate with them and give them perspective as they begin the next phase of their life. A few of my favorites follow:
• The most valuable asset you will ever have in your career is your reputation. It is also the most fragile.
• Find a mentor.
• Don’t ever go into a field or job because others think it’s great. You have to think it’s great.
• The single most important career decision you will ever make is to pick the right spouse/partner.
Oaktree Capital’s Howard Marks recently participated in the Edinburgh School of Business’ inaugural symposium on cognitive economics. This thought-provoking conversation highlights some of the key ideas Mr. Marks expanded on in his recent memo Bull Market Rhymes. Among the topics discussed was the importance of “excesses and corrections” in cycles. The discussion provides greater insights into the themes that form the core of Mr. Marks’ investment philosophy. In light of the market’s recent performance, I found the discussion around the market’s average return as well as how it infrequently delivers an average return timely. He also addresses the topic of how difficult determining what causes the market to go up or down on a given day can be.
If you’re looking to take the summer trip described above by car, the cost of gas can limit how far you travel. This article shares some helpful suggestions to help you reduce the pain at the pump. Many overlook the last one, which relates to regular maintenance. Keeping your care in tune and your tire pressure at the recommended level can help.
The vignette shared in this post is relevant in a market like we’ve experienced so far this year. It presents a worse-case investment scenario from a market timing perspective. It goes on to show that we shouldn’t worry so much about investing at market tops. It also stresses the importance of diversification and a long-term approach. Past performance does not guarantee future results. But as a corollary, past history shows that if we can come out ahead after only investing at market tops, we can do even better by investing when the market declines. Or at least throughout the ups and downs of the cycle.
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We hope you find the above articles valuable. We would be happy to address any follow-up questions you have. You can complete our contact form if you would like to talk to us about financial topics, including your investments, creating a financial plan, saving for college, or saving for retirement. Once you do that, we will be in touch. You can also schedule a call or a virtual meeting via Zoom.
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Phil Weiss founded Apprise Wealth Management. He started his financial services career in 1987 working as a tax professional for Deloitte & Touche. For the past 25+ years, he has worked extensively in the areas of financial planning and investment management. Phil is both a CFA charterholder and a CPA.
Located just north of Baltimore, Apprise works with clients face-to-face locally and can also work virtually regardless of location.