Buy Now, Pay Later – Quoted in the Wall Street Journal

The Wall Street Journal

More travel companies are offering buy-now, pay-later deals for their flights, cruises and vacation packages. For consumers, the most important details to know are the interest rate and fine print before agreeing to the deal.

Buy-now, pay-later for travel is a type of layaway plan. Consumers basically take out a loan to go on their trip and then make small payments over months or even years. This allows them to go on their trips and continue to make payments after they return.

To finish this article and see my quote please visit the Wall Street Journal.

 

The Uncommon Path – February 17th Edition

The Uncommon Path

Plan Wisely | Retire Well | Travel on Your Terms


In this issue…
  • Exactly what you need to do to get a refund on Southwest when the price of your ticket drops
  • Why you should avoid buy now, pay later offers – my Wall Street Journal quote
  • If you’re over 50 and feel behind on your retirement savings I wrote this article for you 
  • Non-stop flights out of Pittsburgh are coming back and here’s the list

…and more!


I put together four paragraphs about the festive winter holidays that have already passed and how we are in the depths of winter. It was starting to depress me, so I scrapped it. My point – I’m looking forward to warmer weather, tropical vacations, and an umbrella drink. The picture above was taken in Cuba, a spot I visited with Lori just a few years ago. It’s a professional picture taken by a photographer that is much more skilled than myself. Thumb-free!

Safe Travels,

David


Travel

When the price of your flight drops, you can get a refund for the difference if you’re flying on Southwest. This article shows you how to do it.

Buy now, pay later offers are turning up all over the travel space. I weigh in with a quote in the Wall Street Journal. Spoiler – don’t take on high-interest debt to go on vacation.

Travel Insurance 101 – What it is, how it works, and who needs it? All condensed in a quick-to-read tweetstorm.


Retirement

Over half of Baby Boomers and Gen X feel that they are behind in saving for retirement. I wrote this article to help you catch up – “Is It Too Late to Save for Retirement in Your 50s?”


Investing

Should you pay off your debt or invest for the future? It depends…


Pittsburgh

Non-stop flights out of Pittsburgh are coming back. Here’s a list.


Did you miss the last issue of The Uncommon Path? If so, you have a second chance to catch up on:

  • January was a bad month for the market. Should you sit tight or make changes?
  • How much does it cost to go to Disney World?
  • Putting your investments in the proper account can make a big tax difference
  • Pittsburgh welcomes the Moonshot Museum in 2022

Prefer to receive my newsletter in your inbox?

You’ll not only be signed up for my newsletter which is published twice a month, but you’ll also get a PDF that shows you exactly what a comprehensive retirement plan for people who love to travel is all about. Thanks for reading!

 

 
 
  • *Privacy policy: your email address is safe, and you will never receive SPAM.


    Financial Advisor David Tuzzolino

    David Tuzzolino, CFA, CFP®, is the Founder and CEO of PathBridge Financial, a firm that specializes in providing comprehensive financial planning and investment management services for clients that are nearing retirement and love to travel.

     

     

    The Uncommon Path – December 2nd Edition

    Lori and David Thanksgiving

    The Uncommon Path

    Plan Wisely | Retire Well | Travel on Your Terms


    In this issue…
    • The 10-Year Treasury yield has increased by 1% or more fourteen times in the last 70 years – here’s how the stock market performed
    • My COVID-19 Travel Resource Guide for 2022
    • An incredibly valuable tool that will show you how to best use your points and miles to get the most out of travel
    • Are you using the Hopper app? You should be

    …and more!


    Lori and David Thanksgiving

    I hope everyone had a fantastic Thanksgiving. The pic above is Lori and I preparing for our airplane adventure. More to come next week about our trip to Oklahoma. 

    Just when the coast looked clear for 2022 to be a year filled with long-delayed travel, Omicron decides to ruin the party. It’s too early to tell whether this will be a slight hiccup on our way through this pandemic, or something more serious.

    The stock market certainly wasn’t a fan of the news about a new variant as companies with economic sensitivity dropped this week. However, to keep it in perspective the S&P 500 is only down 4% from its highs as I write this. 

    Safe Travels,

    David


    Travel

    Now, more than ever, travel information is crucial when planning a trip and while you’re traveling. I couldn’t find a good resource that compiled all of this information, so I created one. I just completed an update: Coronavirus Travel Advice – a Resource Guide for 2022.

    If you’ve ever wondered how to best use your points or miles, Nerdwallet has put together an extremely useful tool that will show you exactly what to do. Should you transfer your points to another airline for the best deal? Which airline has the most attractive rewards chart for your destination? I highly recommend you check out this valuable resource.  

    Are you using the Hopper app? If not, you should be. I’m always on the lookout for new websites or apps to reduce the cost of travel and I’m surprised at how often Hopper has the best flight/hotel prices. The app will also alert you if it thinks prices will decline or if you should buy right away. 


    Retirement

    Greece – the food, the history, the weather, and that Mediterranean lifestyle. What’s not to like? Have you considered Corfu or Crete? Maybe you should? Here’s an article that highlights the benefits of both locations. 

    If you’re a connoisseur of retirement books like me, you’ll appreciate this fantastic “best of” list put together by retirement expert Fritz Gilbert.  


    Investing

    The 10-Year Treasury yield has increased by 1% or more fourteen times since 1950. Here’s how the stock market performed.


    Did you miss the last issue of The Uncommon Path? If so, you have a second chance to catch up on:

    • You can contribute more money to your 401k in 2022!
    • There’s a new premium travel rewards card from CapitalOne
    • Want to retire abroad? Here’s an article with some unusual locations
    • The best travel books of 2021

    Prefer to receive my newsletter in your inbox?

    You’ll not only be signed up for my newsletter which is published twice a month, but you’ll also get a PDF that shows you exactly what a comprehensive retirement plan for people who love to travel is all about. Thanks for reading!

     

     
     
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    Financial Advisor David Tuzzolino

    David Tuzzolino, CFA, CFP®, is the Founder and CEO of PathBridge Financial, a firm that specializes in providing comprehensive financial planning and investment management services for clients that are nearing retirement and love to travel.

     

     

    Three Ways to Reduce Your Pennsylvania State Taxes and Save More Money

    Federal taxes get a lot of attention, but what you pay in state taxes is a big part of your tax bill, too. For Pennsylvania residents, there are some strategies that can both reduce this bill and help you meet other financial goals.

    This article covers Roth conversions, capital losses, and the PA 529 plan, which are three areas of the Pennsylvania tax code that can save you a lot of money if you understand them, or cost you a lot more if you don’t. While I’m not a tax expert, and this is not an exhaustive list of money-saving opportunities, I often run into these three less-known situations when helping my clients avoid unnecessary taxes. 

    Disclaimer: These tax strategies are complex and contain many nuances. Please check with your tax advisor before implementing any of the strategies presented to see if they apply to your specific situation.

    Does Pennsylvania Tax Roth IRA Conversions?

    Roth IRA conversions are one of the most attractive opportunities available to save on federal taxes if you have significant assets in tax-deferred retirement plans.

    Why is a Roth conversion so attractive? It allows you to pay taxes when you’re in a lower tax bracket.

    There is often a significant drop in income for retirees between their retirement date and when they start taking social security or are forced to take required minimum distributions (RMDs) from their retirement accounts. If you retire at age 55 and wait to take social security until age 70, you could have 15 years of depressed income. This period is the sweet spot for Roth conversions.

    The conversion process involves taking money from tax-deferred retirement accounts, paying taxes at the federal income tax rate, and putting the money into a Roth IRA account. Your money will then grow tax-free, can be withdrawn tax-free, and there will be no estate tax at the federal level for these accounts. In addition, Roth IRAs are not subject to required minimum distributions, which gives you more control over your income levels. Unfortunately, PA has an inheritance tax that can be as high as 15% depending on your relationship to the deceased, but that’s a topic for another day and doesn’t change the attractiveness of a conversion.  Refer to the 5-year rule for exceptions and limitations involving conversions.

    Unlike the federal government, Pennsylvania does not allow you to put money into a retirement account tax-free. You will pay a 3.07% tax when you first contribute to any retirement account. The state will also tax you on any IRA gains if withdrawn before their official retirement age of 59 ½.

    The critical distinction to remember is:

                  A Roth conversion performed before age 59 ½ will be subject to the 3.07% Pennsylvania tax.

                  A Roth conversion performed after age 59 ½ will not be subject to the 3.07% Pennsylvania tax.

    This difference can cost you thousands of dollars. When completing a Roth conversion, there are many factors to consider, including the timing of income, your current federal tax bracket, and your expectations of future tax rates. However, don’t forget to include the Pennsylvania 3.07% tax into any decision you make if converting to a Roth IRA before 59 ½.  

    Can I Carry Forward Capital Losses in Pennsylvania?

    The federal government allows you to carry forward capital losses. A $100,000 loss generated by selling a stock can be carried forward into future years. If you have a $100,000 capital gain the following year, it washes out, and you pay nothing in federal taxes.

    Pennsylvania, however, does not allow residents to carry forward a loss into future years to offset gains. Instead, you lose it if it’s not used in the year it is generated. In this example, you will owe state tax on the $100,000 in capital gains in year two. That’s a $3,070 check.

    How do you avoid losing this potential deduction and pay less state tax? As long as it doesn’t adversely affect your federal state taxes, such as generating a short-term gain now or in the future, it often makes sense to sell a stock with capital gains in the same year. Also, there is no 60-day wash rule when it comes to generating capital gains. You can immediately buy back your investment. However, keep in mind your one-year holding period to achieve long-term capital gains will reset. 

    Caveats:

    • You don’t want to convert long-term capital gains into short-term capital gains and pay more in federal taxes
    • Consider the impact this might have on dividend-paying stocks and the taxation of dividends
    • You can apply $3,000 in capital losses to earned income at the federal level, so you may not want to offset capital losses completely
    • Always weigh the tax implications on both a federal and state level before making any decisions
    • Capital gains and losses do not offset for spouses at the state level

    Of all the topics discussed in this article, capital gains and losses may be the most intricate. Please do your homework and check with your tax advisor before making any decisions.

    How Does the PA 529 Plan Tax Deduction Work?

    The following discussion only applies to PA 529 plans. You can read about the difference between this plan and out-of-state plans here.  Like the other topics in this article, I recommend you talk to an expert to determine the best alternatives for your specific situation.

    There are many ways to save money for your child’s education, and a 529 plan is one of the most popular alternatives. Benefits include no Pennsylvania state tax on contributions, the growth of assets, or withdrawals. Because of this triple-tax-free treatment, it usually makes sense to run all applicable education expenses through your 529 plan.

    The money you contribute can be withdrawn in approximately ten days, so even if your student is near the end of their college experience and your 529 plan has run low on funds, or has been completely drained, it can benefit you to make payments through the plan. You’ll avoid the 3.07% Pennsylvania tax and have more money to pay college tuition.

    Conclusion

    Planning for retirement is a process often filled with compromises and sacrifices. So it’s especially sweet when you can save thousands of dollars by deftly navigating tax laws. While federal tax laws get most of the attention, understanding Pennsylvania tax laws is just as important. Sometimes no compromises or sacrifices are necessary to save thousands of dollars, just some well-applied knowledge.


    Your questions about planning for retirement and travel answered. Where to go? What to do? How to plan it? How to afford it?

    You’ll not only be signed up for my newsletter, but you’ll also get a PDF that shows you exactly what a comprehensive retirement plan for people who love to travel is all about. Thanks for reading!

     

     
     
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    Financial Advisor David Tuzzolino

     

    David Tuzzolino, CFA, CFP®, is the Founder and CEO of PathBridge Financial, a firm that specializes in providing comprehensive financial planning and investment management services for clients that are nearing retirement and love to travel.

    Does My Health Insurance Cover International Travel?

    Passport on a blue suitcase

    Planning an international trip is an exciting experience. Where to go? What to do? Where to stay? However, overlooking vital questions about safety, logistics, and money, is a mistake.

    One critical question you must ask – Will my health insurance cover me? Like most things in personal finance, it depends. I’ve laid out the different scenarios below for your review.

    Pre-Medicare:

    If you are too young for Medicare, you likely have a policy through your employer, the Health Insurance Marketplace, or a private insurance company. Each policy will be different, so I recommend locating your policy documents to review and your insurance company’s customer service number to investigate any questions you may have.

    Emergencies:

    You should be covered for medical emergencies in another country. However, you must check with your insurance company before you leave to verify. Even if you’re covered, there will most likely be differences between receiving care at home and internationally.

    Check your policy for exclusions based on travel destination or activity. If you plan to go skydiving in a war-torn country, a standard health insurance policy will not cover you. Also, check for any additional exclusions that may be contained in your policy.

    Your insurance provider will want to be contacted as soon as possible by you or a travel companion if there is an emergency. Often within the first 24 hours, so carry their number with you.

    Expect to pay for emergency services out of pocket in a foreign country. Your insurance company will then reimburse you for all covered expenses at a later date.

    If you are taking an extended international trip, check how long your coverage will last. It will not be an infinite amount of time. A quick look at my health insurance policy shows coverage for the first 90 days of travel.

    If your health insurance coverage is inadequate in any area, add supplemental insurance. If you have a travel credit card, it may offer some coverage. As always, read the fine print.

    You can also buy a separate travel health insurance policy. Decide whether you need a primary or a supplemental plan and for how long you will need it. Insurance can be purchased for a single trip, multiple trips, or on a continuous basis. Before buying, check for the same exclusions discussed earlier. Some policies cover pre-existing conditions, and some do not. You can decide whether this is important to you, but make sure the policy’s terms meet your needs. Also, if you’re concerned about pandemics, make sure they are covered.

    If you want to compare travel insurance plans, the Point’s Guy website has a list of recommended insurance providers that is frequently updated. Shop for policies based on fit, reputation and financial strength of the policy writer, and price.

    American Express Travel Insurance has a nice feature where you can customize a policy to meet your insurance needs. For example, you can obtain travel health insurance without paying for other types of coverage you may not need, such as trip cancellation or baggage protection.

    Non-Emergencies

    Your U.S. health insurance will most likely not cover you for non-emergencies in a foreign country. Always check your policy or call your insurance company to get the details.

    Even if your health insurance does not cover an in-person visit with a doctor in a non-emergency situation, it might offer telehealth services. These services are convenient and becoming more common, fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Telehealth patient consults with a doctor online

    An added bonus of using remote services is you can sometimes speak with your doctor back home, who knows your medical history. A U.S. doctor can send a prescription to a foreign country such as Canada in some instances. Or your doctor can recommend a drug where a prescription is not needed.

    Each country has its own rules and regulations regarding health care. In some countries, pharmacists can write prescriptions or recommend over-the-counter options. Other alternatives are clinics or a visit with a local doctor. Foreign health care costs can vary widely depending on the country, so always ask about prices before receiving treatment in a non-emergency situation.

    If you have a travel insurance plan, the company will have a phone number for you to call. The company will help you receive the medical care you need and make a stressful situation better by organizing your care. It may make your life much easier if your first step is to call your travel insurance provider.

    Medicare

    Emergencies

    Original Medicare will not cover you when traveling outside of the U.S. unless you find yourself in a few narrowly-defined situations. Medicare Advantage plans may offer coverage, but this is dependent on the policy you have – check your paperwork. Some Medigap plans will cover you while traveling during your first 60 days. Be careful, though, as not all Medigap plans offer international coverage, and there is a lifetime limit of $50,000 for those that do. Expect to be reimbursed for emergency care after the fact.

    If you need supplemental insurance, there are many travel health insurance options, including ones specifically targeted to seniors using Medicare. The travel insurance alternatives discussed earlier apply here as well. These policies are critical for international travelers that aren’t covered by their regular health insurance or will be traveling past their plan’s cut-off date.  

    Non-Emergencies

    The non-emergency information discussed previously applies to travelers on Medicare as well. Access to health care becomes even more important the older we get, so Medicare participants should take extra care to ensure there are no holes in their coverage when traveling.  

    Medical Evacuation

    I want to highlight the importance of medical evacuation insurance. It can be part of a travel insurance policy or can be purchased on its own. Medical evacuation insurance covers the cost of getting you to a medical facility for treatment in the case of an emergency. Some plans also cover transportation home once you are stable, which can be of significant importance when traveling internationally. Make sure the policy you choose includes the exact coverage you want.

    A medical evacuation can be expensive. It can run well over $100,000, and the more remote your location, the more costly an evacuation can be.

    Yellow medical helicopter

    Unlike some less-important parts of travel insurance that might cover inconveniences such as lost luggage or a trip delay, medical evacuation insurance can help you avoid a catastrophic blow to your health and finances.

    Medical evacuation insurance is included in some travel insurance policies. It is also a perk offered in some higher-end credit cards marketed to travelers. If neither of these options suits your needs, stand-alone medical evacuation policies are available for either a single trip or on an annual basis.

    As with all types of insurance, read the fine print. Make sure you are comfortable with the limits on your medical evacuation policy. Understand the conditions for when it will kick in and who makes the decisions on where you will be transported. Policies often have exclusions on locations, activities, and pre-existing conditions, so be aware of these limitations and find a plan that will cover your unique situation.

    Summary

    Don’t assume your health insurance will transfer seamlessly to international travel. Fill in any gaps in your coverage through travel health insurance that meets your needs. Don’t forget medical evacuation insurance, especially if you travel to a destination with poor health care facilities or is remote. As always, check each policy you are considering carefully, ensuring you understand the benefits and exclusions that apply.


    Your questions about planning for retirement and travel answered. Where to go? What to do? How to plan it? How to afford it?

    You’ll not only be signed up for my newsletter, but you’ll also get a PDF that shows you exactly what a comprehensive retirement plan for people who love to travel is all about. Thanks for reading!

     

     
     
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    Financial Advisor David Tuzzolino

     

    David Tuzzolino, CFA, CFP®, is the Founder and CEO of PathBridge Financial, a firm that specializes in providing comprehensive financial planning and investment management services for clients that are nearing retirement and love to travel.

    Does My Health Insurance Cover Travel to Another State?

    Does My Health Insurance Cover Travel to Another State?

    There’s no better way to clear a room than to start talking about health insurance. However, it becomes a little more interesting when your health is at risk, and it’s desperately needed. This article is the first in a series that covers health insurance for travelers. I’ll explore scenarios that range from the occasional U.S. vacationer to long-term ex-pat and explain what type of insurance you’ll need in each instance.

    Vacations in the U.S.

    Pre-Medicare:

    If you are younger than 65 and have health insurance, it will most likely be through your employer, the Health Insurance Marketplace, or a private health insurance company. It’s always smart to check your policy before a vacation to verify you’re covered at your destination. I’ll try not to harp on this recommendation repeatedly, but each insurance policy is different, and you must refer to it for any questions you might have. I know reading through an insurance policy is the equivalent of chewing tinfoil, but it’s necessary. If you want to save time, call your insurance company’s customer service line and ask them any question on your mind – but if you’re paranoid like me, make sure they point you to the wording in your policy that confirms their answers.

    Emergencies:

    The good news is your health insurance policy should cover you in the case of an emergency as long as you are in the U.S. or its territories. HealthCare.gov defines an emergency as – “An illness, injury, symptom or condition so serious that a reasonable person would seek care right away to avoid severe harm.” All health care policies in the U.S. should have similar language.

    Sometimes you might get a surprise bill after receiving emergency treatment out of state.

    Surprise Bill Balance Billing

    This occurs when your insurance company is unwilling to pay the entire amount charged for the services you received. This procedure is called balance billing, and it happens approximately 20% of the time in emergencies. The good news is recent legislation has eliminated it starting in 2022.

    Supplemental travel insurance can be purchased if you are concerned about receiving an unexpected bill before the law changes. You might also be covered for accidents through your travel credit card – check your agreement.

    There are currently state laws that apply to balance billing, and you can find state-by-state information here. Your state may outlaw the practice. If your state lacks legislation and you experience balance billing, there are steps to reduce or eliminate the bill you can find here.

    Non-Emergencies:

    Your coverage area for non-emergency health care will be outlined in your insurance policy. Your service area is often limited to your state or region. These restrictions shouldn’t be a major concern to the occasional traveler worried about being covered in an emergency.

    The COVID-19 pandemic has been a miserable experience, but a silver lining is improved telehealth technology and availability. You may be able to jump on a video conference with your doctor, receive a diagnosis, and even obtain a prescription, depending on state laws. Check with your health care provider for options.

    Medicare:

    Once you turn 65, you’re eligible for Medicare. Luckily, your situation simplifies as long as you remain in the United States.  

    Emergencies:

    Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage plans will cover you in an emergency throughout the U.S. and its territories. However, if you’re going on a cruise, consider supplemental insurance even if you’re staying in U.S. territorial waters.

    Non-Emergencies:

    As long as you visit doctors and hospitals that accept Medicare, you are covered in the U.S. and its territories for non-emergency care when traveling. Medicare also covers telehealth services if you’d like to work with your doctor from home.

    Summary

    Before traveling, check your health insurance policy and make sure you’re covered in your destination. Any holes in coverage can be filled with a travel insurance policy or potentially with your credit card. It also makes sense to familiarize yourself with the telehealth services offered by your doctor.


    Your questions about planning for retirement and travel answered. Where to go? What to do? How to plan it? How to afford it?

    You’ll not only be signed up for my newsletter, but you’ll also get a PDF that shows you exactly what a comprehensive retirement plan for people who love to travel is all about. Thanks for reading!

     

     
     
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    Financial Advisor David Tuzzolino

     

    David Tuzzolino, CFA, CFP®, is the Founder and CEO of PathBridge Financial, a firm that specializes in providing comprehensive financial planning and investment management services for clients that are nearing retirement and love to travel.

    What Will Travel Look Like in 2021?

    A pay telescope with New York City in the Background

    Some experts believe there will be a slow recovery as newly-vaccinated travelers cautiously test the waters. I think this outlook is wrong – it’s too conservative if the early signs of recovery gain momentum.

    Wanderlust is building, and I’m feeling it myself. I know I’m tired of staring at the same four walls of my home, with an occasional trip to the grocery store or a restaurant to pick up food.  Armed with a vaccine, I will travel. I’m not alone.

    How do I know others are dreaming of a return to travel? 90% of participants in the Generali Global Assistance Holiday/2021 Travel Sentiment Survey indicated they’d be traveling for leisure in 2021.

    Answering a survey is one thing, but taking action, like booking a cruise, is another. In September, Carnival, one of the world’s largest cruise lines, announced 2021 second-half bookings were at “…the higher end of the historical range…”.

    So how do you prepare for travel in 2021, keeping in mind it could rebound quickly? The first question is…

    Are you comfortable traveling?

    Your comfort level with traveling is going to be fluid this year. It will change depending on whether you’ve received a vaccine or not and the overall number of COVID-19 cases in your area.

    There is no right answer when it comes to comfort level, and it may be even more complicated when making plans with family and friends as there may be varying levels.

    Decisions you will have to make include how to get to your destination? Are you comfortable flying in a small, metal tube packed with hundreds of strangers? Or do you prefer the family sedan packed with your hygienically-challenged teenagers?

    Road Trip - Feet out the window

    Where will you stay? An Airbnb can offer a contactless experience, where you won’t have to interact with employees or other guests. Some hotels and motels provide this option as well.

    Are you comfortable with riding up twenty floors in an elevator with other guests? You can try to catch only empty elevators, but there are no guarantees. Or would you be more comfortable in a motel with direct outdoor access?

    Other factors to consider are cleanliness, price, and amenities that may, or may not, be available. 

    How do you feel about being near large groups of people? A trip to the city will put you in close contact with others, whereas you might not see another soul if you vacation in the country.  

    Stay informed

    Even as the pandemic lessens, there will be areas where it may not be contained. Gauge the safety of any destination and make sure there are no restrictions in place for visitors.

    If you’re traveling internationally, many countries will demand proof you’ve been vaccinated, make quarantines mandatory, and test you on arrival. Make sure you’re aware of the current procedures in place, and then double-check them. An internationally accepted proof of vaccination has not been approved, so make sure you have proof that is acceptable to the countries you plan to visit.

    Put together a detailed itinerary and make sure the places you want to visit are open and operating hours fit your schedule.

    Where do you find all of this information? I’ve put together a resource that is a good starting point, and you can find it here:  Coronavirus Travel Advice – a Resource Guide.

    Book early, but book wisely

    If my prediction of a strong travel rebound is accurate, you’ll want to book as early as possible. Supply will overwhelm demand at some point, and prices are going to rise dramatically. However, this is with the caveat of making sure everything is refundable or covered by insurance through a credit card or separate policy.

    Consider using miles to book your trip. Purchases of airfare and hotels using miles are generally refundable but check the fine print. Another reason to use miles is the travel industry is struggling, and these miles may be devalued.

    Budget

    Has your spending dropped during the pandemic? Travel, dining out, festivals, sporting events, movies in theatres – have all been reduced dramatically in my life.

    Did someone say travel fund? Yes. That was me. It’s time to earmark some of your savings for a vacation if you were not harmed financially during the pandemic.

    I realize many people lost their jobs, and a vacation is the last thing on their minds, regardless of how much spending dropped. It still makes sense to start planning, even if the date is in the distant future.

    The simple act of planning a vacation can make you feel better. And who doesn’t want that right now?

    Photos, glassess and a book spread across a map - planning

    Putting together a detailed itinerary and budgeting for your future vacation will not only make you feel good, but you’ll be financially prepared. While you’re at it, consider tucking a little away into a tax-advantaged retirement account. (The retirement advisor in me couldn’t resist.)

    Do I need travel insurance?

    When you start to book your next trip, there will be a strong desire to buy travel insurance. The coronavirus will weigh heavily on the decision. However, before you load up on insurance you might not need, ask yourself if it makes sense in your situation.

    Only buy insurance on non-refundable expenses. Check to see if big-ticket items like airfare and hotel are refundable and under what conditions. Will you get cash back or a voucher to use another time? Under what circumstances can you receive a refund?

    Read your credit card guide to benefits, or call customer service to see if you might be offered coverage. Credit cards targeted at frequent travelers often will cover parts of your trip.

    Your homeowner’s, auto, and renter’s insurance will also provide coverage in certain situations. Check your policies as they may cover your belongings while traveling

    There’s a big difference between losing some money and risking your health. Make sure you are covered for medical emergencies and medical evacuations above all else.

    After you determine what portions of your trip are already covered, calculate possible losses. You may find out the total you are liable for is minimal. Would you be comfortable losing this amount, and can you sleep at night without insurance? If the answer is yes to both of these questions, you should be able to skip travel insurance.

    For a more in-depth discussion on travel insurance and whether you need it, you can refer to my article: Do I Need Travel Insurance?

    Too soon?

    I debated whether it was a good time to write this article. Too soon? However, I firmly believe we will be traveling again in 2021. I could be wrong, but sometimes it pays to be an optimist when planning for the future. Remember to stay informed, book early, budget wisely, and use travel insurance only when needed. Safe travels!


    Your questions about planning for retirement and travel answered. Where to go? What to do? How to plan it? How to afford it?

    You’ll not only be signed up for my newsletter, but you’ll also get a PDF that shows you exactly what a comprehensive retirement plan for people who love to travel is all about. Thanks for reading!

     

     
     
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    Financial Advisor David Tuzzolino

     

    David Tuzzolino, CFA, CFP®, is the Founder and CEO of PathBridge Financial, a firm that specializes in providing comprehensive financial planning and investment management services for clients that are nearing retirement and love to travel.

    Adios 2020 – 5 Lessons, Best Travel Photos of the Year, and a Rollercoaster on a Cruise Ship? – Links

    Path bridge snow

    It’s the end of 2020, not what I was expecting when I rang in the New Year. My way of life changed dramatically for the worst in some ways, as traveling came to a halt and I grew a terrible beard. However, financially I’ve never looked better as the stock market soared and my spending dropped drastically. (It’s amazing how good your budget can look when you don’t go anywhere.) Unchanged, was my business, which didn’t miss a beat as I can work from anywhere with little adjustment. I realize this isn’t possible for everyone, and I feel very fortunate. Lastly, and most importantly, my health and that of my family is good.

    I’d prefer 2021 to be a bit more festive. I’m looking forward to some second-half of the year travel assuming vaccines go as planned. I have some canceled vacations I’d like to bring back to life and some family members I’d like to hug. That’s enough of my rambling…

    I hope everyone has a very happy New Year! 


    Retirement

    If you’re not following me on LinkedIn, now’s your chance! I’ve put together some new content and my intentions are to post daily (if I can keep it up) about planning for retirement and travel. I’ll attempt some humor along the way to try and keep it from being stuffy and just another financial planning lecture. Here’s my profile where you can connect. 

    5 Things We Learned About Retirement Planning and Travel in 2020 – (PBF)

    The old saying goes – “No sailor learned anything in calm seas.” Given 2020 was the equivalent of a hurricane, here are the most important lessons of the year.


    Travel

    Comprehensive article on how 2021 might look in terms of travel – (NY Times)

    The article goes in-depth into international travel, spending time on a cruise ship, traveling with children, business trips, and more. It will make you think about all the possible issues that might arise. It’s much more complex than get a vaccine – jump on a plane to Europe.

    Best travel photos of 2020 – (Worlds Nomads)

    Dreaming of travel in 2021? These travel photos of 2020 will get you in the right frame of mind.

    The newest cruise ship from Carnival – (Bloomberg)

    It may be a while, but at 1.5 times the size of Carnival’s next largest ship, it will be worth the wait. My guess is the Mardi Gras will be filled and collecting premium prices from cruisers within a year or two. Honestly, how do you pass up the chance to ride a roller coaster on the top of a cruise ship?


    Your questions about planning for retirement and travel answered. Where to go? What to do? How to plan it? How to afford it?

    You’ll not only be signed up for my newsletter, but you’ll also get a PDF that shows you exactly what a comprehensive retirement plan for people who love to travel is all about. Thanks for reading!

     

     
     
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    Financial Advisor David Tuzzolino

    David Tuzzolino, CFA, CFP®, is the Founder and CEO of PathBridge Financial, a firm that specializes in providing comprehensive financial planning and investment management services for clients that are nearing retirement and love to travel.

    5 Things We Learned About Retirement Planning and Travel in 2020

    A Shopping Cart filled with toilet paper

    2020 is almost over. It seems like a bigger than normal celebration is in order, but ironically, the usual New Year’s festivities will be muted. Lockdown orders and an unwillingness to gather in crowds will do that.

    You can’t live through such a unique year without learning something. Maybe it was how to make a mask with an old t-shirt and duct tape, or perhaps it was how to time deliveries at your local supermarket so you could hoard Clorox Wipes.

    What have I learned? I’m glad you asked.

    Do it now

    “The future is promised to no one.”

    A great quote that either came from the Bible, Clint Eastwood, or Walter Payton – Google seems confused. Regardless, 2020 reinforced this concept with the subtlety of a tire iron to the knee.

    Globally there have been 1.6 million poor souls that have died from COVID-19 – a tragic number that continues to climb and a stark reminder that tomorrow is not guaranteed.

    So, do it now. Whatever you’ve been putting off, do it now. Of course, now doesn’t necessarily mean this instant. Do it as soon as it’s reasonably safe. Time with loved ones, long-delayed retirement planning, bucket-list travel – whatever you’ve been putting off. If it’s important to you, 2020 should be that gentle forceful push to get you moving.

    A large elephant nudges a baby elephant from behind

    Don’t try to time the market

    Sure, it’s easy. Sell high and buy low.

    When you’re unemotionally scanning a long-term chart of the S&P 500 in your pajamas, with hot cocoa by your side, the 2020 market drop seems like a tiny blip. Living through it was quite different. With a pandemic raging in the world and global stock markets plunging, opening a newspaper (or news website of your choice) delivered headlines like this:

    Coronavirus Rescue Package Fails to Clear Hurdle in Senate

    IOC Considers Postponing Tokyo Olympic Games

    Coronavirus Hits U.S. Senate as Rand Paul Tests Positive

    Marriott, Hotel Owners Furlough Thousands of Workers, Cut Staff

    And my favorite :

    The Great Toilet Paper Scare

    These articles appeared in the March 22nd edition of The Wall Street Journal – the day before the S&P 500 bottomed.

    Successfully timing the 2020 market involved two trades – selling before the most rapid bear market in history and buying before the fastest recovery. I’m sure everyone has an uncle who brags about how they nailed it to the day, but for most, coming out ahead navigating this market was extremely difficult.

    How hard is market timing? The September 2007 article “Mutual Fund Flows and Investor Returns: An Empirical Examination of Fund Investor Timing Ability” measured mutual fund investors’ performance from 1991-2004. Investor timing decisions caused them to average returns that were 1.56% lower each year than they could have been. Compounded over a lifetime, this is a crippling blow to an investor’s net worth.

    There is undoubtedly an investment guru who sidestepped the crash nimbly and then bought aggressively at the bottom. You’ll hear all about their genius. Don’t be impressed until they do it a second time.

    The best course of action? Keep diligently adding to your retirement accounts. You’ll buy more at lower prices, and your nest egg will thank you. Buy and hold investing works.

    The emergency fund became sexy

    For most people, the emergency fund is boring. It’s a pile of cash in a high-yielding account (try to control your laughter, these used to exist) that sits there unloved. That’s until a once-in-a-generation pandemic sweeps the globe and leaves financial destruction in its wake.

    Financial planning 101 – save 3-6 months of expenses for a rainy day. And every so often, a torrential downpour like 2020 comes along to make you happy you did. 

    Woman stands in pouring rain with umbrella

    If you made it through the year with your job, you were one of the lucky ones. Nearly 16 million Americans were not so fortunate.

    I’ve written many times that the emergency fund is not sexy, but it’s critical when you need it. It can reduce stress and give you extra time to weigh your options when an emergency strikes.

    Retirement may come earlier than you think

    “First time in nearly 50 years people 55 and over have lost jobs at a higher rate than younger peers” – AARP

    Unemployment has hit older workers hard during a time in their lives traditionally used to shore up retirement savings. These high-income years, paired with the ability to make catch-up contributions, are often instrumental to the financial success of a retirement plan.

    Whether it’s companies trying to cull well-compensated employees, or other forms of ageism, this development is unsettling. It may become the normal course of action when future economic shocks hit the economy.

    Even in good times, older workers often leave the workplace earlier than planned. Issues such as health or caring for loved ones can cut short a career.

    The pandemic is a harsh reminder that plans don’t always go as expected.

    The best way to prepare for the unexpected is to develop a retirement plan early and fund it aggressively. If you’d like to retire the day you reach 65, put together a plan that shaves a few years off that number. It’s better to save as if you’re going to retire a few years sooner than desired because early retirement may come whether you want it to or not.

    Another benefit of conservatively preparing for a premature exit is your employer may offer an early retirement package. You will be in a better position to accept an attractive offer. Also, early retirement packages can precede layoffs, so it’s nice to have options.

    Prepare for the future

    A good plan is most valuable when the world around you is falling apart. How did 2020 treat your plan?

    If it’s important to you, plan for it. Put together a budget for expenses, review your insurance policies, make sure your beneficiaries are up to date, and your will remains true to your wishes. It’s too late to come up with a well-conceived plan when you’re in the middle of a crisis.

    If you love to travel, now’s the time to plan your future adventures. Figure out where you want to go, what you want to do, and when you want to do it. Sure, you’ve always had the dream of an African safari sometime later in life, but now’s the time to put a date on it.

    Safari at Sunset

    If you’re not doing it already, include travel in your retirement budget. Most people want to travel when they are done working, but most don’t budget for it. (Financial advisor hint: It can be expensive.)

    Not to make this into a commercial, but now’s the time to put together a comprehensive financial plan. If you have the time, knowledge, and desire to do it yourself, I highly encourage you to go for it. If you need help, find a fee-only financial advisor who will help you with it.

    Conclusion

    The pandemic we are living through is miserable in so many ways. However, the worst thing to do is not learn from it. The last nine months have been a painful time for many, but the experience may ultimately help us all make better decisions and lead a more rewarding life.


    Your questions about planning for retirement and travel answered. Where to go? What to do? How to plan it? How to afford it?

    You’ll not only be signed up for my newsletter, but you’ll also get a PDF that shows you exactly what a comprehensive retirement plan for people who love to travel is all about. Thanks for reading!

     

     
     
  • *Privacy policy: your email address is safe, and you will never receive SPAM.

    Financial Advisor David Tuzzolino

     

    David Tuzzolino, CFA, CFP®, is the Founder and CEO of PathBridge Financial, a firm that specializes in providing comprehensive financial planning and investment management services for clients that are nearing retirement and love to travel.

    A First-Hand Account of Quarantining Caribbean Island Style, 7 Ways to Find Free Money, and More! – Links

    A stone Path Bridge in Central Park covered in snow

    If you find yourself with some free time this holiday season, there’s no better way to spend it than looking for some “Sidewalk Money”. Meb Faber walks you through seven ways you might be able to find some serious coin. While not as lucrative, I’ve included an additional half dozen articles that should be worth your time. I won’t be back with more links until after Christmas, so if you’re celebrating…Merry Christmas!


    New Graduates

    7 Financial Tips for College Grads in 2020 – (PBF)

    It’s the time of year for newly-minted college graduates. If you have one in your life, they may be wondering where to begin financially. Here’s an article highlighting seven tips that will benefit all graduates.


    Retirement

    Instead of drinking a fourth glass of egg nog this holiday season, consider spending an hour or two searching for “Sidewalk Money” – (Meb Faber)

    Meb presents 7 ways to find “free money”. Most take 15 minutes or less. What have you got to lose? I’ll tell you what you’ve got to lose – nothing!

    The pandemic is another reason to expect an earlier “retirement” then planned – (Forbes)

    Putting together a comprehensive financial plan with a retirement plan of 65 sounds like a fantastic idea. But what happens when a pandemic, ageism, or health issues smack you in the face and retirement comes sooner than expected? When planning it’s always a good idea to move your expected retirement age forward a few years to account for unpleasant surprises. It also puts you in a position to accept a generous early retirement package if it comes along.

    Lessons learned from three years of retirement – (CanIRetireYet?)

    “You won’t do it in retirement if you’re not doing it now.”


    Travel

    Want to quarantine on a Caribbean island? – (CondeNastTraveler)

    Here’s how to do it in a resort on the island of Grenada, at a hotel which…refers to quarantining there as “vacationing in place.” A hotel room in paradise is a fantastic place to quarantine – until it isn’t. 

    Trips you may want to book a year in advance – (ThePointsGuy)

    Safaris, French Polynesia, a cruise to Antarctica…all vacations you should consider planning a year in advance. My guess is that bucket-list travel will be in high demand once it is safe to travel again. You might want to prepare in advance, just make sure everything is fully refundable.


    Podcasts

    Top podcasts of 2020 compiled by The Idea Farm– (Spotify)

    If you’ve got some holiday downtime and you enjoy listening to podcasts about markets, investing, and general business ideas – this is the list for you!


    Your questions about planning for retirement and travel answered. Where to go? What to do? How to plan it? How to afford it?

    You’ll not only be signed up for my newsletter, but you’ll also get a PDF that shows you exactly what a comprehensive retirement plan for people who love to travel is all about. Thanks for reading!

     

     
     
  • *Privacy policy: your email address is safe, and you will never receive SPAM.

     

    Financial Advisor David Tuzzolino

    David Tuzzolino, CFA, CFP®, is the Founder and CEO of PathBridge Financial, a firm that specializes in providing comprehensive financial planning and investment management services for clients that are nearing retirement and love to travel.