Summer Break: Protect Yourself Before You Travel

It’s that time of year when the kids are off school, and families travel to their favorite destinations. It’s Summer Break!

So while you’re planning the trip of a lifetime for the whole family, make sure you have all your bases covered. That includes protection in case the unthinkable, such as an accident or severe illness, were to happen.

Keep yourself prepared by purchasing insurance. There are many different ways to ensure your family’s protection whether you’re traveling in the US or abroad. Here are a few common types of insurance to consider before you step out the door.

Travel Insurance

Travellers insurance covers a wide range of “what ifs,” from lost luggage to injury-related incidences. Here is a basic summary of what travel insurance can include:

Trip Cancellation: Certain packages will include trip cancellation coverage. If for some reason you need to cancel your trip or cut your vacation short because something unforeseen comes up, this insurance will cover the cost of otherwise non-refundable expenses, such as hotel bookings. But make sure to read the authorized reasons for cancelling a trip.

Luggage Coverage: Sometimes your luggage doesn’t make it to your destination on time, or it just doesn’t make it at all. Some travel insurance packages have luggage coverage if your belongings are lost, damaged or stolen on your trip.

Medical Coverage: If you become ill or are seriously injured while travelling, the expenses could be thousands of dollars. For this reason, it’s crucial to have health coverage, whether that means purchasing insurance for your trip, or confirming with your current health plan if you need approval for any certain type of care. If you choose to purchase insurance for your trip, there are two common types: travel medical insurance for short trips, and major medical for stays of six months or longer.

There are many other reasons to purchase travel insurance before you leave. For example, some policies provide coverage if severe weather damages your destination. You can even get coverage for a lost passport, which would help speed up the process of replacing it.

Life Insurance

If you don’t already have a life insurance policy, you should strongly consider getting one before you leave. Just as travel insurance prepares you for the unexpected while on vacation, life insurance prepares you for the unexpected in life.

You plan for a safe trip, but in reality, some circumstances are beyond your control. Life insurance can provide financial protection for you and your entire family. If you were to pass away unexpectedly, life insurance could cover the cost of funeral expenses or for the loss of income to help provide a financial cushion for your family during a difficult time.

There are many policies available to you, including term life insurance, which is very popular. Term insurance is coverage for a set period, after which you have the option to renew the policy.

Before you leave for your trip, talk to your insurance professional to help find a trustworthy insurer with options that best suit your needs.

Other Protection Tips

There are other things you can do to help protect you and your family while on vacation. A good idea is to make a copy of your passport and ID, and leave the copies behind with someone you trust or in a place that a friend or family member can access. This way, if your identification is stolen or lost, you have documentation.

Another tip is to only bring what you need, and this includes your wallet. It’s possible your wallet could get lost or stolen, so make sure you’re just carrying the cards you absolutely need.

So while you are planning your itinerary, make sure to add some of these tips to the checklist. Seriously consider travel and life insurance before you take off. Make sure you are going to a trusted company and are getting what you need.

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

Spring Clean Your Finances With 5 Easy Steps

Spring has been pretty much absent here in Michigan.  Last weekend we had an ice storm.  Temperatures have been about eight degrees below average for the month.  Snow showers and accumulations are still a regular occurrence.  Still, spring has to come sometime, right?   We’re still hoping.  But, even if the weather isn’t cooperating, spring is still on the calendar.  Now’s a perfect time to spring clean your finances.  Here are a few easy tips to get started.

Calculate Your Net Worth

We calculate our net worth every month, so this is easy.  But if you don’t do this regularly, now’s the perfect time.  Net worth is an easy calculation.  Simply add up all of your assets.  Then add up all of your debts.  Subtract debts from assets and that is your net worth!

Compare Net Worth To Last Year If Possible

Hopefully you know your net worth from last year, in which case you can do a comparison.  If you’re doing things right, the number is higher. If so, celebrate.  Keeping regular comparison points along the way will help show you how things are going.

If you don’t have last year’s number handy, don’t fret.  Simply mark down this year’s and do the comparison next year.  It’s never too late to get started!

Run A Credit Report

You get three free credit reports per year, one from each of the major bureaus.  Now is a perfect time to run one of your free reports.  Ideally, run one report every four months, rotating between the three.

When you get your report, look through it line by line.  Make sure you recognize every account and that the balances make sense.  This will summarize what you owe and what you can potentially borrow.  It also helps to make sure nobody has opened any credit in your name unknowingly.  Plus, you can make sure there’s nothing that’s been forgotten about.

Check On Goals And Revise Them (Or Make New Ones)

If you’re like me, you set some financial goals at the beginning of the year.  Now’s a great time to check on those and see how you’re doing.  If any revisions are necessary, make them now.  Or, if you didn’t set any goals back in January, why not set some now?  It’s never too late.  Plus, you have eight months to get things done!

Clean Up Your Tax Documents

Tax season is behind us, and unless you filed an extension, your taxes should now be filed.  Now’s the time to make sure your tax records are in order.  You need the last seven years of records in the event of an audit.  Make sure you have all of those in one place and that they’re safely locked away.  We keep ours in a fireproof safe.

If you still want to keep your records beyond seven years, I absolutely think that’s a great idea.  But, make sure that you have the last seven years worth at hand.

What Spring Cleaning Do You Do?

It’s your turn.  What spring cleaning activities do you do for your finances?  Let me know in the comments below.

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

10 Things I Loved About Our Disney World Trip (And 2 I Didn’t)

We recently went down to Disney World.  This was the second time for our family. It was a great time.  We actually spent a few days in Florida at the beach, so it was like two trips in one!  It was a fantastic trip, for the most part.  Disney World can definitely be the most magical place on Earth, though magic means that you’re tired, that’s for sure.

Here are ten things I loved and two I didn’t.

Things We Loved

Our Hotel

We stayed at the Port Orleans French Quarter hotel.  This was our first time staying at a moderate.  We loved it.  Compared to just about every other resort, it’s very small.  The rooms aren’t decorated with Disney themed decor, but more New Orleans decor.  At first my 6-year old daughter was not impressed.  However, by the end of the trip, we were all in love.  It was a very peaceful and relaxing place to stay.  We took a stroll along the riverside, which was practically right outside our door.

We even got to save money here.  They offered us $10 in gift card credits if we would decline housekeeping.  We were glad to do this, and got a $40 gift card as a result.  Bonus!

Our Meal Plan

When we booked the trip, we were just going to pay as you go.  But, a few weeks ago we booked the meal plan.  This gives each person the following per day:

  • One table service meal
  • One quick service meal
  • Two snack credits

My wife did a lot of research and we definitely got good value for our plan. She booked us at some places that would have cost quite a bit out of pocket.  Plus, we got to try some amazing side dishes and deserts that would have cost quite a bit.  But, in the end, we had no regrets at all about this cost.

YouTube Videos

There are bloggers and vloggers that make a living dispensing Disney related advice.  I’m not lying.  And it’s good advice!  My wife spent the weeks leading up to the trip watching videos while on the treadmill each morning.  We learned a lot of fantastic things as result.  From places to eat (and to avoid) to travel tips, we learned a lot from different videos.  And best of all, it’s all free!

Travel Agent

On both of our trips, we used a travel agent, but this was a much better experience.  Our last agent really didn’t seem all that helpful.  She worked with us but never really seemed to got to know us.  The whole ‘blah’ experience was exemplified when she never followed up during the trip or afterward to see how things went.

For this trip, we found someone different, and she was, in a word, incredible!  Her name was Kelly from Simply Enchanted Travel.  (I get nothing back from referrals).  She was in constant touch with us before, during, and even after the trip.  She sent us this goodie bag before the trip, complete with a customized, bound itinerary handbook.  Booking through a travel agent doesn’t cost you any more than if you book things yourself.  So the cost savings is good to begin with, but it’s especially awesome when you find a great agent!

Great Wait Staff

One of the knocks on Disney World is that their dining experiences are often iffy.  Wait staff can be a big knock here.  But, for several of our ‘signature’ meals in the places we were looking forward to the most, the staff was awesome. This turned several really good sit-down meals into absolutely awesome meals.

Alcohol

The dining plan has recently been modified so that table service and quick service meals include an adult beverage.  After a long day at the park, this definitely was a nice little touch.  On our last trip, we often purchased a drink anyway, so this worked out very nicelly.

Fun Characters

Our kids are of the age (8 and 6) where meeting characters was still a big draw.  There were a few really fun characters that they’ll remember for a long time.  Olaf (from Frozen) acted scared of my son’s Darth Vader shirt.  Sadness (from Inside Out) was just perfect, making you want to do nothing more than give her hug after hug.  It’s really cool to see the characters that we all know ‘come to life’.

The Nighttime Castle Show

I can’t remember what’s it’s called, but they do a show at the Cinderella castle that’s amazing.  I grumbled at having to stake out our spot over an hour in advance, but it’s awesome.  The castle is transformed over and over again to capture moments from many Disney and Pixar movies.  There’s fireworks and music and it’s truly amazing.

The Love For Mickey & Minnie

On our last day, each kid got a stuffed character toy.  My son got Mickey Mouse and my daughter got Minnie.  After they got them, there were so many cast members (Disney workers) that would acknowledge them, waving or saying hello to Mickey and Minnie.  It always brought a smile to the kids faces.  It’s great to see the special love for the characters that got the whole thing started.

Flight of Passage

The hot ride across all four parks right now is Pandora: Flight of Passage.  It just opened last year and the wait times are always high, and the longest of any ride.  We got a Fast Pass for it so we got right on.  Both my wife and I agreed that we didn’t want to know anything about it.  As such, we avoided reading about it or having others tell us anything about it.

With that in mind, I won’t spoil any details, either, but I will say this: It. Was. Awesome.  I’ve been on a lot of different rides at different parks and this was definitely like no other.  It was absolutely breathtaking.

Things We Didn’t Love

There were a few things we could have lived without.  None of this took away from our overall experience, as we realize no trip is ever perfect.  Still, maybe this will help others in future planning.

Mission: Space

I’ve been on this ride before.  It’s where you get buckled into a simulated space ship and go for a training mission around Earth. It’s a pretty cool ride and was shaping up to be this time as well, when it abruptly stopped.  Something malfunctioned and we stopped moving.  Normally this wouldn’t be a big deal but you’re in a very, very enclosed space.  Like, you sit down, the shoulder harness comes down, and then the pod closes right on top of that.  Once we stopped, you quickly realize how you are trapped.

Luckily, we were only trapped for about ten minutes, but both my son and wife started getting upset, and we were extremely glad to get out. Disney did give us an extra fast pass to use for the trouble.  Still, all four of us agreed that we’ll definitely skip this one in the future.

Busy Season Is All The Time

Many people try to plan trips around how busy it gets.  A piece of advice: Don’t bother.  It’s busy all the time.  Disney is spending a lot of money on park upgrades and really focusing on revenue growth in this area.  They just opened Pandora last year.  Toy Story land will open this year.  Star Wars land will open next year.  These are all projects where they are spending hundreds of millions of dollars apiece.

With that in mind, they are working hard and succeeding at keeping the parks full.  Simply put, there is no time where things aren’t busy.  You will have to wait in line.  You’re going to be among crowds of people most of the time.  It’s unavoidable.  But, if you go in knowing what to expect, you’ll be fine.

That, and a great travel agent helps!

Have you been to a Disney park lately? Any plans?  Let me know in the comments below.

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

Why FIRE Never Would Have Worked In The Past

The latest buzzword in the personal finance community is FIRE.  Many of the most successful blogs now talk about FIRE.  For those that don’t know, FIRE stands for Financial Independence, Retire Early.  The blogging community now has many blogs where people achieve financial freedom at a young age, and can retire well before traditional retirement age.  Many boast of retiring in their 30’s.

This is a pretty cool movement, especially in the age where Millennials are breaking many of the molds created over years past.

I started thinking about it.  I came to the conclusion that FIRE probably wouldn’t have been embraced by generations past.

Here’s my take on what I think generational mindsets are regarding FIRE.

Millennials (born 1980-2000s)

I think that millennials are the heart of the FIRE movement.  Many don’t want the traditional life that they witnessed grown up.  This stands to reason that many millennials are at the heart of the FIRE movement.

Generation X (born 1965-1979)

This is probably the dividing line between acceptance of FIRE and skepticism.  Many in our generation have gone through enough recessions that we know things can change.  We’ve seen good times and bad.  The idea of FIRE sounds great, but many may see it as ‘too good to be true’.

Others in our generation still fall in the mindset that each generation should strive to be more successful than that prior.  This has been pretty hard for our generation.  There’s a lot more competition in the job market.  We’re the first generation that saw most of our parents get a pension, but very few of us will.  We have healthcare costs that previous generations did not.  For many in our generation, just trying to keep up with our parents is hard enough. Adding in the goal of early retirement can seem even further out of reach.

Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964)

The baby boomer generation was fueled by consumerism and prosperity.  A lot of wealth was built by boomers.  While making money wasn’t ‘easy’, boomers who worked hard found money flowed in.  For many boomers, making money and achieving wealth was the goal.  The big one.

Simply put, I think many boomers would have asked why they would give up making money when there was money to still be made?

Greatest & Silent Generations (born 1910-1945)

These generations were both impacted by the Great Depression.  Because of this, FIRE would simply not have made any sense to them.  Many here saw what it was like to struggle.  To have nothing.  Many people immigrated and started with nothing.  The idea of retiring early would have been unheard of.  For many in these generations, not having enough money was a giant fear.  Even if they had enough, there was always the fear of what could happen.  Why? Because many here had seen what could happen.

I think many in this generation would have been scornful of FIRE.  To people in this generation, if you were able bodied, you worked.  That’s just the way it was.

The Late 19th Century

In the late 19th century, everything was changing.  Machines were making things easier and creating worldwide growth. Cities and population centers were exploding.  There was so much to do that everybody had to pitch in.  The demands of the world were plentiful, and everybody was expected to pitch in.

I think in this era, anybody who would have attempted FIRE would have been laughed out of whatever town they lived in.

Tribal Days (Going Way Back)

Hundreds of years ago, when we lived in tribes, everybody contributed.  Many tribes expected every person to contribute.  If you couldn’t, many tribes expelled you.  Or worse.  There would have been no FIRE here.  If you had tried to stop working, the tribe would have taken what you have, and sent you away (or thrown you off a bridge).

Kind of makes working seem like a pretty good alternative, no?

FIRE Across The Generations

There’s my take on the generational acceptance of FIRE.  I think that FIRE is a big thing because it truly is a new concept for many.

What do you think of my thoughts? Do you agree on how prior generations would have looked upon FIRE?  What generation are you and what do you think of FIRE?  Let me know in the comments below.

 

 

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