Will Red Tide Ruin Our April 2019 Vacation?

For a couple of years now, we’ve enjoyed spring break in Florida.  We rent a condo and enjoy a week at the beach.  The building has a great pool and a great view.  In addition, it’s near lots of great restaurants and places to go.  Both in 2017 and 2018 we booked the condo for the following year before we even left!  It’s something our family has grown to look forward to.  But, our trip in six months may be in jeopardy.  Why?  Because of red tide!

Red Tide Hits Florida

I’ll admit.  Before this year, I never heard of red tide.  But, it’s been all over the news for the past few months.  Red tide is an algae bloom.  It can grow based on wind conditions, water temperatures, and other such variables.  If it gets big and close to shore, it kills fish.  The fish then wash on shore.  That leaves an awful smell.  On top of that, the algae itself has a smell.  Between these two, it makes any shore area basically inhabitable.

Red tide has hit Florida especially hard this year.  Some years, it never happens.  Other years it happens in small doses.  Sometimes it happens and dissipates quickly.  This year it’s big and it’s sticking around for a long time.

It’s disrupting tourism big time.  I read an article that hotel occupancy rates are down up to 80% in areas that are or have been hit by red tide.  The bad news on that is it’s been a very wide swath this outbreak.

We Could Not Vacation Today

Where our April 2019 rental is, there’s currently a huge red tide outbreak.  Several weeks ago, it was free and clear.  If we were booked for vacation today, chances are we wouldn’t go.  Or we wouldn’t be able to enjoy it.

What About Next Year?

We’ve been looking at our options for next year.  The thing is, we have no idea what’s going to happen.  The red tide outbreak could disipate tomorrow.  Sometimes conditions change quickly and it goes away.  However, it could last for much longer.  There was a red tide update in recent years that lasted 17 months!  If that type of condition persisted, we could be screwed.

The cancellation policy of our rental condo is actually pretty generous.  We have up until 30 days before our arrival to cancel.  If we cancel during that time, we lose $100 of our deposit.  That’s really not all that bad.  Now, if we canceled after 30 days, then we would forfeit everything.

The first thought is many have (I know I did) is that we can just wait it out and see.  If we’re a few weeks away and red tide is still in the area, we could just bail and be out just $100.  While that in itself is true, the issue is that we need an alternative.  See, we still want to go on vacation next year no matter what.  If we wait until a few weeks before, especially during that time of year which is very busy, we’ll likely not find a great alternative.  Everything will be booked, especially if other people cancel and make alternatives.

We also don’t want to pay more than we’re paying now.  There’s money that we set aside for this trip, and going over budget is not something I’m interested in.  It could be tough to match that since a condo offers savings over a hotel.

For the record, some of the alternatives we’re looking at are inland options.  We could stay in some of the inland cities at resorts that have great pools.  That’d be fun.  But, it wouldn’t be as fun, so we’re leery to switch now.

We could book two things and cancel one as it gets closer.  Or, we could take a chance and wait it out.  We’re just not sure yet.

My poor in-laws are staying at a condo in the same complex later this year.  They have only weeks to make a decision!

Update: Since this was originally drafted, my in-laws did decide to cancel their vacation.  However, the primary reason ended up being ongoing construction at the condo complex.

What Would You Do?

Nature is always the unknown.  When you book a vacation, you never know what you’re going to get.  Rain can ruin vacations.  Cold weather or hot weather can change plans.  Even hurricanes, as some find out now.  You just never know.  But, red tide is something I’d never considered until now.  What would you do?  Would you wait it out, book a second option, or something altogether different?

I’d love your thoughts in the comments below.  Thanks for reading!

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.

Keep Your Summer Budget Under Control

Summer is right around the corner.  Before long the kids will be done with school. Grills will be filling the streets with smells of burgers and hot dogs. The ice cream truck will be jangling down the street.  Summer is the time to enjoy the world, and boy can that be expensive!  Your wallet can take a hit if your summer budget gets out of control.  But, you can keep things under control.

Here are a few summer budget tips so that you can have fun and keep your finances in check!

Shop For Travel Deals

Travel and leisure activities abound during the summer months.   These can add up to big spending amounts if you’re not careful.  The good news is that you can often find deals.  Look through Groupon or other apps.  Visit travel websites or those of places you’d like to go.  There are often specials.  If you want to get away, look for places like AirBnB.  This can reduce the cost compared to more expensive hotel options.

Pay For What You Can Afford

It’s tempting to go all out for that great family adventure. This is all great so long as you can afford it.  Summer fun is not worth going into debt for. If you can’t afford to pay off your summer fun, look for ways to cut back.

Save All Year Around

It may be too late to stash money aside this year, but make a plan for next year.  Stick a hundred bucks per month aside, and you’ll have more freedom next year.

Mix In Free Things

Summer doesn’t have to be all about money to have fun.  Picnics at the park are a free option, but still make great times.  Bike rides along local trails are another free adventure.  A hike along the woods?  That doesn’t cost anything at all if you do it right.  Working in some free options is a great way to keep your summer budget in line.

Enjoy Your Personal Space

If you have a patio or deck, summer is the time to use it!  Invite over neighbors or friends and enjoy some drinks or a dinner.  It’s a great way to have fun and keep money in your summer budget for other things.

Adjust Your Air Conditioning

A big cost that can blow a summer budget is air conditioning.  When it gets hot, you have to shut the windows and keep things cool.  That makes sense, but look for ways to reduce your A/C bills.  If you can, open the windows at night.  If you’re gone during the day, don’t run the A/C all day.  Change your filters to make sure your A/C is running efficiently.  If you can save $20 per month during the summer month, that can equal an extra evening out!

Consider Seasonal Memberships

Zoos, museums, and beaches often offer seasonal passes. If you use these options regularly, an annual pass can save you big time.  We use several annual memberships to our advantage.  On top of saving money, you always have a fallback plan if you can’t think of anything to do!

Hopefully these ideas help prevent your summer budget from stressing you out.  With the warm, long days ahead, having one less thing to worry about is all for the better!

Readers, what summer budget saving ideas do you have?  Please share in the comments below.  Thanks for reading.

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.

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.

How We’re Funding Our Anniversary Vacation

I recently mentioned that we’re going on a ten year anniversary vacation.  We’re all booked up for flights and our resort.  Since we’re staying at an all inclusive resorts, we are comfortable that we have most costs covered.  One thing with other trips is you get stuck with fees, meals, drinks, etc.  We already have that stuff covered.

But, still, we had to pay for it.  I don’t know about you, but we often fund things like this from several different sources.  That was really true with this trip.

Funding Our Anniversary Vacation

Here are the list of sources that we’re using to piece together the budget:

  • A portion of our 2016 tax refund.  We always put some toward travel, and this year we put some extra for this.
  • A portion of our annual vacation savings.  We fund our vacation savings fund throughout the year, and a little bit went to this trip for the year.
  • A portion of one of my two ‘extra’ paychecks.  We budget for two paychecks per month, but have two months where we get three.  This is often used for funding ‘special’ items and this occasion seemed fitting!
  • Reward money from four different cash back credit cards.  We have four cards that we use to maximize our category savings, and we cashed all four in to put a pile of money toward the trip.
  • Side hustle money from both me and my wife.  Extra money can often help fund some of the extras.  It seemed to fit perfectly.

The trip is going to be fun, though I am stressed as I’ve never flown international.  It’s nice to know that the money aspect won’t be causing too much stress if all goes well!

Readers, how do you fund your vacations?  Have you ever had a special occasion trip like this that you’ve saved for?  Let me know your experiences in the comments below.  Thanks for reading.

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.