How Will You Define Retirement?

There was a time not that long ago that when the subject of retirement came up, we all pretty much had the same vision of what it would look like. We would work to about age 65, retire and live comfortably on our company or union pension, social security and whatever savings we had in the bank. It was similar for everyone. Retirees would kick back on the sofa, visit grandkids, travel and do this for the rest of their lives which was typically only 7-10 more years, give or take. Retirees didn’t have to worry about something called Long Term Care yet and medical costs were still somewhat manageable with your old Blue Cross Blue Shield indemnity plan pretty much taking care of everything. Bottom line, retirement was more streamlined, easier in some ways to prepare for, but overall much shorter than it is today.

That traditional and very typical retirement structure is not dead but certainly on life support for a variety of reasons and not all of them bad. Most in what I call the “New Retirement” play by different rules. The goals and dreams of our parents are no longer our vision of how we want to spend our “golden years”. If you are not retired yet, you will need to define what your vision is and not think about it necessarily as a destination but perhaps more so a change of course of how you will live in the next phase of your journey.

I am noticing with our own clients that there are now three very specific templates they are deploying or targeting. I think our group is probably a good litmus test for what will continue to evolve over the next 20 years. The three structures are as follows:

1. Traditional Retirement- Yes, it didn’t go away completely. Some have saved enough spendable assets to properly budget for living expenses and plan for contingencies. They do not have a driving desire to work any longer and primarily spend their time… well… doing whatever floats their boat! This group however is very small and no longer typical. With longer lifespans our parents’ retirement may soon be a lifestyle of the past.

2. The Semi-Retirement Retirement- This group represents what’s becoming the largest segment of today’s successful retirees. They have enough assets and don’t have to work but continue to want to do something productive with their lives, very often in a different capacity. This group realizes that if retirement today can last as long as 30 years, it is more desirable on their terms to spend it on starting a small business, consulting in their past careers part time or choosing to make money at something they love doing. The semi-retirement retirement will be available primarily to those who still value proper financial planning and have saved enough to provide for flexible work for fun options.

3. The Working Retirement- Yes, an oxymoron but this in my opinion will become tomorrow’s prevalent structure based on current planning and savings habits of young baby boomers. The prior two scenarios will not be an option as one or both spouses will have to remain in the workforce doing what they may not love in order to provide the necessary income for basic living expenses. I believe this group will do the best they can to take extra time off to find some diversion, but the live for now habits of the past 30 years will have caught up with them. My biggest fear is whether a job will be available to them to stay in the work force. If this does in fact become the predominant structure of the near future, where one or both spouses work full time forever, will the demographics of an ever aging population along with college graduates just joining the work force provide for enough employment opportunities? A very risky proposition but in reality, isn’t how this group has played it all along?

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information purposes only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual(s). To determine which investment(s) may be appropriate for you, consult your financial advisor prior to investing. All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results. All indices are unmanaged and may not be invested into directly.

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Save on Travel Now: Discover How Much Money You Can Save on Travel Now Using This

Who else wants to save on travel today? I realize that may sound like a silly question and the fact is, economic times are rough right now. Most people (including myself…) are looking to save big money on their travel prices. If you want to save a lot of money on your travel expenses, the solution to doing just that is actually a lot easier than you think. If you want to go to a nice luxurious hotel, resort, or cruise, the reality is you really can and at affordable prices that everyone can afford…let me explain…

The answer to saving on your travel has nothing to do with travel sites that have been known to save you up to 30%. I am talking about are travel memberships wherein you pay a one-time fee and gain immediate lifetime access. You can literally begin saving up to 80% off your travel needs for the rest of your life. No restrictions of when you travel, either! I am speaking highly of something known as a travel discount club that many are now discovering for the first time.

If you have never heard of a travel membership, basically what this mean to you is this…..it eliminates the high prices when it comes to travel prices. Have you ever gone to a hotel thinking that you paid way too much? Me too! These overpriced prices have gone on for far too long in my opinion. So in essence what these memberships do for you, is save you a log of money.

When you are a paid member, you then have access to over thousands of highly sought after travel locations from around the world. This will save you up to 80% off of your travel expenses around the world. You do not have to worry about when you travel because you get to decide that.

You can literally go anywhere and save a lot of money. You will save limitless amounts of money if you are member. If you are a member, you will have the luxury of being able to stay at some of the very most luxurious relaxing condos. You can also take advantage of scenic cruises, villas and cottages and best of all, when you want!

Savings are available at many of the finest of resorts, too. You can stay at 4 and 5-star hotels and be treated like a king or queen! For many, this is a dream come true because of the fact that you will have the ability to stay at some of the very best resorts from all over the world. This is not a timeshare, mind you.

These memberships do not require you to pay any additional fees, at least the ones that I have checked out. No maintenance fees or annual fees is a huge plus to many, who have been burned by timeshares. That is something that no timeshare can even come close to when comparing the two. If you compare the amount of money that you would have to pay on a retail vacation, a membership blows the retail price right out of the water. You will easily save over 50% or more.

Do your own research and see for yourself. Having a membership to for access to thousands of luxury hotel locations at rock-bottom wholesale prices is what makes this an easy decision for many. When you compare the savings to the retail price that you would have to pay, it just makes good sense..

Take for example the fact that you can get:

a 2-bedroom condo at multiple worldwide locations for less than $200 for a seven-day vacation stay. The only question is why would would you want to spend several hundred more than what you need to? The retail price for this vacation retailed for $998 on a site that offered the exact same amenities.

When I first learned of these savings, I jumped on the opportunity because I hate having to spend more money than I really have to. When you join, you will gain immediate private access and be a part of the vacation club that allows you to profit from these vacation deals. When I first took a look at it, I could not believe the savings. In fact, I thought there had to be a catch….I was pleasantly surprised when I realized there was no catch on having access to unbelievable discounts on these luxurious vacations. It was a dream come true for me.

Another big advantage is that you will also have access to travel advisors. These are advisors who will assist you with various travel needs on other travel related expenses. When you are getting ready to go on a trip, the less that you have to worry about is priceless.

These memberships are the answer to saving money when it comes to traveling throughout the entire United States, but all across the globe. While memberships are not free, you could easily make your money back on one vacation alone. So basically, you get your money back after your first vacation. Keep in mind that there are pretty high priced memberships compared to other clubs.

If you want to save some serious cash, consider a membership because it will certainly save you more than just a few bucks when you consider the fact that you can save several hundreds of dollars on your first trip. I cannot say enough about these memberships. They really are the way to travel when it comes to saving money at worldwide luxurious hotels, resorts and cruises.

No matter if you are casual traveler or a business traveler, saving up to 80% on travel related expenses is the perfect solution for literally anyone who travels I do not know about you but most everyone I talk to travels at least once in a while. So even if you just travel once in a while, you still save a lot of money.

If you want to save money on your travel, having a membership that will save you several hundreds of dollars on resorts, cruises, fine hotels and many other vacation expenses, is the best deal. The reason is that having one of these memberships pays you back every time you access your membership privileges. It allow you to take immediate advantage of for the unlimited savings.

You Know What They Say About Everyone Having An Opinion, And Why

In a democratic society, each and every person is encouraged, as well as entitled to both have and voice his opinion. Unfortunately, those being advised by the one offering his opinion, often have to weight what, if any value, to place on the opinion. It often seems that many people who are quickest to offer their opinion, have some of the poorest judgment, as well as limited knowledge or experience. Be wary of anyone that expresses their opinion by citing experience, because not all experiences provide knowledge or value. One should always remember that experience and expertise are dramatically and drastically different things, and while a true expert’s opinion will often provide help and assistance, one who merely has experience often over- estimates the value or quality of his participation regarding that experience. Opinions have varying values, and it is essential to evaluate the giver of the opinion first, prior to paying too much heed to certain advice and experience.

People seem to express their opinions most often when it comes to certain topics and areas. Everyone seems to believe they are an expert when it comes to sports. When the time comes for the “big event,” whether it be a major boxing bout, the Stanley Cup in hockey, the NBA playoffs, the World Series, a major tennis or golf tournament, etc., many individuals who are at best casual fans, offer their opinion about and discuss these events, as if their knowledge was extremely valuable.

Everyone has some opinion about world affairs, politics, politicians, and the economy. Rarely does one hear someone say that their statement is their opinion, but generally express it in such a matter that it appears to be some sort of revelation.

Everyone has an opinion about different types of cars, different restaurants, hotels and resorts, and places to travel to. Unfortunately, these opinions are generally more about personal taste (and sometimes lack of taste) than about anything factual.

Have you ever had a conversation with someone that, regardless of the topic, always expresses the “answer.” Often, these individuals express opinions as if they are facts, and far too many of these people are incorrect far more than they are right.

This becomes problematic, however, when someone positions himself as an expert, and consults in area, although he is no where near being expert. Often this expert is simply expressing his opinion, and often his opinion has no more than, and sometimes less value than the person he is “advising.”

One should always remember that an opinion is something that nearly everyone has, and not every opinion should carry authority, credence or weight when making a critical evaluation. On the other hand, when a true expert expresses an opinion on a topic pertaining to his expertise, one should pay particular attention.

Get the Most Out of Your Travel Agent

Booking air travel, making hotel reservations and arranging vacation travel in general has changed completely with the advent of the internet and many people try to be their own travel agents. While you can arrange seemingly most of your travel yourself, you can’t do as well as your travel agent in a long run!

Travel processionals, whether your local travel agent, tour operator or destination specialist still possess contacts that you as an industry outsider do not have. As in number of other professions, travel agents, whether in a shopping center near your home or an online agency, wherever they may be located, do know something you do not, have way to book and arrange travel for you in ways unavailable or unknown to you.

Traditionally you could contact a travel agent and ask for a quote, whether a price of an air ticket, hotel or a vacation package. For the most part travel agents still provide that kind of information, although there is a limit how much information they may disclose as not all information is readily available to them.

First of all, most travel agents indeed may have at their fingertips routine cost of air ticketing, hotel rates or certain vacation packages available and will be happy to provide the price information to you instantly when asked. But once your travel request will need to be somewhat customized, whether tailored to your dates of travel or your other travel preferences, to find a relevant answer will be time consuming. Because of this time element involved, do not automatically assume an agency is keen to spend the time to furnish the information you seek when there is no commitment you will travel at all.

Look at the situations from the following perspective. In the old days if you had a problem with your car, you’d drive it to your neighborhood car mechanic and asked him to see what was wrong with it. You would drop the car off at the garage, the mechanic would have a look and tell you what the problem was. He would also give you an estimate and it was up to you to decide if you wanted him to fix it right then and there, wait or seek another opinion and another quote. His services cost you nothing.

But not anymore. These days, no garage, no car repair mechanic is willing to spend time trying to find out what’s the problem with your vehicle without charging you at least one hour labor upfront. Pay and he will look and tell you. Up to you if you will decide to take your car to another shop or have him fix it, he has covered his time spent diagnosing what’s wrong with your car.

Similarly, many travel agencies and professional travel planners and tour operators will charge you an upfront travel planning fee if you are requesting travel arrangements that first of all are time consuming, or there is no guarantee you will book anything. All you are after are essentially private tailor-made travel arrangement s and there are no simple answers or options to give you, and the only way to find out will be for the agent to dig and consult all sorts of different sources he has at this disposal and then present the travel alternatives to you for you to decide upon.

When working with a travel agent, travel planner or any other travel professional such as a knowledgeable destination specialist, keep in mind that a certain protocol will assure you will get not only the kind of travel arrangements you want in general but also you’ll gain a true partner that will always work in your best interest whether you’ll travel away from home on business or for pleasure.

1. First of all, when contacting a travel agent, whether in person or online, don’t hesitate to give them your name – don’t worry, most agents won’t spam you back. Without your name when you’re asking for a valuable travel advice most agents won’t take your request too seriously. Call if you wish but most agents prefer not to take notes, email is a way to go and for an agent to look up a fare often a time means he has to plug in a name, so might as well that name will be your real name. If you decide not to accept the booking the reservation will expire and no harm done. If you decide later to purchase the reservation the agent does not have to rekey it into the system all over again.

2. If you’re trying to be you own travel agent, even in part, say you plan to book your own hotels online, disclose it to the agent your are contacting for assistance, he/she may still be interested to help you with the rest of your travel arrangements. Don’t hide your intentions from the agent as agents don’t like to be used for information gathering purposes only.

3. If at all possible, always contact your travel agent or destination specialist as soon as you know when and where you wish to travel, not last minute before your intended departure. That is even more important when you’re planning a trip to a lesser frequented destination.

4. Don’t book your flights and hotels online and ask a travel agent to do the rest, namely the difficult parts, such as complex transportation connections, travel arrangements in remote locations or to book segments that you just feel are not safe for you to book online yourself. Give your agent to design and book your entire trip for you. The worst you can do is design your own vacation package, then copy and email the same request to dozen different agents to see who may be the lowest bidder. Yes, the internet is perfect for that kind of information gathering but look at this from a perspective of a travel agent. If he/she knows you are sending the same request to dozen agents many of them will not be too interested in dealing with you. Then again, telling them the truth they will appreciate knowing what you are doing and approach the whole thing quite differently and in the end they just might offer you a deal.

5. If you’re after booking shoe-string cost of travel, for example wishing to book the lowest type of accommodations, best be your own travel agent. Do realize that agents can’t book services that are simply too cheap to begin with, not to mention that that kind of suppliers do not pay agent s any kind of commission. The agent may still help you but keep in mind he will be doing you a favor and will be working for you at no charge. If so, appreciate it, email your thank you.

Do realize that to ask an agent million questions, get all the answers, including time consuming quotes, only for you to never replay again is definitely rude and turns agents off completely. If you are polite and respectful many will often work without any commitment on your part, providing you with information you need, working for free. But because of those that just siphon info out of agents so they could possibly book travel on their own leaves not only a sour taste in agent’s mouth but certainly induces the decision to charge au upfront planning fees when a next inquiry comes.

6. On another hand, when it comes to upper end accommodations keep in mind these hotels routinely offer discounts to agents that agents can markup and still offer you room costs below hotel rack rates. Genuine agent is not interested in selling you a higher end hotel in order to make a higher commission but to tailor in a better trip experience for you where he deems it desirable.

7. Keep in mind that there is a difference between a travel agent and a so called Destination Specialist. Most travel agents use online reservation systems to book transportation, hotel and vacation packages. They essentially book or resell ready-to-sell travel offers from a variety of suppliers that do not require more than filling in your name and dates of travel. When it comes to you needing customized arrangements, they will need to contact tour operators and destination specialists that are either part of their consortium or a network they belong to. Depending on the connections they have they will or will not be able to help you.

8. Destination Specialists pride themselves in really knowing their destinations. Many of them have indeed not only traveled extensively but know a particular destination inside-out so they can arrange travel logistics for you based on knowing, rather than looking it up in a brochure or some kind of data base. Many Destination Specialists specialize in difficult, custom designed itineraries and do not sell travel packages. Often a time though not always that kind of service reflects higher markup.

9. Last, please note that many destination specialists as well as travel agents work 110 or more hours per week because especially custom-design travel is indeed very time consuming. Being good at travel logistics does take experience and while with the internet it seems second nature to be able to arrange travel on your own, many travel professional are indeed very good at what they do! They do know more about travel than you, give them a chance, they can save you not only money but also many headaches and above all, they can assure not only that you’ll travel worry-free but that you may have a trip of your life! Keep in mind, a good agent is not after selling you a single ticket or a package tour, they want you to become a repeat client, their go-to-travel processional for rest of your life.