Should you travel in your 20s?

When my mom was in her early 20s, she took a few months to travel abroad with a few of her college friends. I wouldn't call it an around-the-world trip since they only visited a few regions, but I would call it amazing.

So amazing, in fact, that my mom shared numerous stories of her travels with me as I was growing up. I remember those stories well. At the time, it all sounded so exotic, so mysterious. To this day, she even has the letters she sent her parents from abroad, many of which share vivid details of what it was like to travel internationally some 45 years ago. My mom grew up poor -- with seven kids in a two-bedroom household -- so you can imagine how thrilling it must have been for her to fly overseas and experience other worlds.

Fast forward 30 years and I was intent on traveling much like my mother did. But then life happened. I spent my 20s busy with school and my social life and then, all of a sudden, I wound up married with a good job, a house, and more than enough responsibility. Kids followed shortly thereafter and, consequently, the thought of travel became the furthest thing from my mind.

Continue reading...
More about...Travel

Best way to redeem travel points: Why hoarding points is a bad investment

For most people, pursuing credit card rewards is a game of cat and mouse. You keep a watchful eye on your credit score, seek out the best offers, and strike when the iron is hot.

But that is just one component of the hobby; the other part of the equation is that it can be extremely exciting to watch your point balances climb. Obviously, the more credit card rewards offers you sign up for, the more sign-up bonuses you earn, and the more spending you complete over time, the more points you accumulate.

If you love to save like I do, it can be tempting to do the same with your points and miles and hoard them in the same fashion as you would your monthly paycheck. But there are a number of reasons why you shouldn't treat your airline miles and hotel points like cash in the bank. Here are a few:

Continue reading...
More about...Travel

Retirement travel and frugal living

Photo of a retro RV camper

Retirement travel is in. Out is the era of spending unending retirement days on a golf course in plaid pants and interminable games of bridge with the blue-rinse set.

The new generation of retirees is looking for more adventure, with more activity … and lower costs. Few strategies deliver like the recreational vehicle (RV) retirement lifestyle. Continue reading...

More about...Retirement, Travel

9 reasons you may never retire

My mom passed away a little less than a year ago. All her life she was the picture of health: She walked every day and ate super-healthy. The extended family dreaded going there, because they knew there would be no sugary goodies, only healthy (boring) eats. We used to joke and say she was so healthy they'd have to shoot her on the Day of Judgment ... because she was never going to die. What took her in the end was breast cancer, and the fact that she didn't notice it until it was too late. You just can't account for everything in life, can you? October, as you may know from the pink shoes football players wear this month, is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. As one of the slogans says: "Big or small, let's save them all!"

Mom was just over 85, and, young as she was when she had to go, she still beat the odds. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics just published its latest report on expected mortality in the USA. Female infants born in 2012 can expect to live 81.2 years; males, 76.4. This is higher than it's ever been, largely because of progress in the fight against disease: "The death rates for heart disease and cancer, the two leading causes of death that account for 46.5% of all deaths, have been falling since 1999," the report says. The chart below shows the age-adjusted death rates for the ten leading causes of death:

Source: CDC/NCHS, National Vital Statistics System, Mortality
Source: CDC/NCHS, National Vital Statistics System, Mortality

Increased awareness of healthy diet and progress in cancer screening and medication have made a noticeable difference in the two leading causes of death. Breast Cancer Awareness Month has played its part in helping to reduce fatalities from the disease.

Continue reading...
More about...Retirement, Career, Economics, Investing, Side Hustles, Travel

Lifestyle inflation: How to decide if it’s ever okay

Despite that I don't own it, I like my apartment. It's got a mountainous view, it's comfortable, and my neighbors are few but friendly. Sure, I'd like to own a home someday. But, unless I move to another city, that probably isn't going to happen in the next few years. I'm fine with that. Like my neighbor said, I'd rather live here than anywhere else, at least for now.

If you sense a wee bit of defensiveness in my tone, you're not imagining it. Part of me is trying to justify something.

After my upstairs neighbor moved out a few months ago, our management company began gutting their apartment. We found out they were completely updating it and tearing down walls to put in central air, a dishwasher and an entirely different floor plan.<

Continue reading...
More about...Home & Garden, Planning, Travel

Getting a frugal start on summer

Last Friday, I had an amazing realization: It was the weekend, the weather was beautiful, and I had absolutely nothing to do. Great feeling.

On Saturday morning, my boyfriend and I decided to slap some sandwiches together and head to the beach. It was relaxing and low-key, and it made me anticipate summer.

But at the beginning of the year, I made some lofty savings goals for myself, and I'd like to stick to them. So I'm using the change in season to assess my savings and remember those goals. Last year around this time, I spent quite a bit of money on travel. This year, I want to focus on being frugal. Here's how I plan to make frugality a part of my summer. Continue reading...

More about...Budgeting, Debt, Frugality, Travel

The cure for vacation deprivation: A vacation budget

After a long and brutal winter in parts of the U.S., warmer temperatures and sunshine are finally heading our way. And, although it doesn't seem possible, an entire quarter of this year is behind us already. In most places, schools are out of session -- at least for a few weeks -- which means that families are taking their first major hiatus of the year. And everyone seems to be on Spring Break … except for you.

If you spend any time on social media, you probably know exactly what I'm talking about. Your Facebook and Twitter feeds are likely exploding with vacation updates ad nauseam. Sun-bathed selfies have become the norm, along with all those people "checking in" at their favorite resort or restaurant. And I totally get it. Vacation is fun, and people want to share their experience with family members, friends, co-workers, and random acquaintances. But sometimes they take it too far, and those hourly updates can become downright annoying in a hurry, especially if you aren't in a position to take a vacation yourself.

Vacation Deprivation Syndrome: A widespread epidemic

If you're feeling vacation-deprived, you're not alone. A 2013 study by travel giant Expedia concluded that 59 percent of Americans and 62 percent of workers worldwide feel deprived of time off. And, it isn't just due to lack of opportunity. According to the study, Americans only used ten out of every 14 vacation days they were awarded in 2013, leaving many as 577,212,000 unused.

Continue reading...
More about...Travel

Thoughts on financial and personal independence

Note: This article is from J.D. Roth, who founded Get Rich Slowly in 2006. After a year off, J.D. is once again writing here at GRS. His non-financial writing can still be found at More Than Money.
¡Saludos de Ecuador!

For the past two weeks, I've been enjoying my third trip to that seldom-remembered continent, South America. I love this place, and love it more each time I visit. My past trips have been personal excursions for pleasure and introspection. But this trip was primarily business-related. (I am in the Galápagos at the moment, and that's just for personal edification — unless we count the tortoise photos, which could be used for GRS promotion.)

You see, earlier this year, my colleague Mr. Money Mustache contacted me to ask if I'd like to take part in a chautauqua produced by Cheryl Reed of Above the Clouds Retreats. Of course I would! It's my policy to say "yes" to requests like this. And so for one week in early September, MMM and I joined Cheryl and jlcollinsnh to present our philosophies to an enthusiastic group of 22 participants, most of whom were women and most of whom had reached (or were well on their way to) Financial Independence.

Continue reading...
More about...Retirement, Investing, Travel

How to cure a spending hangover

A few weeks ago, my husband and I took a somewhat frugal vacation to an all-inclusive resort in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. And while I was very excited to visit a new city and explore, I was equally excited about the financial details of the trip. Since we had chosen an all-inclusive resort, our entire vacation was easy to budget and plan for. A sum of $800 per person was enough to pay for our flights, lodging at a three-star resort, and all we could eat or drink. In addition to the initial expense, I arranged for round-trip transportation between the resort and the airport ($120) and budgeted $300 for a week's worth of tips, souvenirs, and one dinner out on Playa del Carmen's popular 5th Avenue. We were sure that we had budgeted for everything, and we were excited to get the show on the road.

Did I mention that we planned this trip with friends? My best friend and her husband eagerly agreed to join us on this new experience. And as one would expect, their spending expectations were quite different than ours. But, it wasn't that big of a deal. Although we had planned the trip together, we didn't plan on spending every waking moment by each other's side. So, we agreed ahead of time that we would each do our own thing. If one couple wanted to do something that the other didn't want to spend money on, we would just part ways for the day with no hard feelings. Fortunately, we've been friends for a long time and the conversation wasn't awkward at all.

When Spending Is Fun

Since all of our meals and drinks were included in the price of our hotel, we were determined to do all of our eating and drinking at the resort. "Let's just eat at the resort then go into town afterward," my husband said. "Then we can keep our spending money for something fun, or even bring some money back home." My love…..he always knows just want to say. Continue reading...

More about...Budgeting, Travel