Planning that Dream Vacation

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If you are like most Americans, you probably try your best to squeeze in at least one vacation over the summer months. It’s probably a week that you look forward to all year. You might spend time reading travel books, looking up reviews, deciding on itineraries, etc. But did you know the average American generally puts more effort into planning their next vacation than planning for their retirement future?

Now, although planning your adventures for one week is probably a lot more fun and a little less intimidating, it’s important to remember that responsible retirement planning is what will allow you to keep up the trip planning all the way into retirement.

Let’s explore how planning a vacation is very similar to planning for retirement and how certain decisions can affect everyone involved.


Vacation:  The first step is determining when you’re taking the trip. Which week works best for everyone’s schedules? Are there advantages of going earlier in the summer? Or later?

Retirement: The same questions can be asked about retirement. When are you able to retire? Will you outlive your assets? What are the benefits of working a few more years? What are the drawbacks?


Vacation: Okay, we have the calendar marked! Now, who gets to come with us? Can all of the kids go? Are they taking any friends? What about Grandma and Grandpa?

Retirement: As you head into retirement, think about who will be coming along for the ride. Does your spouse have retirement savings accounts as well? Will your family be taken care of if something happens to you? Do you want to provide a college education fund to your children or grandchildren?


Vacation: Next, you need to decide where you’re going!  Will you be going to Colorado for a ski trip? What about a Caribbean cruise? Maybe take a jaunt up north to a cabin in Wisconsin? Or maybe you just want to plan a staycation and enjoy some low-key time at home.

Retirement: Not all retirements dreams look the same. While some people’s idea of retirement bliss is staying home to spend time with grandkids, other people may be excited to finally have the time to explore Europe. Regardless of what excites you most, planning ahead for it will make your life easier when the time comes.


Vacation: So we have our dates set and we’ve narrowed down our destination options. Although we’ve already spent a good amount of time planning, let’s not forget to plan for the unplanned. When it comes to travel, you can nearly always count on something unexpected happening. For example, on your way to the beach in Florida your rental car gets a flat tire on a bridge.  Or perhaps the hotel misplaced your reservation. Even worse, what if something tragic happens to a loved one while you’re away?

Regardless of the situation, it’s important to have the flexibility of resources to resolve the issue at hand. One solution is to look into travel insurance through a travel agent. When something unexpected, and sometimes tragic, occurs, the last thing you want to think about is planning. The extra cost is often worth the peace of mind, knowing that everything will be taken care of in your time of need.

Retirement:  It’s very likely that life will throw something unexpected at you. Perhaps you change jobs and forget about your old 401(k). Or the stock market declines 5% and you panic and sell everything. A few days later, the market rebounds 10% and you realize that you missed out.

These are the sorts of unexpected occurrences that a professional will be able to help you through. A certified professional planner will be able to work with you to regularly review your financial goals and make adjustments along the way. Just think, spending a little more time planning for retirement can help you turn those years into the vacation of your dreams!

Dan H. Zeigler, CMFC®, CFP® is an Assistant Vice President, Wealth Advisor & Investment Officer with Alpine Trust & Investment Group

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