Category Archives: Travel

So a Gas Gauge Optimist Walks Into a Service Station . . .

From Kathleen Fox

Do you see the tank as half full or half empty?

The gas tank in your car, I mean. This is not a philosophical question; it’s a practical one. Because those happy-go-lucky optimistic drivers who see the tank as half full and those careful pessimistic drivers who see it as half empty are destined to marry one another. Or at least to travel or car pool with one another. It’s car karma.

Here are some signs that you might be a gas gauge optimist:

1. When the idiot light—er, excuse me, the “low fuel indicator light” comes on, Continue reading

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The Reality of a Million-Dollar Retirement

From Rick Kahler

Retiring on a million dollars. The idea may evoke images of lavish retirement homes or luxurious travel. But let’s take a closer look at the real lifestyle that $1 million of retirement savings will afford.

It’s reasonable to assume a long-term real return, after adjusting for inflation, of 2% on a diversified investment portfolio. At that rate, $1 million would provide an annual income of $44,650 for 30 years. This leaves no cushion for emergencies or increased living expenses beyond inflation. It also leaves nothing after 30 years to pass on to heirs.

If you are single and age 65 with $1 million, you should be okay for 30 years. But what if you are married? Continue reading

Take a Close Look at Timeshare Costs

For residents of places like the Black Hills, where the first day of spring usually brings a snowstorm, timeshares for resorts in Florida or Mexico can have a lot of appeal. They seem like a fun idea for a vacation in the sunshine as well as a good deal financially.

Over the past 30 years I’ve researched hundreds of timeshare offers. I’ve never bought one. When you take a close look at the numbers and the restrictions, they simply don’t add up to a good value.

One of the biggest problems with timeshares in general is that they can lock you into a specific vacation. Spending a week at that resort in Mexico in February, exploring the local area and relaxing by the pool, might be wonderful for a year or even several years. But eventually you may get tired of going to the same location, doing the same things, and seeing the same people. After a while, even a rut person like me might want to do something different.

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Flying the Not-So-Friendly Skies

From Rick Kahler

What matters most when you’re choosing the stores or service providers you want to do business with? Ask several people that question and you’ll get a variety of answers. One common factor, though, will probably be customer service.

It seems to make no sense, then, that I have recently switched from an airline that provides excellent customer service to one that doesn’t.

I travel frequently on business, almost always by air. I also live in Rapid City, South Dakota, which is not exactly a major transportation hub, so my airline choices are limited. For years I’ve flown Delta (Northwest). Their representatives are friendly and accommodating. The company also offers several services that make travel easier.

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