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Travelin' Time!

Don't let financial mistakes derail your summer vacation.

It's June, and for many folks, that feels like the official start of summer. I don't know about you, but this is my favorite time of year. Lake trips, beach getaways, hiking, pool parties - whatever your favorite summertime escape, it's important to fit it into your overall financial plan. What's the point of all this summer relaxation if your stress doubles down come fall?

So, while you're enjoying this gorgeous Kentucky weekend, I hope you'll take a little time to do some planning and think about your upcoming adventures in financial terms. Here are a few lessons I've learned over the years.

Depending on how far you're going and how long you'll be away, take somewhere between $500 and $1,500 cash, kept in a safe place (or have it in an account separate from you debit card), just in case. Your car might get towed if you're not familiar with your surroundings when you park, your wallet or purse might get stolen, or someone might decide to clone your account number and go on a little (or big!) shopping spree. This happened to me on a roadtrip once, and trust me - the stashed away cash would have made life much easier!

If you're driving, of course make sure your car is in top shape by checking the oil and tire pressure. Choosing a mechanic in a town you're not familiar with is a recipe for getting gouged. But, don't forget to check the pressure in your spare as well, and throw a can of WD-40 in the trunk in case your tire bolts are rusted on. Again, these precautions can help you avoid paying someone to fix these things for you.

We're always encouraging our client families to create memories and share experiences with their friends and loved ones, and one way I've found to maximize this is to forgo fancy hotels and suites. Now, make sure you have clean sheets and potable water, but opting for a less-expensive room could mean nicer meals, exploring your surroundings more and even staying an extra day. When you look back on the trip, those things will mean much more than the overpriced hotel amenities that you probably didn't use.

Along those same lines, I love to explore wherever I'm vacationing away from the touristy places. Sure, go to the top of the Space Needle if you're in Seattle, but skip the gift shop and look for a cozy restaurant packed with locals. Tourist traps are just that - lures to make you think you need knick knacks that you'll wonder why the heck you bought when you get home.

Most importantly, have fun! Be smart with your finances, but don't be afraid to spend your hard-earned money on experiences you'll remember fondly for years to come. That's what life is all about, right?

Now, go enjoy this summer weekend. I'm going to the lake!

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