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Weekend Reading: Summer Break Edition

We leave for Edinburgh this week, the first stop in our epic 32-day summer break in Scotland and Ireland. As we get closer to departure I’m starting to realize that I don’t know what I don’t know.

For instance, I forgot to select our seats until recently (long story!) and now the flight is close to full. To get four seats together we’ll be relegated to the very back of the plane. Oops! That’s a far cry from the business class seats I’d envisioned when we first booked.

The United flight connects in Chicago for a long layover. No problem, I thought. I’ve got a Priority Pass membership and the American Express Platinum card with access to more than 1,200 airport lounges. Welp, all of the accessible lounges are located in terminal 5. We fly in and out of the United Airlines hub in terminal 1. Hopefully we can find something to do at O’Hare for six hours. Another oops!

Next up we’ll try for a hotel upgrade. We have gold elite status with Marriott, which includes an upgrade if available. Apparently the time to do this is when you’re invited to check-in via the Bonvoy mobile app. Frequent guests say to message the hotel directly through the app to inquire about an upgrade so that’s what I’ll do. Maybe we’ll get lucky.

I’m loathe to pay $300+ for long-term parking at the Calgary airport but the alternatives seem just as expensive, inconvenient, or sketchy (like parking in a gravel lot off site).

We’re not renting a car in Scotland so we need to have a good grasp on the transit system, including how to get from the airport to our hotel. Museums tend to be free but castles and other attractions are not. We bought a castle pass for the family that’s good throughout Scotland, but will we get value from it if we only visit a handful of castles?

I’m mostly a go-with-the-flow kind of guy but what I’ve learned is there’s some things you simply need to know inside-and-out to avoid paying extra or being extremely inconvenienced. Travel days can be long and intense. Good seats, lounge access, and hotel upgrades can help maximize comfort, but accessing the perks isn’t always guaranteed.

We’ll learn from our experience this time around and be even more prepared for when we travel to Italy next April!

This Week’s Recap:

My post about taking CPP at age 70 was very popular but came with a few caveats so this week I tried to address those with three reasons to take CPP at 60.

Over on Rewards Cards Canada I looked at the retooled Scotiabank American Express Gold Rewards card – the new earn rates put this card squarely in the top travel rewards card conversation.

Summer Break posting schedule:

This will be my last post here for about a month as we prepare to travel and take our summer break overseas. But fear not! We have a bunch of terrific guest authors lined-up for you while we’re away, including:

  • Nelson Smith from Financial Uproar
  • Stephen Weyman from How To Save Money and Credit Card Genius
  • Barry Choi from Money We Have
  • PWL Capital’s Benjamin Felix
  • Frugal Trader from Million Dollar Journey
  • Dale Roberts from Cut the Crap Investing
  • Jonathan Chevreau from the Findependence Hub

You’ll learn about private mortgages, the Smith Manoeuvre, selling stocks in retirement, maximizing your credit card rewards and loyalty programs, what one retiree has learned so far in retirement, and much more.

I may check-in here with a trip recap once we get to our home-base in Kilkenny – but no promises! I will be sharing more on Instagram so make sure to follow my personal account as well as the Boomer & Echo account to see more about our trip while it’s happening.

Weekend Reading:

The Globe and Mail’s John Heinzl answers more of your RRSP and RRIF questions in this column.

Can your portfolio ever get too big for a Couch Potato strategy? Dan Bortolotti explains why this passive approach isn’t just for newbies.

Preet Banerjee is back with a new video, this one explaining the ins-and-outs of deferred sales charge mutual funds:

Here’s Million Dollar Journey with five useful retirement calculators to help determine how much you need to retire.

Lesley-Anne Scorgie explains to parents how to use the Canada Child Benefit increase wisely.

My Own Advisor Mark Seed interviews 35-year old Jordan Mass who is on a great path to building wealth.

Why not all wealth advisors are worried about the rise of the robo-advisor:

“The best case for all involved is to have an individual with a financial need that fits well with their provider, whether that is a computer, a bank branch, or a highly specialized wealth advisor.”

Why over 30 years as an investor taught Dale Roberts that nobody knows nothing.

Retirees and young families are fighting for the right to summer in cottage country, and that has recreational home prices sizzling.

An amazing post by Rick Ferri on his experience attending his first “free dinner and retirement discussion” since moving into an over 55 community:

“Let me sum up what I heard this adviser say: Be very afraid. Advisers manage money badly, Social Security people lie to you, the stock market is risky, inflation is around the corner, healthcare costs will kill you, and taxes are going up. Last, if you’re a grandma, you had better schedule an appointment now or you may never see your grandchildren again.”

PWL Capital’s Ben Felix explains what low volatility – low Beta ETFs are all about:

Michael James on Money reviews Annie Dukes’ book, Thinking in Bets.

Finally, here’s a fun one – Warren Buffett and Bill Gates pick up a shift at Dairy Queen.

Enjoy the rest of the weekend, and I’ll be back in a month!

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10 Comments

  1. Deborah S. on June 9, 2019 at 1:05 pm

    The people-mover at O’Hare is shut down for repairs/renovation, but there’s a shuttle that can take you to Terminal 5 but you’d probably have to go through security again. 🙁
    https://www.flychicago.com/business/media/news/pages/article.aspx?newsid=1522

    • alana on June 10, 2019 at 10:04 am

      O’Hare is a mess right now. Could take a few hours to get through immigration and transfer between terminals ( if you have to). I had a two hour layover last April but ended up missing my flight with immigration/customs/shuttle bus delays. At least United was nice enough to put me on the next flight with no hassles which I was kinda surprised about. I was expecting more of a fight from them but I gather that they’re being very accommodating with all the delays at the airport.

  2. Harold on June 9, 2019 at 2:35 pm

    When we leave YYC for an extended period of time we rent a budget car the day before from one on the Many budget locations in Calgary. The cost is usually $29.00 with dropping the car at YYC. We then take a taxi when we get home. Sure beats spending 2-3 hundred bucks for parking.

    • Robb Engen on June 9, 2019 at 2:47 pm

      Hi Harold, the trouble is we’re coming up from Lethbridge and our flight leaves at 6:19am. I’ve booked the Marriott airport hotel on points so we can stay the night before and then just walk out into international departures the next morning.

      Renting a car in Lethbridge with an airport drop in Calgary will come with a $100 drop fee both ways. I’ve looked at many different options but the bottom line is we pay for convenience or else we’re terribly inconvenienced to save $100 or so.

    • Bob Lin on June 10, 2019 at 7:30 am

      “To get four seats together we’ll be relegated to the very back of the plane”

      I always go for seats, at most, five rows from the back of the plane. You get on before the rest of the regular folks. You can start your movie sooner, or work out how the system works and know your options, lots of time to send last minute texts and emails, get your pick of the overhead bins. And, know that you’re sitting in the part of the plane with the best survivability factor in the event of a crash!- have a great flight.

  3. Tracey H on June 9, 2019 at 5:10 pm

    Wow, you guys need Driverseat out there. If I go away for a week (which is actually 8 days by the time you come and go), the parking at Pearson Airport in Toronto is about the same price as hiring Driverseat. As soon as I go past that 1 week line, it’s cheaper to hire them to take me to and from the airport in my own car. And it’s ideal when I’m coming home with jet lag. They track my incoming flight and arrive in the cell phone parking lot with time to spare. Once I”m through Customs and have my luggage, I text them to tell me which post I’m standing by and they swing by and pick me up. I don’t think they’re out in Alberta, are they? Maybe an idea for a side job????

  4. Mike S on June 10, 2019 at 4:31 am

    Have an awesome and epic family trip!! We’ll be alright, you have left us in good hands.

  5. Matt on June 10, 2019 at 5:58 am

    Won’t the hotel let you park in their lot for a small fee? Also, rent a car for a few days while touring castles, as I have yet to go to any that have reliable or any transit service. They can be a bit remote as well. And if you want the castle pass, fine, but don’t worry about the cost because it is the memories you are buying…you will forget about the price in no time. Focusing on price is a great way to ruin a trip.

    • Robb Engen on June 10, 2019 at 9:49 am

      Hi Matt, unfortunately we’re at the airport Marriott so parking is literally at a premium.

      We got the castle pass for the family in Scotland but skipped the Dublin city pass as we didn’t think we’d get to everything and would prefer to pay as we go. Definitely not going to let costs dictate the trip. We’ve saved so much by booking our flights and hotels on points that we’re going to enjoy the experience and splurge on a few extras along the way.

      • Matt on June 10, 2019 at 7:11 pm

        Awesome. Have a great time!

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