Greetings from Ireland! We’re on day 11 of our two-week stay on a beautiful farm in Kilkenny, Ireland. Our trip has been amazing so far, with stays in Edinburgh and Inverness, a day trip to the Isle of Skye, and an overnight road-trip to Killarney National Park.

Along the way we’ve visited castles and cathedrals, wandered through mythical standing stones and circles, got lost in an ancient forest, kissed the Blarney Stone, driven across the beautiful Scottish and Irish countryside, and drank way too much local beer. Our holiday concludes with a five-night stay in Dublin before flying back to Alberta.

We’re enjoying the much slower, relaxing pace on the farm in Kilkenny. The owners have horses and one had a foal just after we arrived. The girls can wander around the farm, feeding the horses and playing with the dogs (a golden retriever and a St. Bernard) who come to say hello each morning.

I’ve done a lot of reading, finishing both Annie Dukes’ Thinking in Bets, along with David Epstein’s Range. I highly recommend both. We even managed to binge-watch the new season of Stranger Things in a couple of nights after the kids went to bed.

The trip has been a learning experience. For one, I was hesitant to ‘hire a car’ as they say over here. Driving on the left in an unfamiliar country sort of freaked me out. We certainly didn’t need a car in Edinburgh, but in Inverness much of the beautiful Scottish Highlands and landmarks like the Culloden battlefield are within an hour’s drive.

We finally rented a car on day five in Inverness and had a great time exploring Culloden, as well as Cawdor Castle. Driving was totally fine once I got used to being on the left – although there was a few harrowing moments passing large vehicles on those narrow roads.

I enjoyed driving so much that I hired a car twice since we’ve been in Ireland – one for convenience of getting to our farm and loading up on groceries for our stay, and two so we could take a road trip and explore the country.

This leads to our second learning experience, which was to avoid group tours. Our trip to the Isle of Skye was on a group tour on a mini-bus with 15 people. While we saw a lot from the bus, and made a couple of brief stops for pictures, we would have much rather explored on our own with our own time-table. I regret not renting a car and driving on our own because Skye was amazing and I wish we had more than two minutes to look up at the Old Man of Storr.

Edinburgh is hands-down my favourite city that I’ve ever been to and we’re so glad we connected with a company called Flytographer to get our family pictures taken there. Flytographer is a Canadian company that connects you with a local photographer anywhere around the world. Check them out here.

Flytographer Edinburgh

This Week(s) Recap:

Many thanks to the guest authors who provided such terrific content over the past few weeks while I’ve been away. In case you missed any of them, here’s a recap:

First we had Nelson Smith from Financial Uproar with an inside look into private mortgage lending.

Next we had Stephen Weyman from the newly revamped How To Save Money blog with a great guide to save money.

Barry Choi from Money We Have explained how to maximize your American Express Membership Rewards points. Learning about this has been the number one way that we saved so much money on our trip overseas.

Then we had Frugal Trader from Million Dollar Journey sharing how to use the Smith Manoeuvre strategy on cottages and investment properties.

Jonathan Chevreau from the Findependence Hub shared what he’s learned so far in retirement.

PWL Capital’s Ben Felix stopped by to explain the pros of renting in retirement.

Stephen Weyman came back, this time under his Credit Card Genius moniker, to share 5 sneaky credit card marketing tricks and how to beat them.

Finally, we had Dale Roberts from Cut the Crap Investing here to explain why retirees can sell most of their stocks as they approach retirement.

Weekend Reading:

I mentioned the newly revamped How to Save Money blog, which was smartly organized into eight money saving categories to fit your lifestyle.

How fast will your portfolio shrink in retirement? Michael James on Money explains.

Million Dollar Journey blogger Frugal Trader shares the biggest risk of super early retirement (FIRE) – sequence of returns.

Just starting out? My Own Advisor blogger Mark Seed has a guide to get started on your investing journey.

The New York Times has crowdsourced your best tips for managing the family money. I liked the intro:

First we’re told that the best things in life are free. Then we’re told that you get what you pay for.

First we’re told that money talks and makes the world go ’round. Then we’re told that money isn’t everything and can’t buy happiness.

Should we conserve money, because a fool and his money are soon parted? Or should we spend it, because you can’t take it with you?

This one hit home for me. Here’s how much money I’ve lost by waiting on a non-existent raise for three years.

Another piece of advice that’s close to my heart (or wallet): The road to riches is this simple – drive a crappy car.

On the subject of travel, here’s my former Toronto Star editor Adam Mayers with lessons from a travel emergency down under.

Stock markets continue their upward trend and here is Michael Batnick to warn us when all we feel is reward.

Batnick’s podcasting sidekick Ben Carlson explains how to win any argument about the stock market:

“Using precise price points with specific start and end dates are a wonderful way to make a point when discussing markets. But no one actually makes all of their buys and sells by top-ticking or bottom-fishing in the markets.”

Ben Felix’s latest Common Sense Investing video addresses the age old investing question, Is the market efficient?

Nelson Smith looks back on some things he’d do differently if given the chance – in particular moving to a more exciting city when he was younger.

Finally, here’s a great entrepreneurial story of a couple who built an online store that now makes more than $1M per year.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

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