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Retirement Starts Today Radio

Benjamin Brandt wants to teach you how to retire! Listen in as Benjamin Brandt CFP©, RICP© answers the questions on the minds of the modern retiree, often joined by the top experts in the retirement planning industry. Ask Benjamin a question here: https://retirementstartstodayradio.com/ask-a-question/
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Now displaying: December, 2021
Dec 27, 2021

Would you want to raise your standard of living for half of what you live on now? Tim Leffel did, which is why he chose to uproot his family from their life in Nashville to move to a small city in Mexico. Tim is the author of the book A Better Life for Half the Price and he joins me today to discuss the pros and cons of living abroad.

Don’t miss the opportunity to learn how you can save money by living abroad. Tim is an expert in the subject and has written extensively about this topic. Listen in to hear this interview. 

Outline of This Episode

  • What made Tim decide to live in Mexico?
  • Why did he rent before buying?
  • What are examples of how he saves money by living in Mexico?
  • Do you need to know Spanish before moving to Mexico?
  • Why would people not want to move abroad?

Why did Tim choose to move to Mexico?

Tim and his wife have traveled extensively and even lived in Seoul, Korea, and Istanbul, Turkey when they were young. When they had their daughter they knew that they didn’t want to live in the far flung reaches of the world but they still wanted the experience of living abroad. 

Mexico was close by and easy to travel to, plus they liked the culture and the food which made it an easy choice to settle on. They chose to live in the central Mexican town of Guanajuato which is a mid-sized city of 200,000 with pleasant weather all year round. 

It makes sense to rent first before purchasing abroad

Tim chose to rent for a year first before taking the plunge and purchasing a home. He remarks that buying a house abroad is not like it seems on those popular house hunting TV shows. 

There is a lot you need to think about when buying a home abroad. The zoning laws aren’t the same as in the U.S. and it can be hard for a foreigner to understand what things are worth without living there first. Tim recommends putting in the time and effort to truly understand the market value before purchasing a home. 

What are examples of how he saves money by living in Mexico?

It’s no secret that living in Mexico is less expensive than living in the U.S. Rent in the United States can easily cost $2000. In Mexico, you can find a house to rent for a fraction of that.

Healthcare expenses are notoriously high in the U.S. and in Mexico, Americans are shocked to find how easy it is to pay for those expenses out of pocket.

Tim finds that his total monthly expenses in Mexico are roughly equivalent to what he paid in rent in the U.S. Not everything is cheaper in Mexico though, listen in to hear about what costs more in Mexico.

Do you need to know the language first?

You would think that you need to be fluent in the language before moving abroad, but there are some places in Mexico where you can get by being monolingual.

Tim still doesn’t consider himself fluent, although he is learning the language. Since his daughter went to school in Mexico, she had the opportunity to become fluent. Would you want to learn the language before moving abroad?

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Dec 20, 2021

Despite the economic downturn, 2020 turned out to be a fantastic year for charitable giving. In this episode, we’ll look at how people chose to give and you’ll learn about the efficiency of giving through donor-advised funds (DAFs). 

In the listener questions segment, you’ll learn how to survive a bear market in retirement. We’ll investigate the length of the average bear market and see how you can prepare for the worst in your retirement years. 

Outline of This Episode

  • 2020 was a banner year for giving
  • Planning ahead can help alleviate a hefty tax bill
  • What is the average length of recovery from a bear market?
  • Look into Guyten’s Guardrails

Shwab and Fidelity both showed an increase in giving

You would think that with the economic downturn of the last year that people would tighten their bootstraps and cease giving to charities, but it turned out that the opposite was true. The two largest brokerage firms, Schwab and Fidelity, recorded increases in charitable donations. 

Donations were made in response to the Covid pandemic and the social justice protests that marked the year. The biggest recipients of these charitable gifts were organizations that provide food and other necessities

Donor-advised funds are an important vehicle for charitable giving

Fidelity Charitable and Schwab Charitable both use donor-advised funds as a vehicle for charitable giving. Donor-advised funds (DAFs) have become popular since they are simple and make for an easy way to give strategically. These charitable investment accounts allow a donor to make a charitable contribution, receive a tax deduction, and then distribute the money over time. Have you thought of changing the way that you make charitable contributions?

What are the benefits of using DAFs?

DAFs have become more popular in recent years due to changes in tax laws. The new standard deduction for charitable giving increased to $24,800 for a married couple. By creating a DAF, donors can contribute a lump sum every few years and then administer the funds to the charities they choose over time. Many advisors recommend donor-advised funds as a receptacle for their clients to strategically deduct charitable contributions. Listen in to hear a real-world example of how a DAF can be used. 

Planning ahead can create a tax deduction

We must all pay our taxes, but we never want to overpay -- no one wants to leave the taxman a tip. If you are charitably minded, a donor-advised fund is an excellent way to implement a multi-year tax strategy and take advantage of the standard deduction. Think about how lump sum giving every few years could change your tax situation. It pays to plan your taxes ahead in retirement.

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Dec 13, 2021

We’ve all been sitting at home for the past year and now everyone is getting the travel bug. That’s why today we’re kicking off the Summer Travel Series with an interview with Lee Huffman. Lee hosts a podcast called We Travel There and he writes a frugal travel blog at BaldThoughts.com. I’ve been curious about the world of travel hacking, so I have plenty of questions for Lee about using travel points, how to find the best travel resources, and, of course, where to travel. Check out this interview to help you plan your summer vacation. 

Outline of This Episode

  • Where should we get started?
  • What should one look for in travel points?
  • How saving miles and points are like saving for retirement
  • The go-to resources to use
  • Places to check out 

How should we all get started traveling again?

The pandemic has left many of us homebound for over a year, so now that many people are fully vaccinated, everyone is ready to get on the road again. The big question is: how should we get started? 

Lee recommends using the travel credits that you may have accrued from canceled vacations over the pandemic. Those credits and vouchers may have expiration dates, so be sure to check the fine print to ensure that you don’t lose out. 

He also suggests getting your summer trips booked ASAP. The sooner you book, the sooner you’ll be able to find reward availability and lower prices. The more people begin traveling the higher the prices will rise. 

What about international travel?

Travel within the U.S. is on the rise, but people are also itching to travel internationally. Since the vaccine rollout has been different in each country, it is important to carefully investigate the specific travel rules for the country you wish to go to. Each country has its own pandemic rules and regulations. Some countries require negative Covid tests upon arrival and others may require you to be fully vaccinated. It is also important to remember that if you travel internationally, you will need a negative Covid test to enter the U.S. again, regardless of your vaccination status. Listen in to hear how many hotels in Mexico are helping travelers with this requirement.

What are the best ways to earn points?

You can earn travel points and rewards even when you are not traveling by using a credit card. Lee recommends the Capital One Venture Rewards card to get started. You can get cash back or earn extra miles with each purchase that you make. Listen in to hear how you can get started with the Capital One Venture rewards program to start traveling this summer. 

Lee compares saving miles and points with saving for retirement. He states that the two best days to start saving your miles are 10 years ago and today. He also mentions the importance of using your miles periodically. You don’t want them to become devalued over the years. 

How to use your travel miles

There are more ways you can earn travel miles than just making purchases. There are apps that you can use like Dosh to help you earn extra miles on each transaction. 

If you have had a travel rewards card for years but find it difficult to use, you won’t want to miss this interview with Lee Huffman as he explains how you can best use your hard-earned miles. He not only mentions how to use your miles, but he also includes fantastic resources that you can check out to help you find availability so that you can actually use the points that you have accrued. 

Make sure to check out Lee’s podcast, We Travel There, to get inspiration for your next travel destination. He interviews locals to help his listeners understand how to get there, where to go, what to do, how to get around, and where to stay. 

Resources & People Mentioned

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Dec 6, 2021

What is the number one travel goal for people approaching retirement? Disney! People young and old alike love to go to Disney. In my 15 years of retirement planning, I have discovered that a multi-generational trip to Disney is at the top of most people’s bucket lists. That is why I have brought the world’s foremost expert on Disney travel, Lou Mongello, on to Retirement Starts Today for an interview. Lou and I discuss all things Disney: the must-see attractions, when to go, how to plan, and what is so special about Disney. 

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:52] What’s so special about Disney?
  • [4:29] What are the must-see attractions?
  • [8:45] When to go
  • [12:53] Plan in advance
  • [15:56] Lou’s favorite thing at Disney

What’s so special about Disney that everyone wants to go there?

Since Disney is the number one bucket list item for many people there must be something extra special about it. When I ask Lou why it is so special, he is unable to quantify this phenomenon. He chalks it up to the way Disney makes us feel. If you have been, you know what he means. 

One way that Disney is able to give us those warm fuzzy feelings is with its customer service. Disney’s level of service is unparalleled. They always go beyond expectations which is why everyone remembers Disney with such fondness. No other place in the world enjoys such a level of brand loyalty. 

What are the must-see attractions?

There is so much to do at Disney. In Orlando, there are not only the 4 main theme parks but there are water parks and resorts to enjoy as well. It can be challenging to figure out what to do when there is so much to choose from. 

There is something for everyone at Disney. Lou recommends the classics from Magic Kingdom in addition to some of the newer attractions. Grandma and the littles are sure to enjoy It’s a Small World and the Jungle Cruise. The Haunted Mansion is another Magic Kingdom classic. At Hollywood Studios, the Tower of Terror and Rock n Roller Coaster are fun for the thrill-seekers in the family. And Frozen and Toy Story are hits with the kids. The Animal Kingdom safari also brings joy to the entire family.

When to go?

When planning your Disney vacation it is you’ll need to consider when to go. This will depend on your family’s schedule, but there is more to consider. Disney has different travel seasons. The peak season includes major holidays and summer. The off-peak times are the rest of the year. During the off-peak times, you can find values on food and lodging prices. 

One tip to use while planning your Disney vacation is to use a Disney travel agency. Many don’t realize that Disney agents are free to the consumer since they get paid by Disney. When planning your Disney vacation make sure to take advantage of these experts. They can help you make the most of your holiday. 

What is the best age to go to Disney?

There is no bad age to go to Disney. There is so much to do that appeals to every age group. That is what makes Disney such a great multigenerational vacation getaway. Not only is there something for everyone, but there is a wide variety of accommodations and food choices. You can customize your vacation to your family’s specific wishes. The most important thing to do is plan ahead. Much like financial planning, planning before you go to Disney will ensure that you get the most out of your family holiday.

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Lou Mongello

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