Raskin Planning Group

Financial Lessons We Learned This Summer

It's hard to believe September has arrived. Summer in New England is just too short. This summer was particularly busy for our team at the Raskin Planning Group as we vacationed, sold and bought homes, moved and learned to sail. We thought you might enjoy hearing about some of the lessons we learned this summer. It's not all financial, humorous or life-changing, but the list below gives you a window into the summer experiences of our financial planning team.

Peter's Family Vacation in Italy

  • If you invite your adult children to vacation with you in Florence, Italy, they will accept your invitation. This can lead to a very expensive vacation.
  • Make a budget - it's easy to get carried away with summer fun.
  • When traveling in Europe, don't bother trying to figure out how much things cost in U.S. dollars. Assume that everything is a lot more expensive. Don't let an overpriced cup of espresso or gelato ruin your day. Look for other ways to stay close to your vacation budget.
  • Sitting outside in the piazza or city square was a wonderful way to relax in the late afternoon or early evening before dinner. We would sit on the steps of a church built over 500 years ago, drink a bottle of wine and watch tourists and students from around the world. This was a lot less expensive than sitting at an outdoor cafe.
  • Does your U.S. bank have a relationship with a European bank? Using that bank's ATM in Italy allowed us to withdraw Euro's without a fee. This was less expensive than always using our credit card.
  • The ATM machine in Florence ran out of Euro's a few times, especially during the weekend. Not something you typically see in Boston, so we learned to be prepared by getting enough cash before the weekend.
  • Food and wine are important aspects of Italian culture. Restaurants are wonderful, but don't feel like everyone needs to order their own antipasto, primi, secondi and dessert. Sharing is OK and helps the waistline and wallet. It took us a few days to figure this out. Also, the house wine served in restaurants was usually pretty good and reasonably priced.
  • We needed to have a cell phone that worked in Europe and rented one for the time we were away. We didn't use it very much but it gave us peace of mind that we could be reached if necessary.

Second Homes and Moving

This summer Jessie and her husband Steven decided to sell their home in Lexington, move into Boston, and purchase a home on Cape Cod. Rachel, our newest staff member, also moved. Here is what they learned:

  • When you purchase a second home within a mile of the beach, expect to pay a lot for homeowner's insurance and be prepared for a large deductible for wind damage.
  • Get pre-approved for financing before you make any offers to purchase. With second homes, lenders are requiring an extraordinary amount of documentation during the underwriting process, even for those with excellent credit. Expect delays. It can take four to eight weeks and is very stressful, especially when you get close to the closing date.
  • Moving is an emotional ordeal ... you don't eat or sleep well and you are on decision-making overload. There are always time constraints and deciding what to keep, throw-away or give-away can be overwhelming. While it is easier said than done, spend the time months or years before your expected move sorting through closets, drawers, dressers, basements and attics, making those tough decisions. You will be forever thankful.
  • Check on-line to see what items charitable organizations will accept before you drop them off. You will be surprised to find out what many organizations will and will not take. Goodwill in Massachusetts does not accept toys.
  • Check your town website for links to organizations that take recycled materials. Better to recycle than fill up our landfills. There is a wealth of information out there and some really wonderful programs worth supporting.
  • If possible, schedule your move mid-week in the middle of the month and avoid weekends. You can save any where from 15% to 20% on moving costs if you have flexibility. Hire a professional mover, but don't try to cut costs by using a mover with the lowest fees. Many companies use summer help that may not have been properly trained. Moving companies charge by the hour and an efficient, well trained mover may cost less when all is said and done.
  • Buying versus Renting a Residence: Interest rates are low, housing prices have come down from their peaks and it may be a good time to buy. Nevertheless, renting may be your best option, especially if you may want to move in a few years. Don't commit to the high costs of a purchase and the ongoing carrying costs of home ownership unless you are certain about the location and have a long-term perspective.

Local Boston Activities

Peter joined a sailing club this summer and is learning to sail. Justin enjoyed the family powerboat with friends and family, motoring along the coast between Ipswich and Boston.

  • Membership in a sailing club that gives you access to well-maintained sailboats is much less expensive than buying a boat.
  • Not worrying about the boat during the inclement weather is a nice benefit.
  • When the cost of gasoline increases, powerboating becomes even more expensive. Reduce your speed in order to use less gas.

We hope that you too enjoyed your summer and learned something while having all that fun. Please send us a quick email to let us know what you did and what was learned this summer. Thanks for sharing!

By Peter Raskin

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