Managing retirement savings while vagabonding

Some of the questions I get from travelers end up being too esoteric for my “Ask Rolf” column at World Hum, so I’ve taken to answering these queries (as I used to) at A interesting recent question came from a Sean in Louisiana, who wrote:

I got your book Vagabonding and am enjoying it thoroughly, if only for the validation of my wife’s and mine own decision to chuck it all in a couple of months for our own year and a half of traveling around the world. I have question, though. What are your thoughts on retirement savings? At the tender ages of 32 and 30, my wife and I have been dutifully plugging money into our IRAs and 401Ks for quite a few years, but wonder how others handle the topic while traveling. Any thoughts?

Here’s what I told Sean:

My first instinct was to tell you to not sweat it for those 18 or so months; that your investments will be fine if there’s a brief break in incoming money. Since I am not an investment expert, however, so I posed your concern to a couple of financial advisor friends.

They told me that you might want to place the money into some type of “asset allocation fund” (which is a fund that diversifies into different investments all within one plan) and then just forget about it while you’re away. A more conservative option would be to put your money into a CD or some type of fixed investment. This would earn low interest but there will be no risk. Finally, my financial advisor friends add that if long-term finances are a major concern for you, a good goal when you return from vagabonding would be to double up what you normally save to try and catch up a little.

Whatever you decide to do, your goal should be to arrange things so that you don’t have to dwell on long-term finances as you travel. The more you can keep yourself “in the moment” as you travel, the richer that travel experience will be.

Posted by | Comments Off on Managing retirement savings while vagabonding  | December 21, 2005
Category: Vagabonding Advice

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