Travel in Retirement to Create Memories with Mark Comfort
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Travel in Retirement to Create Memories Show Notes
Retirement is all about checking things off the bucket list. It’s a time to turn hard work into incredible experiences, truly connect with loved ones, and create memories that will last a lifetime – and for many retirees, that means plans to travel in retirement.
Mark Comfort is a master in the art of travel. He’s the owner of Cruise Holidays and Comfort Tours, and he has spent over 31 years coordinating the complicated moving parts in his clients’ trips, making sure that things go right, and providing extraordinary customer service.
Wall Street and the financial media want you to die rich, but Mark and I want you to live richly – and have a retirement plan in place that allows you to take amazing trips. Today, you’ll learn how to make luxury experiences a part of your retirement without breaking the bank, how to escape the saving mindset when you can afford to treat yourself, and what you can do to use your money to make truly meaningful memories.
In this podcast interview, you’ll learn:
- Why customer satisfaction is everything in both the financial services and travel industries – and why travel plans should be in your retirement plan.
- The real reason Mark’s business thrives despite the fact that people can book their own trips online.
- How to think about your money as a way to bring people together, do the things you’ve always wanted, and check things off your bucket list the right way.
- Why it’s so important to do as much as you can in the first 10 years of retirement – and why so many retirees’ children wish their parents would have enjoyed themselves more.
- “Cost is only an issue in the absence of value.”
– Dean Barber
- “Spend the kids’ inheritance and grandkids’ inheritance with them, creating memories right now. You save, you work, you’ve listened to financial advisors and you’ve invested well and the nest egg is there. Do it now with them.”
– Mark Comfort
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[00:00:11] Dean Barber: This week on the Guided Retirement Show I’m really excited to have Mark Comfort. He is the owner along with his wife, Mimi, of Cruise Holidays and Comfort Tours and you’re going to love Mark’s story from how he started his business to his passion today. And we’re going to talk about living a rich life. We’re going to talk about how to travel in retirement the right way, how to do that, how to budget that in and the tradeoffs on whether you’re going to go into a really nice cabin or whether you’re going to splurge on airfare.
We also talk about building life experiences and as you head into retirement or if you’re already retired, that’s really what you’re looking for. We’re talking about how critical it is that you start making these plans well before retirement so that you can experience some of the things that Mark Comfort and I are going to talk about today. You’ll find the show description in the show notes at GuidedRetirementShow.com. If you’d rather watch us as opposed to listen to us, go to the YouTube channel, Guided Retirement Show, and we hope you really enjoy this. Let’s get to Mark.
[00:01:18] Dean Barber: Alright. So, we got Mark Comfort. He is the owner of Cruise Holidays and Comfort Tours. Mark, you’re in the travel business for how many years now?
[00:01:27] Mark Comfort: This is 31 years, Dean. Are you ready? November 14. Thirty-one years.
[00:01:31] Dean Barber: Thirty-one years. All right. So, you’ve been in the travel business almost as long as I’ve been in the financial planning business. And there’s a lot of similarities between what you do and what I do. And of course, we are all about trying to help people have a successful retirement, kind of guide them through that retirement timeframe, and your idea is to guide them through great vacations.
But before we get into that and before we get into how to travel in retirement well and how people make plans for these things, tell us about Mark Comfort and tell us about why this is your passion and what have you learned over the years and all of the people that you’ve been able to meet and serve in the travel industry.
[00:02:14] Mark Comfort: Oh, good. Let’s go back to the beginning when I married my wife, Mimi, in 1978, Dean, her father was the epitome of what America is all about, starting in high school, sweeping the floors of this construction equipment company that he worked for 57 years but he owned that company the last 30 years. Now, think about that, sweeping the floors in high school, part-time to warehouse inside sales, inside operations, Vice President of Sales, buying into the company, buying the entire company, 57 years. So, my wife, Mimi, who she and I own the business together so let’s make sure that’s said. She had that entrepreneurial spirit.
My father was a salesman and manager, sales manager. So, I had that in me too. Now, the problem was we didn’t have any money nor did we have any experience when we got married.
[00:03:15] Dean Barber: Sounds familiar. When you get married, right? Sounds familiar.
[00:03:17] Mark Comfort: That’s true with most of us. So, we went out and did our own thing, Dean, for 10 years, saved up enough money and decided on, are you’re ready for this? We knew we wanted to do a small business. She and I and maybe a couple of employees, but a specialty business. That was the key where we could give the kind of service to our customers that Mimi had seen her father do for all those years that I had seen my father do for all those years, customer service, customer service, customer service.
Dad said that for years. So, we went out. Are you ready for this? We bought a Heavenly Hams franchise. Gourmet ham. Give me a honey bacon. And that was on a Sunday at Hilton Head, South Carolina. On a Monday morning, I get up and my wife said, “Mark, we made a mistake. Made a mistake.” I said, “Mimi, we just put down every penny we’ve saved for the last 10 years.”
And I gave my hand and I shook his hand which my dad said, “You shake a man’s hand, that’s a contract.” Now, we did sign the contract too. Long story short, we had a three-day right to rescission. I prayed all day, “God, please tell me that it’s not a mistake.” And the next day I looked at Mimi and she said, “We shouldn’t be doing this.” So, we backed out, Dean, and we lost about two-thirds of our money. I went back on my word. It just ate me alive, literally ate me alive. And I’m a very optimistic guy and I went into a little funk I guess you’d call it. Not a depression. Mimi took me on a cruise to get me out of this state of mind I was in.
[00:04:55] Dean Barber: So, you just lost two-thirds your money and she takes you on a cruise.
[00:04:58] Mark Comfort: And by the way, I was furious with her for doing that, furious, but now here’s the key.
[00:05:03] Dean Barber: Did you have kids by that point?
[00:05:05] Mark Comfort: We had two kids, yes, and they are both seven and about four so pretty young. You know what that’s like when you have those kinds of expenses with kids and all this. Long story short, I was so mad at her but she paid it as you do cruises 60 days before you went. So, she’d already paid it in full before she even told me about it so I couldn’t back out of it. Went on the cruise, Dean, and the rest is history. Fell in love with the experience and said, “Sweetheart, this is what we ought to do. Let’s make dreams come true for people.” And that’s what we’ve been doing for 31 years.
[00:05:38] Dean Barber: So, tell me about your experience in working with people. Let’s go to people that have never ever cruised before. They’ve saved and they’ve worked hard and most of the people when you think about cruises, you’re thinking about people that are in their retirement years and that’s the majority of people that are on cruise ships. You’ve been on a heck of a lot more of them than I have but a lot of times I feel like the young guy out there on the cruise ship. So, tell me about what you’ve learned from the experiences that people get to have when they go on these types of trips.
[00:06:17] Mark Comfort: Dean, let’s say this. The one thing I’ve noticed about people in about 45 years of being in the business world is everybody has dreams. Everybody has dreams. Now, some people’s dreams are a little bit more, in my world, International. Sometimes people just want to go to Nashville or go to the coast or go to a beach. Other times people have a bucket list, Dean. This is the big keyword in our industry now, bucket list. Most people have a bucket list.
The sad thing about it, Dean, and this is where you, we pray for people like you and your company to do well for people because when they have the financial assets to be able to travel in retirement and fulfill those dreams and their bucket list, oh my gosh, they feel so – you just can’t believe the impact we have had a chance to see the vacations we’ve sent people on have made in their lives.
[00:07:15] Dean Barber: It’s amazing to watch, right?
[00:07:17] Mark Comfort: Oh, absolutely. And you know what, you feel good about it in here. We have the same heart you have. We want to do well for our customers. Because we know if we do that, in your field, they’ll be able to do things like these vacations, like these bucket lists, like send their grandkids to college or whatever it might be. How great is that, Dean? It just makes you feel good to be part of that process.
[00:07:41] Dean Barber: You know, it’s interesting. Several years ago, we started doing cruises for our clients and, obviously, they pay their own way, they do their own thing. But one of the reasons why we started doing it was because we might have a widower or we might have a widow and I think people like to travel in retirement with people that are in a similar type of situation that they might be in, a similar time of life, people that they have things in common with.
I think one of the most fascinating things about when you’re doing your cruise holidays is that you can help people define an itinerary. You can say these are the things that you can experience and explore and see and do where you go and you help hook them up with the right guy. You help make sure that the people that live in those different countries or different places that are there to give them the experience that they want.
And I think it’s interesting because it’s not like if they hire your company to book a cruise for them that you’re going to be their guide because you can’t do that, right? You can guide them through the purchase of the cruise and what to do but you’ve got to rely on other guides out there with us. So, I want you to talk about how do you coordinate that and what’s all involved there?
[00:08:57] Mark Comfort: Okay. Boy, this is a critical point. This issue you’re bringing up right now is the difference between successful businesses when it comes to satisfied customers and not. Our biggest job we feel is to find the best contacts, the best vendors, build the best relationships with them, give them the amount of business that they want to help us when there is an issue if there ever is and there are sometimes, but you’re right, Dean. Man, customer satisfaction is our number one goal with our business model, the number one goal. If we satisfy the customer, they come back and do repeat business with us and they tell other people about us. They give us referrals. So, the contacts that we use are critical in the end satisfaction when they’re on that vacation.
You know, we were just talking before this began about an area of the world that I’m going to take a group of people to in Egypt and in Jordan. That part of the world is an uncomfortable part of the world for many Americans to go to.
[00:10:05] Dean Barber: A little bit of unrest there.
[00:10:07] Mark Comfort: That’s right. And people don’t know. So, when they don’t know and they’ve heard about the unrest over the years, is it safe? Do they want to go? All of this? Most everybody wants to see the pyramids and the Sphinx and all the ruins down in Luxor but is it safe in a nutshell?
[00:10:24] Dean Barber: Well, you know, Mark, again, just before this, you’re a big Chief’s fan and, of course, I don’t know when people are going to be listening to this because they can listen to these podcasts at any point in time they want to but it’s no secret that the NFL will have some games in Mexico City. And you’re actually going to a game in Mexico City. I’ve had so many people go, “Oh my gosh, I’ve heard about all the killings in Mexico, I would never go to Mexico.”
And my wife and I and my kids and my in-laws have traveled to Mexico many, many times with never a hiccup but let’s go back to this whole concept of knowing where you’re going, knowing the right people to contact with, knowing what the safe places are to go, the right way to get there and all that. I want to go back to the whole cruise idea. And I don’t really want to get off on a tangent with Mexico. So, this idea of a cruise. So, Mark, somebody could go online to a cruise vendor, a cruise company themselves, right, pick one. I mean, you can see on there.
Here’s their schedule of cruises, here’s their prices, and you can book that cruise right there on your own computer. You can hop online and you can book your own airfare and then you can go on the cruise website and you can see all of the different tours that the cruise line itself offers. Sounds to me like this should be simple enough to do it yourself. So, how is it that you have a business when people can just go do everything they want on their own?
[00:11:54] Mark Comfort: Great question and I get asked that all the time. And people think it so why not ask it, right? Well, the reality is this. Experience is the best teacher. I think we all agree with that. In our world, we know the unique differences in all the cruise lines, maybe even the unique differences between ships within the same cruise line. We know the ones that specialize in entertainment, specialize in exceptional almost gourmet dining, in wellness, fitness, spa type things, as well as the itinerary. So, our job, Dean, knowing these options for the customer, from our first-hand experience allows us the best opportunity to match the customer up with what’s right for them. Now, here’s why that’s important. I’m going to use the brand name, Carnival, because everybody knows of Carnival Cruises.
[00:12:56] Dean Barber: Some of us wouldn’t want to go on a Carnival Cruise.
[00:12:59] Mark Comfort: Dean, that’s right, but some people don’t know because they’ve heard of it, right? They know Carnival. Well, Carnival might be right for that particular customer. And Dean, it might not be right. For example, if you came into me and you’ve heard Carnival, so you want to sound like you know what you’re talking about and you tell me you and your wife want to go on Carnival. Knowing you like I do, I would sit down with you professionally and ask you what you’re looking for in a vacation.
And knowing that that would not be your best option, I would do my best to give you as much information as possible with my suggestion and my counsel as to where that match or that fit would be better for the Barbers. And you would be so glad you took my counsel because in your case, I’ll use you as an example, that would not be the right fit for you. Okay. So, we know all that and our job is to put the match or the fit together.
And with the care and the knowledge from first-hand experience and we follow up with our customers to find out how they like it when they go on these different brands or different itineraries. That’s just so critically important. All our customers, Dean, over the years had found out that, and they trust us. And by the way, they like us, too.
[00:14:16] Dean Barber: So, let’s get to this whole issue of cost. Because I think there’s this notion that if I booked this thing on my own, if I do my own deal that I’m going to save money because I don’t have to pay an agent to assist me. And so, the same thing occurs in my business and I think that there’s an old saying out there and I believe this 100% and is that that cost is only an issue in the absence of value.
So, I don’t know what your answer is going to be, whether it costs more to travel in retirement through you or whether it costs more to do it on your own. But I will tell you this, if I’ve got to pay a little bit more to make sure that my experience is that much better, I’m willing to do that. I can go to a simple thing as getting your tax return done.
Now, if you want to just go get it done as cheap as you possibly can, take the risk and maybe there’s going to be a mistake. But if you want to make sure that you’ve got a good CPA that’s making sure that you’re paying as little tax as possible every single year and doing some real good planning for you, you’re going to pay that person a little bit more but think about what you’re going to save in order to do that. So, let’s go to that whole cost issue. Does it cost more to travel through you?
[00:15:25] Mark Comfort: And, Dean, that is a great question. Again, people are thinking that because that is the mentality that we’ve learned over the years. If you skip the middleman, you’ll end up saving money. That statement is true if the middleman has inventory. Before we started in this vacation business, I was in the furniture and floor covering business and I worked for wholesalers.
[00:15:51] Dean Barber: Was that before the ham company or after?
[00:15:53] Mark Comfort: That was before the ham. That’s where I made the money to buy the ham company. So, when we were with the wholesaler here in Kansas City, and I’ll use my first job out of college with Armstrong floor covering, that wholesaler had to have millions upon millions of dollars of inventory. So, to be able to make that profitable for the wholesaler, they had to have a 17% margin markup over what the manufacturer was selling it for. Now, the benefit, you could get it quick, right? In our industry, Dean, we don’t have inventory.
The cruise ships are our inventory. The resorts are our inventory. We don’t have any cost and inventory. So, believe it or not with our buying power, Dean, in almost 100% of the cases let’s just say 97 out of 100 times or 970 out of 1,000 times, we’ll have as good a price, if not better, because of our buying power.
And when we don’t have the same price, it will be just very little bit different and usually, then we’ll have added value, onboard credits, free gratuities, upgrades, things like that, that we negotiate. So, to your point, yes, people do think that maybe they’re going to pay more. In our case, they don’t in almost all the cases but I will tell you this. We have competitors like Expedia and Travelocity, and sometimes they do discount their product to a point where we can’t be competitive with them. Well, guess what? I bet it’s happened 100 times probably that I can think of that the customer went ahead and booked with Expedia, had an issue, and could not get even anything come close to getting it resolved.
[00:17:46] Dean Barber: So, experience was not what they expected.
[00:17:48] Mark Comfort: Exactly, Dean. Exactly. And that’s who wants to go on vacation in our field, who wants to invest money and not have that experience be a good experience?
[00:18:00] Dean Barber: Well, the reason you’re taking a vacation in the first place is because you want the experience to be what you expect, right?
[00:18:04] Mark Comfort: Yeah. And stress-free. Yeah, exactly.
[00:18:08] Dean Barber: Right. I mean, it’s all about this whole idea. We say that we want people to have clarity and that gives them confidence and ultimately puts them in control. Well, if they’re trying to do this on their own, that clarity probably isn’t going to be there. It’s going to be like, “Okay, well, I don’t know what’s going to happen when we show up at this port? I don’t know, really what to expect when we get into this downtown area.” They’ve never been there before, right?
[00:18:30] Mark Comfort: That’s right.
[00:18:31] Dean Barber: And, look, I did a trip. I don’t know if you knew about this or not. I did a trip here about two months ago where me and five of my friends from around the country and my two sons, we went to the Amazon River and we went giant peacock bass fishing. Now, I’m an avid fisherman. I fish pretty much all year round. And I could have said, “You know what, I know how to fish. I know how to put a hook on a line, I know what lures to use, and I can read about that.
I’m going to go to the Amazon and I’m going to catch some giant peacock bass.” But you know what, I didn’t do that. I hired a guide to take us on this trip because I knew that I was traveling half a world away to get to a place that I had no idea what it was going to be like. And I wouldn’t have known where to go, you know, to have the best experience and so I hired a guide. You know what, I would have not done that any other way because I needed to go down there with somebody that actually had done it before and was able to make my experience what I expected.
[00:19:35] Mark Comfort: Yeah. And managing expectations is huge, isn’t it? In your business, in our business.
[00:19:38] Dean Barber: Absolutely.
[00:19:40] Mark Comfort: Making sure that the money you spend on the experience you want is worth it. And that’s what professionals do like us, it’s what professionals like you do day in and day out. And at the end of the day with us, at the end of that vacation, it warms our heart when we have somebody come in with a photo album, still nowadays and photo album, full pictures of their last vacation and they just are grinning ear-to-ear. You love it when people with your counsel and your advice and managing their expectations make enough and do well enough that when retirement comes, they can do some of these bucket list trip they’ve always dreamed of.
[00:20:20] Dean Barber: All right. You bring up a critical point there because I think that a lot of people and we work with what I’ll call the Millionaire Next Door, the mass affluent. And you know the attitude of most of these people. They don’t think they’re wealthy, they worked hard, and they lived below their means their entire life, they saved, and a lot of times what happens, and this is kind of where I think my job as a financial planner really gets critical is that we have to sit down and talk about what they want the rest of their life to look like and what kind of experiences they want to have and what those experiences are going to cost, etcetera.
And believe it or not, I see people on two sides of the spectrum. I see people that have saved more than they’ll ever be able to spend but they’re so scared that something might come along and take that wealth away that they won’t part with the dollar. They won’t go spend it.
And then those other people who are of the opinion that, “I’m going to do it and I will figure out how to pay for it later,” and yet most people don’t have the clarity on what they’re able to do. So, much in the same way that you’re saying, “Hey, let’s find out what you want to do, what you want your experience to look like,” we’re doing the same thing. If somebody wants to take a nice vacation each year, okay, we need to build that into their retirement budget. And I’ll tell you, I got the biggest kick. I got to watch a guy retire this year in 2019, who he and I and his wife had been working on their retirement plan for 10 years. And they had this thing, “Okay, here we want this trip.
The day that I retire we’re going to go on this trip, and we’re going to be gone for three weeks. And then the year after that, we want to take one trip and we’re going to take our three boys, and we’re going to do this and then we’re going to take a cruise on our own. Then the year after that…” and we plan this stuff out, we built it into the budget, and you know what? I threw a party for this guy when he retired right after he got back from that vacation that he took.
[00:22:20] Dean Barber: And I’ve watched him. Now, they took the second vacation. Next year you’ll take two more vacations. And it’s in the budget. So, he knows because we’ve shown him, “Hey, you can afford to do this,” and this is what the experiences they want to have. So, I think it’s critical that people actually plan to do these things in the future and don’t start when the day you retire. You need to start planning on this stuff when you’re 50 years old and start thinking about what kind of life experiences you want to have so that they can come to Mark Comfort and say, “Hey, Mark, here’s what we got going on. Let’s plan these things a couple of years out.”
[00:22:54] Mark Comfort: And they don’t tell us this but what they know is through wise counsel and diligent savings and investing, they now have the money to do the things they’ve always dreamed about doing. And, Dean, we see week in and week out, month in and month out, especially with everybody retiring, so many boomers retiring.
[00:23:15] Dean Barber: Oh yeah, 10,000 a day.
[00:23:16] Mark Comfort: Oh, it’s unbelievable. And they come into our office in so many cases, at least I’ll tell you the examples and they’re so excited because they’ve dreamed about this their whole life. And we feel the same way you do as far as pride that they’re going to get to do this, this dream of what they’ve saved and work so hard for all their life. Now, on the other end of the spectrum that you just brought up, it just, ah it’s so sad.
And it’s usually grandma and grandpa that have worked so hard and saved, and they come into our office. We’ve seen this so many times, Dean, and they want to do this dream trip and, in many cases, it’s Alaska that they want to go to, and they can’t pull the trigger. They have the money. They just can’t pull the trigger to spend it. And then the next year, the widow comes in. Those things just kill you. Don’t you know, in her mind, she is saying, “Why didn’t we?” So, to your point, yeah, don’t be that case.
[00:24:16] Dean Barber: So, I’ve got a great story for you here. I think this ties into what we’re doing. Several years ago, I had a couple that clearly had enough money to have a really nice retirement and when we started talking about what was important and what is it you want to do and what do you want your life to look like and this guy says, “You know, I’ve always wanted to do one of those around-the-world cruises.”
Okay. I’m assuming you’ve helped people do some of those, right? Well, that’s a pretty long trip and it’s pretty expensive, right? And I said, “Well, then go,” and he said, “I don’t know if I can afford it.” And I said, “Okay. So, let me show you let’s go run this through your plan. Let’s put that expense in your plan and let’s see what happens to your probability of success of still being able to do everything else you want to do if you do that world cruise,” and it didn’t change anything. And I said, “Go. Take the trip.”
Next year comes around, we sit down, we talk and I said, “How was that around-the-world cruise?” He said, “We didn’t do it.” I said, “Why not?” He said, “I’m having a hard time,” and I’m like, “Look, you got to do this. You got plenty of money. Let me show it to you again.” So, finally, he got the message. After a couple of years, he and his wife take the cruise and he comes back and we talk and he’s crying and he said, “Best thing I’ve ever done.” I said, “Why are you crying?” He said, “My wife was diagnosed with cancer a week after we got back.”
[00:25:51] Mark Comfort: Oh no.
[00:25:52] Dean Barber: So, had he not been able to give that experience, and for him, just that idea, “Okay, I can do this,” but that’s the opposite of the story you were telling. But it’s, man, I see it all the time and so I tell people, “You know what, let’s think about it this way. I think that if you retire at 65, you’ve got maximum of 15 years of really good health and travel if you’re blessed.”
[00:26:25] Mark Comfort: Correct.
[00:26:26] Dean Barber: “And so, let’s work your budget out and let’s spend a little bit more in that first five years, that first 10 years because you know and I know that once you passed age 80 you start slowing down and you’re not spending what you were spending, just don’t feel like doing those types of things.” And, yeah, it’s hard to watch people when they should and could. And I’ll you, man, we’ve both seen people come and go.
We’ve seen parents and grandparents and when you sit back and you say what regrets do you have, I’ve never heard a person say that, “My bank account isn’t big enough when I’m dying.” That’s not, “I wish I would have done this. I wish I would have spent more time with my spouse, I wish I would have spent more time with my kids, and I wish I would have done these vacations that I wanted to do.” And what we’re talking about here is life experiences and allowing people to live their one best financial life and live with fewer regrets.
[00:27:28] Mark Comfort: Absolutely, Dean.
[00:27:30] Dean Barber: Okay, let’s take a quick break. This is the Guided Retirement Show. I’m Dean Barber. We’ll be right back.
[00:27:37] Female: At some point in everyone’s life, you have to go to school because let’s face it, a good education is important and just because you’re nearing retirement age or you’re already there, it doesn’t mean the learning stops. One of the easiest ways to learn about retirement is at Modern Wealth Management’s Education Center. There, you’ll find things to read, to watch, and to listen to about important retirement topics. So, go to BarberFinancialGroup.com.
Click on the menu dropdown. It’s in the upper right-hand corner and select Education Center. There you can download and read our Social Security checklist, watch Dean Barber’s latest video on the current state of the markets, or listen to an audio recording about tax reduction strategies and so much more. There’s no cost. Just sign up for access at BarberFinancialGroup.com. It’s as simple as that. Besides, there’s no tests, no textbooks, and I promise, not to move your seat even if you talk too much. There’s so much to learn about retirement. Just go to BarberFinancialGroup.com. Click on the menu drop down and select Education Center.
[00:28:50] Mark Comfort: We have competitors like Expedia and Travelocity. And sometimes they do discount their product to a point where we can’t be competitive with them. Guess what? I bet it’s happened 100 times that the customer went ahead and booked with Expedia, had an issue, and could not get even anything come close to getting it resolved.
[00:29:27] Dean Barber: Welcome back. I’m Dean Barber, Managing Director at Modern Wealth Management and this is the Guided Retirement Show.
[00:29:33] Mark Comfort: Let me share another experience that you probably see all too often. I know I do. And I want the grandparents that are listening and watching to think about this, as well as moms and dads. It happens so often when an inheritance is passed down to the next generation that those people one of the first things they do, the people receiving the inheritance come in and book this big dream trip that grandma and grandpa or mom and dad should have done but didn’t. And you know, that’s fine. That’s fine. Everybody has their own life to live.
[00:30:12] Dean Barber: But how many times, Mark, have you heard people say, “I wish mom and dad would have enjoyed themselves more?”
[00:30:18] Mark Comfort: Oh, I bet thousands of times. You know, we tell the grandparents of the world too is spend the kids’ inheritance and grandkids’ inheritance with them, creating memories right now. You save, your work, you’ve listened to financial advisors and you’ve invested well and the nest egg is there. Do it now with them.
[00:30:40] Dean Barber: And so, one of the things that we’ll do is we’ll say, “Okay. Do you have kids?” “Yeah, well, I’ve got grandkids. Yeah.” “Do you want to build some experiences with them? Well, you’re able to.” “Love to but you know what, they’re busy and we have a hard time getting everybody together.” And I say, “You know what, let’s build into your plan a family vacation once a year where you’re going to pay for everything, okay? And let’s build this into your plan.”
So, as simple as renting a house in Vail, Colorado for a week and flying all the kids and grandkids in and again spending that time or let’s take the entire family on a cruise but you’re getting the family together. And you know what, when you plan that stuff in advance and you tell your kids and your grandkids, “Hey, I’m paying for this. This is what we’re doing. This is where we’re going. Get the time off now because it’s coming up.” You know what, they’ll do it.
[00:31:36] Mark Comfort: They will do it too. It’s so funny that when grandma and grandpa or mom and dad pay for something, they’ll figure out to make the time available to do that.
[00:31:44] Dean Barber: Exactly right.
[00:31:45] Mark Comfort: That’s been our mission statement, Dean, probably similar to yours is in ours it’s we create memories that last a lifetime. Here, we want to help you create the wealth to create memories however that is done by spending the money that you’ve saved.
[00:32:02] Dean Barber: Right, but here’s the thing. So, in my industry, if you look at the financial media and Wall Street as a whole, they really teach you to die rich. They want you to put your money in and never spend it. My job as a good financial planner is to show you how to live rich, and your job in what you do is trying to help people have that rich experience in their travel during retirement.
[00:32:31] Mark Comfort: 100% right. And again, that comes to the value of financial planners, of vacation planners, of professionals that care, and have the knowledge to be able to accomplish the goals and dreams that people have.
[00:32:45] Dean Barber: Right. And so just, you know, going back to this whole idea why people are nervous to hire a financial planner, why they’re nervous to hire a planner for their vacations, but you know what, when that daughter got married, you hired that wedding planner I guarantee you, right?
[00:33:04] Mark Comfort: That is true.
[00:33:06] Dean Barber: But maybe just because there’s so much stress and emotion around that timeframe but, look, people have jobs for different reasons. And you know, you just have to understand. You know what, I bet if somebody said, “You know, Mark, I want to come in and talk to your company,” and I want you to sit down with me and explain to me why I should hire you. You’re not going to charge somebody to come in and do that.
[00:33:27] Mark Comfort: Absolutely not, no. And I think good for them. Good for them just like you would want them to ask you the same question.
[00:33:34] Dean Barber: Absolutely.
[00:33:34] Mark Comfort: By the way, so if they’re thinking it and, by the way, all of you if you’re thinking it, ask it. It doesn’t hurt our feelings, does it, Dean?
[00:33:41] Dean Barber: Not at all because we’re not clairvoyant.
[00:33:43] Mark Comfort: Well, that’s right. And so, the reality is we want people to explore their options. Sure, they can do it on their own, whatever that is, investing money, doing the vacation. Yes, that’s an option. Is it the best option for them? Maybe, but probably not, especially as the ramifications get bigger and bigger and bigger. You’re so right, man. When you’re 50 years old, you’re not thinking about retirement.
[00:34:14] Dean Barber: No, you’re thinking about how in the world am I going to get my debt paid down and save enough money? Finally, got my kids out of the house or they’re going to be out of the house here sometime soon. I’m going to have college taken care of. Now, it’s time for me to start really focusing. And so, what happens is, you’re in your peak earning years. You got more demands on you than ever before at work and you got three focuses, paying down debt, save as much money as possible, and getting yourself prepared for time. And you’re not thinking, what do you want that future look like.
[00:34:44] Mark Comfort: 100% correct. And I’ll say, Dean, you’re younger than I am but the reality is you better be thinking about that because it’s going to get here. And don’t you feel sorry for the people. I bet you see a lot. I know I see a lot. They get to the point of retirement and they don’t have the nest egg to do anything or literally anything.
[00:35:07] Dean Barber: Or there’s a lot of different scenarios that happened, Mark, and obviously the people that are able to come and work with us as financial planners and people who are able to come to you and work. Here’s what I think. So, you go back to that 50-year-old and let’s start creating this plan. People today in mass will spend more time planning a single vacation than they will planning for their retirement.
[00:35:38] Mark Comfort: Is that right?
[00:35:39] Dean Barber: Absolutely. You think about the amount of time and energy that somebody that comes in and books a cruise for you and the amount of questions they have and what they’ve done, the research they’ve done on the places that they’re going and what they’re doing. They’ll spend hours planning that and you know why? You want to know why? Because it’s tangible.
[00:35:57] Mark Comfort: Well, that’s right.
[00:35:58] Dean Barber: Because they can see it, right? It’s a physical thing that they’re going to do. And this whole idea, this concept of retirement is it’s foreign. There is no picture book and you’ve never been there before and your experience is going to be different than somebody else’s. But here’s what I tell people. If you spend the time planning your retirement, that you do planning a single vacation, you’re going to have so much more money in retirement that you’re going to be able to take multiple vacations, right? So, let’s plan a lifetime of, you know, good vacations on a regular basis but you got to have a good solid retirement plan in order to make that happen.
[00:36:41] Mark Comfort: Well, that’s 100% right and it is just a fact. I see it all the time. I know you do too. And it’s sad when people don’t plan ahead and don’t take advantage of the knowledge and expertise of people that can really help them and, boy, back to the fee or the cost, to your point, if it is so much better for you to pay whatever that fee is, doesn’t that make sense?
[00:37:07] Dean Barber: Absolutely.
[00:37:08] Mark Comfort: Dean, I’ve done that with CPAs for years, and I’ve upgraded CPAs over the years because our situation is different.
[00:37:15] Dean Barber: You’re complex.
[00:37:16] Mark Comfort: And I’m happy to pay what they asked is to keep our tax rates down and to protect what we have. I think it’s phenomenal. It’s worth every penny of it.
[00:37:27] Dean Barber: Absolutely. And so, you know, the whole idea here bringing you on to the Guided Retirement Show because I think that you have, you’ve got those experiences and people are going to go places. And, look, if I tell my wife, “Hey, let’s head out to Colorado for a weekend,” and those of you listening to the podcast that don’t know where we’re located, we’re in Kansas City. But if I say, “Hey, let’s go to Colorado for the weekend. Let’s head out to the mountains and do a little sightseeing.” I’m not going to call Mark Comfort to plan that trip for me. It’s a straight shot down I-70. I’m going to get there and I’m in my own country. Everybody speaks the same language and that’s a simple trip, right?
[00:38:12] Mark Comfort: It’s right.
[00:38:12] Dean Barber: But if I’m getting ready to hop on a plane and I’m going to head to some part of the world that I’ve never been to before, your example that you gave early in our podcast here of Egypt, a river cruise down the Nile River, right? You’re not just going to fly down there and hop on a boat, you know. You’re going to need a lot more planning and you’re going to need some professional assistance.
[00:38:39] Mark Comfort: It’s so wise. It’s just smart for people to do that. To your point, there are some things in life you can do on your own and it’s going to be just fine. There’s other things like the example you just gave a Nile River Cruise or going to someplace foreign, really foreign, maybe far away. You want that to be done perfectly, you want your expectations to be correct, and you want this to be a stress-free vacation, right? And you want to be able to afford to do the things once you get there.
That’s exactly, well, you help them get to the stage that they can do that and we help them make sure that vacation is the very best it can be. Dean, I was telling one of your employees, Jules Cook, earlier that I’ve taken a new theme this coming year that I just love. You may have seen that AT&T commercial that’s on that is…
[00:39:27] Dean Barber: It’s just okay.
[00:39:28] Mark Comfort: Just okay. It is not okay. And I love it. So, we’re saying, I bet you feel the same way. You don’t want a good vacation. You want a great vacation. That’s what we do. Yeah.
[00:39:41] Dean Barber: So, somebody comes and he said, “Are you a good vacation planner?” “Yeah. I’m okay.”
[00:39:45] Mark Comfort: “Yeah, I’m okay. Sure. Yeah, I’m okay.” Okay. Just okay is not okay. I personally love that.
[00:39:52] Dean Barber: I think the marketing on that was brilliant.
[00:39:55] Mark Comfort: It was. I heard another one, Dean, that applies to you as well as to me because this Midwest area, we’re in Kansas City, but a lot of our clients come from quite a ways around is that I heard it from a jewelry store that the drive is worth it. The drive is worth it to come to, in this case, my jewelry shop. I think the same is true. You know, we’ve been in a part of the city.
Those of you that know Kansas City, the north part of Kansas City up by the airport is the last part of the city to grow in people, people demographics with the money that want to take nice vacations, which should never have been up there, Dean. But the reality is we marketed better just like you, we know what we’re talking about just like you do, and we care about our clients just like you do. When you’re an advisor, you use the word planner, financial planner. That’s exactly what we are.
We are an advisor. We are counselors. We’re vacation planners. And our simple goal is to make sure they have the very best vacation they can possibly have. Dean, do you know what, I bet you six out of 10 people think they know all the options that have no idea what all the options are that they have at their opportunities to use.
[00:41:18] Dean Barber: I totally agree with all that. I want to switch gears a little bit. I want to talk about different experiences on the same boat, on the same trip.
[00:41:26] Mark Comfort: Boat, I like that.
[00:41:27] Dean Barber: Okay. And what I mean. So, you could book an inside cabin on one of the lower levels with no windows and you kind of got to enter around sideways to get around the bed and no place to put your luggage. And the only thing you’re going to want to do in that room is sleep. Now, that’s going to be a less expensive trip than if you say, “Nope, I want an outside cabin. I want a bigger room, I want a balcony, I want to be able to sit outside in the morning in my own privacy and have a cup of coffee, and I want to have room service come in. Now that’s a different experience.
[00:42:13] Mark Comfort: 100% and that is our job, Dean, to paint the picture and make sure the consumer has the options and knows whether the value for the difference in price is worth it to them.
[00:42:25] Dean Barber: That was my point, right?
[00:42:27] Mark Comfort: Yeah. And it’s all about value, isn’t it? It’s all about satisfaction. I have never had anybody complain. Never in 31 years that they took a balcony cabin instead of an inside cabin on a beautiful destination say like Alaska. Never.
[00:42:41] Dean Barber: Right. So, I got this beautiful balcony cabin and maybe I’ll spend another few hundred bucks for the whole cruise. Well, question is, is it worth it? Now, in a lot of these places you’re going to go one time just like retirement. You get one time, right? You’re going someplace you’ve never been before. Do it right.
[00:43:05] Mark Comfort: Yeah. Exactly, Dean. And that’s where the counsel from a professional that knows and cares is so valuable. I would actually say invaluable.
[00:43:18] Dean Barber: Let’s talk about the trip there because I had an interesting conversation with a client of mine who’s not yet retired, very successful businessman, and he’s well on his way to an early retirement and this guy likes to travel. He’s single, but he’s got a brother that lives over in Europe. He’s in the military and he’s got a niece and a nephew over there as well. And so, he likes to travel over Europe and he always books and some travel around, going to see his family over there. Then he says to me, “You know, Dean, I can afford to get that business class ticket or that first-class ticket but I can’t do it.” I said, “Well, why not?” And he said, “I think if you think about it really, I would rather spend the money on other things once I can get there.”
And I said, “Well, let me ask you a question. What about this? What if you’re getting ready to board your plane, and they’ll upgrade you to first class for $500 going from here to Europe?” He said, “In a heartbeat.” But he was thinking that the only way you get it, but then and you know this, sometimes there’s those upgrades available if you book your tickets right and you do the right thing. So, it’s understanding what you want and what’s most important to you and just like in travel and in retirement, sometimes we have tradeoffs. And so, I think one of the valuable things that you do as a vacation planner is help people understand, okay, these are the tradeoffs that you’re going to have if you choose these different options.
[00:44:51] Mark Comfort: Exactly, Dean. Exactly. Options and understanding the options and then matching that up with values and expectations, that’s really what we do. And then our job is to make sure that we funnel the opportunities. We give the opportunities to the people to make decisions. You use the example of business class here. That’s a big one right now. We’ve seen more people decide to upgrade to business class on long flights, let’s say Australia, New Zealand, Asia, South Africa, places like that, that are long, long flights.
And it’s our counsel to say, “This is my recommendation to you, especially if you’re a tall guy or something like that or whatever it might be, go ahead and spend some of your kids’ inheritance right now and spoil yourself. You deserve it.”
[00:45:41] Dean Barber: Right. Do the business class and maybe you don’t book the suite. Maybe you just book a normal cabin, right? Which one’s going to give you the most comfort and do what you want to do, right?
[00:45:53] Mark Comfort: That’s right, Dean. And we help them weigh the options so they decide which or both they do or not because you’re right. To some people, they’ll say, “Well, we’re on that cruise for 12 nights. I’d rather have the suite on the ship for what I pay for business class air.
[00:46:09] Dean Barber: There you go. I’ll suffer through that 10-hour flight or whatever.
[00:46:14] Mark Comfort: And we say we can help you with Ambien or melatonin or wine or whatever.
[00:46:21] Dean Barber: Well, the reason I bring that up is because when we’re helping people plan their retirement and we talk about annual vacations, we kind of get an idea of what kind of a budget we can have. And so, they know people in retirement. They still do have a budget and so we might say, okay, we’re going to spend $15,000 a year on vacations. So, this is my budget, my $15,000. So, I’m going to come to you and say, “Mark, okay, I got $15,000 and this is my one vacation for the year. Now, let’s lay out all the options so that I can figure out the best place to spend that money.”
[00:46:52] Mark Comfort: And, Dean, that brings up a good point that I want to hear your input on because we get those requests all the time, “Hey, Mark, I’ve got this amount of money and this is what we want to do. Now, many times it’s the guy saying that.
[00:47:08] Dean Barber: Well, if they haven’t done any planning, that’s probably true.
[00:47:11] Mark Comfort: So, now we look at the wife and let me ask you this when I’m done. Part of our job as counselors and that’s what we call our salespeople as counselors is many times one of the two in a couple of situations have a totally different game plan of what they want to do. So, part of our job as counselors is to say, “Okay, let’s make sure with this 15,000 that it’s something both of you are happy with. Or if you’d rather, Mr. Smith, you get to make the decision next year, Mrs. Smith, you should make the decision the year after.” So, we help counsel people that way. And I bet you do the same.
[00:47:51] Dean Barber: 100%. And sometimes it is a scenario of you know what, we’re going to spend a little bit more this year, look, we budgeted for these travels every year. We’re going to spend a little bit more this year because we want to do this extra bit and then the following year, we’ll scale it back just a little bit. And as long as you have that clarity and the biggest thing that happens, Mark, is that when people quit working, the clarity of, “Where’s my income going to come from and what’s okay to spend?” becomes quite foggy and that’s where the financial planning comes in. So, helping people understand what’s actually able to be spent on a yearly basis.
[00:48:24] Mark Comfort: Foggy, I love that. That’s a great adjective. That paints a really good picture. In our world, we say people get confused. My gosh, you can go to the internet, Dean, as you probably know, I bet your wife has done this 100 times, and all the information out there that is not always 100% accurate can still be very, very confusing.
[00:48:42] Dean Barber: But if it’s on Facebook.
[00:48:44] Mark Comfort: Yeah. If it’s on Facebook, how do you know it’s true, right? That can be very confusing. And people end up we have so many people come to us because they’re just so frustrated that they’re confused and they’ve spent like you say, hours and hours, days and days, weeks and weeks on this and they’re no closer to making a decision now than when they were when they started the research.
[00:49:06] Dean Barber: Mark, this has been a blast talking to you about this and hopefully we have kind of made some people think about it. Again, this whole thing it’s about you. You want a rich life, right? You don’t want to die rich, you want a rich life! So, get your financial plan in order and include some great travel in retirement and some great trips and maybe it’s trips with your family and your loved ones and don’t hesitate to reach out to Mark Comfort of Cruise Holidays and all his contact information will be in the show notes here and you’ll be able to check that out. We’ll also have a link to his website and so, yeah, make it happen, man. Live your life and you only got one time to do this, right?
[00:49:50] Mark Comfort: And make memories with your family, with your loved ones, with your friends while you can because, Dean, you said it earlier. When I’m done with this podcast, I’m going to the hospital. One of my best friends just had a stroke last Saturday. He’s in the hospital now. They’ve already canceled their winter, or excuse me, their December vacation, and they’re probably going to have to cancel their spring break vacation. They didn’t plan this.
[00:50:18] Dean Barber: How old is he?
[00:50:19] Mark Comfort: He would be 68.
[00:50:20] Dean Barber: Oh my gosh, I have a client exactly the same thing. He had planned on retiring at 70. This would be two years ago now but he had a stroke at 68. Everything changed. And you know what? That’s the thing that we don’t know. We got one chance. Do it while you’re healthy and make sure you get your plan in order. Mark, thanks for being here. Appreciate it.
[00:50:39] Mark Comfort: Dean, it’s a pleasure. Let’s do this again.
[00:50:41] Dean Barber: Absolutely. Been fun.
[00:50:43] Mark Comfort: Thank you.
[00:50:43] Dean Barber: All right.
[00:50:45] Dean Barber: All right. There you have it. Mark Comfort of Cruise Holidays and Comfort Tours. I’m going to tell you this if you want to book a vacation and you want to make sure it’s done right, you’re going to want to go to Mark Comfort of Cruise Holidays and Comfort Tours. You can find all of his contact information in the show description at GuidedRetirementShow.com. And you can also find the show notes, links to resources and show transcription at GuidedRetirementShow.com/14.
That’s GuidedRetirementShow.com/14 as well as go to, he’s got a website out there. All that’ll be in the show notes and we really appreciate you being here. And here’s something else. I want to leave you with this. Spend as much time planning your retirement as you do your vacation, and that’ll allow you to have many more vacations. Look us up, give us a call, meet with one of our financial planners. Let’s get things set up so that we can be your guide for a successful retirement.
Investment advisory service is offered through Modern Wealth Management, an SEC-registered investment advisor.
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Investment advisory services offered through Modern Wealth Management, Inc., an SEC Registered Investment Adviser.
The views expressed represent the opinion of Modern Wealth Management an SEC Registered Investment Advisor. Information provided is for illustrative purposes only and does not constitute investment, tax, or legal advice. Modern Wealth Management does not accept any liability for the use of the information discussed. Consult with a qualified financial, legal, or tax professional prior to taking any action.