“The measure of a man’s real character is what he would do if he knew he would never be found out.”

– Thomas B. Macaulay

We start this week with a big announcement from President Obama about how he is seeking to close “tax loopholes”. (Full article here: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5gpKlcN2oB5og6-h34ilV1flq338wD97VGQH01)

And though I try to steer clear of politics here–I did want to say this:

Finding legal “loopholes” in the tax code, to ensure that you’re receiving all the money you’re due to keep, is *exactly* what we do. Now, the word “loophole” carries some emotional baggage to it, and is often associated with negative and unethical behavior, so this could seem like a controversial statement, but here’s the thing about “loopholes”…

They’re built into the tax code. Our current system is FULL of loopholes! They’re also called “legal deductions”. Now yes–there’s some shysters out there whose sole tax strategy is to take unethical advantage of every possible item in the code, thereby NOT paying their legal obligations.

But don’t you agree that you’d like to have a tax professional be able to find EVERY legal method for you to save on taxes? That’s what we do…and we spend a lot of time and money making sure we know that tax code like the back of our hands, so you don’t have to.

So this announcement this week simply means that the tax code could be changing in the future. So there’s no better time to have somebody on your side…steering you through the storm, as it were.

On to this week’s Strategy Note. I’ve heard that many of my clients and friends are looking at this strange phenomenon called “vacation”. Well, thought I’d pass along some great ways to save some moolah on booking something wonderful–AND affordable.

“Real World” Personal Strategy

Five Ideas for Cheap Summer Vacation Travel

If you can afford a summer vacation without going into debt, you should certainly take one. Chances are, you’re working harder than ever at work, and are feeling the stress of the economy and everything else. Because of all of the economic turmoil, there’s great news! This year provides rare opportunities to take dream trips, or at least luxury trips, without breaking the bank.

Yes, The Timeshare Promotions–They’re NOT Scams…

If you’re a homeowner, then you can take advantage of a timeshare promotion. Most of them offer weekend or three night summer vacations at a screamingly low price, usually less than $300. You can’t get a decent hotel room anywhere for less than that. Of course you’ll still have to pay for food and entertainment, but most timeshares also include fridges, microwaves, and maybe even a cooktop so you can make your lunches and eat breakfast in your room. Of course, you’re trading your time for this offer. They’ll give you hard sell for about 90 minutes and pressure you to sign up right then. I’ll leave it to you to decide if you buy…but they’re not always the best investment. But they DO give you a chance for nice travel–on the cheap!

Europe’s on Sale

Although the dollar is still weaker than the Euro, Europe is seriously suffering from a drop in tourist traffic, from both Europeans and overseas travelers. You can score five-star hotel rooms for four-star prices (or less). You can get into most restaurants without a long wait. Airfares offer great deals, especially if you use national airlines that make stopovers in major cities on their way to other places. Money Magazine also recommends looking at second-tier cities. For example, instead of Tuscany, go to Umbria. Obviously, there’s no substitute for Paris and London, but rather than a week in the big cities, schedule a few days there and then head to a less-popular but still fabulous location for the balance of the week.

Local Summer Vacations

Just don’t tell anyone that’s what you’re doing. This year, you might even be able to wangle a couple nights at a swanky hotel for 50% off. Museums, amusement parks, and other popular locations are offering specials to lure more people in. Investigate carefully to take advantage of the best deals. If you have an Entertainment Book, look for coupons to sweeten the deals further.

South and Central America Deals

The dollar still goes very far in South and Central American countries. If you want to visit them and aren’t familiar, consider using a site like LuxuryLink for amazing deals. Most of the offers are for off-season or shoulder-season, but summer is actually their off-season. Try to avoid the really wet season, but you should be able to find something affordable with decent weather and reasonable humidity. Before you bid, email the resort to confirm that there are rooms available during your vacation dates, then bid the minimum. It’s very rare to be bid against. Since most flights must travel through the US to reach these destinations, you can usually find decent airfares, too.

Last-Minute Vacation Packages

If you have the flexibility to get away with a few days’ notice, then sign up for last-minute deal alerts from the major travel sites, like Priceline and Travelocity. You can usually find an offer for less than 50% of the full price, often less than you’d pay for booking six months in advance. You can find cruises, hotel/air packages, or whatever else you’re looking for. I also recommend a site called: www.TravelZoo.com, and signing up for their “Top 20” email promotions. Essentially, they scour the ‘net and send you the best deals of the week!

If you plan right and use all your resources, you can score some really great travel deals this summer. Just make sure you’re not creating debt when you travel, but if you’ve got the money, this is the year for that dream trip to Paris.

To more of your money in your wallet!