Over the past year, you’ve gotten richer without even knowing it. In fact, your wealth has increased by 30%. We’re talking, of course, about your net wealth in euros. I know these big gains don’t help much when it comes to paying the cable bill or buying a car. But you still can, and should, take full advantage of this windfall.
The dollars in your wallet are worth far more today than they were a year or two ago. Why, you ask? Well, the U.S. economy, for all its problems, is kicking ass when compared with the stagnant condition of most others. This is creating havoc in international financial markets— but for you, it’s creating an opportunity to utter one of the best lines a man can say to a woman: “Honey, why don’t we fly off to Europe?”
Whether you head to Barcelona or Berlin, Crete or County Cork, as an American you suddenly have the upper hand, and that translates to a lot more vacation. Exhibit A: Had you sprung for a junior suite at the Majestic Hotel & Spa in Barcelona last year, it would have set you back $715 per night. This year the same room costs $588, or you can get a smaller room and pay half that. At the nearby Prada flagship, a bag for your lady that would have run you $1,000 last year now costs $700. Not only do the words “spa” and “shopping” have special resonance with the females of our species, the building that houses the Majestic is 100 years old and contains more than 1,000 works of art. You get the point.
And it’s not just Europe. Americans can head to Argentina and get a double bonus: Not only has the dollar been rising in general, but the peso has also tanked for its own special reasons. The average rate for a room at the imposing Park Hyatt Mendoza was $177 in 2012, but by last year had fallen to $120. More reasons to head (way) south: Steak is practically a religion, the malbec is getting better just as fast as it’s getting cheaper, and it’s cool there in June. As the Los Angeles Times put it, “For Americans, the planet is on sale.”
Here’s how to make the best use of your newfound foreign-currency riches.