Do Inadequately Planned Retirements & Unemployment Feel The Same?

30 04 2010

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An “A-ha” Moment

I’ve never been retired, but I’ve been unemployed for nearly 9 months and it got me to thinking. There may be millions of retired people trying to live off of roughly the same amount I receive in unemployment benefits! It felt like a genuine epiphany, a fresh peek into how many others might be living at this very moment… and I have to admit it was very sobering.

Loudoun County Living

I’m blessed with a spouse and therefore an extra income, so my personal situation varies slightly from the point I’m trying to make. But if I were single, it’s obvious to me how tough it would be to survive financially. Especially when I consider the cost of living in my region. I live in the DC area, and more specifically in Loudoun County. Loudoun is one of the fastest growing counties in the entire country, placing in the top 5 annually for the last 7 years or so.

Even so, my jobless benefits only give about 45% of what I was making in my last job. That’s right. Less. Than. Half.

401-QUAKES & Pension Penal Systems

In the wake of this recession, where millions lost their entire 401k savings and other retirement investments, can you imagine how many people retired only to discover they couldn’t make a living off of what was in their accounts?

Most of the newly retired folks that I speak with usually point out the initial sticker shock they had when they got that very first pension check. It’s usually anywhere from a 30% to 45% DECREASE from the salary they were drawing on a monthly basis… and these are the ones that have the proper nest egg to live comfortably. (Or so they thought)

Can you imagine then, what it would be like to go into retirement with insufficient funds? “Insufficient Funds” should only be printed on an ATM receipt when you’re living check to check, it should NOT be a retirement strategy! But then again, many who are ill-prepared for retirement can’t blame it on the economy at all. Poor money management and spending habits in your adult working lifetime will very easily translate into the rest of your retired life.

So I guess at the end of the day, the 2 can seem similar but for me I suppose the silver lining is two-fold:

1 I won’t be unemployed for the rest of my life. The last job I worked is not the LAST job I’ll ever work! Once I get back to earning a decent wage, we can resume with eliminating our debt.

2 Once we’re debt-free our focus will be to truly setup a NICE nest egg in a Roth IRA, and some Growth-Stock Mutual Funds.

But for now, if you don’t mind it’s time for me to retire because I’ve been up all night writing this post. *rimshot*

Live Invincibly,


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3 Things You & I Can Learn From The 2010 Lakers

27 04 2010


First, let me say this: I’m a life-long Lakers fan. It was my father’s favorite team in the 80’s when Magic, Worthy, and Kareem were running the Showtime fast break.

Yup, life-long… er… w-well with the exception of the

Chicago Bulls dynasty runs but I digress.

The Los Angeles Lakers of this past NBA season

have been a complete enigma to their fans.

It’s been filled with moments of nirvana…

…with echoes of … umm twisted genius…

…(Or could that be omens of impending implosion?)…


But even with their occasional inconsistency binges, there are at least 3 valuable things we can all learn from their recent season and current playoffs run to defend their title. So let’s tip-off shall we?

#1 Success is a moving target

Ask Jordan, ask Ali, ask Tom Brady.  Ask any former champion just how hard it is to get BACK on top after you’ve already been there. The Lakers are still the defending champions after winning the title last June, but what can their struggles this year teach us?

Well, for starters Success is a moving target. When I get out of debt, in order to maintain my debt freedom, I will have to continue doing what got me out of debt! The fact is I’ll NEVER be at a place where I can just say “Ah, I’ve made it, I can STOP now!” And this applies not just to money but any area in which you hope to maintain any real level of success.

#2 The larger the letdown , the less likely the loyalty

All Lakers fans are bandwagoners, ALL OF THEM, except maybe Jack Nicholson… and possibly Lakers Owner Jerry Buss. Even I have had my moments. (See second paragraph of this post.) After the last 2 losses in the first round of this year’s playoffs, even die-hard “fans” have begun to question if the Lakers can ascend the heights of hoopdom again this year. Suddenly, Naysayers abound!

The point here is that being a true fan is supposed to be an act of Loyalty. Not just the type of Hollywood “fan” that shows up court side on Christmas day, or shows up on camera just as the announcers happen to be talking about their next blockbuster, or the ones who can remember when Kobe dropped 81 points. The kind of loyalty I’m talking about is akin to the type of fan that remembers the Nick Van Exel, Eddie Jones, and Cedric Ceballos led Lakers of the late 90’s that preceded the 3-peat Shaq & Kobe special… and still LOVED them because they were Lakers.

Make sure you’re showing THAT kind of loyalty to the things that matter. You can do this by tithing, giving to charities, and paying yourself first by saving for emergencies and putting something away for retirement. Love YOURSELF!

#3 Never put all of your eggs in one hoop bucket basket

I’m talking to you, Kobe. I know ALL about your greatness in playoffs past, and I’m looking forward to your continued assault on the All-time scoring leader list next season.  But for right now, beginning with Game 5 of your 1st round series against the Oklahoma City Thunder, I DON’T need to see you chucking up every flailing desperation shot attempt on every possession down the court. If ever this quote applied, it surely applies to your valiant effort so far this post season:

“We’re all in the gutter, but some of us are still looking at the stars.” – Oscar Wilde

Your ambition in spite of the doubts and injuries is simply awe-inspiring, but at the same time, MY GOSH MAN it’s also terror inducing!

The lesson I’m learning here is to make sure you spread the wealth.

If you let all of you hopes ride on just one pony, what happens when that pony pulls a hamstring? Conversely, Just because you’re the leader doesn’t mean that your other teammates aren’t expected to perform their roles, so allow them to do their jobs too!

The same applies to your money. You never want to spend it all in one place. You have categories that each need to be addressed: Food, Clothing, Shelter, Transportation. I can’t just go out and spend my entire paycheck on Clothing and Gas. (Unless I plan to sleep in my car and drink petrol since I’m neglecting my need for Shelter and Food!) Got it? Good, now spread it around.

Well I hope this has been insightful for you whether you follow the NBA or not! These types of life lessons can be gleaned from just about any other activity in the exact same way.

Live Invincibly,


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I’m Not An Expert, I Just Play One On This Blog

26 04 2010

First, allow me to welcome myself back to my own blog! I’ve been away for a while (nearly 4 months, don’t rub it in!) but I’m making an effort to get back to a regular schedule of posting once again.

I really want to thank you as my readers for the support and encouragement you’ve given me as I meet some of you face to face! It really keeps me going when I know that my journey is being of some help to you.

Today I feel the need to talk about the value of your voice. Many people feel that there just is not much worth in what they have to say. They may feel that few people listen to them. But I really need to impress on you that this is simply not true.

Someone is always listening and watching your words and actions. You are always in a position to influence someones thoughts and/or actions with your own.

Before I started this blog, I too thought that no one cared much for what I had to say. No one that is, except for myself. I have since learned that is the most important place to start!

Now, on a daily basis I get calls and emails from people asking for financial advice. They don’t request this advice from me because I’m a PhD or any other type of expert in matters related to money. Instead, they seek my advice because it has proven track-record of results. My expertise comes from the fact that when good advice was sent my way, I took it!

People always use the phrase “It doesn’t take a Rocket Scientist to know that…” when something is painfully simple to figure out. And for me it was painfully obvious that we were doing the wrong things with our money, fully expecting things to turn out right.

This blog is my way of sharing the insights we’ve learned without you having to go thru some of the hardships we endured to learn them. I hope it is of some benefit to you!

Live Invincibly,


Me: Just Like You… But Worser

7 01 2010

We’ve all got at least ONE thing about ourselves that we are extremely critical of, right?

So, what exactly is it about me that makes me feel like I just can’t seem to get it all the way together and keep it there?!?

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m aware that there are some really great things about me, or so I’ve been told. But there are also some very flawed borderline loathsome things about me too! And those loathsome things keep getting in the way of me developing or even discovering more great things about myself.

Like my dangerous preoccupation with procrastination. I have serious issues with managing my self-dicipline and those issues start leaking into every other aspect of my life from time to time.

I’m working on it, and making progress at times, but my goodness how many times does it take to learn just ONE thing?

For example: I’ve set up a work schedule for myself so that I push out a minimum of 3 posts each week. Monday, Wednesday, Friday.

It hasn’t happened yet lol. If you look at the date stamp for this post It’s Thursday.

I swear one day I’ll get around to this time management thing… one day.

So, what’s your “thing”? And what do you do to combat it?

Live Invincibly,


Hi-Def Resolutions: The New Secret To Making That Resolution Stick This Time

4 01 2010

Let’s pretend it’s July4th… are you still keeping that resolution?

There is a mental trick you can apply to almost any goal that will boost your morale when you feel like falling off the wagon: Stop living for ‘today’ and pretend you are 6 months in the future. Imagine that you’re already 6 solid months into doing the very thing you’re starting today.

Momentum is a funny thing because it’s formed only by perception. If you feel like you’re making progress in something, then you really are making progress. Makes no difference what others say, or the results they are looking for. If you think it’s getting done, then it is!

With this thought in mind let’s jump 6 months ahead and envision fireworks displays, sparklers and flags lining the streets. Now tell yourself that you are incredibly proud of the way you’ve been able to keep from (insert your goal here) these last 6 months! See you’re already half-way home to keeping that resolution for all of 2010! And that percieved momentum will help you move a long way towards ACTUALLY keeping it together till July 4th really swings around.

In many regards this is an extension of the advice I gave in my very last post “Finish FIRST So You Don’t Come In Last!” The same trick is at work here.

Seeing beyond where you are can directly impact your end result. Can you see it yet? Then, Happy 4th of July!

Live Invincibly,


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Finish FIRST So You Don’t Come In Last!

17 12 2009

The end….

I love movies that start at the end and then spend the rest of the movie showing how they got there. Movies like The Prestige, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Forrest Gump all start off this way. And quite a few good books that do the same.

Well, in this regard life can be an open book as well.

Where do you see yourself finishing, and what steps are you putting in place to get there?

As with the examples of those movies that show you the end first and then spend the rest of the movie bringing you up to that point, I try to envision the end game to whatever I START to do in the very same way. Sometimes it works, most times it doesn’t but it’s infinately better than flying blind and jumping without a parachute.

It’s painfully simple in most instances. If you want to know where a story is going, jump to the end. You want the summary to a Self-help book check the last chapter. That closing chapter should mention all of the primary concepts that the author spent the previous x amount of pages detailing.

Dave Ramsey says “Children do what feels good, but adults devise a plan and stick with it.”  While I agree with that statement, sometimes I still feel like an overgrown Toys-R-Us kid lol. Planning from the end helps me to combat that. It shows me possible obstacles that I may need to consider and helps me plan accordingly.

Unfortunately I’m not sure how to close this post since I took my own advice and started the beginning with the end. Told you it doesn’t work every time 🙂

Finish FIRST,


The Absolute BEST Thing About Being Unemployed

8 12 2009

Y’know, being unemployed isn’t really all that bad if you’re trying to get out of debt. I know, I know , you must be thinking I’ve lost my mind but just try to hear me out on this.

The first lesson in getting out of debt is you must be living within or even below your means in order to get it done in the fastest amount of time possible.

When most people say “I’m getting out of debt”, they mean “I pay the minimum balance on all my credit cards.” But when I say ‘My wife and I are getting out of debt.” what I’m actually saying is “This month alone we’ll be sending off over $800 in addition to our minimum payments on everything.”

We want this thing to be over with! We’ve been at it for 2 solid years and it should take us another 2 to clear out the remaining $50k we have left (excluding the house note) before we can truly say we’re debt free.

But having said that, I had a revelation today: There are some major advantages to being unemployed. While I won’t go over all of them now, I do want you to leave with this thought:

Nothing teaches you how to live within your means like a sudden loss of income.  NOTHING.

If you live in a 2 income house and one of those incomes is lost, you STILL have to make things work. Lights have to stay on, foods’ still gotta hit the table, you still need gas to keep the car running, and clothes still need to go on your children’s backs! And those priorities could care less what’s going on with your money, they still need to be met and met often!

So you’re still wondering where the ‘advantage’ part comes in, right? Well, here it is: Once you’ve adjusted to making ends meet on that new consolidated income amount, when the lost income is replaced either by a new job or other stream of income you will find it easier to apply it towards setting up an emergency fund, and then applying it to your debts, past dues, and the stuff that’s gone into collections.

But here’s the catch. (Sorry but you knew there had to be one.) This will only work if you are focused and disciplined with that new money coming in. Don’t treat it like a Raise or a Christmas Bonus or some sort of Promotion because it’s NOT. At least not yet.

Get out of the cycle of sending your money away from people you always need to pay back! And do it starting with your smallest lender no matter who they may be. The purpose of getting out of debt is to stop owing folks so that you can use ALL of YOUR money for YOU! For the average person it usually takes about 2 years to do depending on their income level and the amount of debt they have. But the majority of people it should take far less time than that.

So what do you think? Agree or disagree? Well for us, I know that it’s worked in the past because for every promotion and pay increase we’ve gotten we’ve rationed some to adjust our cost of living but the vast majority has gone right toward paying down our debt. There’s just no way we could have paid off over $65k in the last 2 days without putting this concept to use.

Live Invincibly,