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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Spark Your Debt Reduction with a Firesale

21 10 2009

match strike

During the past 2 1/2 years that we’ve been trying to get out of debt, my wife and I have exhibited all of the true hallmarks of a “Gazelle Intense” couple… well all except for one. We’ve worked extra jobs, we’ve trimmed our budget to the bare minimum necessities, we’ve just about done it all except SELL some stuff.

Dave Ramsey has a saying that goes like this “Sell so much stuff that the kids think they’re next!”

We’ve – or at least I have — always been on the fence about selling things to raise extra cash. Now, I’ll freely admit that some, no most of the issue is pride. It’s hard letting go of things you worked so hard to purchase. And that is especially the case if you are selling the items because you either need the cash, need the extra space or if the items are in perfect working order. All of the previous 3 examples apply in our case and in some ways that adds to the challenge.

But in all actuality we really do need the space, we have a 2 bedroom condo stuffed to the gills with various items that we are not using. Only 2 people live in this house but somehow we have 3 bikes lol. And up until a few weeks ago our 2nd bedroom was serving as on-site storage for everything that we either didn’t have a staged place for, or didn’t want to use, but also didn’t want to lose.

Then comes the challenge (at least for me) of finding the motivation to come up with a price list, take pictures, and then post a compelling ad on Craigslist and the local want ads and the other various channels (church bulletins, ect)

But alas the time has come to put add a notch to our belt of Gazelle Intensity. We could use the proceeds to pad our Emergency Fund at this time since I’m still unemployed.

And as an added benefit my mother is preparing to move to Florida next month and she’s already offering for us to post anything she’s not taking down there with her AND we get to keep those proceeds as well!

In truth maybe this won’t be so bad. And besides we know this is only temporary. So if you’re in the market for a bunch of gently used stuff (we take really good care of our things, which is a blessing.) hit me up lol! I’ve got a leather office chair, L-shaped glass desk, high-powered telescope, set of 2 grey video chairs, printer-copier-scanner, stainless-steel mini-fridge (perfect for a man cave), Full-sized bed frame/mattress/box-spring, 27-inch tv, M&F mountain bikes, and a whole lot more that’s getting ready to be posted.

The 2009 Invincible Living Firesale… get it while it’s HOTT!! Lol

Live Invincibly,


Photo courtesy of mad_airbrush

These "Baby Steps" AIN’T for Babies!

28 04 2009

Photo coutesy of Bettina.Schwarz

In the last 2 posts I’ve kind of gone thru a sort of ‘reset’. Maybe it’s a second wind of sorts? I dont know. But I’ve felt the need to simplify the emotions and actions WE (my wife and I) faced when we first started out so that YOU can duplicate them as much as possible.

In the first post of this mini-series, I laid out exactly what we’re doing and how it has helped us pay off $49,000 in debt in only 19 months! In the second post I continued to zoom in on the mindset and underlying philosophy of “Living Like No One Else”.

Luckily we never felt overwhelmed with the process, and I think that is in part due to what I intend to share with you in this post. In his book The Total Money Makeover, Dave Ramsey calls them the Baby Steps. They are meant to be simple bullet points on your journey to debt freedom.

But please dont sleep! Just because these steps are simple, doesnt mean they’re for ‘simple’ people. It takes vision, committment, and perseverance to see these steps through to completion!

I want to take a few moments to list them out below, but I’ll delve deeper into each step in future posts.

Step One: Save $1000.00 CASH as quickly as you can to start “Emergency Fund”

Step Two: Pay off ALL debt in order from smallest to largest using “Debt Snowball”.

Step Three: Save 3-6 months worth of expenses, to fully fund “Emergency Fund”.

Step Four: Invest 15% of income into Roth IRA’s and Pre-tax retirement.

Step Five: Begin funding your childrens’ College Educations.

Step Six: Pay off your home early

Step Seven: Build Wealth & GIVE! (Mutual Funds, Real Estate, ect.)

Step “Zero”: STOP using any forms of credit and accepting new forms of credit.
Pretty simple and straight forward right? Well yes, and no. Yes, because they set a framework for you to follow. No, because if you dont follow the framework that has been set… you’ll only be making it harder for yourself. In addition, these steps can’t tell you how aggressive to be in your Total Money Makeover. The intensity level must be left up to you.
The downfall to the simplicity of this plan is that so many “SMART” people in this world think they need to re-invent the wheel and make it more sophisticated. But as the saying goes “K-I-S-S” (Keep It Simple Stupid).
As I said before, I’ll be breaking each step down and explaining why the order is so important. I’ll also be sharing exactly why we REALLY chose to stick with this system. As you become more and more familiar with the steps, you will inevitably feel that something is “wrong” about them. This is natural! At first, I did too, until I realized how CONDITIONED i had become by the FICO scores and the credit card industry! They NEED you to NEED them, and they’re NOT going to make it EASY for you to cut them loose!
We’ll talk about that further in my next post where I’ll address the ‘objections’ I’ve heard toward getting out of debt. The reason objections is in quotes is because the people objecting were spitting out all the BS that is fed to them daily by the media and credit card industry.
Next Episode: “Paying On It VS. Paying it Off”

You are worthy of the journey!


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A Near-crash Course In STUPID TAX!

17 08 2008

Photo courtesy of rollingtheberries

I messed up royally yesterday…

Stupid Tax can be defined as anything stupid you do that ends up costing you money. Simple as that. It can be that get rich quick scheme that is so “foolproof” that you used your rent money as the down payment. It can be that $700 white Prada bag you accidentally spilled nail polish on (let’s have a moment of silence for the ladies, I know they felt that one. lol)

So yeah, I messed up yesterday. It’s almost a shame because otherwise it was a truly PERFECT day! We got to church early. (A rarity.) We took communion. (MUCH needed.) We spent time with our friends and church family. (Always a pleasure.) And then we decided to drive across the Potomac and check out the newly opened National Harbor.

It was nice over there but we didnt stay because my wife didnt have a change of shoes and I didnt want her feet to hurt. So we were headed back to VA, and while trying to merge onto 95 South, I saw a muffler lying in the middle of the lane. The car in front of me centers their car and rides right over it without incident… I try to do the same… center my car over it and…

The muffler somehow nicks the inside wall of my front driver side tire… instant blowout.

See friends, THAT’S stupid tax lol. Like I alwasy say: If you’re gonna fail, fail epicly! lol

But here is the amazing difference between the stupid tax I used to pay with regularity, and the stupid tax I occasionally have to pay now: There is no pain, and there is no panic. Instead there is peace, Financial Peace, because I’ve already budgeted money for my mistakes. It’s called our emergency fund, and this situation is a prime example of why you need one.

We have money in our emergency fund to cover replacing the blown tire. And that’s all there is to it. We just pay to replace the tire and keep it moving! No wringing our hands. No being caught financially unprepared. No flared tempers with the wife and no arguing.

Financial PEACE.

Once again, my wife was effortlessly calm, and supportive. Her disposition in times of adversity truly humbles and awes me. We were on the side of the road laughing and cracking jokes as I put the spare tire on! Once I finished putting it on, we spent the rest of the afternoon driving the long way home thru DC. We just had a BLOWOUT, this is supposed to be serious emergency stuff and we’re both as carefree as we were at church earlier!

On that note, I’m certain that our taking communion earlier at church played a large part in the peace we felt in this situation as well.

Isaiah 26:3 (KJV) says: Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.

The Word aint no joke! That’s exactly where my mind was (On Him), so I know that’s where the real peace came from… peace that not even all this money talk can’t buy.

Thank you Jesus,


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Our First "Non-emergency" Emergency

27 06 2008

Photo courtesy of ultramarineblue

*The names, faces, dialogues, and timelines have been changed to protect the author – er I mean the innocent. lol

Tuesday morning 8:57am
My wife and I woke up, got ready for work, left the house, hopped in the car…. and just SAT there. When I tried to start up the car it seemed like all sorts of crazy things happened all at once and there were all kinds of alien error messages on the display that I’d never seen before. I tinker with the lights, door handles, the key, etc trying to mojo my car to life but It’s not happening.

9:20 — (To my wife) “Well I have that plug-in battery charger in the trunk, let me hook it up and we’ll be on our way…”

9:30 — (To the charger) “What do you mean your batteries are dead?!?” Oh the irony…

9:40 — (To my wife) “Well, I guess we better just call AAA…”

9:45 — (To the person on the phone) “What do you mean it’s expired?!?”

10:00 — Thinking…

10:15 — Still thinking…

10:16 — At this point *’Husband Panic’ sets in. That’s what I like to call it when you know your wife is waiting on you to make a decision but you dont know WHAT to do! And to make it worse, every option you’re considering has dollar signs attached to it. * This occurs internally and is completely undetectable by the wife. (Yeah right!)

10:20 — We do what we must, we use our emergency fund to renew the AAA membership, because well this is a full fledged emergency.

Fast forward to 11:30
AAA arrives. The car is completely dead now, no response at all. He gives us a jump and we decide to try to drive the car for a while to see how it’s performing.

12:30pm — Obviously neither my wife or I are going to work today so we focus on the issue at hand: making sure our car is alright, it’s the only one we have… and right now, though it’s running, it’s not letting us get out of first gear which makes me very very affraid. (My ‘Husband Panic’ is saying, “$ Please $ don’t $ let $ it $ be $ the $ transmission $!!”)

12:45 — While eating lunch in the car – which has been running since 11:30 and wasting our precious gas away and is now down to 1/8th of a tank – we decide to pray for guidance on what we should do next, and that this not set us back financially.

12:50 — My wife remembers seeing an auto shop that specializes in servicing our make of car. So we drive over there, talk to the mechanic, and I reluctantly agree to let him run the $90 diagnostic.

1:30 — He comes back and tells us that ALL of the problems are being caused by a bad battery and that he has reset the onboard computer parameters for us free of charge, and that he is also willing to install the new battery at cost! (without any service chages, etc) Praise God!

2:30 — A family member came over to the shop to loan us their 2nd vehicle if we needed it, which at this point we do. The costs have slowly been mounting through the day and they have now exhausted our emergency fund.

The AAA, the diagnostic charge, and the replacement battery did us in, but our emergency fund did it’s job perfectly!On top of this, I have every reason to be thankful that this emergency was able to be contained within our emergency fund at all! I was thinking of electrical damage ($$$), transmission work ($$$) and possibly engine work as well ($$$), but God protected us from those types of financial difficulties!

Equally important through this ordeal was the poise of my wife, and our ability to be of the same mindset in the midst of the storm. We both saw this as a CLEAR opportunity for God to show himself on our behalf, and He did just that. It was beautiful to see our Spiritual Peace working in tandem with our Financial Peace during this situation!

A friend of mine once defined a financial emergency simply as “Anything that happens that you have no financial provision for.” So I guess I can’t truly call this an emergency at all, we had the financial provision, and more importantly the Devine provision to weather this particular storm.

Isaiah 26:3 says:

You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.

Thanks again for joining me,


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Snowflakes in June!!

26 06 2008

Photo courtesy of redjar

We finally did it, we became a part of the snowflake revolution!

What is “snowflaking”, and what’s so great about it? Snowflaking is a spinoff of the Debt Snowball concept. Jaimie at I’ve Paid for This Twice Already puts it this way:

“What are snowballs made of? Snowflakes!”… “I also try to collect little bits of money wherever I can, and to apply those to my top priority debt (my credit card).”

As of our last check in June we’ve decided to try to snowflake as much as we can to replenish our emergency fund. For me this is great, because I was personally already trying to do this for my food money anyway, now I just have the seal of approval from the wife to do it across all of our finances.

Since I’ve been paying by cash for my food using the envelope system, each day I come home with a pocket full of change. I drop it into my automatic change counter, and at the end of the month take it to a local bank and exchange it for bills. I would then use the cash towards buying a small personal reward like a CD, or I would put it towards a household expense. But now I’ve decided to make sure that all that change, and any other remaining money from the previous paycheck go towards our emergency fund.

I’m becoming what Dave Ramsey calls “Gazelle Intense!” Cheeetahh!!! (If you dont understand, click the link…lol.)

Unfortunately that’s all I have time to post right now.

Thanks for tuning in!


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