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,

@W

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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,

@W





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,

@W 

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ThanksVision: One Year Later (Guest Post)

26 11 2009

Below is a guest post from a close friend of mine. This time last year he was involved in a pretty serious car accident, but walked away with just an injured hand. I thought his testimony was perfect for the Thanksgiving season so I asked him if he would mind if I shared it with all of you. It’s completely unedited with the exception of the post title which I provided.

Be blessed on this Thanksgiving holiday, and be thankful for the testimony you’ve been given. – @W

I just want to take a second to praise God for all of the blessings we all enjoy in the midst of whatever we’re complaining about.

rear view
Image by rappensuncle via Flickr

Today is the one year anniversary of the car accident that should have caused me alot more “discomfort” (I use that word lightly) than it did. A year later, I still feel residuals (physically and emotionally), but for the most part, I’m just as healthy as I was Nov 11th of last year. My wife and I lost our car that day, now we have a replacement. Thousands of $ worth of medical bills have been covered by insurance/legal recovery.

I don’t know all of the reasons God spared my life that day, but I’m guessing that at least one reason is so that I can share my testimony and give hope to others. (FYI, this week at church, we were informed that another guy went through a similar accident, but his car flipped 3 times. Still like me, he walked away with a broken hand).

I encourage any and all of you to also share your testimonies. We owe God that much at the very least for bringing us through them. Sharing our testimonies is one of the best ways to share God’s goodness with others. Not what He could or should do, but what He has already done.

God is still in the saving business.

Dre





You Will Fail @ *Blank* If You Don’t…

24 11 2009

Let’s play a little game! For each word below, repeat the phrase in the title of this post, then read the word, and then think about how that complete phrase applies to something in YOUR life.

For example: “You will fail at _____ if you don’t Communicate.” *A.  Marriage

*A. Is rhetorical, there is no right/wrong answer, only examples that may apply to the associated word.

Try not to move on to the next word until you’ve mentally answered the current word. Also, when reading a new word, try repeating the entire phrase “You will fail at ______ if you don’t…”

Got it? Good, now let’s get started…

You will fail at _____ if you don’t:

Believe

Work

Move

Communicate

Hustle

Act

Care

Motivate

Play

Exercise

Risk

Calculate

Heal

Budget

Compete

Run

Survive

Rise

Ask

Study

Assert

Prioritize

Sweat

Own

Shine

Dream

Change

Rest

Pray

Persevere

Give

Read

Obey

Learn

Perform

Mature

Let’s face it, we could continue this game forever right? The basic point of this post was to basically offer you a mind check. If you feel you’re lagging in a certain area, or procrastinating on moving forward with something you want or need to do, I hope this was of help to you.

If you came up with some other words that resonated with you more than the ones I listed, please let me know in the comments section, I’d love to know what they are!

Thanks for playing along and…

Live Invincibly,

@W





Broke But Not Broken

16 11 2009

broke

Gosh, we’ve been through a whole-heckuv-alot since we’ve started our journey to get out of debt. Of the $100,000+ in non-mortgage debt we started with, $65,000 has been paid off in the last 2 years and 1 month. I don’t have time to tell it all, and there are things I may NEVER get to tell about our experience cause my wife won’t let me. There have been many momentum swings up and down and many motivation shifts from good to bad, better, best and worst again. And most of what I’m talking about has absolutely nothing to do with the dollars and cents side, but the emotional side instead. But through it all, I’ve never had a week like the one I just came out of.

I just really feel the need to share a moment of transparency, honesty, and vulnerability with you in this post. Is that alright?

This week I learned there is a HUGE difference between doing something out of habit vs. doing something out of conviction.

This week I was consumed by a level of depression that left me with virtually nothing to work with. No energy, no desire – not even for things I genuinely love to do. I felt deserted by my purpose, truly afraid for maybe the first real time since we started knocking out crazy amounts of debt way back in October 2007.

THAT was a fear like I’d never known. In October of that year I was a brand new husband 3 months into a fantastic marriage (still is…) faced with a financial situation we simply couldn’t find a way out of. There I was the new head of a household, and already felt like an utter failure because I couldn’t just ‘pay the problem away’. How can you call yourself a provider for you family when you can’t even provide the simplest form of security for your wife? THAT is the kind of fear I faced before we were introduced to Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover and Financial Peace University.

Fast forward to today and as a family we are so many things we never knew we’d become. And today in numerous ways I was given reminders of that fact:

At our FPU class today, we decided to do one-on-one checkups with each family individually just to see where they are and where we can help them be better. During those checkups we were told by each family how much our time and effort and passion have meant to them. They praised us for being quality leaders and people willing to lead against the tidal wave our society is being swept into. I never knew how powerful that all was to others until I heard it today in the depths of what I was feeling.

Then, at the Wal-Mart while I was in the car waiting my wife had a full conversation with the checkout lady about the envelopes she pulled out to pay for her items. When the lady said “I could never do something like that, I can barely pay my current bills!” My wife took it as an opportunity to encourage the lady to take a fresh look at turning her finances around. My wife basically said this: “I used to say we could never do it either, but now we’re DOING never!”

Then when we got home, our neighbor upstairs – who also recently joined the Financial Peace class with his wife –  knocked on our door with the Disney movie “UP” for us to check out… Big deal you might say, but I can’t even BEGIN to tell you how far our relationship as neighbors has come in the 5 months they’ve lived above us! While he was there, we gave him their FPU kit that had been donated by a church member. They’ve come a LONG way in just the few weeks they’ve been involved. I wish I could tell the story, but one day that will be their story to tell! PRAISE GOD!

I walked into this week’s class in full possession of the habit required to teach them how to get out of debt, build wealth and give… but I had lost the conviction. I had come to a place where my wins were coming only on a vicarious basis. I was motivated seeing them win, but no longer seeing those same types of wins in our personal journey.

So much has changed in the last 2 years… and it’s changed even more in light of the fact that I’ve been unemployed since the beginning of August.

But again, I just praise God that even though we’ve been Broke ($) we’ve never been Broken! Not even with the things we faced this week. We’ve still got another $45,000 left of debt to erase, and countless hearts to teach this stuff to.

I’m recharged and ready to try once again to…

Live Invincibly,

@W





Fear Free Finances: Halloween Edition

29 10 2009

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“Fear is the greatest diminishing return.” – Adrian Wright

THE MYTH – Mo Money, Mo Problems

I do NOT support Halloween or what it represents, but many do and I feel the need to use this as a teachable moment. See, too many of us are treating our money as something to be FEARED because many of us deal with our money from a place of fear.

“Where am I going to get the money to pay for that?”

“That’s not in the budget, what am I gonna do?!”

“What’s going to happen to my credit score now?!”

THE FEAR – I’m trapped, how do I get out of this?

Too many of us deal with our finances from a reactionary stance.

“Ultimately we know deeply that the other side of every fear is a freedom.” – Marilyn Ferguson

Well, today I say it’s high time you come out of that place. I’ve been out of it myself for over 2 years. The stress and tension is completely GONE in regards to matters of money in my life.

I’ll admit, our society is not designed to let you think you can make it to the place where your money no longer pulls on your emotions, but I now know that is no longer a myth. I’m THERE! Where are you?

THE PEACE – Financial Peace…

Because of Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University, I’ve discovered the tools to help me get over my fear of money and the stress that comes with either not having enough to pay the bills or managing it well enough that it works for you, instead of you for it!

For more information on HOW I made it to this place please go to Dave Ramsey’s site.

Live Invincibly,

@W

Photo courtesy of thetempo