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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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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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




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,

@W

Photo courtesy of mad_airbrush





Allow Me to Re-Introduce Myself…

4 09 2009

Hello

So who am I today? That’s the question I’ve been dealing with for the past month

2 years ago, I was a novice. A newcomer to the concept of debt elimination. I had no idea it would be my ‘golden ticket’. I had no idea I would be changed so drastically. And just like one newly converted, I ran with the message telling it near and far.

1 year ago, I was a seasoned vet. Thriving in my newfound calling, and loving the ‘success’ we were having with the Ramsey plan personally ($30k paid off that year!), professionally (2 job promotions that year alone!), and publicly (The blog soared to new heights, and we helped more families than we ever imagined!)

But today I stand at a crossroads. Sure the ‘wins’ keep coming. We’ve knocked out $60k in debt to date, and we’ve moved from being “@Risk” to near “Invincible” but life threw us a major curveball last month when I lost my job. It makes it hard to practice what I’ve become known for preaching lol. And for all the accomplishments and momentum and energy we had produced, it now feels like we’re starting over from the beginning.

So I’m still left asking myself, who am I today? After all, yesterday’s trophies don’t help you win tomorrow’s game. See, although we paid off half of our debt in just 2 years, we still have the other half left to extinguish. And though we were chugging along full speed ahead, we’ve since had to cut the engines and come to a virtual stop due to this new obstacle lying across our railroad tracks.

Well, today I’m convinced that our new plight has opened the door to a completely new audience. And I’m also convinced that this new audience – the unemployed – are much more likely to receive my advice with open arms.

Apparently, killing off $60k in debt in 2 years wasn’t impressive enough for some. So now for an encore I intend to see if we can still close out all of our remaining debt in the next 2 years or less! That means landing a higher paying job, and also transforming this blog into a viable source of income for our household as well. The only basis I have for believing we can do it is what I’ve already seen us do.

But alas, I digress. I started this post by asking who am I today. But in truth the question should be what am I today?

I’m an instrument. A vessel. Always have been, always will be. It’s a pleasure to meet you!

Live Invincibly,

@W

Photo courtesy of tactical_panda