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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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





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




I Think We Need A Change…

29 07 2009


Photo courtesy of Forgotten memory

As you know if you’ve been around us for even 5 minutes, we’ve been at this for almost 2 full years now! September 13th – which also happens to be my birthday – will make it official.

Within those 2 years we’ve picked up a lot of personal insight and we’ve also tweaked a number of techniques to find a more ‘custom’ fit than most of the major programs provide. We took all of the info and then applied our personal filter to it based on our beleif system, our financial situation at the time, and our decisions based on just how aggressive we wanted to be at the outset. Once we got the hang of it we essentially just let it run it’s course without much change. Sure there was a streamlining process that we had to go thru but it mostly happened as a result of our weekly budget meetings and in very small increments.

But now I’m coming to a place where I feel we need a change in strategy. And I’d prefer for it to be a MAJOR change! At times I question if we are somehow too ‘comfortable’ with the pace we’ve settled into lately. Quite honestly there are times where I dont feel very “Gazelle Intense” at all about what we’re doing.

And then when you couple with that the fact that we are quickly becoming role models through the ever-extending reach of this blog, Facebook and Twitter it becomes a challenge sometimes to manage a balance between what we’re doing as a household vs. what we want to empower you to do as a person/family.

The bottom line is that I feel the need to possibly change the way we are approaching our debt. I’m looking for a way to make it ‘fresh’ again to us in spite of the fact that we’ve accomplished so much and are now at our virtual halfway point in the journey.

I’d love to hear ideas from any of you who have felt this same way and done something about it! Please leave me a comment below or hit me up on Twitter with your suggestions!

See ya next time,

@W

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How I would save GM… The Great Auto Lotto of 2009!

2 06 2009


Photo courtesy of jhoweaa

GM is a car company right? So how would I save a car company? I would sell it’s cars! Put on your thinking caps boys and girls, it’s time to do some math!

Our Government has committed roughly $50 billion to bail out this automaker. So let’s say the average GM car cost $26k…

($50,000,000,000 divided by $26,000 = 1,923,076 brand new cars)

Let’s keep the math neat by rounding the figure to 1.9 million… that’s a lot of cars right? So then the question becomes, “Who would those cars go to?” And I would answer that question easily, “The GOVERNMENT… duh!”

In my scenario essentially, the government just contracted out GM to operate their entire fleet of vehicles. Everything from FBI cruisers, surveillance vehicles, even the *motorcades of Diplomats and elected officials can be covered by this $50b ‘contract’. (*President Obama already has a stable of tricked out limos produced by Cadillac, a GM brand, so there ya go!)

Next question: “What if the government doesn’t need all 1.9 million vehicles for it’s own use?” Answer: They raffle off the excess vehicles to the public… after all WE did pay for this bail out with our own money right? Any US citizen with the means could essentially enter a lottery to get a crack at the leftover inventory of vehicles. They could buy as many tickets as they like to increase their chances of getting a brand new vehicle for a DIRT CHEAP price.

For example if the government used 1 million of the vehicles to replenish/upgrade it’s stock of fleet vehicles, 900k would be left. Again, to keep the math clean, let’s say that 300k have a price range of $0 – $10,000. They would be raffled off at $100 per vehicle. That would equal $30 million instantly pouring back into the economy. Then let’s say that 300k have a price range of $10,000 – $30,000. These would be raffled off at $500 per vehicle. The proceeds would equal $150 million for this group of vehicles! Then lastly, we have a final group of 300k vehicles with a price range of $30,000 to $50,000. The raffle price for these would be $1000 per vehicle because of the premium/luxury nature of the lines offered at this price. This group would bring in $300 million.

Now keep in mind this is just a basic experiment and it only takes into account one raffle ticket sold per vehicle… but as I said earlier, the buyers could buy as many tickets as they like. The total revenue from the scenario we just did comes out to $480 million, and THAT does not take into account taxes, tags, and freight charges on the vehicles themselves – which again goes back to the government. I would also add a stipulation for any raffle winner that they could sell their current vehicle for no more than equal value of the raffle ticket they purchased! This would again, instantly create a secondary car market and most likely DOUBLE the figures I just gave at the very least.

And what’s more, GM isn’t the only auto company in need of this type of “bailout”. This would serve as the perfect catalyst to reinvent both the US auto market and the overall rules of engagement for the consumer they sell to.

Now, I’m sure some one reading this is going to ask, “What’s the point of the Government spending $50 billion on this example just to make back a minimum of $480 million?!” But to that I ask this question: “What’s the point of the Government bailing out GM with $50 billion and having no plan other than to ‘keep it afloat’ operationally while the company still slowly bleeds to death in this economy?!”

GM is a car company… and something needs to be done with the cars right? I don’t care how much you say you don’t like American made cars… if you could get a brand new one for $100 to $1000 you’d be down for it!

What would you do?
@W

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What the HECK are you DOING?!?!

16 04 2009


Photo courtesy of Whysteriastar

The title says it all… it’s the number one question I get from family and friends when they ask how we’re doing with “the debt thing”.

Four years ago, my financial routine was as follows: To spend nearly all of my money on multiple pairs of the same sneaker in the same color, a PlayStation game or two, and the latest DVD release from Best Buy for that week. Once those major priorities were taken care of I’d make sure I had enough money left to cover breakfast, lunch, and dinner from McDonald’s, and enough gas money to get me back and forth to work. No savings, no 401k, no responsibility. I didn’t even know HOW to budget, let alone consider following one! But me? Man, I was living THEE LIFE! …Right?

My how life has changed! Before we started this journey to evict our debt, I was barely making a salary above $40 Grand… but flash forward to today and we’ve paid off $46.5k! (Stop it, you’re making that face again.)

So what changed? In short, it’s a simple phrase but in practice it’s anything but simple:

“Live like no one else, so that one day you can LIVE like no one else.”

Over the next few posts I’m going to introduce you to what that really looks like in my everyday life.

In the next episode: “You want me to do WHAT?!?”

@W

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Suze Orman: Your Loss is Her Gain…

9 03 2009


Photo courtesy of Glennia

“I’m proud that I make money, that I work hard, that I’ve created what I’ve created. But I can tell you this: I haven’t hurt one person getting here.” – Suze Orman

Oh really Suze?

I usually don’t do this. I usually don’t ‘go after’ someone in the public eye. But Suze Orman has pressed my final button, so I just have to get this off my chest.

Orman is considered to be the most recognizable personal-finance expert in the world. And quite possibly the most polarizing as well.

Now anyone who follows this blog knows that I’m a fan of Dave Ramsey’s methods for eliminating debt and managing your finances. Not because I have a ‘thing’ for Dave, but first and foremost because he uses the Bible as a foundation for the principles he teaches. There is proven truth to what he says… he doesn’t sugar-coat it, he doesn’t water it down.

Suze on the other hand seems to “play to the crowd” a bit too much for my liking. She wont tell you what you NEED to hear all the time, because it may alienate you from being endeared to her.

I just read an article about her on Time.com called “The Queen of Crisis“. I highly recommend checking it out. But I digress…

My biggest problem with Suze is that she’s not afraid of credit. She wants credit to be your friend in turning your woes into wealth.

Last week I caught the 2am replay of Oprah. (Please don’t ask…) Suze Orman was the guest of honor and she was answering every one’s “tough” questions about this economy and their money. Questions like: “We’re getting married this summer and we want to spend no more than $50,000. After our expenses each month we have about $500 leftover. How can we afford to make this happen?”

Suze told them that they couldn’t afford it, but she then went on to tell them HOW they could afford it!

Oh, and how about the couple that wanted to remodel their kitchen and bathroom by taking out a $76,000 Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC)? Suze said “Go for it!”

Whaaaa? Excuse me? Have you seen property values lately?

To me this is reckless! While we’re facing the worst economic situation in the last 80 years, The world’s foremost financial expert is on a show with possibly the widest viewership into the ‘average American home’ and she refuses to be a voice of reason against the mentality of trying to afford what you cannot afford?! Really? At a time like this?!

In the quote at the start of this post, she says she hasn’t hurt one person getting to where she is… but I beg to differ. With advise like the variety she gave on Oprah, I shudder to think how many people she hurt in that hour alone. How many people did she just empower to continue to run their finances into the ground?

Ok, and one last question…

Why does she charge $80,000 per speaking engagement? Is her advice really that valuable? As I said before when it comes to the economy, our loss is apparently her gain.

Till next time,

@W

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