Worry More

 
I saw two very different people, within 24 hours, post this same quote:

“No amount of guilt can change the past,
and no amount of worrying can change the future!”

My first reaction was, “wow, that is deep,” that whoever said that (I know who but you’ll have to keep reading to find out) must have been very wise. Then I thought about the word worry. Is worry really a bad thing? Can worry change the future?

WorriedI think the answer is yes, worry can change the future, for better or for worse.

Imagine if, like the song Don’t Worry Be Happy, you didn’t worry, if you just did whatever you felt like. That’s what children do, people who can’t see the consequence of their actions. I actually worry a lot and that’s a good thing (I’m also very happy). Worry keeps me grounded, helps me to remember that my actions affect other people including me. I have a sincere respect for consequences and I want to make sure that the consequence of any action will be positive.

The downside of worry is that we often worry about things that seem big, seem insurmountable, but turn out to be much less significant than we imagined. We tend to make mountains out of mole hills only to realize that it wasn’t that bad once we get through the problem.

I say, worry, but don’t let it paralyze you. Let worry guide you to investigate, explore, test, and monitor your progress. Worry enough that you won’t make a stupid mistake because you were too confident but don’t worry so much that you have no confidence.

The original quote was by Umar Ibn Al-Khattaab and probably appeared like this:

لا يمكن لأي قدر من الشعور بالذنب تغيير الماضي،
ويمكن لأي قدر من القلق تغيير المستقبل

 Umar Ibn Al-Khattaab died in 644 and according to Wikipedia, “was the most powerful of the four Rashidun Caliphs.” What does that mean? That wisdom is found throughout the world and throughout the various religions. What this post means is that just because something is wise doesn’t mean it is always correct.

What do you worry about and how has that helped or hindered you?


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You Can Retire Early

 

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Retire SunsetHow do you think about retirement? Is it something that’s too far off to worry about, or too close to deal with? Is retirement something you feel ready for or scared about? Do you want to retire early or will you have to work longer than you want?

In yesterday’s post I wanted to turn the cliché “Money is the root of all evil” on its head and I came up with some suggestions such as money is the root of self-confidence, independence, and security. The fact is, money is a means to an end, it’s just a tool to use.

Retirement is thought of as an escape from work, from responsibilities, from the rat race or the grind, but retirement is none of those things if you are ill prepared without enough resources, otherwise known as money.

I know that early retirement will be a reality for me (whatever retirement means for someone who asks What Next). But what is early retirement? If 65 is “normal” retirement is 60 early? How about 55 or 50? My goal is 50 but is that really possible? And how?

The answer is yes it’s possible and I present “Super Saver” as exhibit A. Super is a blogger who retired in his 40s and, as I indicated yesterday, he didn’t use any get rich quick schemes, there were no tricks, and he doesn’t have a system he’s selling to teach you how to do it.

There are three key points to how Super retired so early and how I plan on doing the same: First, he started young and got a good education in a field with potential for good income. Not every career has the same potential for high income but you have to accept that fact if you choose to take a job because you love what you do rather than for the money. As a student you should also think twice about how much debt you’re willing to take on for a job that doesn’t pay well.

Second, he knew that hard work in the short term would lead to options in the long term, he was able to advance in his career getting raises and promotions along the way. I, too, have worked long hours and pushed hard to achieve certain goals at work but I know I won’t be doing this forever.

Third and probably most important, he was able to restrain himself and live significantly below his means. No matter how many times people hear this advice, live below your means, they simply don’t listen. Yes my wife and I have a very good income but we also save a large amount. Super says he saved 10% of his income in the early years but I don’t see how much he saved later. Julie and I save an astonishing 27.7% of our income, on average, over the last 6 years.

Wealth Builder PostsSuper wrote an excellent series of posts recounting exactly how he was able to retire in his 40s and I highly recommend reading all 10 posts.

 

So many people ask, wonder, and dream of retiring early without realizing that they have the resources to do it if only they were willing to give up some immediate pleasures for the future promise of their dreams.

It comes down to choices. Do you have what it takes to make the right choices now for a better future?


Posted in General, Money, Success, Taking Action and tagged , , , , by with 2 comments.

Are You Crazy???

 
StraightjacketI’ve heard it said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing twice and expecting a different outcome. I can add to that. My definition of insanity is knowing you’re on a road to nowhere and staying there. That is what 60% of US workers are doing. These are people who are not asking what next, who aren’t willing to take simple steps to secure their future.

I wish it were possible for you to hear me scream in a blog post. START TAKING RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR FUTURE. Apparently people are much too concerned with the present to think about the future. My post yesterday was about taking opportunity when it’s available but maybe you need me to be a little clearer. You’re an idiot. That’s right I just called you an idiot and, like the classy Governor of NJ, I’m standing by my statement.

Why am I so angry? A new report from the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) states that 60% of US workers have less than $25,000 in savings and investments. People talk about welfare recipients like they’re a drain on society, well wait till the fools who only have $25,000 saved toward retirement get too old to work!

Success comes when you take action now for a benefit in the future, but according to the study, “instead of saying I’m going to save more today, they just say I’m going to defer my retirement age once I get to 65.” Are you kidding me? Yeah, that’s a great plan, right up there with playing the lottery or praying for a million dollars.Lottery Ticket

The other number that is pathetic is that only 14% of the people surveyed feel very certain that they will have enough to live comfortably in retirement. But apparently 100% aren’t willing to do a damn thing about it. There is no way to escape the fact that you are the only one responsible for your future. 

The survey does not include the value of a person’s home – which is a good thing since a lot of these people, even so called experts, probably used their homes as ATMs contributing to the housing collapse. The other thing the survey doesn’t include is the value of any traditional pension plans the respondents may have. I say “may have” because most don’t know if they do. Although 56% expect to get a pension only 33% say they have one! Was I being to harsh with the name calling?

I do not include my pension or social security in my projections for retirement. If I’m not comfortable without that money then I’m not saving enough – boy am I in the minority here! According to the St. Louis Fed the personal savings rate for 2012 is 4.6% but compare that to my personal savings rate for 2011 of, brace yourself, 32%.

I’ll admit it’s easier to get the savings rate up when your basic necessities are met but it goes far beyond that. I could easily afford an iPhone or iPad or both but I didn’t buy those because they are not a necessity. I could have an HDTV in my bedroom but I rarely watch television there and that would increase the cost of my Direct TV service. These are the choices we make in order to get up to that high savings rate and it is the reason we are so far off the charts in our savings and investments and why we have so many options.

Are you asking what next or are you coasting? With the steep incline of retirement looming, coasting won’t take you very far. What are you doing to plan for the future?

 


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Action and Reaction

 

Early in our school lives we all learn about Issac Newton and his apple mishap that led to his theory of gravity. Well Newton also had some laws of motion and his third law of motion loosely states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Welcome to world of consequences. For every choice you make there is a choice (or several) that you did not make and every decision leads to a result, good or bad.

Consequences start at a young age. Things you have control over but often don’t have the maturity to appreciate, like the importance of good grades, for example. Once we move on to the next level in life we choose our major in college or career in life, and we would do well to choose wisely. How many people are willing to go into debt for an education that may not provide the means to easily pay back that debt? That one decision will have ripple effects throughout life.

How many people delay investing in their retirement accounts early in their working lives because they think they can’t afford it, because it will negatively affect their lifestyle? The fact is that their lifestyle will be much more adversely affected in old age if they wait too long. It’s not that they can’t afford it now, it’s that they won’t be able to afford it later.

Taking a What Next approach to decision making is to weigh as many options as feasible, and to choose carefully. Asking What Next means you have a long term outlook and understand the ramifications decisions have. In financial planning terms that means understanding the future value of a decision. Put simply, the future value of a dollar invested today at 10% interest is $1.10 one year later. The future value of not going into debt to fund your education is the ability to start saving earlier and building your retirement nest egg sooner.

I don’t have children but I think I might have spent more time talking about the consequences of that decision with Julie, than most people who do have children. I’m not sure I can think of a weightier decision than the choice to have children and yet I wonder how many people treat it with the reverence it deserves.

The everyday choices we face today will affect the life we have later. Buying a house, a car, toys, taking lavish vacations, all diminish your ability to save for the future. Whether you stay in your home for a long time or move frequently, whether you buy a new car every couple of years or hang onto it for a decade, will determine your level of success. It is a balance between now and then.

The question for you is, are you well balanced? (I know what some people say about me – so let the jokes begin) Do you have a long term outlook on life? Are you confident that your choices today will still look correct a year or five years from now?

Share some examples of long term decisions that have paid off for you and some that didn’t.


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The Present Makes the Future Possible

Flying back home from Los Angeles to New Jersey I flew over my rental property in La Quinta, CA and looked wistfully at what will be. Below me was a future that the present is making possible. My present job, my present saving, my present investing is all designed to get me there sooner rather than later.

La Quinta, CA“There” is more than a place, La Quinta, it is a lifestyle, an active lifestyle of hiking and biking, of exploration and discovery. “There” is a place to meet new people and sit around a fireplace talking and sharing. “There” is a place to be awed by nature, to wake up each morning with scenery out of the most beautiful art you can find.

The first leg of the flight, right after takeoff, took us over the ocean, another place I look forward to spending lots of time. The ocean reminds me of the concept I write about in What Next, the concept of the lack of barriers.

Barriers make us feel hemmed in like a car on a road. On the ocean a boat has complete freedom to move in any direction the captain wishes. That kind of freedom is what many people search for all their lives, what I am working toward right now.

I’m on my way home to continue the work of creating a future I dream of while living a life I love.

What is your ideal future, and what are you doing now to make it a reality?


Posted in General, Outdoors, Success, Taking Action and tagged , , , by with 1 comment.