Celebrate Your Personal Independence Day


I hope you enjoyed your Independence Day holiday. As I was tending the barbecue and getting ready for our guests to come and celebrate the holiday with us, I started thinking about Independence Day and what it represented. Even though we like to barbecue, get together with friends and of course, see fireworks, there is a lot more to Independence Day than that. It is our nation’s birthday, the day we stopped being controlled by the British, the day we tangibly celebrate the right to control our own decisions about our future! We celebrate our right to envision, plan, and create the future that we aspire to.

Will You Ever Have One??

As I was thinking about these things and how they relate to our country today, 240 years later, it brought me to consider the following; How many of us will ever celebrate our personal Independence day? And the follow up question, What does it mean to have my “personal Independence Day?”

I meet people every day who think they won’t be able to retire, or worse, people who retire and are miserable because they are constantly worried. They worry about many things; running out of money, market losses, getting sick, family relations, should I move, should I stay, or dozens of other fears or unknowns that keep them up at night. You shouldn’t have to worry! Isn’t it about time you celebrate your Personal Independence Day?

The 4 Steps to Help You Celebrate Your Personal Independence Day

Step 1: Have a vision for your freedom.

What do you want your life to be when you grow up? Whether you are 30 or 70, once you can answer this question, you can make decisions that are consistent. I know many people who work hard, save, and are miserable. Once you have a purpose, decision making becomes much easier and you will make better decisions!

For the last 10 years, Sally and Mike have been working with me on their personal wealth and finances. When they came to me they had a very clear picture of their future; retire, build their dream house, move to a quieter setting, and fill their days with hiking, travel, gardening, singing in the choir, enjoying friends, fine wine and fine dining. Having this clear vision, allowed them to decide to sell their house in early 2007, even though it would be some time before they would be able to move into their new house. Originally, they weren’t going to sell the house until further down the road, but they realized having the cash from the sale, would help them with the planning of their new home, saving on cost of capital. As a result, they were able to sell at the very top of the market. Waiting just 6 months would have cost them tens of thousands, or more!

Step 2: Understand your risks and challenges, and have a plan for them.

Probably the number one reason people fail to achieve their financial objectives in life (or many other objectives for that matter), is not planning for a risk that could potentially drain  your portfolio. Risks like: health, market drops, economic slowdowns, losing a job or business, home repairs, marriage or divorce, kids moving back home, dying too soon, taking care of your parents, and a host of others can all ruin your financial security and/or your emotional security as well. Once retired, there are other risks that come into play, the biggest of which is living too long. Virtually all other retirement risks rise from just this one. After all, if I die too soon, I don’t have to think about running out of money, market crashes, long term care costs, dementia and all of the other ones. It’s only if I live long enough that those other concerns come into play.

Step 3: Have a plan for adequate “guaranteed lifetime income.”

Since all of the risks in retirement flow from the risk of living too long, this is a big one. I noticed years ago that some of the happiest retired people I have ever known enjoyed significant pension income. This allowed them to not worry about whether the stock market was up or down, what was happening with interest rates, or whether their tenants had paid their rent. As long as you are working, those things are inconvenient, once I no longer have income from employment, all of those things can become significant sources of worry and stress! In an article on this subject published by Willis Towers Watson, they show that the decline in people covered by pensions correlates with a reduction in people who are happy in retirement. They found that people, who derived a significant portion of their income on a guaranteed lifetime basis, using tools like income annuities or guaranteed pensions, were 50% more likely to be highly satisfied with their life!Without the stress of worrying about losing money in their portfolio retirees experience a big boost to happiness!

Step 4: Stay engaged.

Whether it is a second career, writing the book you always intended, volunteering, or something else that gives you energy and excitement, keep active and stimulated. Your mind is another muscle and needs to be exercised. I think the same goes for your spirit. Staying physically and mentally in shape will allow you the strength and stamina to live and enjoy your life to the fullest.

I read an article recently that suggested that you have a conversation with your 90 year old self, asking what you could do today that would make being 90 better and more fulfilling, then do those things! It is hard to enjoy your Personal Independence Day without these items being addressed: have a vision for your life, identify and plan for those things that can ruin it, make sure your financial future is secure regardless of the economy or markets, and keep feeding your mind and spirit. Once these items have been addressed, you too can enjoy your Personal Independence Day!

To help you get started on the road to personal independence, you can download a copy of our “Thought Organizer” which can help you to focus your priorities as you begin your journey.

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