Many folks are feeling as much anxiety about the end of this contentious presidential election as they were feeling during the long months of campaigning. It’s impossible to predict with 100% accuracy what a new president and a new Congress are going to do. That feeling of uncertainty can send out ripples through our financial and political systems until we get a clearer picture of the agenda for the next four years.
As important as elections are, we believe that a solid financial plan gives you the tools to keep improving your Return on Life no matter what’s happening with our nation’s politics. Instead of fretting about what may or may not happen starting in January, try to focus on these three areas of your life that will help you control major transitions.
You can’t control the economy … but you can control your career.
Elections sometimes spark short-term volatility in the financial markets. But the economy is bigger than any one president, especially while Covid-19 continues to change everyday life and global business.
As companies continue to adapt to the pandemic landscape, job opportunities are becoming less centralized and more diverse. You might be able to take your dream job on the other side of the country without leaving the home your family loves. Or you might spot an emerging market in the middle of all this displacement where you can open your own company.
You can’t control taxes … but you can control your saving and spending.
Presidential candidates talk a lot about their tax plans on the campaign trail. The need for Congress’ cooperation to put that plan into action usually isn’t discussed quite as much.
Whether your preferred candidate won or lost, there’s no guarantee that your taxes are going up or down. But you can anticipate when your kids will be going to college, if you’ll need to replace the family car soon, or if you want to move to a beachfront condo when you retire.
Your tax rates will play a role in handling these transitions. But your levels of saving and spending have a bigger impact on your financial plan than any other factor. If you’ve never kept a monthly budget before, make 2021 the year that you start. Sit down with your spouse and weed out all those recurring subscriptions and memberships you’re not using. Make a weekly meal plan so you’re not eating out so often. The couple hundred dollars you economize every month could grow into a comfortable padding for your nest egg over time.
You can’t control who’s president … but you can take control of your financial plan.
Per the clamor on social media, was this really “the most important election of our lifetimes?” It could be decades before we have enough perspective to judge. But as far as your financial planning goes, here’s another way to think about presidents:
A 67-year-old baby boomer eyeing retirement might have taken her first part-time job when Lyndon Johnson was president. As of 2020, that senior has lived and worked through ten different presidents.
It’s very doubtful that you’re going to love every single president who serves during your career. Yes, certain things that each one does might move the needle on your retirement accounts in the short term. But it’s folks who stick to their plans and continue to save and invest regardless of what’s happening in the outside world who build long-term wealth.
Millions of people dream of becoming entrepreneurs, but they never take that all-important first step. Too many things get in the way of their pursuit of business ownership, or they keep convincing themselves that their dream isn’t realistic.
If you ever want to move past this phase and found your own business, you need to acknowledge the specific obstacles that are holding you back and work to resolve them. Here are seven of the most common challenges that may be standing between you and your entrepreneurial dreams—and ways you can kick them to the curb.
1. Financial limitations
Launching a business takes money, and most people don’t have ample cash to throw at a startup. There are several options here. First off, you could begin saving now for the funds to establish your business. If you shop for a better mortgage and reduce your house payments by refinancing, you can sock the savings away in your startup fund. You can trim costs in other areas to put away a few hundred dollars each month or save even more by picking up a side gig.
Barring that, you can secure funding in a variety of ways, such as borrowing from friends and family, crowdfunding, seeking loans and grants or even working with angel investors and venture capitalists. There’s always a way forward.
Becoming a successful entrepreneur typically demands experience; you need to understand your industry and business management in general if you want to earn a living from your venture. When you have limited experience, you may be reluctant to move forward, and understandably so.
You can make up for this, however, by actively seeking the experience you lack. Take an online course to gain a grasp of business management basics. Strive for a leadership position with your current employer so you’ll acquire strategic planning and people management skills. Work with a mentor or shadow an entrepreneur you admire.
3. No standout idea
You can’t build a business if you don’t have a promising idea for a product or service you can sell. Without a solid business plan, you won’t be able to convince investors or partners to join you—and you won’t even know where to begin. Unfortunately, this is one of the least “fudgeable” obstacles on this list. Without a good idea, you can’t start a business, period.
Luckily, there are ways to stimulate better idea generation, such as talking to a broad range of people, reading entrepreneurial content and taking a more robust approach to brainstorming. Techniques like mind mapping and word banking can get your creative juices flowing.
4. Current responsibilities
Some people avoid starting a business because of existing responsibilities or constraints on their time. Their current full-time job, their status as a parent or other personal responsibilities hold them back from their entrepreneurial ambitions.
Here the best approach is to determine how much of an impact these responsibilities have and consider ways to delegate or remove them. Could you realistically quit your day job, for example, or hire someone to help with household duties or childcare?
5. Fear of failure
Lack of confidence is an entrepreneurship killer. It’s true that the failure rate for new businesses is relatively high, with half of new companies failing within five years. To buck those odds, you’ll need a healthy dose of confidence in yourself and your idea.
The only solution to a fear of failure is to change your mindset. You have to see failure as an opportunity for learning and growth and stop seeing it as the end of the road, an indictment of your abilities or a stain on your character. Reading accounts by successful entrepreneurs will inspire you to see the possibilities rather than focusing only on the risks.
6. Aversion to stress or hard work
Starting and running a business demands a lot of effort. You’ll likely be putting in long hours and dealing with stressful issues. On top of that, your first few years are apt to be highly inconsistent, with your business only making a profit some of the time. This can wreak havoc on your finances and peace of mind. If you’re not feeling up to this kind of pressure, or if you’re loath to work more than 40 hours a week, entrepreneurship may not be for you.
Again, the only way around this obstacle is to change your attitude. Remember that all this hard work will be in service to yourself, not an employer. While the risks are on you, so are the rewards.
7. Poor timing
One of the most common excuses you’ll hear (or hear yourself saying) is that it’s “just not the right time” to start a business. The truth is, there’s never a truly “right” time—you can always find some reason that today, or this month or this year isn’t ideal for launching your venture.
But like beginning a diet on a Wednesday or joining a gym in February, the trick is to make your own right time. Microsoft was born during the oil crisis of the 1970s, while Airbnb and Uber were founded in the depths of the Great Recession. Remind yourself that the success of your business will depend not on “the times” but on you.
The Realities of Entrepreneurship
It’s true that anyone can become an entrepreneur with enough grit and persistence. Most entrepreneurs with solid ideas have a good chance of becoming successful if they remain adaptable. But it’s also important to realize that not everyone is cut out for entrepreneurship.
If you’re intimidated by the stress, inconsistency and long hours associated with startup life, or if you truly love your day job and you’re afraid to leave, maybe business ownership isn’t right for you. That said, if you feel the pull of entrepreneurship but keep making excuses to avoid getting started, you owe it to yourself to challenge those excuses and try to move past them.
This article was written by Serenity Gibbons and published on Forbes.com.
You will never control everything that happens, but you can always control how you respond.
One day in 1984, Richard Branson sat in a Puerto Rico airport, eager to board his American Airlines flight to the British Virgin Islands.
Then American canceled the flight.
Frustrated, the 28-year-old Branson went to the back of the airport and used a credit card to hire a plane. He borrowed a blackboard, wrote, “Virgin Airlines: One way to the Virgin Islands, $39,” walked around the airport…and managed to fill the plane.
When the flight landed in the Virgin Islands, a passenger said, “Sharpen up the service a bit and you can be in the airline business.” The next day Branson called Boeing to ask if they had any used 747s for sale. Starting an airline hadn’t been on Branson’s radar until he was “lucky” that his flight got canceled.
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Hold that thought.
Research shows that traits like passion, mental toughness, constant learning, and a willingness to take risks do lead to greater success. Hard work tends to be rewarded. Perseverance is often the difference between success and failure; give up, and failure is guaranteed. Intelligent risks do, at times, pay off. And if they don’t, what you learn from new experiences makes success more likely the next time.
When you outwork, outthink, out-skill, and outlast other people, you’re much more likely to be successful.
The Serendipity Mindset.
Research shows that luck also plays a part. Success is based on factors you can’t control: Being at the right place at the right time. Meeting the right person at the right time. Experiencing something you weren’t necessarily looking for.
As Busch writes, “Unforeseen events, chance meetings and bizarre coincidences aren’t just minor distractions or specks of grit in our well-oiled lives. The unexpected is often the critical factor–it’s often the force that makes the greatest difference in our lives.”
For Branson, that meant hiring a plane, and financing the cost by selling tickets to other passengers–instead of waiting for a flight the next day. And then realizing that he could create a better airline than the incumbent brands.
For Steve Jobs, that meant recognizing that his relationship with Steve Wozniak could lead to more than a shared appreciation of electronics and playing pranks. For Stephen Hawking, that meant seizing the “opportunity” his disability provided to avoid teaching, lecturing, and attending committee meetings, and instead devote himself fully to research.
Which is why, according to Busch, “Cultivating serendipity is first and foremost about looking at the world with open eyes and seeing opportunities others don’t. It’s not just about being in the right place at the right time and having something happen to us (blind luck), but rather a process in which we can be actively involved.”
How can you develop a serendipity mindset?
Meet more people. Try more things. When things don’t go according to plan, don’t take a step back. Step forward. Embrace what feels like chaos and see where it leads.
Have a goal, have a plan. And then be willing to maneuver. What seems like the wrong place might actually be the right place. What seems like a chance meeting might be the start of an important partnership or collaboration.
What seems like bad luck might cause you to stumble on an idea, a market, a new business….
As long as you’re open to the possibility.
This article was written for Inc.com by Jeff Haden.
Wall Street firms famously love to hire renowned CEOs, ex-presidents, retired generals and famous coaches to give inspirational talks to senior management and rank-and-file employees. As a philanthropist and the co-founder of The Carlyle Group—one of the world’s largest private equity firms with $221 billion in assets under management, David Rubenstein has attended his share of these events only to find some of the speakers “not the most scintillating.”
Based on dozens of interviews he has conducted with chief executives, politicians, thought leaders and industry trailblazers in the past five years, Rubenstein wants readers to see the full spectrum of assets and liabilities in leaders, including Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Tim Cook, former U.S. Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, and Oprah, who inspired Rubenstein to be a better listener. “Hopefully, you’ll have better leadership out of all this,” he says, aiming to inspire younger generations to be leaders themselves.
“I’m getting up there in years and what is going to be one of the legacies I can leave to people and my children? Maybe I can have a couple of books,” says the private equity billionaire, who published his first collection of interviews, The American Story, last year. An insatiable reader who reads “six newspapers a day, at least a dozen weekly periodicals, and at least one book a week,” Rubenstein believes that a lifetime of curiosity is essential for a good leader.
For those hoping to fast-track their way to the top, there is no shortcut to becoming a leader, Rubenstein says. Reflecting on his 2017 interview with Nike cofounder Phil Knight, he writes that Knight’s original vision to start an athletic shoe company was hardly the only factor in his success. It was also Knight’s willingness “to put in the long hours—and to suffer the occasional failures and crises—to make this vision a reality, and in recent years to turn the operation over to experienced managers who could further build the company.”
In addition to the interviews, Rubenstein also lists twelve pillars for being a good leader: luck, desire to succeed, pursuit of uniqueness, hard work, focus, persistence, persuasion, humility, credit-sharing, ability to keep learning, integrity, and failure. (Rubenstein, who is worth $3.2 billion, admits that his biggest business mistake was selling Carlyle’s $80 million investment in Amazon shortly after its IPO in 1996. He says that stake would now be worth about $4 billion.).
Finances aside, 2020 has been a devastating year for billions around the world who have turned to leaders—in politics, business, sports, and entertainment—for clarity and hope. Rubenstein believes those who understand humility and rise to the occasion will be the ones remembered for their actions, such as late congressman and civil rights leader John Lewis and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
“Tony Fauci is in a league by himself,” Rubenstein says. “He’s been swatted down by lots of people, and some people criticize him for lots of reasons, but he’s stayed in the arena and he’s fought for what he believes are really, really good principles.”
Another leader who has had to step up in 2020 and was interviewed by Rubenstein last year is NBA commissioner Adam Silver. “Who would not be upset when people are getting shot in the back or are killed for no reason that seems apparent to anybody?” Rubenstein says of the league-wide strike following the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin. “I think the world has recognized that you can’t ignore the protests of players just because they’re athletes. Now, everybody realizes it’s probably a mistake to do what [the NFL] did in terms of not letting [Colin Kaepernick] come play again.”
One name that didn’t make the cut for Rubenstein’s new collection is Donald Trump. “I did interview President Trump before he was the president at the Economic Club of Washington, and that’s where he told me he was going to run for president,” says Rubenstein who thought the interview was too dated to be included in the book. “I was surprised. I didn’t really believe he was going to do it. And I didn’t think he could pull it off. He did.”
Unlike Trump, the Washington, D.C-based Rubenstein doesn’t imagine himself in the political arena anytime soon. “I’m still a youngster by the standards for people running for president so maybe I’m a little bit too young to run right now,” the 71-year-old investor says. (Trump is 74 years old and Biden is 77.) “But to be very serious, I think there are a lot of people who are probably younger, and probably would do a better job than I would do.” Hopeful about the near future, he says the country will have a fresh start in 2021 following a Covid-19 vaccine and the elections.
Recalling a recent conversation he had with Shark Tank judge and billionaire Mark Cuban, Rubenstein says he expects people are going to create great companies post Covid-19—those who prioritize diversity and inclusion, philanthropy, and social impact as well as profits. “If you’re ever thinking of doing something entrepreneurial,” Rubenstein says, “do it sooner rather than later.”
This article was written by Deniz Cam for Forbes.com
With prior stimulus measures set to expire in the next few weeks and the economy continuing to falter as the pandemic resurges across the country, Congress will meet this week and next to hammer out a new relief measure.
The House already passed its Phase 4 bill, known as the Heroes Act, in May. The $3.5 trillion coronavirus relief bill would provide assistance to state and local governments, extend enhanced unemployment benefits, and offer additional economic impact payments to taxpayers, among other things. The bill has been up for review since the end of May, though Senate Republicans, who prefer a measure with a far lower price tag, have been loath to consider it. They’re expected to introduce their own version of a relief bill this week that will have to be reviewed and negotiated between the two chambers before theyrecess in early August.
Several economic proposals that will affect small and midsize businesses have been building consensus among lawmakers for weeks, so the final version of the Senate bill could contain elements of all of them.
Here are six things you likely can expect from the Phase 4 bill.
1. The PPP will go on, but in a different form.
The Paycheck Protection Program, the $669 billion forgivable loan program aimed at beleaguered small businesses, will continue, predicts Neil Bradley, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s executive vice president and chief policy officer. At the very least, he says, there will be a continuation of the program, which was recently extended through August 8.
It’s also possible the PPP will become more targeted. Testifying at a House Small Business Committee hearing Friday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin expressed interest in “topping off” the approximately $130 billion in remaining funds and extending the program. But he noted that it would need to be focused on certain industries like hotels and restaurants that can demonstrate actual losses, resulting from the pandemic. “This time we need to do a revenue test,” he said.
There’s been widening support for streamlining the PPP forgiveness process, too. While certain loans are now eligible for the EZ loan forgiveness application, there’s greater interest in easing things further for smaller businesses by automatically forgiving all PPP loans under $150,000 or $250,000. On that note, Mnuchin at Friday’s Small Business Committee meeting confirmed interest in blanket forgiveness. “Yes, that’s something we should consider,” he told lawmakers.
2. Local communities will get a boost.
The next iteration of relief funding likely also will focus on companies in low-income and rural areas, as well as minority-owned businesses, which experienced difficulty accessing the PPP. Bradley notes that the Recharge and Empower Local Innovation and Entrepreneurs Fund (RELIEF) for Main Street Actwould earmark $50 billion for cities, counties, and states to support small business local relief funds. One of the key flaws of the PPP is that it failed to reach the smallest businesses and minority-owned companies that often did not have traditional banking relationships prior to the pandemic. As this program would be run through local institutions–and not banks–the effort is seen as potentially better suited to reach these businesses. While the U.S. Treasury would operate the program, as written in the bipartisan bill introduced in the Senate in mid-May, banks would not be involved.
Funding for block grants, operated by states and local governments, could also get replenished. The Cares Act initially provided $150 billion in federal aid to state and local governments across the country, some of which went toward grant funding for local business.
3. More tax relief is on the way.
Currently, PPP funds don’t count as taxable income, but an Internal Revenue Service ruling prevented businesses from being able to deduct traditional business expenses paid for by those funds if forgiven. That may change soon. A bill that would allow the deduction with some guardrails, called the Small Business Expense Protection Act, was introduced in the Senate in early May.
The Phase 4 bill also is expected to bolster and expand access the Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC), says Bradley. Currently, companies that have tapped the PPP can’t access the ERTC, which was enacted as part of the Cares Act to incentivize businesses hurt by the Covid-19 pandemic to retain employees. As part of a proposal, dubbed the Jumpstarting Our Businesses’ Success Credit (or JOBS Credit) Act, which was introduced in May, the refundable tax credit–now equal to 50 percent of up to $10,000 in qualified quarterly wages–would increase to 80 percent of up to $15,000 in wages each quarter for up to three quarters. Bradley adds that there’s also potential for the ERTC to expand eligible expenses to include a limited amount of fixed costs.
4. Stimulus checks will be back but they may be less generous.
The Heroes Act passed by the House supports another round of stimulus checks that the Cares Act authorized in March for millions of taxpayers: individuals earning under $75,000 would get $1,200, while married couples with less than $150,000 in adjusted gross income would get $2,400. The bill also would provide an additional $1,200 for up to three dependents, regardless of age.
Senate Republicans are likely to take a more conservative approach to the payments. Last week, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said the next round of stimulus checks may be less than $1,200, while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) in early July stated the next round of stimulus checks may be limited to those with incomes of around $40,000.
5. Enhanced unemployment benefits will continue, but get a haircut.
The Cares Act’s enhanced unemployment insurance, which offered an additional $600 per week on top of existing state benefits, is set to expire at the end of July. Many employers found the measure complicated the task of rehiring employees, who were suddenly earning more on unemployment than at their former jobs.
To avoid that issue–but also ensure laid off or furloughed workers have support–Bradley says that lawmakers are considering more targeted subsidies that would vary the amount offered on a federal level to better coordinate with what’s available at the state level. So between the variable federal supplement and those provided by each respective state, unemployment benefits would replace 80 to 90 percent of a worker’s former wages, up to a maximum federal benefit of an additional $400 per week.
The enhanced benefits also may come with a hiring bonus. The Paycheck Recovery Act, proposed in mid-May, offers low-wage workers–those earning less than $40,100 annually–a $1,500 rehiring bonus upon returning to work.
6. Businesses will receive greater liability protections.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has made no secret of his desire to see greater liability protections for employers. The details of his approach are still unclear, though Bradley says it’s likely that the Phase 4 bill will allow for some form of safe harbor for companies that make good-faith efforts to follow public-health guidelines.
This article was written by Diana Ransom for Inc.com
President Trump Saturday signed into law a bill extending the Paycheck Protection Program—an emergency federal loan facility for small businesses struggling because of the pandemic—for another five weeks until August 8, buying Congress time to figure out what the next round of aid for small businesses will look like when it reconvenes later this month to hash out more stimulus legislation.
The PPP was originally slated to close down last Tuesday.
The Senate unexpectedly approved the new legislation by unanimous consent on Tuesday evening, and the House followed suit on Wednesday.
Some $130 billion in loan money allocated to the $670 billion program remains unspent.
When Congress returns from its July 4th holiday recess, it must figure out how to allocate the remaining money and determine the next steps for federal aid to small businesses.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has said that the next round of small business aid will need to be “more targeted” to the specific industries that are struggling the most, like hotels and restaurants.
Another popular Democratic proposal would allow businesses with fewer than 100 employees to take out a second PPP loan from the remaining funds.
4.8 million. As of June 27, that’s how many PPP loans had been approved. All in, those loans were worth nearly $520 billion.
The PPP was created as part of the $2.2 trillion CARES Act, signed into law by President Trump at the end of March. The $350 billion program provided forgivable loans to cover payroll and overhead expenses for cash-strapped businesses to keep them from folding during the worst of the economic slowdown. After an initial crush of applications and a chaotic rollout period, the PPP ran out of money in just two weeks, prompting Congress to pass more legislation to re-up the facility with another $310 billion.
This article was written by Sarah Hansen for Forbes.com
Uber is changing tack after acquisition talks with Grubhub fell through by switching its attention to food delivery startup Postmates, the New York Times reports.
Three sources familiar with the matter told the Times that Uber and Postmates were holding ongoing acquisition talks. One of the sources said Uber is offering to buy Postmates for roughly $2.6 billion.
Uber was reportedly in acquisition talks with food delivery startup Grubhub earlier this year, but Grubhub announced on June 11 it was instead merging with European takeaway service Just Eat. Sources told CNBC Uber walked away from the deal over concerns it would attract antitrust scrutiny.
As a much smaller player in the food delivery business, Postmates could be a safer option.
According to analytics firm Second Measure, Postmates makes up a significantly smaller chunk of the US market than Grubhub. Grubhub captured 32% of food delivery sales in 2019, while Postmates made up 10%. Uber Eats meanwhile accounted for 20% of the market.
Antitrust fears are not the only possible reason why Uber may have walked away from Grubhub, various reports emerged that the two firms struggled to agree on a price for the acquisition. Just Eat paid roughly $7.3 billion to acquire the startup.
Uber’s desire to bolster its food delivery service has reportedly been spurred on by the coronavirus pandemic, as demand for taxi services has plummeted while food delivery has skyrocketed.
Two sources told the Times Postmates has also held sale talks with Grubhub and DoorDash over the past year.
Postmates confidentially filed plans for an IPO with the SEC in February 2019, but has yet to go public. Sources told Reuters on Monday that the company is considering reviving its IPO plans due to the boom in food delivery brought on by the pandemic.
Uber and Postmates were not immediately available to comment when contacted by Business Insider.
Your vision for your own retirement business might not be on the same scale as those giants. But history shows that it’s not only possible to start a great new company during retirement, it might be ideal. That’s especially true if you have an idea and some capital that you’ve earmarked for starting a new company once you’ve retired.
So why wait? Here are 4 reasons why you should consider starting your retirement business now, even if you’re not ready to retire.
No matter what stage of your life and career you’re at, it’s likely that Covid-19 and quarantining have given you a little extra time at home. If you’re struggling to fill those hours, ask yourself, “What am I going to do when I’m retired, and I have EIGHT extra hours to fill every day?”
One reason that many seniors put off retirement is that working gives them something to do and a sense of purpose. When retirement rolls around, many of them struggle to create a new schedule that provides that same sense of structure. The foundation you lay today for your new business while killing time in quarantine could grow into a structure that will make your retirement more fulfilling.
Put your experience to use.
Many retirees look back on their careers and think, “If only I knew then what I know now, I would have …”
What would you do differently? What pitfalls would you avoid? What risks would you take? Which ideas would you chase, and which would you leave by the wayside? What strengths would you focus on? What weaknesses would you improve, or offset by creating a key partnership?
There’s so much more to your career than the skillset you’ve developed. You also have the benefit of all your experiences, the good and the bad. Use that lifetime of learning to build a better business.
New realities and new opportunities.
It’s very likely that the home office will soon just be “the office” for many people. That’s one example of how Covid-19 has changed how, where, when, and why we work.
But the best entrepreneurs find opportunity in disruption. Your new retirement company might not be a brick-and-mortar operation. Instead, you might be able to invest the money you’ll save on things like rent and utilities by upgrading your technology infrastructure or building a remote support team.
Of course, the global marketplace has been disrupted too. But many professional services can survive or even thrive during disruption. Accounting, virtual administration, and expert consulting are always in demand. Other services, such as home or auto repair, landscaping, or graphic design can be provided without breaching social distancing recommendations. Your dream restaurant concept could be adapted into a cost-efficient food truck. Children who are struggling with learning at home could benefit from virtual tutoring.
Somewhere there’s a new niche that you are uniquely qualified to fill. Find it and be the first to set up shop.
It’s not work if you love doing it.
Retirement is when many people finally focus on the passions and interests they didn’t have time to pursue when they were working full time. Aspiring entrepreneurs have that same opportunity. Hiring yourself as CEO of your new company will allow you to focus on the parts of your work that truly inspire you.
You could also develop your talents and hobbies into an entirely different career. Open an online store and start selling the pies your friends and family go wild over. Post pictures of your latest woodworking project and see if there’s a potential customer base.
The Covid-19 pandemic has made each of us reflect on what our lives were like before and what we want them to be like going forward. If you think that dedicating some of your time and financial resources to starting your own retirement business could improve your Return on Life, schedule a meeting or virtual call with us.
Many people I know have concluded that retirement was worth waiting for and worth planning for. Those who planned well (and who are lucky enough to have good health) are generally finding this to be a very satisfying time in their lives. But those who didn’t plan well or who couldn’t save enough are finding that retirement can be difficult.
My commitment is to help people, but this week I’m switching roles so I can give you some dynamite tips for having an unhappy retirement. (Of course, what I’m really advocating is that you do not do these things.)
Don’t save enough money.
Spend (and borrow) whatever it takes to keep yourself and your family happy. You can always catch up later when you get into your peak earning years, when the kids are gone, or when you’re finally finished paying for whatever else is more important right now.
The likely result: You could find yourself in “panic mode” in your 50s and 60s. You could have to work longer than you want. Another popular choice, you could have to reduce your living standards after your work life is through. You could fall prey to persuasive salespeople (see my final tip below) who do not have your best interests at heart. Or maybe even all of the above.
Be careless about how you plan and budget for retirement expenses.
When I was an advisor, I was amazed how many investors neglected to include taxes as a cost of living in retirement. If you’re living off of distributions from a non-Roth IRA or 401(k), the full amount of those distributions is likely to be taxable. For extra credit: Don’t spend any money on a financial advisor to help you plan.
The likely result: You may go into “panic mode” when your accountant hands you an unexpected tax bill.
Lock in your expectations about your life in retirement and make rigid financial decisions.
There are plenty of ways to do this. You could sell your house and move somewhere cheaper even though you don’t know anybody there. Another option, you could buy a fixed annuity to have an income that’s certain. You could fail to establish an emergency fund. (After all, what could go wrong?) You could get sick or need surgery that isn’t covered by Medicare or other insurance.
The likely result: Things will happen that you don’t expect, probably sending you once again into “panic mode” and making you vulnerable to the pitches from all manner of enthusiastic salespeople.
Ignore inflation, since it doesn’t seem like a current problem.
Assume that $1,000 will buy roughly the same “basket of goods and services” in 2026 and 2036 that it will today. Be confident that you know what the future holds. After all, the years of high inflation that are often cited happened a long time ago. Things are different now.
The likely result: You probably won’t be thrust into “panic mode” since inflation is usually gradual. But one day you will realize with a start that things are costing a lot more than they “should,” and your income can’t keep up.
Keep all your money where it’s “safe,” in fixed income.
You’ll have lots of company among current retirees whose “golden” years are being tarnished because they have to rely on today’s historically low interest rates. Don’t just blindly invest in equities, because, as we all know, you can lose money in the stock market.
The likely result: You may start retirement with sufficient income to meet your needs, but those needs will probably increase, especially for health care, in your later retirement years. Your fixed income may be safe, but it won’t expand to meet increased needs.
Attend investment seminars and trust the presenters, then make important decisions without getting a second professional opinion.
You could follow the unfortunate example of a couple I know who, in their 50s, attended a retirement seminar and got some bad advice. They met privately with the presenter/saleswoman, then rolled their entire retirement accounts into a variable annuity. They thought they were giving themselves good returns, future flexibility and saving a lot of money in taxes.
In reality, they gave themselves huge headaches and nearly lost half their life savings. I helped them fight the unpleasant (and ultimately successful) battle to get out of their contract and recover their money.
This couple could teach us all some lessons, but the terms of their settlement makes that unlikely. If they disclose that they got their money back, or if they disclose how they were deceived and cheated, they will have to give the money back to the insurance company.
The likely results: You will be disappointed in the decisions you make. You will have many reasons to never trust an investment sales pitch again. You will have less money in retirement than if you had never heard of that particular seminar.
So now you have it: Six easy steps to ruin your retirement. I hope, of course, that you do just the opposite of each one of these. Unfortunately, I think there’s a high likelihood that somebody you know has fallen into one or more of these traps.
Since the Covid-19 outbreak we’ve all had to make adjustments so that we could cover our basic needs, care for our loved ones, and remain productive during quarantine. No matter how well you’ve adapted to these extraordinary circumstances, there’s probably a part of you that feels like you’ve been just trying to get through the next day. But it’s important that we create some personal momentum as life returns to normal, so we can hit the ground running.
And, to your credit, you have!
But as the country begins to reopen, it’s time to stop “getting by” and start approaching our lives and work with the same vigor we had before the pandemic. Regaining our old momentum isn’t going to be as easy as flipping a switch. So we asked some leading experts on behavior and peak performance what mental strategies they would recommend to help us start building personal momentum as we approach, hopefully, the end of quarantine life.
Live in your “Present Box.”
Licensed clinical psychologist Dr. Beth Kurland says that evolution instilled a “wandering mind” in humans as a survival mechanism. We’re never totally in the present because our survival instinct is constantly reminding us of things we overcame in the past and alerting us to potential future dangers. Dr. Kurland says, “In this pandemic of uncertainty, these kinds of mental ruminations can really increase a lot of the anxiety that people are experiencing.”
The more that we focus on the here and now, the less anxious we are going to be, and the more motivated we will feel to tackle immediate problems. To help achieve this mental shift, Dr. Kurland recommends drawing two large boxes on a sheet of paper. Label one “The Present,” and label the other “What If?” Then, write the things that are occupying your mind in the appropriate box. According to Dr. Kurland, separating what’s happening right now from what could happen helps us “to really think about what is in our sphere of influence, what we have personal agency and control over.”
Yes, eventually, you might have to move some of those “What Ifs?” into your “Present” box. But for the moment, try to imagine putting a lid on your “What Ifs?” and structure your time around what you need to do – and can do – today.
More Teflon, less Velcro.
Psychologist Rick Hanson says, “The mind is like Velcro for negative experiences and Teflon for positive ones.” The anxiety and worry we’re all experiencing during quarantine only enhances our tendency to dwell on the negative and overlook the many good things we have in our lives.
Dr. Kurland believes that an added benefit of her Two Boxes exercise is that the more present we are, the more likely we are to notice and appreciate the positive. For example, many of us are feeling closer to our extended friends and families thanks to Zoom calls and care packages. Other folks have used the working from home experience to chart new career paths.
However, a Teflon mindset doesn’t mean boxing away some of the real emotional hardships you’ve experienced during the pandemic. Instead, Dr. Kurland encourages us to find a healthy balance between letting our feelings in and not letting them keep us down.
“I think it’s really important to acknowledge and have an opportunity to process those emotions,” Dr. Kurland says. “But try to both hold a space for the grief, the sadness that may be there, and also really find ways to notice the moments where we can really appreciate the positive things that we can take in. The warm glance from a family member or a kind word from a coworker. These kinds of things that really, as we take them in, can help us to get through a difficult day, a difficult moment.”
Separate good stress from bad stress.
“Stress is good to a certain extent,” says Commander David Sears, who served for 20 years in active duty within the United States Special Operations Command as a U.S. Navy SEAL officer. In Commander Sears’ experience, stress can be a catalyst for growth and improvement. Right now stress is instilling good new habits in you, such as wearing a mask when you go shopping or retooling your monthly budget to adjust for changes in your work and living conditions.
But Commander Sears cautions, “You can get overwhelmed by stress and then it starts to become chronic, debilitating and it turns into a sort of pain.” To manage his own stress response, Commander Sears leans on lessons from his military service, including the importance of having a support system around you and finding order in a personal routine.
“It’s Physical Distancing”
“This whole idea of social distancing that we have is wrong,” says Commander Sears. “It’s physical distancing. We still need that social interaction, you need to have those communications. And you have to put in some structure in order to put some sanity into your life. Maybe develop your own schedule in the morning: I’m going to get up, I’m going to work out, I’m still going to put on my pants and get out of my pajamas. I’m going to then go to my first project of the day, then I’m going to go to the second. You might even need to implement a little more structure and discipline in your life in these times so you don’t feel like you’re wandering.”
We understand that transitioning back to living and working outside of your home is going to present its own set of challenges. We hope the expert strategies discussed here will help you approach those challenges from a more positive place. We’re also available for video calls or in-person meetings to discuss how your Life-Centered financial plan can help you build more momentum towards living your best possible life after quarantine.