Making it Amazing
March 16, 2023

Retirement can be the BEST time of your life or the WORST time of your life. It is up to you.

Like everything else in your life, it takes some planning to be successful. Trust me, “been there, done that”. The time to start your planning is when you are young. The younger the better! The optimum time is when you are in your twenties. It will take a little more dedication and work if you are already past that age. Don’t quit reading now though. Hopefully, I can help get you on track and working to build an enjoyable retirement fund.

The lack of planning means you are planning to FAIL!

First off: I am not a financial advisor and cannot offer financial advice, tell you what stocks you should buy, tell you the best crypto to own, buy gold and silver, or to buy real estate. You need a good Financial Advisor and an education for that. All I can offer you is my life experiences and knowledge that was able to penetrate my hard head through the years. Not all my financial decisions were winners, but the majority were.

I was born into a poor family, with no running water or toilet inside. I was over four years old the first time I used the toilet inside. Don’t feel sorry for me though, I had both parents living in the same house, there was food on the table (we had cows, pigs, chickens, and a garden, Mom and Grandma canned vegetables for the winter months). Having love in the house was a good thing. I wasn’t aware that we were poor. All I knew was I had two best friends (they were called brothers), two parents that were the best, and two sets of grandparents to die for. Money isn’t everything and doesn’t buy happiness but it does make life easier. Our house is paid for, we have no car payments, try to pay off our credit cards monthly and carry very little debt.

Enough about me, you aren’t reading this blog, to get to know me. I just want you to know that I was not born with a silver spoon in my mouth, had to work for it and still succeeded financially.

As I stated before, you’re better off starting planning and saving when you are young. I was in my mid 30’s when I started saving and investing. An older gentleman asked me how much I was investing in our company 410K. I replied that I couldn’t afford to. He corrected me and said, “you can’t afford not to”. That was some of the best advice a friend has ever given me. I started by saving 2% of my gross pay before taxes. It was taken out by my employer so I never saw it or missed it. I invested in an aggressive fund to help me catch up. I got a yearly raise in my wages on my job and every time I got a raise, I would up my contribution by 50% of my raise and still get a raise for use at that time. I did that until I got to the maximum I was allowed to contribute by law. Then I acted as if that was not my money. I let it sit and grow, and grow and grow.

Every year that received a tax refund I would also put that into a Roth IRA. I did some part-time jobs through the years and usually added that pay to my Roth IRA at times.

I only made a withdrawal twice and let it grow the rest of the time. In my early 50s I bought a car and paid cash for it because I thought the interest rates were too high and the other time I bought some property. I could have financed the property but the price was so low that I had to act fast or someone else would buy it out from under me. I closed on the property in one week.

As I got older I started lessening the risk of my investments by investing in less aggressive investments. That way I would lose less in case of a market crash. There was one time that I lost over $30.000.00 in one day. I didn’t jump off a bridge though. Actually, all I lost was gains and not the money I had originally invested. I wasn’t the only one that lost, it was nationwide. I kept my money invested but I invested more wisely. I also used what is called a “Stop Loss” on the smaller portfolio that I managed myself. That way, if the stock price dropped a certain percentage, the stock would automatically sell. I didn’t have to watch my money daily and offering myself some protection.

I have the majority of my investments with a Certified Financial Planner that is with an established firm. There are several good firms out there, just research them, ask questions, tell them your objectives, and use the one that best meets your needs.

As I stated earlier I have a smaller portfolio that I invest in. I like reading and learning new things and I find investing interesting. That is hard to believe considering that Math was my worst subject throughout school. My Financial Planner probably thinks I am a gambler at times. But, my number one rule is that I never invest more than I can afford to lose. Don’t get me wrong though, I don’t want to lose any. I was poor before and I made a vow that I will never be poor again. Even with all the market upheaval and the ups and downs on the account I manage, I have a year-to-date return of -2.4% and a return for the last two years of +14.4%.

One investment formula is the “Rule Of Seventy-Two”. To find out how your money will grow, divide the interest rate you expect to earn into seventy-two. If you have a fixed interest rate of 6% you divide 72 by 6. The result is your money will double in 12 years. If your fixed rate is 12% then your money will double in 6 years. This formula works only if you have a fixed interest rate and don’t add or subtract from your original investment. Hopefully, you will be adding to your investment regularly. Using this formula using my last two year’s rate my money will double in five years. Hopefully, it will do better because I continue to add funds occasionally even though I am already retired.

Enough about the money part of retirement. I only discussed it first because without money it would be impossible to exist unless you are fortunate enough (or unfortunate enough, depending on how you look at it) to support yourself fully.

Money DOES NOT buy happiness! But, I would rather be happy with money than be unhappy with not having enough money.

We make our happiness through our beliefs, family, friends, pets, and hobbies just to name a few. I have several friends, not including family or relatives, that I have known since I was 9 years old. We don’t talk every day or every month but we are loyal friends. I am very fortunate to have accumulated a good group of true friends and not just acquaintances. I have my standards and not just anyone can be my friend. I am not a snob or think that I am better than other people. I am just selective when it comes to friends. I have one friend I had a connection, the first minute I met him. He’s my dog, Brutus. I wasn’t looking for a pet when I met him. I give him an ounce of love and he gives me a pound of love back. He doesn’t talk back to me but he does ignore me at times. He doesn’t ask much from me, just food, walks, and some attention.

I feel that you have to have a hobby or something to make you want to get out of bed in the morning. Make each day another chance to enjoy life. Do things you like to do but couldn’t because of that work thing taking up all your time. Find new things to try. Plan a mini vacation, it can be 4 to 6 hours to a place near by or it can include an overnight, or more, stay. Do things you like to do or learn something new. It’s your life. At times I surprise myself because I usually get up around 8:00 a.m. without an alarm. I love life. It could be better but on the other hand, it could be a lot worse. I also love photography, reading, traveling, working jigsaw puzzles, spending time with friends, going to the gym, and intelligent conversation. I also like learning new things. I admit though that I do binge on TV series at times.

I retired early, almost 8 years ago and I can say that I have never really been bored to tears. At first, I was unsure that I was ready for it but took it one day at a time. It has worked out nicely. Some days are better than others but I have few if any complaints. I have done some volunteer work but I could do more. I am usually the go-to guy when one of my friends needs a ride to the airport or a helping hand. I don’t mind because they don’t take advantage of my friendship and would do the same for me if asked. Two of my favorite lines are, “Every day is Saturday” and when friends are talking about how many days of vacation they have, my reply is, “I only get 365 days of vacation per year”. Then I smile. I worked hard to earn it though.

I hope you have enjoyed reading my blog and that it has given you some things to think about.

Enjoy life and make your own happiness.