Life is Short – Set Goals to Reach Success as You Define it!

setting goalsAre you a goal-setter?

Personally, I have become very goal-oriented. While I suspect I’ve always been more this way than many (not all) other people, it’s become a much more ingrained part of the way I do things.

There’s a reason for it. As we get older, it dawns upon us that life truly is short. When I personally look at how time has flown by, and how some people in the next generation get older quicker than one might expect, I truly realize that we each have a life cycle that isn’t endless. Our time to truly have the energy and wherewithal to do exactly what we want to do isn’t going to go on forever.  Time is valuable, and it’s taken a sick family member for me to truly let all this sink in even more.

So along those lines, let’s enjoy every single day as a gift. For me, this also means setting goals and accomplishing what I want to, when I can do so.

I’ve written before about the role of money in life, and do believe that money is just one aspect of “success”. Health and relationships are where it’s at, and money is just part of the overall equation. Actually, my own experience tells me that all three – health, relationships, and money – can be interrelated. The better you improve your situation in one aspect of life, it’s likely to have a positive impact on other areas.

For example, the better your health is, the better position you’ll be in to fully enjoy relationships as well as make or save money. The better your relationships are, you’re putting yourself in better position to be in good health and even finances as well.

I’m getting philosophical here, but these are the thoughts that have pushed me to be more goal-oriented. Of course, being a personal finance enthusiast and blogger, I would share with you that I do set money-related goals.

I’m actually setting goals in this way:

  • Long-term – as in, a long-range situation I’m aiming for
  • 5 years
  • 1 year
  • Monthly

The idea for me is to start with a vision of how I would really like life to be down the line, based on what I’m thinking now. Of course, life has twists and turns and we gain different perspectives over the years, but we can still do our best to think ahead now. Based on that vision, which really incorporates overall lifestyle, I’ll set money-related goals that I think can make that happen. Then, it’s a matter of breaking it down into shorter time period for goal-setting.

Looking at things each month, it’s a good way to make sure that you set goals that are in alignment with your long-term goals. Of course, this also means honestly reviewing “performance” at the end of the month to see if I’m on track.

There are a variety of things to track when it comes to money, but I think that key areas are income, savings, investments, and risk management. I’ve written about them before in a post about the 4 key personal finance questions.

When it comes to income, just as an example, goals might be for different steps that might get me to a position of improving. For example, it could be: hitting it out of the park on a key project, networking with 5 new people, or similar goals. These types of goals, when met, can all build together to get a person to a higher level of income.

Similar approaches can be taken with the other areas of personal finance, such as spending/saving and the like.

Overall, the bottom line is that life is short – so I try to set goals to get the most out of it, while truly striving to enjoy every day and have fun.

How about you?

My Questions for You

Do you regularly set goals, and track progress?

If so, how often do you do this and in what way?

Do you start with the big picture and work your way to more specific/immediate goals, as I do?

Your Retirement Sentiment: Positive or Negative?

retirement securityWhen you think of retirement, are your initial thoughts positive? Or, are they negative?

I came across a WSJ write-up on the results of a survey regarding retirement. In particular, the respondents were asked to come up with the words that come to mind when they think of how the feel when they hear the word retirement. Apparently, there wasn’t a list provided to survey-takers; rather, the answers were left open-ended.

The results that the article shared were interesting in that the top 10 single terms that came out of the research were a mix of both positive and negative sentiment. However, it skewed negative.

Positive terms included words such as: “excited”, “happy”, and “good”. However, frequent negative terms included those such as “old”, “scared”, and “nervous”. Additionally, when looking at results by age, it appeared that younger people tended to describe retirement in more negative terms than did older people.

So, what do you think of notion that retirement evokes negative feelings in people?

Personally, my first reaction was to be surprised by this. Admittedly, that’s because my initial thoughts that come to mind for retirement are probably more positive than anything else. My initial thought, if I had to summarize in one word, is “security”.

Maybe that’s because it’s what I value for retirement: security. Or, perhaps I’m not anxious enough to express something negative. I’m certainly not thinking of massive excitement. It’s more that I view future retirement from a perspective of “positive practicality”.

But it says something about where people are when it comes to retirement, and their awareness of the situation. Even if it’s deep down thoughts at work here, it seems like there is some actual awareness that people have about retirement. It can see how some might find it to be scary, given the reality that we will not work forever – despite how many people will erroneously rationalize that part.

The part about younger people being more negative is also interesting to me. The article mentioned how one individual interpreted this along the lines of older people having different perspective and priorities than younger folks. While at some level that’s probably true, I wonder if these difference are more due to the reality that younger people are less likely to have pension options that those of an older generation. There is no “system” to take care of many folks who are earlier in their career at the moment.

Anyway, it’s food for thought. Clearly, people see their future retirement (and chances to do so) with different vantage points and ultimately different emotions. What about you?

My Questions for You

What word comes to mind when you hear the term “retirement”?

Do the results of that survey surprise you?

Why do you think there is that distinction between younger and older perspectives?

Customer Service Recovery: My Recent Example

customer service recoveryFirst off, the customer service recovery to which I’m referring is that of a store, not me. I was the customer in this case, and dealt with a few “interesting” situations at a local store this past week.

They were ultimately handled well, and I think they serve as good examples of how a business can actually end up with more loyalty with by recovering from a bad situation. It seems like a paradox, but that’s basically how it ended up. Bad service, a nice reaction and recovery by them, and now I’m a bit more impressed by their service.

The two situations were at the same grocery store, a local place that’s actually very nice. They have a great salad and hot bar, fantastic bakery, and a tremendous selection of organic fruits and vegetables. Nice place to shop, and usually pleasantly uneventful. That is, except for the two bizarre experiences I had this week.

Example #1: The Insane Customer

So, I was at the store one day to pick up a healthy dinner. They have a great salad bar, as I mentioned, and that’s where I started. Loaded with kale, spinach, grilled chicken, and some fruit, I was putting together a super healthy dinner. Yeah, I know that sounds nutritious, but my lunch was far from that so I needed to offset it. :)

Anyway, right next to the salad bar was a station with 8 different types of soup. The aroma drew me over there to those giant pots. I lids were closed, however, so I opened up a couple of them to take a look. After all, if you’re considering buying something, you might want to see what it looks like. So I opened a few.

All of a sudden I heard someone say “get out of here!” I looked up, and saw another customer standing across from me looking at me. Was I hearing things? Surely she couldn’t have been talking to me.

So, I continued on, checking out a few more of the soup bowls. Then, I heard her say “that’s VERY RUDE! You know you’re not going to buy anything, so STOP doing that”.

Okay, nobody else was there except me, so it was obviously me she was talking to.

I looked up and said “Excuse me? All I’m doing is opening up the soup lids to look at the soup in case I want to buy something. There is nothing wrong with me checking them out. “

She glared at me, and started dropping expletives at me, telling me to get lost and stop being rude.

Uh, what?

I paused, and thought to myself, “I am I doing something wrong here, or is this woman insane?” I settled on the latter. Who gets mad at a fellow customer for looking at soup? Yes, it’s bizarre.

I told her, immediately, that I didn’t appreciate verbal abuse and would go the store manager immediately. Now, I realize that the store manager might think that it would be like a kid going to tell his Mom that someone was mean to him. Or, worse, perhaps he would dismiss a complaint by a grown man about a woman who was probably 10 years older than him. But, if the store cared, they would make sure that a customer wouldn’t be treated this way and have an unpleasant experience.

The store manager listened to me, and I pointed the lady out as she decided to sneak away. We walked up to her, and he asked her if she said those things. She stammered that she didn’t know what he was talking about, and she had no idea who I was. Insane or a liar – now we have two possibilities.

I then smiled, ready to walk away, and my grin must have set the woman off. Then, she angrily told the store manager that “she can say what she wants to anyone”. Oh, so you really do remember me, eh?

At that point, he told me he’ll handle it from there. I walked away, calming down, back to my shopping. The manager then talked to me afterward telling me that he told the lady that she’s welcome to leave the store if she chooses to behave like that with other customers or staff. He also told me not to worry, I had done nothing wrong and that the woman was clearly imbalanced, and sorry for my experience in the store.

Okay, now that is a good example of a business handling a situation well.

Example #2: The $12 Cookie

At the same exact store, a few days after, I went in to get something for a celebration for one of my kids. Their bakery is really good, so that’s where I stopped. As a treat, I got him a giant cookie which was decorated with frosting to look like a basketball. You know, something a little kid would like.

The cookies were supposed to be $2 each. The very nice bakery lady got the cookie from the display, put it in a box, and then put a sticker on the box (with the bar code for the register). I smiled, said thanks, and walked over the express lane checkout.

I handed the cashier the box with the cookie, and she says: “that will be $12.00”.

Thinking I heard wrong, I said: “I’m sorry, did you say $12.00?”

“Yes, $12.00” she said with an annoyed tone.

I paused, and said “Actually, I’m only getting this cookie for my child. It’s supposed to be $2.00”

“No, it’s $12.00” she reiterated. With a tone that was clearly even more annoyed”.

I was stunned. At this point, I told her that it’s a cookie, and they don’t cost $2.00. And, that I’d go back to the bakery to get them to vouch for me.

So, I went back the bakery and told the nice lady there what happened. She looked at the box she gave me, and realized that earlier she had put the wrong sticker on it. The sticker was for a chocolate cake, hence the $12 cost.

However, as she pointed out, it’s hard to believe that the flat out told me I was wrong. Plus, common sense tells you that a cookie wouldn’t cost $12. She could’ve checked into it for me, instead of basically telling me to take it or leave it.

The bakery lady (manager?) then asked me to follow her over to the cashier. As we approached the cashier, she told her – in front of me – that she was in the wrong to treat a customer the way she did. And, that she was to give me the cookie for free.

So, I didn’t pay for it. I never asked or expected that, but the bakery lady made that gesture.

Again, really good customer service after an initial mistake.


First off, I know that these were really strange examples. I’m not someone who gets into these types of situations at all, so it’s odd that two happened in the same week at the same store. But, they did, and at a nice store in a nice area.

What I really took away from this is that when you have a bad experience, but the business tries to make it right, they can end up getting an even more loyal customer. That’s actually how I feel about that store now.  Admittedly, we have joked at home about what’s going to happen the next time we go there. :)

It’s almost as if you have 3 scenarios:

  1. You have a good customer service experience
  2. You have a bad customer service experience and they do nothing about it
  3. You have a bad customer service experience and they try to make things right

The outcome that engenders the most loyal customer just might be scenario #3. Clearly, scenario #2 is not a great one. But with scenario #3, it’s different that scenario #1 in that there really was a bad experience involved. However, it was corrected.

Not sure if this was just me, but I think it’s something to consider as a service provider or a business. You might be able to recover and keep a loyal customer.

My Questions for You

Have you ever experienced a situation where you received poor service, but the business worked to make it up to you?

Did the business get back in your good graces after trying to recover? Beyond that, did they bring about more loyalty from you?

3 Underrated Summer Travel Destinations

Some of the best times I’ve had have been while traveling. There is something about disengaging and going on a vacation that is good for the soul. Whether it’s for rest and relaxation, fun exploring, or a combination of these purposes, these are often really fun times.

Now, I have to say that my travel heyday was in years past. I’ve been to 47 of the 50 states (Alaska, Hawaii and Maine yet to go), and have taken 2 trips to Europe and 3 to Asia. For now though I’m quite busy with family and other matters, so travel has been curtailed. However, I certainly hope to get back into it in the future – and traveling with kids can be fun anyway and a way to build memories and life experience for kids.

Along those lines, I thought I’d share a few observations about my travels in the form of underrated summer travel locations within the U.S. Here goes:

Underrated Location #1: Coastal Oregon

I’ve actually written a bit about this area before, but why not revisit.

To me, this area is a real gem. It’s kind of like a poor man’s version of Coastal California. Having driven from San Francisco to Carmel, and really enjoyed it, I find the Oregon coast to actually have quite a few similarities. It’s on the rugged Pacific shoreline, mountainous, and has scenic winding roads. Also, there are a number of quaint towns.

There are some differences though. For one, it’s a bit cooler. Also, the area does have a bit of a “Northwest” feel to it that doesn’t exist south of San Francisco. But another big difference is that the area seems much less crowded and also less expensive. You can truly get away to a beautiful, scenic, refreshing area for a reasonable cost. I’d like to make another visit.

Underrated Location #2: Eastern Shoreline of Lake Michigan

What? The Midwest?

Some folks might chuckle, but I happen to think that the western part of the state of Michigan has some really nice summer escapes that fly under the radar for most people around the country.

For those living here in Chicago, it’s not that far away. Maybe a few hours. But it seems like a world away, with nice beaches and towering sand dunes. Plus, there are some quiet lakefront towns with nice dining, hotels and golfing if you’re into that.

There are plenty of things to do outdoors here besides the beaches. In particular, one example of inexpensive summer fun is blueberry picking.  You can actually pick the blueberries at take home large quantities at ridiculously low prices.  All of this not too far from the beach front areas either! All in all, good relaxing summer fun can be had there – for a low price.

Underrated Location #3: Disneyland, California

Okay, I know that Disney seems like an odd choice for an “underrated” location. So many people make a trek to a Disney park at least once in their lifetime.

Having said that, I’m referring to the California location here. Florida is nice too, and seems to be the default option for most from the Midwest, East Coast, or South. I have no data on this, just observations over the years that if people are going to Disney – it’s generally to Florida. I’m guessing this is not the case in the West, but that’s not where the bulk of the population is.

Anyway, having been to both parks, I would go with California. I say that because the weather in Florida can get really hot and muggy in the summer. Kind of like walking outside in a swampy sauna. However, that Southern California weather is warm but really comfortable. Having been to both the Florida and California Disney parks in my lifetime, I’ll take the west coast weather any day!

Plus, I have to admit, we did visit there a few years ago for a short trip to Disney. It was a lot of fun, as I shared in a post I wrote about reasons why Disneyland is worth visiting.  I have to say that it was impressive how clean, updated, and positive they keep that place. It didn’t look dated or run-down at all, in my opinion. Things seemed really well run there, a lot better than other theme parks I’ve been to.

My Questions for You

Have you visited any of these 3 “under the radar” locations?

I’m sure you have your own places that you would called underrated summer travel destinations.  What are they?


Okay, here’s where it gets fun.  I’m excited to be teaming up with a group of other bloggers on a giveaway.  Prizes are: $200 for 1st, $50 for 2nd, and $25 for 3rd.  You can see below to enter, and there are easy ways to get additional entries too!


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As I mentioned, this giveaway is being run in conjunction with a few other bloggers. Be sure to check out their blogs and share their posts each day as well for more chances to win $200!

Aspiring Millionaire
Frugal Toad
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Money Smart Guides
Money Stepper
Money Beagle
Monica on Money
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Pay Attention and Speak Up to Save Money!

pay attention save moneyIf we have our head in the game, and we’re able to be vocal, it can be really helpful in many areas of life. In school, socially, and at work – paying attention and not being afraid to talk are generally good things.

I’ve written about this before, when talking about the importance of speaking up in both school and at work. In the latter, meetings and presentations are times when we should show leadership and the ability to get our points heard while carefully listening as well.

Additionally, when it comes to paying attention, being able to notice the details is a good thing. One example I’ve written about is the concept of being careful to review credit card statements. Sometimes we can see some expenses that shouldn’t be there. Perhaps a subscription or membership we thought we canceled really wasn’t. Whatever the case might be, paying attention to credit card bills is just one example of noticing the details.

Recently I experienced a situation that involved both details as well as speaking up. This time, it also involved saving money!

Actually, it was quite harmless overall. But it made an impression upon me because it was my oldest kid who showed the ability to notice the details and say something about it.

Here is what happened. The two of us were at a local sandwich shop, picking up lunch. I scanned the menu searching for what I thought was the healthiest option, and ordered it. Then, I asked my daughter what she wanted.   She picked out a kid’s meal.

So, I made the order for her as well. The guy behind the counter had a slightly annoyed look on his face, but tried to nicely say that the meals are supposed to be only for kids 8 and under. Thus, I really should get something else. I didn’t even think twice about saying sorry to him since she’s a bit older than that, and then asking her what she wanted to get instead. I simply hadn’t seen that fine print beforehand.

She paused, looked at the menu board, and then quietly told me “It only says recommended for kids 8 and under.”


At that point, I sheepishly told the guy behind the counter that the sign actually said recommended for children 8 and under, not only for kids 8 and under. Therefore, since it’s not prohibited, I’d like to order the kids meal.

He looked up again, clearly saw how the wording actually was on the menu board, and then looked back at me. With his own sheepish look, he turned quite nice and said (paraphrasing here) “I guess its okay then. That’s fine”

As a result, I might have saved a couple of dollars.

Now, that’s not exactly a big deal or a cause for a big celebration. It won’t change anyone’s financial situation. The few dollars saved isn’t the point here.

However, the bigger point is that sometimes you have to pay attention to the details. If you’re careless, or just listen to what someone else says, you might lose out. Beyond that, the next step is to actually have the nerve to speak up and nicely debate the other person or business on the issue.

In this case the money at stake was very small. But in another case, it could be a lot of money. As we know, the small financial victories are fun to get, but the lessons we can learn from them can help us secure the big financial victories that can go a long way to helping us.  Sometimes, we can even learn these lessons from a kid!

My Questions for You

Have you ever caught a discrepancy or mistake that ended up saving you money?

Do you ever hesitate to speak up, or can you discuss without reservations about it?


The Value of Preparing Personal Financial Statements

Sometimes big business gets maligned, but as individuals we can probably learn a thing or two from them. One way is the preparation of personal financial statements.

Sure, that might not be the most exciting thing to learn from large corporations. Furthermore, financial statements are generally made public because they need to be. There are requirements of publicly traded companies when it comes to filing of financial statements, so they pretty much have to be done whether or not an organization wants to.

Beyond the required aspect, however, such statements can tell a lot about the health of a business. The high level statements can tell investors quite a bit, while more detailed financial analysis can help a business make decisions.

Okay, so maybe you’re wondering where I’m going with this. Why should we as individuals care about such financial statements?

Well, it can be really helpful to put together financial statements in order to help us understand our finances. Here are two in particular:

Balance Sheet

As a snapshot of where we are financially, this gives us a picture of our situation at any given point in time.

We can look at our total assets and liabilities when putting together a balance sheet. Even more, we can assess the composition of them as well. For example, assets could be made up of retirement accounts, a home (also a liability), cash, and so on. This allows us to get a better sense of asset liquidity, which might sound like a bit like financial chemistry class :) It can be similarly important to understand our debt as well.

When you prepare balance sheets periodically, let’s say every 3 months as an example, you can track progress. Ultimately, the measure to track is the difference between assets and liabilities, which represents net worth. Seeing progress over time with our efforts to increase net worth can tell us how successful we have been.

Income Statement

While the balance sheet tells us where we are at a given point in time, the income statement helps us understand how we got there and where we are going.

The key is that we can see our total income and total expenses, and what the difference is. I like to view this as a business would, in that it’s our profit. Thus, we want to maximize income and minimize expenses in order to increase that gap. Yeah, common sense – but the income statement helps us diagnose things.

In terms of expenses, we can figure out where are spending our money. Is there room to cut in some areas? That could help us increase that aforementioned gap.

My Questions for You

Do you put together personal financial statements?

If so, how often do you prepare them?

Do you have any other suggestions in terms of analysis that one could put together to understand finances?

Help a Reader: Life Insurance and Remarriage

Below is an email I got from a reader.  Sharing it anonymously, I’m doing so to get feedback that she was interested in receiving.  If you have any feedback for her on her situation and concerns, please feel free to share them in the comments below.

I recently discovered my husband had his two adult children down on his life insurance as beneficiaries. He said it was an oversight and that it was an accident. So basically I tried to say it’s not an over site as you have to type in your beneficiaries and my name was nowhere to be found on the document, not even as a contingent.

When I try to discuss this with him he gets mad, says he’s sorry, it was an oversight and I’m making a big deal out of an accident. That’s he’s sorry and not going to continue to discuss or keep having this conversation, even though I feel hurt and betrayed. I’m less upset of the money as it’s not but $100,000 is the fact I’m his wife and should have been at least 50% and his adult children 25/25.

This is more about I feel he lied, and won’t admit it. is hurting me, he gets so defensive and tells me, I’m wrong. And I need to drop it. Please post your feedback. Could he have accidently named his kids and not me as an oversight? Or did he type in their names and not wife and partner for 10 years.

We begin couples counseling soon. But I want to hear from others. Can you make an oversight like this or is this BS and he knew exactly what he was doing? Please tell me what you think, as I’m losing my mind. It’s nothing to do with money, it’s trust, and lies. What do you believe?

Readers:  any feedback for her on the whole situation?

10 Ways to Spring Clean Your Finances

ways to spring clean your financesSpring could not get here fast enough.  Here in the Chicago area, we have experienced quite a winter.  In my lifetime, this has been the most extreme one that I’ve seen.  This winter has yielded a snowfall total that is in the top 5 ever recorded here, and I don’t recall a season with as many below-zero days.

With the upcoming thaw comes the annual ritual of spring cleaning.  I know that in my home, there is some purging of “stuff” that is needed, as well as reorganization of things. That, with some deep cleaning while the windows are open, just seems like a good thing to do around this time of the year.

Did I already say that spring could not get here fast enough?

Well, this time of year could also be a good time to take stock of our finances as well.  Now, many of us do this at the end of the year or at the beginning, as a part of resolutions and then taxes.  But that’s often a matter of gathering information, setting goals, and getting ready for tax time.

How about actually getting into the nuts and bolts of our money?  There are plenty of things that we can do to spruce up our finances and get a better handle on things during this time of year.  Along those lines, here are 10 ways that we can spring clean our finances:

  1. Rebalance our investments.  It’s a good idea to periodically rebalance your investments.  Let’s say that you target 60% of assets to be in stocks.  If there has been a run-up in stock prices, your mix will likely be even more weighted toward stocks.  For example, you might find your 60% allocation becoming more like 70% since the other asset classes might not have performed as well.  Rebalancing can help get things back in line to where you want them.
  2. Review your insurance policies.  Are your coverage amounts meeting your current needs? Can you get a better deal elsewhere? Taking some time to go over your existing policies and making sure they work for you is a worthwhile exercise.
  3. Take stock of your professional network.  Wait, what?  What does this have to do with money?  Well, I think it can have quite a big role in your finances.  Building up a network is something that many people don’t pay attention to, but I’ve seen some people accumulate a ton of wealth by being very good at networking.  It can only help you, and at times and places you might not otherwise imagine ahead of time.
  4. Get a copy of your credit report.  You don’t want to be held back by any mistakes on there.  It’s good to keep an eye on things and be proactive.
  5. Take inventory of your possessions.  While many of your big-ticket items may be the same from year to year, you may make some notable purchases from time to time anyway.  The ultimate goal here is to have an accurate accounting of possessions for insurance purposes.
  6. Review your college savings for your kids.  Whether it’s a 529, other accounts, or a combination – you should pay attention to how the money is growing.  Adjustments in your allocations can be made as necessary.
  7. Review your estate plan.  If you don’t have one, depending on your age you may want to consider developing one.  What you want to do is make sure that you have everything protected as well as possible, to account for different events, while ensuring that assets can ultimately be distributed according to your wishes.  It’s not fun to think about, but it would seem to be a good thing to review from time to time.
  8. Organize your tax documents.  Once tax season is over, make sure that you file away your final documents in a safe and secure place.  Don’t let papers sit around for an extend period of time, as you never know what could be lost.  With prior year tax returns, it’s good to be organized.
  9. Review your 401(k) contributions.  If you’re maxing out your contribution, it’s hard to go higher than the limit!  But if you’re contributing below the limit, it can be helpful to take another look at things periodically to make sure you’re not leaving money on the table.
  10. Collect unwanted items to sell or donate.  Hey, if you’re going to do a real spring cleaning anyway, why not get something for your unneeded or underutilized stuff?  You can sell on craigslist or some other avenue, or simply donate to those who might truly need it.  Either way, you’ll be a little bit richer for your efforts.

My Questions for You

Do you do any “spring cleaning” of your finances?

If so, which of the tasks above do you periodically do?

Do you have any other suggestions?

6 Steps to Help You Earn a Prosperous Retirement

steps to retirementHow would you like to have $50,000 saved up for retirement, and then try to feel good about your chances for a comfortable old age?

Well, you would be in company, as according to data referenced in a recent retirement article on Moneywatch, 66% of workers have less than that amount saved for retirement.  So actually, you might be ahead of the curve with that kind of money!  And actually, with 28% having less than $1,000, the $50,000 figure is nowhere near the bottom percentiles in terms of savings.

Another thing it’s nowhere near is the point of being sufficient to meet retirement needs.  Just how is someone going to survive on $50,000 retirement funds?  Well, apparently many people do (or will have to), since two thirds of workers have less than that.  Of course, it also depends on how old the people are. A 30 year old with $50,000 is in a much more hopeful situation than a 55 year old with $50,000.

I hope nobody feels too badly about reading these figures, but I think it’s important to say it as it is:  that’s just not enough money.  These figures seem consistent with a prior post on people being unable to cover a $2,000 expense, which revealed how little money people appear to have on hand.

In these situations, maybe the job of retirement falls to social security.  That’s not exactly much money either in terms of cash flow, so perhaps grown children will have to be helping people.  It’s not uncommon in other countries to have kids help parents, and maybe that will become more of a trend here out of necessity.

Anyway, this brings to mind the need to focus on the basics so we don’t end up in this position, and actually make ourselves more likely to be comfortable.  Here are 6 steps to take to help earn a prosperous retirement:

Protect your career and cash flow

We will always have expenses, so there is some level of money that we need to have on hand to meet regular life expenses.  If we lose income, we’ll quickly have to raid our savings.  That’s no way to build a retirement nest egg.  The so-called don’t lose money rule provides some good insight on this!  Thus, we need to make sure that we invest in and protect our career.

Generate multiple streams of income

So, if the career or main source of income dries up, we could be completely messed up financially.  However, by not putting all our eggs in one basket and diversifying a bit, we can open up other avenues to earn income.  Multiple streams of income can not only be a good way to hedge our bets, but hopefully prosper as well!

Pay yourself first

Sure, there are some basic financial needs that come first.  However, many other expenses are probably discretionary when it really comes down to it.  I’d suggest paying ourselves first, and making sure that we’re regularly saving money.

Invest in yourself

One constant in life is change, and that means that we have to keep pace and adapt.  No matter what many might say about education being overrated, I’d say that education and net worth go hand-in-hand – as long as there aren’t excessive student loans involved.  Beyond that, always trying to do our best and put ourselves in the best position to succeed can help improve our income and earning potential.

Remember that Rate of Return Matters

It’s great to make money, and even better to make it and save it.  But stopping there is almost like, using a football analogy, fumbling the ball at the one yard line.  To score retirement success, we should make sure that we earn a good rate of return on our investments.  Every percentage point counts!

Stay healthy

If we aren’t healthy, it could make it harder to work.  Maybe even impossible to work, depending on the circumstances.  If we can’t work, we won’t make money unless there is passive income has happening.  Thus, keeping healthy is vital to giving ourselves the opportunity to earn money for our regular needs as well as retirement.

Additionally, the more health problems we have, the more we have to spend money on health care.  The cost of health care in retirement is something that many of us overlook, but it can be absolutely staggering.  There is no shortage of people who can relay stories of elders who spent inordinate sums of money on major health issues or care.

If healthy, we can live life to its fullest.  That way we can not only be able to voluntarily retire, but enjoy it as well!

My Questions for You

Do you follow each of these 6 steps?

Can you share your most important tip for retirement savings success?

What do you think of those figures indicating that a majority of workers have less than $50,000 saved for retirement?