Are You Taking Full Advantage of Your Independence?

As difficult as it may be to believe, the first half of 2015 is now behind you, and it’s time to celebrate Independence Day!

Before we examine and evaluate your personal level of independence, I’d like to ask you to take a giant step back from the race for a moment and acknowledge just how fortunate we all are to be living in this day and age. And, most importantly, right here in the United States.

I think contrast is a wonderful tool that we all use too infrequently. It crystallizes everything very quickly and helps us all put things in perspective.

If you’re a history buff like me, then you know that up until the 20th century, the world was quite a barbaric place.

With everything we now have at our disposal, it’s easy to forget that.

If you grew up prior to the 20th century, you were subservient to some form of a dictatorship, or governing monarchy empowered with the right to control every aspect of your life.

You had absolutely no control of your life. None!

Dream, plan, and work for a better life for you and your family? Forget it.

There was no upward mobility and no opportunity to change your lot in life without using brute force to get your way.

Contrast that with today here in America. And, with what our Independence Day celebration is all about.

We’re celebrating our ability to exercise our own judgment. To use our minds to choose what we believe to be best for our own well being (as long as we don’t use force or fraud to deny anyone else the right to pursue the same for themselves).

This basic and profound right did not exist prior to the creation of America.

Stop and think about how incredible that is, and the life it allows you to live if you choose.

Take Full Advantage

So, are you taking full advantage of this freedom to choose?

Take a moment to grade yourself on a scale of 1 to 10 on your level of independence (at this stage in your life) defined as doing:

  • What you want
  • When you want
  • Where you want
  • With whomever you choose

Seriously! Go ahead and grade yourself.

Where do you stack up?

Are you a 10?

Most would acknowledge that they’re not even close. Even those who are retired.

And, the reason is not lack of possibility. The problem that I’ve witnessed over the last 26 years coaching hundreds of individuals and couples to a seamless transition to retirement is that most people are just not financially confident enough at this stage in their lives.

And, that lack of confidence translates into a lack of independence.

There’s a direct link between the two. You can’t experience high levels of one without the other.

If you really stop and think about it, all of those years of diligently saving money for the future are of absolutely no value to you unless you have the confidence to spend it without the constant fear that you’re going to run out some day.

Where to Derive Your Confidence

For me, confidence comes from “knowing”. Whenever my confidence gets tested in any area of my life, I immediately go into “information acquisition and quantification mode”!

Now there’s a mouthful! What exactly do I mean?

Well, I can’t stand ambiguity or haziness, so as quickly as I can, I study up on whatever is making me uncertain, and quantify what it means to me personally.

For you, the recipe for financial confidence is knowing your numbers cold, (i.e. what it costs you to live exactly the way you want, how dependent you are on your Retirement Bucket™, and what real rate of return you need to earn on your investments (above inflation) in order to keep your Retirement Bucket™ from becoming empty).

Be as specific as you possibly can. Some rule of thumb touted in a popular magazine, or someone’s opinion will not bring about confidence.

For example, there’s absolutely no power in knowing what “the market” did today, or this month, or this year.

The power is in knowing how your investment assets performed, and more importantly, where that now puts you in relation to your long term financial independence goals.

Are you still on track? Do you need to earn a better real rate of return going forward? Or, are you right on target because of your positive results up until now?

Knowing your numbers allows you to make accurate, calm decisions, separating fact from fiction, and fact from opinion.

In contrast to the overwhelming majority of American retirees who react emotionally and have very little confidence, it allows your actions to be solidly based on truth instead of your own or someone else’s opinions.

That’s where your confidence will come from, and, in turn, your increased level of independence.

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to take full advantage of it!

Committed To Your Relaxing Retirement,

Jack Phelps

The Retirement Coach

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I appreciate the trust you place in me. Thank you! (The content of this letter does not constitute a tax opinion. Always consult with a competent tax professional service provider for advice on tax matters specific to your situation.)