The Gunslinger said, "My advice to you is to get yourself a Holy Book, then learn how to pray."
The Preacherman said, "My advice to you is to get yourself a gun, then learn how to shoot."
The Politician said, "My advice to you is to get yourself free of superstitions and weapons, then learn how to obey."

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Archive from October 24, 2007

Entry for October 24, 2007

Part of the idea of a Web Log (blog) is to make regular entries. Some do so daily, some are somewhat irregular like this one. Most folks start a blog and let it fold after an entry or two. I would like to thank those that have visited here, especially those that visit more regularly than I have been writing. Thanks for peeking in at my life and I’ll try to get back to some regular entries. Few will be profound, a few will be profane, and most will be mundane.

As far as retirement, it will soon be three full months. Hardly a full test-run of a new life, but I have to be very honest and say it is every bit as great as I thought it would be. At least a third of life’s stresses are work related. A large chunk of life’s stress comes from worrying about money. By putting a focus on a retirement date, and saving and planning for years, retirement can yank a whole lot of stress from your life. Age 55 is not too soon if you think things through. Not retiring at all is fine too, as long as it is your choice. Needing to work until the age of 80 years of age, because of finances, would be a bitch.

A few words of unsolicited advice are in order. Money is the key; quite simply money is power. You do not need to be rich to retire early, but you will need to live within your means. The first part of any retirement plan should be unrelated to retirement. Learn to set a budget (computers and spreadsheets have made this much easier than with paper and pencil). I look at mine most every day and make adjustments where needed. Keeping a budget will guide you to retirement. Next, pay off all debts if reasonable. Carrying a credit card balance from month to month is not a good idea even if you are rich. There is no greater waste of money than credit card interest fees. Here is a kicker; I have two credit cards that both pay me to use them! One pays me a cash rebate of 1% of what I charge on the card (even though I pay it off each month). The other is a graduated amount, up to 2% of what I charge. Both pay cash, none of that “points for gifts” nonsense. Folks, a couple of hundred bucks a year from a credit card company is not much but is much better than me sending them interest fees. Next, if you have a pension from a job you are quitting don’t cash it out! Let it ride until you retire and let it be part of your income. Next, put money into any tax deferred retirement fund you have at work. Put it in until it hurts. Mind you, if you are going to run up a credit card balance doing this; back the amount down to your means. Third, if you are maxed out on your plan at work, save and invest as much as possible in other ways. Certificates of deposit are OK, same for Roth IRAs. Better rewards (at greater risk) can come from stock mutual funds.

Final thought for today. A temptation most will have, including me, will be to take a big chunk of savings and buy a boat, an outlandish luxury car, or a vacation home. Savings, like a pension, is a like a job that pays you whether or not you get out of bed. If the savings shrink, the paychecks get smaller or can disappear entirely. Never spend the principal.

Thanks for visiting,

James A. Zachary Jr.

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