How Wealthy Are You?

May 24, 2011

I just wrote a blog today on How Healthy Are You? ( I am researching materials to quantitatively define health for a book that I will be writing shortly. As I was thinking about ‘how healthy’ one might be, it occurred that the ‘wealth’ aspect of life was just as apropos. Do you know how wealthy you are?

The obvious answer is the bottom life of your bank, savings and investment accounts – plus the assets you have accumulated along the way – minus the ‘money owed’ that is still currently due. That is a traditional way to look at wealth. The truer answer might include a different mindset. If something happened to you tonight, and you were never able to work another day in your life – how long could you survive? This includes escalating costs for health care, food, gasoline, and discretionary spending.

Most people operate their finances on a month-to-month basis – with little long-term savings. A million or two dollars in the bank will evaporate in a short period of time if you do not have the discipline to control routine expenses. Any one who has been fired or laid off from a job knows first-hand the bleakness of the future and the hemorrhage of money that continues to flow out of your bank account. It is a difficult thing to change a lifestyle at a moment’s notice.

Yet, most of us are saving what we can out of our paychecks and spending as much as we can on new clothes, cars and homes. The habit of spending – uncontrolled spending – will exacerbate the best retirement savings plan. Most people don’t realize that they should plan to live to the age of 90. Statistically, if you make 70 years of age, you will make 80. What is the number one expense in retirement? Health related expenses – drugs, treatments, surgeries, hospitalizations, doctor visits, etc. Medicare and Medicaid are partial solutions – and they take you out of the decision process in many cases.

If you are in decent health now, what are the odds that you will be at that same level of health twenty years from now? You might be interested in reading the series of blogs that I will be producing on assessing and improving your health as you age. My father, like many people, had a big fear of dying. It’s not in the top fear in life, but it is in the top ten. I believe that the quality of life is more important that dying. Do you want to wait while someone gets around to changing your diaper for years to come? I don’t think so.

When you look at the definition of wealth, it includes riches, means, capital, material goods, funds, treasure, fortune, resources, holdings, etc. I view wealth under the general term of prosperity and include health with wealth. Why would you want to have twenty million dollars in the bank and unable to spend it because you are bed-ridden in later life? Health should be a major portion of your wealth equation starting today. Without it you will not be able to enjoy the wealth you accumulate.

Social Security Administration studies have proved that after forty years of working, only five percent of the people receiving social security payments were truly wealthy. They did not need the government sending them extra checks each month in their retirement. I thought those figures were inaccurate when I first read them. I think about all the people I know and associate with and I believe the majority of them to be self-sufficient and ready for long-term retirement. However, as I look closer, I see that many of them are on four or more prescription medicines – not to mention health issues that have gradually been creeping up over the years.

That nest egg of retirement money does not go far when you have to supplement you poor health. To review the question asked earlier – how long could you last financially if you found yourself unable to work starting tonight? Add the secondary question to that one – how long could you maintain your health – or improve it – given the same situation – immediate cessation of a paycheck starting at six o’clock tonight?

Choices have consequences. Your Prosperity Professor, Red O’Laughlin

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Health – Physical Activity Must Be Balanced

November 12, 2010

I’ve written many blogs on having balance in your life.  Most people focus on one or two areas and ignore the others.  What do I mean? Allow me to identify six specific areas in your life that should have some level of balance – Physical Activities, Mental Activities, Spiritual Activities, Relational Activities, Financial Activities and Time Management.  I will be discussing each of these areas in similar detail in my prosperity blog.  I have selected physical activity as a topic for both blogs.

What happens when you suboptimize anything in your life?  The other areas suffer.  Maybe not to a major extent, but over time, degradation appears.  If you spend two hours a day working out and ten hours of your life working to earn a living, how much time do your have for relationships, a spiritual life, personal development, etc.  You have limited your time for other parts of your life.  I am not saying you should stop exercising two hours a day.  I am saying that you should not ignore other important aspects of your life’s development, satisfaction and happiness.

Maybe you don’t have a spiritual life – or, a relationship with family or friends.  Is it necessary?  I think so if you want true happiness in your life.  You have been programmed to spend the majority of your day working for a paycheck.  You are paid to occupy space and to be productive for a number of hours every day (at least five days a week).  However, what are you actually doing to maximize the financial return for the rest of your life?  Is your retirement account growing beyond your expectation?  Earning money is only part of the financial activity segment of your life.  You should grow in knowledge of budgeting, spending, investing, etc.  The same is true with the other activities in your life.

Divide your life into three segments.  The first segment is your growth segment – the phase of your life in which you are growing – this phase is the same for all areas.  Allow me to establish boundaries so that everyone can visualize the same picture.  This growth phase is from age zero through age 25.  By that time you have grown from an infant to a mature adult – physically speaking.  You exercised unconsciously as a young child – running here and there – just having fun in life.  In school, exercise might have been forced on you to an extent in a prescribed Physical Education program – or, you might have been involved in one or more sports programs.  Even in early adulthood, there are residual physical activities that many people do – still hitting the gym, running, etc. 

However, along about the age of 25, many people begin to ‘slack off’ from their routines.  Exercise is minimized to an extent – I’m talked about the greater population.  Life has other priorities.  Does physical activity comprise only one physical activity?  What do I mean by that?  Most people assume that physical activity must have something to do with sweating and cardio development.  However, balance within physical activity includes more than just exercise.

You have heard the term, ‘work smarter, not harder.’  The same applies to physical activity.  Your body changes with age – look around you, and you can see examples everywhere.  Your physical activity program should adjust throughout your life in order to have a healthier life when you retire.  Exercise is only one program.  Diet and nutrition are two others.  Has your knowledge of diet and nutrition improved over the years?  What about your knowledge of breathingmeditation, and stretching, etc?  There are many aspects to overall physical health.

I define the next phase of your life as the range from 25 to 65 years of age.  This is your primary working life.  Life gets in the way of many things – marriage, kids, new jobs, new demands, travel, just to name a few.  In the first phase, physical activity is generally on an upward trend or maintained at a high level overall.  In phase two, the line trends downward and then levels off at a lower level compared to phase one.  Even exercising two hours a day every day from age 25 to 65 does not equate to ‘improved’ overall physical health.  Biochemical systems operate differently, parts wear out, and stress begins to take a toll. 

The third, and final, phase is defined from age 65 to death – your retirement phase, so to speak.  Statistically, if you make 70, you will make 80 years of age.  Statistically, if you make 95, you will make 105 years of age.  All of us want to be in good health in our retirement years.  We don’t want to be a burden on others.  Compare the number of prescription medicines you were on at age 5, compared to age 25, compared to age 45, compared to age 65 and compared to age 85.  Do you see a trend?  If you were smarter, earlier in your life, could you have prepared your body, your overall health, so that you could eliminate the need for prescription meds; or, in the worst-case scenario, you might need only one or two?

Your final phase is generally visualized as a further declining trend line bottoming out with a flat line at the lowest level in your life.  You just can’t get that much exercise with a walker or wheelchair.  However, you could be maximizing your knowledge of geriatric nutrition and appropriate cardio, stretchingbreathing and body-weight exercises. 

Visualize your typical life span with the three phases of life defined previously.  You can see an upward trend line in the first phase (age zero to 25) with a high level of activity compared to the other two phases.  The second phase (age 25 to 65) shows a downward trend from the first phase and a leveling off at a lower level compared to the first phase.  Likewise, the same trend is seen in the third phase (age 65 to death) – downward and an overall lower level of physical activity.  What if you knew this was going to happen to you in advance?  Could you do something?  The answer is, ‘of course!’ 

This blog started by discussing balance in your life.  The plan for your life should include balance and an increasing smarter way of doing things with all aspects of your life.  Little changes made today, this week, this month can have an effect on your retirement years.  Think about it.

Choices have consequences.  Your Prosperity Professor, Red O’Laughlin

Health – You Can Control Your Risk of Alzheimer’s

October 11, 2010

Will a good diet prevent Alzheimer’s?  Probably not!  Because our foods contain many products that allow Alzheimer’s to develop – or – they exacerbate conditions which make it worse.  Sugar, processed white flourprocessed oils and milk products have all been shown to be factors in the development of Alzheimer’s disease.  How many of us each all or part of foods from those groups.  You would be incensed if you really knew the quality of the oil you are using for cooking and eating.  High quality oils, especially olive oil, are not as abundant or accessible as they were a few decades ago.  Fresh fruit and vegetables provide a good basis for a healthy diet.  Processed and fast foods contribute to poorer health and should be reduced or avoided.  Be discriminate in your food selection.

Supplementation provides many benefits, but like many processed foods and oils, you might not be getting what you think you are getting.  The quality and biological adaptability – the quickness and usefulness of the supplements you digest – are not always obvious.  When I shop for supplements, I read every label carefully before buying.  I know that vitamin E is made up of eight different chemicals.  Most stores offer you one option – alpha tocopherol.  Gamma tocopherol is far better for your health, but it is extremely difficult to find.  The same story applies to many other supplements.  You need vitamins A, B, C, D, E and KVitamin D3 is needed by your body and is much more effective than vitamin D2.  Vitamin K is made up of vitamin K1 and vitamin K2, and vitamin K2 has two main components.  A little research will help you decide what is best for you.

Vitamins B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B4 (adenine), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), B9 (folic acid) and B12 (cobalamin) are needed for good health and promote good brain health and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s.  Other good brain supplements include:  omega 3 oil, quercetin, xanthones, lipoic acid, acetyl-L-carnitine, N-acetyl-L-cysteine, ubiquinol (newer form of Co-enzyme Q-10), ginkgo biloba, phosphatidylserine, phosphatidylcholine, and glycerophosphocholine.  Magnesium and manganese are also highly recommended to enhance brain health.

Not every chemical gets to your brain.  There is a blood-brain barrier and it is extremely difficult for most chemicals to pass through it.  You need to keep the right chemicals going in to stay in good health and you need to force the wrong chemicals out.  Tryptophan is converted to serotonin in your body.  Serotonin can navigate through the blood-brain barrier.  However, if you are deficient in certain B vitamins, all the tryptophan you take will be used to address that deficiency.  Your brain has a lower priority in the big scheme of things.  Aluminum has been found in the brains of people who died with Alzheimer’s.  Mercury and fluoride are chemicals that you want to eliminate from your body.

Use it or lose it has been the slogan for years.  Yes, you do need to use your brain – and that does not include watching television.  Do crossword puzzles, play cards, play chess, and add additional breathing exercises to your daily regime. Deep breathing exercises and physical exercise provide more blood flow to your brain and helps your brain actually regenerate new neurons.  Look at the supplements you are taking and make sure that they are the correct ones.  Remove sugar and processed foods and oils from your diet.  Exercise more and keep your brain engaged.  You will feel better, look better and be able to live a much higher quality of life as you approach 100 years of age and beyond.

Choices have consequences.  Your Prosperity Professor, Red O’Laughlin


Prosperity – It’s Never Too Early To Panic

September 21, 2010

Years ago I used to teach a course for prospective Commanding Officers and prospective Executive Officers in the Naval Reserve.  These officers were selected for Command positions; however, they had not reported to their new organizations.  Several of us were assigned as instructors and were given the duty to review and update the existing course material.  We reviewed it for content, clarity, currency and completeness.  It was a two-day course offered over the weekend at various locations within our area of responsibility.

I saw one thing missing that I felt had to be included in the course.  I wanted a list of actions that would cause any Executive Officer (XO) or Commanding Officer (CO) to lose his or her job.  If you were taking over a new responsibility, something you had never done before, wouldn’t it be nice to know what might cost you your job?  I know I would.  If you were trained to know and to understand those actions that would result in immediate dismissal, you would recognize them and stay away from them.

We settled on a dozen or so different things that could cause an XO or CO to be dismissed.  In my 31 plus years with the Navy, I had one Commanding Officer, Executive Officer and Officer-in-Charge removed from their positions for failing a maintenance audit three times in a row.  It was mainly an administrative problem, but Command presence should have been brought to bear earlier to ensure that the maintenance issues were resolved and not repeated.  It brought disgrace to the officers involved and through our squadron into turmoil, flux, distrust, and disorganization.  It took over a year for the new team to earn our respect and trust.

Most of us reflect back on our lives when we reach retirement and assess our successes and failures – if I had done this or that, I would be better off, etc.  Some of us reflect on that topic earlier that others.  Nevertheless, the simple approach usually leads us to assume that our financial strength upon reaching retirement determines the success of retirement and our life.  It is one way to look at it, but not the only.  I’m not going into all the ways to look at success and failure in your life, but I do want to touch on the subject of reflection and your success.

What if you were told while you were growing up that if you took these specific actions, you would be successful; and, if you decided not to perform those actions, you would not be as successful?  Would you do the right things and avoid the wrong things?  Most of us would agree that they would do the right thing and avoid the wrong things.  However, who is telling you what is right and wrong for life’s success?  They are probably your parents, your friends, your teachers, your religious leaders, etc.  Did they have success in their lives?  Alternatively, is it a case of do as I say and not as I have done? 

It’s never to late to panic.  You can actually invest heavily in failure in your life and still come out ahead.  However, you must learn from your mistakes and stop beating a dead horse, so to speak.  If you keep doing what you have always been doing, you will always get the same results.  You have to do something different.  You have to listen to different people.  Decide what you value in your personal life and seek people who have demonstrated success in those areas.  I preach a lot about balance in your life – mental health, body health, time management, spiritual health, people/relationships and finance as primary areas of balance

What if you had more than enough money for you and your family for the next forty years of your retirement, but did not have the health to enjoy it?  Each aspect of balance relates to an overall happiness that must be considered to live your retirement to the fullest.  The old adage of going to school, working hard, getting a good job, and staying there to earn a pension is incorrect in today’s environment.  Companies no longer offer pensions and the money you earn from a pension will not carry you through thirty or forty years of your retirement

Why do I say thirty or forty years?  The latest actuarial tables have been updated in the past two years to extend your life to age 120.  It used to be age 95, but too many people are living past age 95.  If you live to age 70, you have a statistical advantage to make it to age 80.  Most people die before reaching the age of 70.  If you live to age 95, you have a statistical advantage to live to 105 years of age.  If you retire at age 60, you might have forty or forty five years to live on the retirement you have earned over those forty most productive years of your life.

I recently wrote six blogs on the University of Retirement that can help most people, even in their 60’s, 70’s and 80’s find increased happiness in their retirement years.  Take the time to see what options you have.  I outlined a four-year program, but time is not an issue if you are retired.  You could actually complete this program in a year or less, depending on how hungry you are to improve your lot in life.  The earlier you decide to live to 100+ years in good physical and financial health, the easier it will be for you to achieve that goal.

Choices have consequences.  Your Prosperity Professor, Red O’Laughlin

Prosperity – University of Retirement part six

September 14, 2010

The University of Retirement is a four-year program costing no more than $1000 and taking no more than one hour a day for five days a week for four years.  You have to admit that no other University can compare to the dollars spent for an education or the amount of time invested to learn.  What does the University of Retirement give you at the end of four years?  It gives you the ability and the opportunity to make your retirement much more enjoyable and comfortable – from both a health and wealth perspective.

In year One, you spent as much as $240 for books (magazines, CDs and/or DVDs) to improve your understanding of how your subconscious mind works – and how you can make it work for you instead of against you – the normal default mode.  You invested approximately 250 hours of your time reading books and articles, listening to CDs or watching DVDs and YouTube.  Total investment through year One – $240 and 250 hours

In year Two, you spent as much as $240 for books (magazines, CDs and/or DVDs) to improve your financial acuity – to understand what is available and how each investment opportunity works so that you can handle your own retirement accounts.  You invested approximately 250 hours of your time to master financial control of your life.  Total investment through year Two – $480 and 500 hours.

In year Three, you concentrated on your health.  You might have spent as much as $240 on books, magazines, CDs and/or DVDs.  Most of the health, nutrition and exercise information is available through Google searches, so your total expenditure might not reach $240.  Your time investment is the same as the previous years – 250 hours.  Total investment through year Three – $720 and 750 hours.

In year Four, you analyzed different business opportunities and defined your passions.  The focus of year four was to marry your passion with a home-based business (if possible) and to learn everything about a type of business that is necessary to make a good decision to pursue that business.  You might have spent as much as $240 for reference materials.  You should have invested 250 hours of your time analyzing; going to business opportunity meetings, researching on-line, having discussions with successful people in each of the areas you developed an interest.  Total investment through year Four is $960 and 1000 hours of your time.

You now have the knowledge to begin working on your retirement.  Just as a college degree gives you entry to a job, the University of Retirement gives you entry to the best possible retirement life you can enjoy.  With a normal college degree, you still need work experience to learn your specialty.  Some people become proficient within three or four years – that is why so many people leave their first job after 3.5 years (on the average) and begin to sell their services to another company.  With the education you have received from the University of Retirement, you are on a ‘learning curve’ (experience) in health and wealth for the rest of your life.

Your health should improve with the specific knowledge you acquired in year Two of the program.  Your wealth should improve with the lessons you will learn when you start operating a home-based business.  The objective of your home-based business is to replace the current income you make at your job.  Let’s say you make $50,000 a year – approximately $4000 a month.  Each home-based business is different in regards to cash generation.  Some businesses might have the ability to realize $4000 a month in three or four years.  I tell people to plan on at least – a minimum of – seven years to become proficient in your home-based business.  In many cases, it might be twice that long.

It does not matter whether you are young or old when you start the University of Retirement.  The objective is to learn, to practice your business acumen, to analyze your failures, and to improve and earn more money.  If your passion is married to your home-based business then you will be doing what you like and not worried that you are only making $30 a month after the first year.  The money will come as your experience grows.  Yes, there is an investment of your time required to exploit your home-based business – the same 250 hours a year you invested each year in the University of Retirement.  One hour a day (on the average) should be devoted to generating your retirement income.  You have already invested the time in the past; so continuing that daily hourly habit should not be a big problem, especially if you see dollars coming in on a regular basis.

Knowledge is required to get to the starting block.  Knowledge by itself is not true power.  It is only potential power.  Apply action to your knowledge and you begin developing power – the power you need to enjoy your retirement at a higher level that you ever imagined.  Don’t waste the knowledge you have gained.

Choices have consequences.  Your Prosperity Professor, Red O’Laughlin

Prosperity – University of Retirement part five

September 6, 2010

The University of Retirement is a four-year program that prepares you for better health and wealth in your retirement years.  Year 1 focuses on you gaining control of your subconscious mind and improving your personal development.  Year 2 is directed at you taking control of your financial assets.  Year 3 is dedicated to you taking control of your health for the rest of your life.  Year 4 is what separates you from most other retirees.

Most retirees rely on their savings and investment accounts.  Why not have at least one or a series of income streams that provides you with money to cover your monthly bills and discretionary spending?  If your cash income exceeds your expenditures, then you don’t have to touch your main investments.  How can you achieve that?  One method is called a home-based business.  Why a home-based business?  Because it can generate substantial income and it gives you fantastic tax advantages.

Home-based businesses are something you control at your leisure.  It is something that generates cash every month regardless of how much time and energy you put into it once it is up and operating (usually several years).  Let’s say you are on vacation in Australia for a month and you really like it.  You have the ability to stay an extra month or two – or drop into Bali for a couple unplanned weeks because someone told you about the beauty of Bali and you want to see it before you go home.  Most businesses require you to be ‘at’ or ‘on call.’  Home-based businesses do not.

What kinds of home-based businesses are there to consider during year four?  The most obvious is a network marketing or multi-level marketing type of business.  You build it up for several years and then reap the rewards while you keep your finger in the business to ensure that it remains viable.  A home-based business could include real estate sales, day-trading stocks, owning and operating car washes, owning and operating rental property, owning and operating mini-storage units, etc.  It is something that you can invest in and allow to grow.  A caretaker can manage it when you are not physically present, or when you choose to let someone else run the day-to-day operations while you concentrate on another business opportunity.

Be cautious about selecting the best business for your personal needs.  During year 4, you will look at a different business opportunity each month.  This gives you ten or more legitimate businesses that you assess for fit to your personality, viability of the business with fluctuations within the economy, skills needed, etc.  There are many things you must learn about running different types of businesses; and, during each month you will learn what is required for each type of business. 

Before you embark on this business analysis phase, you must first complete an assessment of your passionsPassions are those things you want to do whether you are paid or not.  It is something in you that you feel obligated to do.  The first month is dedicated to defining your passions.  As you define each passion, list several home-based businesses that could assist you in financing your passion.  Look at the long-range opportunities that can be derived once you decide which business fits the best.  When your passion is married to your ‘job’ (home-based business) then it is fun.

Select a business and build a model around it for clarity.  Let’s say you like to travel and you like to photograph the places you’ve visited.  You like to learn about other places and cultures and you like to educate others.  There are four passions given – travel, photography, learning, educating.  You start to look at what is required to become a better than average photographer.  What kind of equipment do you need, what skills are required, what software is needed, what printing equipment is recommended, etc. 

There are many things to know about before you buy anything.  You can look for bargain prices and see what ranges of costs are associated with this kind of business.  What support groups are available to assist you to get your photographs into the market – and, which markets are the easiest to get into and which ones would enhance your future income?  You are starting to build a business model for photography to be your retirement career.  The term ‘retirement career’ is used for a reason – to invoke a need to remain active and busy in your retirement life.  Statistics show that people who are not active during their retirement rarely live ten years.  Being active is key to a great retirement.

You marry your passion and home-based business for photography with travel so that all your travel is 100% deductible for income tax purposes.  You travel and video tape or photograph people, places and things.  You select the best ones for publication and write the accompanying stories to go with each trip.  Once you have a number of trips under your belt, you can write a book to help fellow travelers know the best places to go when they visit similar places.  You can expand your books to include DVDs.  You can offer tutoring CDs or DVDs on how to operate certain kinds of equipment, or how to catch the light just right to make your photographs stand out brilliantly.

Become active in learning about Internet marketing because you want to sell your books, photographs, CDs and DVDs.  You are traveling, taking photos, learning about the places you visit before, during and after and you are educating others based on what you have done.  Moreover, since you love to travel, to take photographs, to learn about cultures and locations, and to educate others, you are living your dreams and your passions at the same time.  You have income that you had not planned on before you started taking the University of Retirement and you are having fun – it doesn’t get much better than that.

Retirement is meant to be fun.  You have to have the health and the wealth to really appreciate it.  Spend your time during year 4 to determine what you really want to do and how to do it.  Learn what is required to make the right decisions.  Learn about the tax implications and seek out a good tax mentor who specializes in home-based businesses.  This is critical since the vast majority of CPAs do not know home-based business deductions and you will leave a lot of money on the table that could otherwise be used for legitimate tax deductions and expenses.  The next blog will take you beyond the four years you spend in the University of Retirement and what you can do to prepare for the best part of your life.

Choices have consequences.  Your Prosperity Professor, Red O’Laughlin

Prosperity – University of Retirement part four

August 30, 2010

When do you want to retire – at what age?  Most people pick an age between 55 and 70.  Let’s say for a moment that you want to retire at age 65.  How long will you live in retirement.  Most people based their answer on an age that their parents died or an age that they have thought about over time.  For purposes of this blog, let’s say that you plan to live until age 85 – that’s twenty years in retirement.  Twenty years of spending just like you are today plus inflation – interpret that as you will be spending twice what you are today at age 85 as you will be at age 65.  That’s sounds pretty nearly impossible that you could be spending twice as much in just twenty years.  Think back twenty years ago – how much were you paying for food, gasoline, telephone, medical care, etc.  OK, so, your house is paid for and you won’t have that expense, but you will still have your home taxes – plus the value of your home could double in twenty years if you don’t protest your taxes every year.

Where am I going with this blog?  I asked the basic question – how long will you live?  For purposes of this blog, the answer is 85.  What will your life be at age 84 – the year before you die?  What is your mental capacity, your physical capacity, your financial capacity, your spiritual capacity, etc.?  You would still hope that you think clearly – no Alzheimer’s; and, you can do most of what you want to do physically.  Your finances are OK, but they could be better.  If your health is that good at 84 years of age, why would you be dead in one year?  Actually, if you live to age 70, statistically you will live to age 80.  Most people underestimate their life span.  You should plan to live until at least age 100 for financial purposes – and for your health.

The University of Retirement spends the third year concentrating on your health.  Generally, you can make changes late in life and still enjoy the fruits of those changes.  What changes?  Diet and exercise are just two – there are many more.  Just as you did in year one – concentrated on your personal development, you will spend your third year concentrating on your physical health.  Learn about what you can do to control your life.  Learn about the typical deficiencies most people have, such as vitamin D.  If most people have a deficiency and you are not aware of it, not have taken any actions to eliminate this deficiency, then you probably have that deficiency also.

Do you get an annual physical?  Why not?  What if you have to pay for it yourself?  Is that too large an expense for you?  You are responsible for your health – not your doctor.  You need to know where you stand year to year so that you can take better control of your life.  I recommend to family, friends and clients to get extra health tests, even if you have to pay for them yourself, when you get your annual physical.  I get and recommend a highly sensitive c-reactive protein test, a homocysteine level test, a D-25 (vitamin D) test and an AMAS (antimalignin antibody in serum) test and some others. 

The Internet provides a lot of information – research both sides of story.  Research the prescription drugs that you are taking.  For instance, statin drugs are recommended for cholesterol, but there is a lot of evidence indicating that statin drugs do more harm than good.  All prescription drugs have side effects and all of them are harmful to your long and healthful life.  There are options to most prescription medicines, but your doctor is not allowed to tell you about them – he must protect his practice and he is legally bound to tell you to take a prescription medicine.  Read the side effects on your prescription and make a determination if you are willing to live with them.  Yes, today you might not have any side effects, but the longer you take the prescription med, you will begin to see them.

Knowing what is healthful is only part of the question.  You must take action.  If your diet needs changing – think about the better health you’ll have later in your life because you made that change.  The same applies to physical exerciseAction is required.  I get many health newsletters on the Internet and several health magazines.  I like Life Extension magazine more than others.  The third year of the University of Retirement does not require you to buy a book a month, but you can spend a small portion of your budget for your retirement on those subscriptions that add value to your life.  Ask your doctor what magazines he subscribes to or reads each month.  That will give you a place to start.

You want to be in excellent health to enjoy your retirement.  Take a year to really research what you can do.  Improve your knowledge of health and nutrition just like you did in year two to learn about finance.  Similarly, don’t trust your health to your doctor – just as you are taking control of your finances.  The Law of Attraction (and many other sources) tells us that we become what we focus on or think about.  If that is so, then start thinking about how healthy you will be at age 105 or 110 or 115.  If you start thinking about that today, you will probably reach one of those ages in good health.  Use your subconscious mind to help you arrive in style as you past 100 years of age.

Choices have consequences.  Your Prosperity Professor, Red O’Laughlin

Prosperity – University of Retirement part three

August 28, 2010

Your focus in year one is to assess where you are in your life from a self-improvement perspective and begin a transition to a better you.  You will learn a lot of personal development and will think and feel differently than before you started.  As you go through the next three years of the University of Retirement, you may want to continue to reinforce your knowledge of self-improvement.

The second year is dedicated to improving your knowledge of finance.  Why allow or trust someone else with your money.  If they make a bad decision, you suffer.  If you make a bad decision, learn from it and do not repeat it.  Your current disposable wealth will become your life’s blood during your retirement.  Putting a few dollars into a savings account is not the sole answer.  There are several answers you must seek and understand.

As you are saving money with your current understanding of finance, you must begin a diligent and relentless program of learning to control money.  Do not allow it to control you.  Impulse buying is money controlling you.  Plan, on paper, your future.  Prepare a budget and live by it.  Set money aside for specific large purchases.  Do not max out your credit cards.  In fact, the maximum number of credit cards you should have is three.  Pay off any others you currently have and cancel those accounts.  Plan never to exceed 30% of the maximum balance allowed on any particular credit card.

Keep records of every thing you spend money for daily.  You will need this discipline in the next two years.  Annotate each receipt so that you know where you spent money, what date it was and how much you actually spent.  If it is not obvious why you spent that money, then write a note about it also.  If you get cash from the bank or ATM, annotate the receipt with the intention of how you will spend that cash.  You want to be able to reconstruct any spending habit you have on a regular basis – monthly or quarterly.  Compare this reconstruction to your previous budget.  If something is out of kilter, you know what to fix.

There are many ways to invest your money.  One of the easiest is to listen to radio or go to YouTube and see what others are doing.  Realize that you are only hearing what other people are doing.  You want a sense of what is available for you to do with your money.  Dave Ramsey has a daily radio show.  I enjoy listening to it.  One day a listener asked him how many people were successful in writing a budget and actually becoming debt free.  He said, without hesitation, that 90% of the people who had written budgets never made it to the debt free stage in their lives.  I talked with my financial mentor recently and he told me that he called Dave Ramsey’s company a while back and asked how many remained debt free after achieving that status in their lives.  The answer was 87% of those achieving debt free status went back into debt shortly thereafter.  The control of money over your life is very strong and must be addressed daily.  It is a hard habit to break and an easy one to relapse into if you don’t focus on it continually.

Learn what ‘taxed as earned’ investments are and why you should or should not invest in them.  Learn the same for ‘non-qualified tax deferred’; traditional IRAs and 401Ks, non-qualified alternatives and home equity investments.  Your objective should be to invest in as many tax free – from initial investment through final distribution – investments.  Why pay tax when it is legal not to – if you know who to?

Learn about commodities, business ventures, limited partnerships, raw land, speculative common stocks, lower quarter bonds, investment real estate, blue chip stocks, high grade bonds, mutual funds, CDs, maximum-funded insurance, gold or other precious metals, investment coins, foreign markets, money market funds, U. S. Treasury Bills, annuities, and the equity in your home.  Ensure you understand what liquidity is and how safe each kind of investment you can make is.  Ensure you know what the rate of return is for each kind of investment opportunity.  When you know these things, you will make much wiser decisions that handing your entire retirement future over to someone else.

Get yourself a financial mentor.  Find someone you trust.  Do not turn your money over to this person, but use him or her as a sounding board for your future.  Our economic situation (personal and governmental) changes over time.  You want to understand the underlying reasons why things happened – what caused what and what you can do about it.  Your objective is to become a financial success.  The second year of the University of Retirement is to allow you to focus on all aspects of investing.  You will know become an expert in the field or a certified financial advisor, but your will have a working knowledge of what is best for you and you will be able to take appropriate action.

Choices have consequences.  Your Prosperity Professor, Red O’Laughlin

Prosperity – University of Retirement part two

August 26, 2010

In part one, I discussed a four-year college program that would cost no more than $1,000 per year.  You could actually do all four years for a total of $1,000 or less.  Additionally, the required study time would be no more than one hour per day.  Four years of a college education that you can do from your home for a total of $4,000 and approximately five hours/week can prepare you far better for your retirement than any other program currently on the market today.  I am including a Harvard MBA and PhD from Stanford or MIT (includes similar degrees and colleges).  MBA and PhD degrees will help you during your working life, but what you do with your ‘extra’ wealth will make a difference in your retirement years.  Is there hope for you if you don’t have an MBA or PhD?  The University of Retirement is the person with multiple advanced degrees or the person who never went to college

The University of Retirement is a four-year program that changes your mindset.  Your mindset is the key to your successColleges and universities do not teach their students how to change or improve their mindset.  Your mindset has been defined before you became a teenager and is constantly reinforced everyday by every one you know and every thing you do.  Unless you are willing to make a change to your mindset, you will continue doing what you have always done and you will not be happy with your retirement years.

Let’s get back to the University of Retirement program.  This blog (part two) will discuss the first year.  The University of Retirement is a self-taught, self-paced program that you will do from the comfort and safety of your home.  There may be occasions that you might opt to go to a library; however, this program can be done primarily at home.  The first year is dedicated to understanding how you tick – what is important in your brain processing – and what you can do to change and improve that process. 

You will start with your self-image and gradually improve your self-image and self-esteem.  If you don’t change your self-image, you will never successfully achieve what you are capable of achieving – true success will be denied to you.  Your first year is focusing on your self-improvement – your personal development.  You will learn happiness, motivation, inspiration, success planning, goal setting and achievement, dreaming, etc. 

I mentioned earlier that the cost of your first year is no more than $1,000.  How did I arrive at that figure?  Easy – a self-help book can be bought (new or used) for $20 or less.  The University of Retirement requirement is that you buy or read twelve books – that’s one book a month.  $20 times 12 months equals $240.  Each year there is a requirement to buy or read 12 books.  4 years at $240 a year equals just less than $1,000.  However comma, you can spend more and read more – the choice is up to you.  Realistically, you could read or buy one book per week, which would put you at the $1,000 per year cost (assuming 50 weeks times $20 – yes, I am allowing a couple of weeks for vacation).

What do you read?  There are so many expert authors that it would difficult to list them all in this blog – and I’m sure I would leave quite a few out.  Let me list a dozen or so though (not in any particular order – just as they come to mind) – Tony Robbins, Brian Tracy, Robert Kiyosaki, Ben Franklin, James Allen, Dale Carnegie, Samuel Smiles, Napoleon Hill, Maxwell Maltz, Zig Ziglar, Steven Covey, Les Brown, Jim Rohn, John Maxwell, Denis Waitley, Og Mandino, etc.  Their books are available at a number of websites and can be checked out of your library. 

Let’s say for a moment that you are temporarily financially challenged and $20 a month is below the line on your budget for approved expenditures.  Go to YouTube, type their names in, and see what you can watch from these and other motivational and inspirational leaders.  Put ‘speaker’ with motivational, inspirational, self-improvement, self-help, success, etc.  You will get more than you can watch in an hour a day.  Everyone learns best by reading, watching or hearing.  If you know what your preferred style is – choose it as the basis of your learning.  One hour a day is required to develop an understanding of the material.

Another sources of free material from the above listed authors and more can be found on the Internet in the form of articles.  There are a number of article websites that categorize by ‘topic’ and have some very informative articles.  If you are interested in self-esteem or success, then type those key words into their ‘search’ block and choose.  YouTube is free.  Article websites are free.  You can also subscribe to newsletter from the authors or their companies.  The newsletters are free and it requires you to register to receive them.

Your first year at the University of Retirement is dedicated to building a solid base of educational knowledge about you – how you work, what makes you tick and what you can do to become better.  It concentrates on positive changes in your life.  One book a month (or week) and one hour a day (five days/wk) is all that is required to get started.

Choices have consequences.  Your Prosperity Professor, Red O’Laughlin

Prosperity – University of Retirement – part one

August 25, 2010
Over the past couple of months I have been talking to various friends, family and clients about what options they have for retirement.  Most people believe that they work hard, save their money, retire and draw down from their retirement next egg.  They have never really considered other options.  I have put together a multi-part blog on a retirement option that anyone can do, if they want to.
If you ask most people what age they would like to be when they retire, it is amazing how many pick an age somewhere between 60 and 70 years old.  Why can’t you retire earlier and enjoy your retirement longer?  I believe that ‘traditional thinking’ rules our mindsets.  Traditional thinking says that you go to school, get good grades, go to college, get good grades, find a good company, work for them forever, earn a pension and retire when you are 65 years of age.  That mindset doesn’t work in the 21st century as it did in the mid-20th century.
Several decades ago people worked for many years at a single company.  I remember not that many years ago people retiring who had 40+ or 50+ years working for the same company.  Outsourcing, technology, economics, competition, etc have affected our current working culture so that the average time most people spend with a single company is less than five years.  They want experience with a good company and then sell their new experience to a competitor.
What if there was a way for someone to retire earlier than they currently plan to retire?  What if you could afford the cost and time involved to achieve an earlier retirement?  What does it really take to get more money to set aside for your retirement?  Well, actually, getting more money is not the secret.  Getting more money is part of the solution, but you also have to dedicate that new-found wealth towards your retirement and not towards your current economic desires – new homes, clothes, vacations, cars, etc.
I equate the University of Retirement to a typical college degree.  A typical college degree takes around four or five years to complete.  It also takes you about four to seven years working in industry to prove yourself – to accumulate knowledge and working experience.  What does a college education cost today?  Way more than it did when I got my first, second, third or fourth degree.  But, for the sake of a good comparison, let’s assume that a college degree today costs at least $20,000 total.  That would include tuition, fees and books only.  I know that you can easily spend that much for one year of college today.  I will defer the cost of room and board to equal your current living costs and assume that you attend college while living at home.  Boring, but for the same of this comparison, it is accurate.
Graduating from the University of Retirement could cost you less than $1,000 a year, but allow me to set a ceiling of $1000 for each of four years that you will attend the University of Retirement.  What does it cost you in terms of your time?  If you took a normal college load of 12-15 hours per semester, the recommended time required for study would be a factor (2X or 3X) of the course load you are taking.  For example, let’s assume you are taking 12 hours of coursework, you would be advised to spend 24-36 hours/week studying.
The University of Retirement requires approximately one hour per day for five days a week.  How can that be so you might ask?  That will be addressed in the next blog.
Choices have consequences. Your Prosperity Professor, Red O’Laughlin