Worry Free Retirement

Early on the morning of February 17, 1994, James Rich crawled behind the controls of his plane at an airport near Louisville, Kentucky. The plan was to make a 30-minute flight to Crossville, Tennessee, where a friend of his was the airport manager. He would arrive just about the time his friend was showing up for work and show off the Piper Seneca he had just finished restoring.

The 40-year-old pilot had not slept much the night before. He had been out late with some friends. So he was still tired when he cleared the runway and pointed his plane south for the quick trip. Climbing to 3,500 feet and putting the Seneca on automatic pilot, he dozed off.

Rich must have slept for three hours. The next thing he knew, he was trying to clear his head while looking through broken clouds onto what he thought was a lake. A closer look revealed that the “lake” extended to the horizon in all directions. Then a glance at the gas gauge told him he was practically out of fuel.

Knowing that he was in trouble, he radioed an SOS. Only then did he discover his true location—188 miles west of Clearwater and 190 miles south of Panama City, Florida. He was over the Gulf of Mexico with only a few minutes of gasoline left!

Still, 85 miles short of land, the last drop of fuel was gone. His uninsured $70,000 Piper hit the Gulf, sank in about 45 seconds, and pulled Rich down with its undertow. Two cushions pulled from the plane popped him back to the surface. They would have to keep him afloat until help came—as Rich couldn’t swim.

Within 15 minutes, a helicopter was there to drop a rescue basket. Rich scrambled in and was hoisted to safety—still clinging to his seat cushions.

Mr. Rich’s humorous—though harrowing—experience reminds all of us to stay alert about the direction our lives are taking. It’s easy to get up each day and go about our daily lives on automatic pilot. Then, at the worst moment, we are jarred to our senses to realize that things have spiraled hopelessly out of control. My goal in this chapter is to encourage you to reevaluate your retirement plans. Are they on schedule? Have you even started planning for those supposedly “happy golden years?” Or, will they be years without enough gold to have any financial happiness? Right now might be the time to rethink, refocus, and re-tweak. Why? So you won’t be left spending your retirement years in the Gulf of Despair, holding onto soggy cushions, hoping for help.

The State of the Retirement World

Folks, the good old days are gone—never to return. No longer do most people begin life-long careers with a single company immediately after graduation. Today, most people change jobs about every 5 years. And, no longer do most companies reward employee loyalty with a defined benefit plan that promises to pay a certain amount of benefits upon retirement. Typically, such defined benefits plans were controlled by the companies that sponsored them. They usually made the investment decisions, and decided how much you would receive.

Today, most people have to make their own retirement arrangements. And, yes, this frightens some folks. There is a tendency on the part of many adults to still want someone else to protect them. There is a fear of having to go it alone—make their own plans and decisions. And, based on the facts, it appears that many people have simply chosen to do nothing. Fifty-six percent of US citizens are failing to set aside enough for a comfortable retirement. Fifty-nine percent of the people surveyed say they expect a lower standard of living in their retirement years.

3 Ways to Prepare for Retirement

Most people draw their retirement funding from one (or, a combination of) 3 sources: Social Security, employer-sponsored programs, and various types of personal savings/investments. Following, I want to give you enough data to, hopefully, whet your appetite to study and get more details on these options.

1) Social Security. Sadly, this is a major source of funds for many retirees. The Social Security Administration tells us that Social Security makes up about 40% of the average individual’s retirement income. The average recipient gets about $800 per month. But since your lifetime earnings and circumstances vary—your benefits may be quite different.

There have been far too many people who reached retirement expecting a lot more from Social Security than they got. If you haven’t already gotten the information, I would encourage you the contact the Social Security Administration for an idea of what you can expect at retirement. Check with them on-line at http://www.ssa.gov/statement or call them at 800-772-1213. When you get the information, be sure to review it carefully making sure all data and amounts are correct.

Although the future of the system isn’t certain, the following chart may be helpful in determining when you should begin receiving full benefits based on the present standards. You can start as early as age 62, but benefits will be greatly reduced.

2) Employer-Sponsored Programs. Typically, company retirement plans fall into one of two broad categories: Defined benefit plans and defined contribution plans. As I mentioned earlier, today most companies no longer offer defined benefit plans. In recent years, many companies have changed their approach to retirement planning. Today, a large percentage of companies offer what are known as defined contribution plans. In such plans the money available at retirement is based on how much you (and, in some cases, your employer) contribute, and on how your investments perform.

In the book, No Debt No Sweat! we hit the highpoints of the most popular types of plans like 401(k) plans, 403(b) plans, SIMPLE Plans (Saving Incentive Match Plan for Employees), Profit-sharing Plans, Simplified Employee Pension Plans (SEP’s), Money Purchase Plans.

3) Individual Savings & Investments. Any retirement income you want (beyond Social Security and employer-sponsored plans) will have to come from your own planning and savings programs.

Broadly speaking, such investment vehicles fall into two camps: Taxable and tax-deferred.

In the No Sweat No Debt! book we cover the basics of both types of IRA’s as well as:

Other Ways To Save For Retirement
Tax-Deferred vs. Taxable Investments
How Much Does It Take To Retire?
How Does Inflation Affect Your Savings?
Other Options In Case You’ve Waited Too Long
Questions To Ask As You Review Your Plan!
2 Retirement Plan Warnings
Some Thoughts About Retiring From Your Job Without Retiring From God

No Debt No Sweat Christian Financial Management


No Debt, No Sweat! shows Christians how to free themselves from the bondage of financial pain. It is written for people who are financially sound and looking for investment strategies as well as people who are in financial turmoil and need a successful plan for getting out of debt.

Price: $19.00 (353 pages)

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You are not alone! Debt problems don’t just happen to uneducated folks. Bright, suave, business tycoons and financiers fall into the debt trap. Borrowing, and the associated problems it can bring, affects people in all walks of life. Today, if you’re struggling with debt, I want you to know that you’re not alone—not by a long shot. The average family carrying credit card debt probably owes a little over $11,000. The good news is, there is hope!


About the Seminar

Steve’s No Debt No Sweat! teachings on Christian money management have had a profound effect on people around the world. People are learning to live within their means. Some are able to give more. Marriages are closer. Others have learned how to avoid bankruptcy. Instead of pandering to the “wealth and prosperity” teachings that are so popular today, Steve gives clear, simple, practical solutions with a Biblical base. This stuff really works!

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