Monday, June 30, 2008

Too Young to Retire? Maybe not:3 Tips to Get You There

I was recently reading an article in Black Enterprise about early retirement. It stated that the normal retirement age is between 65 and 67 and was giving tips on how to collect Social Security a couple years before the normal retirement age, how to draw from your IRA early, and how to avoid tax penalties for early retirement. After the initial shock of realizing that the powers that be in the Social Security Administration really expect me to fight rush hour traffic, deal with a demanding boss, and work 12 hour days for the next 40 years- I came to a deep realization. The fact of the matter is that I can actually retire any time I please.

Now don't get me wrong, obviously there is a difference between being unemployed (with no money, no place to live, and no assets) and being retired. Since I plan to do the latter, I decided that it was definitely time for me to get my plans in order to make sure this happens much sooner than later.

Anyone who knows me personally or whose read my past blog posts, knows that my goal for retirement is age 30 (6 years from now). While that may seem like an overzealous goal for some, this definitely feels like the only option for me. There's absolutely no way I can continue to be a "worker bee" for Corporate America for the rest of my young and mid adult life.

With that said, here are a few must haves in order to turn this dream into a reality!

Healthy Emergency Fund:
Just because you no longer have the will to be bound to a clock and being obligated to show up to an unfulfilling, creatively draining job, doesn't mean your bills are going to fall in line. Please know that you will still have rent/mortgage, cell phone, and cable representatives calling your phone each day that your account is overdue. The goal should be to have at least enough savings in an interest generating account that will hold you over for 6 months in the event you generate no additional income.

Freelance/Flexible Work Arrangement:
Early retirement can be defined as loosely as being able to work for yourself and having the freedom to come and go as you please, to as strictly as the cessation of any and all work arrangements. Obviously at 30, my goal is not to no longer work another day in my life. The goal is, however, to be able to take more control of how I spend my days. As it stands now, I spend more than 50% of my day commuting and doing work. The goal should be to either negotiate with your current employer or create an arrangement for yourself where you can be your own boss and set your own hours. One of the easiest ways to accomplish this is to become an entrepreneur. Please note that you shouldn't simply replace working for someone else for most of your days for working for yourself most of your days. If you truly want to be retired, you should be focused on creating a business where your money works more for you than you have to work for your money.

Income Generating Asset(s)
Another important item, is to have an income generating asset or assets that you don't have to work for. This asset should be making money for you whether you are at home asleep or on the beach overseas. An example of this can be a residential property that you receive rental income from, an interest generating account, or a stock or bond that you have invested.

The point is that, you shouldn't be limited in thinking that living a life of freedom can only happen after you've worked away your best years doing something that left you unfulfilled. The only thing stopping you from living your best life now, is YOU. Why not get started revamping your thoughts and actions in order to achieve all of the goals you have set for yourself? I've made a commitment to myself to do the same.

-Alecia D.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Is It Time To Move On..3 Questions to Ask Yourself

I know we've all been there... in the middle of nowhere. Stuck somewhere between a rock and a hard place and feeling like all of our efforts are in vain. Whether you recall being in a bad relationship for a day, month, or year longer than was worth your time. Or even pressured into another ten years of a job that you felt was stifling your creativity and taking you nowhere. Or have you found yourself guilty of hanging around with "friends" that you've outgrown about 6 years prior.. How do you know when it's time to move on?

Staying put in a situation that serves no purpose in our bottom line is probably one of the most common mistakes that we as young women make. It seems we are constantly trying to make excuses as to why we should continue to financially support the boyfriend who hasn't had a job for the past year, take a back seat to the colleague at work who is presenting our ideas as her own, or remain on the committee that though it is for a good cause, doesn't allow us to utilize our talents the way we would like.

I realized today that I have been at my current job for the past three years, in my current relationship for two years, and have even had the same hair color for the last 4 years. Am I guilty of living my life simply going through the motions? I decided it was time to give my life a quick inventory to make sure I was still on the right track. There had to be a way to assess the "stuck" factor and I was determined to find it. Here is a short list of questions I came up with.

1. Is there a natural progression in your situation? Are things changing for the better? For worse?Change is an inevitable part of any healthy situation. If things are staying the same or getting worse it may be time to move on.

2. Is there room for growth? Do you feel you have learned all there is to learn in your situation? Are you still being challenged? If you are able to get by without having to be mentally or emotionally "present" it may be time to move on.

3. Lastly, are you happy? Obviously we all go through our good days and bad days but if the latter begins to outweigh the former, it may be time to move on.

Any abrupt change in our lives is going to seem scary at first, but I know that I would rather spend my time continually reinventing and challenging myself than spend my days wishing and regretting not seizing the opportunity to try something new and getting out while I had the chance.

4 Sure-fire Ways to Jumpstart Your Success

One of the most important steps in any lifestyle change is the Organization and Planning Stage. This is where you can get down to business and begin to really decide when, why, and how you will make your changes.

The first step is deciding you want to change, after that is done you have to figure out why you want the change and exactly how you are going to get there. What steps do you have to take in order to achieve your goal?? I recommend answering the previous questions in your journal- this will make your thoughts more concrete and you will have a roadmap for your journey to change.

After you've answered these important questions, it's time to get moving. Planning is very important, however, the next most important step is ACTION.

1. Start with one of your goals- pick the easiest one.

2. Make a list of 3 steps that will really kick start you on your path to change. The first step should be easy, the second step a bit time consuming, but do-able, and the last should be challenging- maybe even a little bit uncomfortable.

3. Complete step one RIGHT NOW, complete step two TOMORROW, and step three THE NEXT DAY.

4. Once you've completed your steps, go on to your next goal and repeat the process.

Now that you're on the road to making positive changes for the better- don't stop. Use the momentum you've just created to keep going until you finally reach your goals! You deserve to start living your best life NOW.

The Truth About Money

With the climate of our nation's economy the way it is and the ever present threat of a disappearing middle class, it is becoming more and more important for us to take control of our financial futures. Everytime I have a talk with friends about this topic, someone inevitably makes the comment that it would be easier to plan and take control of their finances if they had more.. finances. While on the surface that may sound like a logical thought, I've learned that as contradictory as it seems- you can't solve money problems with money.

Hard to believe, I know- however, experts agree that it is very, very true. Believe it or not, 30-40% of lottery winners end up committing suicide within a very short time of obtaining their pay offs while 100% of millionaires who actually earned their money and subsequently lost it all regained their fortunes again. What does this mean?? It's not money that makes you rich, rather it is your thoughts about money that make you rich.

That being said, I am very interested in the habits of the rich. What is it about their thoughts that make them look at money differently from the poor. Although there are many books, articles, and blogs on the subject, the common factors are listed below.

1. The rich pay themselves FIRST. If a rich man is given $1,000, he immediately puts at least 10% aside for savings. The remaining 90% is what he then uses to budget and support his lifestyle. Poor people in contrast, support their lifestyle first and look to save whatever is left- which is often $0

2. The rich are constantly looking for ways to make their money work for them. A rich man would rather pay $500 a month on website maintenance, business advertising, and association fees so that they can own a company that will make him a profit every month while the poor would rather pay $500 a month on a liability such as a car payment- which can never make them a profit.

3. Lastly, the rich realize that wealth has nothing to do with how much money you make, but all to do with how much money you keep. If Person A makes $3,000 a month but after all of his expenses is only able to save $50, he is no better off than Person B who makes $500 a month but lives below his means and is able to save $300. Over time, Person B is in a much better position than person A and can begin to use his accumulated wealth to live a much more fulfilling life.

If you're like me, one of your goals in life is to be wealthy. It's not enough to find a high paying job, we have to change our thoughts and habits as they relate to money. Once we do that, we will soon find ourselves being able to be more comfortable around money and able to think about money practically and positively- and only then can we truly be wealthy.

Getting "Unstuck"- How to Take Hold of Your Best Life

No matter how optimistic we may try to be, it is inevitable that self-doubt will try to creep into our psyche and steal us of our joy and contentment. In this situation, what makes a successful woman different from that of an unsuccessful one? The ability to cope with this momentary lapse in fortitude. When you are feeling down in the dumps, do you recognize the negative thought patterns you are experiencing or do you get sucked in to the negativity and become "stuck" in a reality that seems doomed and hopeless?

One of the most important things anyone can do in the quest to become successful is to become in tune with the thoughts emitted on a daily basis. Can the majority of your thoughts be categorized as negative or postiive? Are you a perpetual complainer? Are you judging every- person and thing that you encounter in your daily routines? Have you ever noticed that those women out there who seem to be taking over the world with a successful lifestyle, have unwaivering confidence in themselves and their ability for success? As human beings, we all come across situations in our life that we consider less than perfect- this is an unavoidable fact. What is avoidable, however, is the feeling of hopelessness that many times accompanies these less than perfect situations.

If you are finding yourself in a situation currently that you are not satisfied with, try thinking about the following things:

What am I grateful for. While it may be hard to find that silver lining within whatever you are currently going through, you should definitely take the time to recognize the good things in your life. The fact that you are alive and here to see another day should be reason enough to be grateful. If it's not- be happy for friends and family, for health, and whatever else puts a smile on your face.

What small changes can I make to improve my situation. If you were to take a step back and reflect on the things you are not happy about within your life, would you be able to think of a few ways you could make these things better? Of course we can't control other people's actions and there are some events that are simply inevitable, but what we can change is our role in these situations and how we choose to react to them.

When is it time to move on. Alot of times, when we begin to get serious about our success and pledge to make a deliberate effort to change the course of our lives, we may realize just how much certain people and situations may be doing a disservice to our progress. It is important that we take a long, hard look at these people and things and make very precise decisions as to whether or not they deserve to continue to be in our lives.

The bottom line is that as a woman on a quest to live her best life, you should be very proactive in evaluating exactly how your thoughts and actions affect your success. It's so easy to get on the road to depression and despair, why not go against the status quo and strive to get "unstuck" and begin to take hold of your best life now.

Fall In Love With Your Job

As I've told you before, Mondays are pretty challenging for me. It's always difficult for me to wake up in the morning and get ready for my hour long commute to go to a workplace that I feel isn't allowing me to make the best use of my creativity and talents, but instead is a vehicle I view as simply useful in allowing me to "pay the bills". As I talk to many other women, it seems that I am not alone in my sentiments. However, what I've noticed is that what makes the happy working woman different from the discontent one, is the ability to mold her work into something she can appreciate and fall in love with.

You may be thinking, "How can I fall in love with my work? I'm doing something that is unfulfilling and I am not happy". Let me tell you, as I've experienced for the past few years, the more you resist the more unhappy you will feel. It is not until you embrace your current situation and begin to see it for what it truly is and accept the lessons that you are learning that you will begin to find opportunities for growth and change within your work. It is important that you make your "work" begin to work for you!

Revamp your job description
Are there ways you can switch your day to day functions to be more in line with your passion and interests? If you are working in a field that has nothing to do with your passion, is it possible for you to at least create a role where you can play upon your strengths? Are you a people person? Try incorporating more client/customer facing interactions into your daily work. Do you enjoy creating processes and programs? Try tackling a new project that may prove beneficial to your team's work flow process. Brainstorm with your boss to come up with different ways to "breathe new life" into an otherwise monotonous work situation. Your boss will appreciate your initiative and you may feel more content with your new responsibilities. Whatever you do, it is important that you feel challenged by what you are doing? It is unrealistic to think that you will enjoy 100% of your work 100% of the time, but it isn't far fetched to strive to at least enjoy the process of being productive and playing on your strengths.

Realize the valuable lessons and appreciate the process
It may not be possible for you to redefine your work day. Maybe your job has a rigid structure that isn't able to be changed. Or your boss is unresponsive to your new suggestions. Instead of finding yourself in a space of disappointment and discontent, try to see the value in the job you are currently in. What skills are you learning you have that you never knew you possessed? How can you change your work ethic in order to take your position to the next level? It is important that we realize the value in our current experiences and see them for what they are. If you weren't meant to be in your current job situation at this moment in time, then you wouldn't be there. Maybe there is a lesson you need to learn that will prepare you for your next challenge that you haven't learned yet. Take the time to find out what this lesson may be.

The bottom line is that our happiness shouldn't depend on what we do for work. Happiness and contentment should come from a place deep inside. If you are truly happy, then you will be happy no matter if you are flipping fries at Mickey D's, restocking the shelves at Walgreens, or crunching numbers on Wall Street. Take the time to appreciate your current experience and in no time you will attract the perfect job situation for yourself.

About Alecia D.

Brooklyn, NY, United States
I am a Successful Lifestyle Consultant studying such philosophies as The Law of Attraction, Zen habits, and the Principles of Meditation and have been featured on,, and Ezine Articles as an expert author. I am interested in success- being successful and helping others be successful!