Retirement? Will You Outlive Your Money?

Gasoline 20ctsIn recent years I have seen more and more commercials promote the conscious fear for retirement (when the checks stop coming in…), as even the most optimistic baby boomers are starting to get nervous, with the prospect that their money will run out before they do. Social Security, 401Ks, annuities,stocks and bonds, if we were to believe the financial advisors, you need to set every penny aside to secure your “golden years”, as if there was no inflation, no interest paid for money, no deflation or a currency crisis in the making and that real state will never loose its value. Historically retirement was never a financially secure option, so why would it be now? I see the advertisements, TV commercials and billboards plastered with happy seniors, walking hand in hand down a tropical beach smiling at each other. Life is good! Well, of course there are some that lucked out and kept their health and their money and ended up financially secure enough to enjoy the fruits of a life of hard work. But for every handful of the lucky ones, there are thousands that wonder where all the promises went. Yesterday in the super market I was drawn into a conversation about pricing by what must have been an 85 year old gentleman who wondered what happened to the cost of groceries. Shaking his grey manes as he walked away he said:”I remember the days when a pound of Cube Steak cost 43cents!” Honestly I don’t know how most people will go into retirement and survive. But I know that there are always options.

Having operated a B&B for the past 2-1/2 years I have come in contact with many guests on the edge of retirement, wondering if and how they can afford the remainder of their lives in preferred financial stability. During many a conversation, I have been trying to convey the message that building an internet based business can not only provide them with income, but also with the means to diversify. To be sure, I’m not talking about your regular guy in the street, who can hardly afford a $200 a night vacation on the beach; I’m talking about people who during their active years built up a practical knowledge base or have committed a lifetime to learning and applying hobbies and other skills, that can be translated into a sellable proposition.

All that is needed is to create a product or service that appeals to a group of people willing to learn from your mistakes and ultimate successes. Whether a series of e-books, instructional videos or even podcasts; whether a newsletter or a seasonal webinar or seminar, if your product or service makes sense, there will be a subscriber base willing to pay for your knowledge and your research.
And the beauty of internet sales is, they become financially attractive already in the smaller numbers. Suppose your videos on “Learning to Play the Ukelele” attracts initially 300 subscribers willing to pay $19.95 a month to learn to play from a beginner to intermediate to advanced (a 3 year process), you would earn a cool $215,460 over those 3 years. Now if during the course of time you would expand your services and products with e-books, personal instruction lessons, a book on the history and manufacturing of Ukeleles, best strings, picks etc. etc., you may turn a nice $100K per year and that’s assuming that your subscriber base does not grow.

You’ve been a PR or Human Resources Manager all your life? Believe me there is a group of takers out there that will pay for your experience in a well published booklet.

One of our sons is on a managerial fast track in a solid retail company. Often when we drive to get supplies for the B&B we talk about his work and him leading his team, strength and weakness propositions etc. and I advise him based on my 40 somewhat years in corporate management and people skills. Obviously I don’t charge him, but when on one trip he kind of hinted that my reimbursement for all the advise would be him taking care of us (his mom and me) when we reach the age of ‘decrepit’ I realized that I do not look forward to those potential days. I appreciate the thought behind it however.

So when analyzing your skills and knowledge, don’t be too negative or hesitant. You’ll be amazed of the diversity of needs there is among the world’s populations. From cooking recipes, to cocktails, to tax advice, to explaining laws or government regulations, explaining home remedies, the needs are practically unlimited. Pick one that fits you best, stay up-to-date with knowledge and tailor-make the advise for those who cannot commit the time or resources, to stay ahead; package it in a neat easy to understand form and sell it on the internet.

I know a young man who is creative with a video camera. Commercials on his youTube channel generate a $15K income a month for him. I don’t think age has anything to do with that initiative.

Internet Opportunities

As we are now thoroughly in the Internet age, starting an Internet-based business or restructuring an existing business to be operable over the Internet, offers numerous opportunities in terms of diversified income plus international maneuverability into another jurisdiction should it become necessary to avoid many of the regulations of the home country.
This is a very real possibility for many. An Internet-based business does offer the potential to create an income that is either equal or similar to that which one would enjoy. In addition, in many cases, this is possible without having to change clientele or learn a new language. Therefore, the Internet-based business tends to minimize the level of financial fear for the future, that one would need to go through.

The Internet is not regulated by any country at present yet, which allows for tremendous freedom. But, here is where the bad news comes in. There can be no doubt that, at present, Internet-based business is a tremendous boon to those who are hoping to escape the clutches of their financial fears for the future. But those words, “at present,” are a reminder that many desperate governments are hot on the tail of Internet-based businesses, to make sure that they get their unearned piece of the pie.

Internet Regulations to Consider

As the unravelling of the internet is gaining speed, the countries that have been the major players in the development are increasing legislation and regulation. The leaders of this trend are the US and the EU, but there are others. Rest assured that, the greater the trend toward financial independence through Internet-based incomes, the greater the push will become to regulate and tax Internet-based incomes.
The US has already begun with the introduction of The Marketplace Fairness Act, that has passed the Senate and is on its way to the House of Representatives. Any legislation containing the word “fairness” virtually guarantees to be the opposite, is the experience of a long life of fighting against the dictatorship called “majority rules”. The purpose of the Marketplace Fairness Act is to apply sales tax to any online transactions, much in the same way as we now pay sales tax over an item purchased in a Second Hand Store, where the sales benefits a charity. Should this Act be passed (as it is likely to, either in this go-round or in a future form), there would be three principle negative effects that an Internet-based business would experience.

First, whatever savings the business might have been offering to consumers as a freedom from sales tax, would be eliminated. Second, whatever benefit the business owner sought to enjoy through the avoidance of sales tax would be eliminated. Third (and most debilitating), the Internet company would be buried in paperwork and tax-filings.

There are legal ways to avoid any of this, which is what I’ll explain in next week’s business essay. Until then, think about what you would like to share with the world that somebody out there would be willing to pay a small amount for. I guarantee you will not outlive your money and what’s more you will stay active and interested and that’s truly happiness, or at least joy.

PS I’m working on an E-Book titled “Is Having a B&B on your Bucket List?”. Stay tuned.

Put the Glass Down As Often as You Can

When the glass runs over

A psychologist walked around a room while teaching stress management to an audience. As she raised a glass of water, everyone expected they’d be asked the “half empty or half full” question.

Instead, with a smile on her face, she inquired: “How heavy is this glass of water?”
The answers called out ranged from 8 oz. to 20 oz.
Then she said, “The absolute weight doesn’t really matter. What does however, is how long I can hold it.
If I hold it for a minute, it’s not a problem.
If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my arm.
If I hold it for several hours, my arm will feel numb and paralyzed. And holding it for a day will probably send me to my grave.

In any of these time frames, the weight of the glass doesn’t change; yet the longer I hold it, the heavier it will become.” (I remember growing up that mom had us hold a plastic glass or carafe with water, arm stretched out, if any of her five sons became to full of himself!)

The psychologist continued, “The stresses and worries in life are like that glass of water. Think about them for a short while and nothing happens. Think about them a bit longer and they begin to hurt. And if you think about them for hours, you will feel paralyzed – incapable of doing anything. Think about them all day long or for days on end and you find yourself on a shortcut to eternity. Remember to put the glass down.”

I was thinking about the power of stress this afternoon after I read a true to form passage on religious eternity from author, polemicist, debater, and journalist Christopher Hitchins, who departed us at age 62 in 2011 and I wondered if he had found the truth about the religious premise he projected during his life, that at one point in time you get tapped on the shoulder and someone says: The Party is over. Worse yet, the party is going on but you have to leave. The party is going on without you.
He wondered if that could be what upsets people most about their anticipated demise; the fact that the party goes on.
I have promised myself from here on on to put the glass down more often.

Supermarket Shelves Reflect Paycheck-to-Paycheck Society

The Beauty of the Midnight Sun

Dear Readers. Today in this weekend bulletin I was going to talk a bit about ‘the dos and donts‘ with crypto currencies such as Bitcoin, why gold is still being kicked in the balls by an stupendously exuberant Wall Street and why you should consider having your website hosted in an overseas territory, considering all the limitations and restrictions to be expected out of Washington. But after reading that Norway’s Army is battling Global Warming by going vegetarian, while the GOP is planning to cut alternative energy subsidies in half, I figured that it is all hog wash anyway. And if you don’t think so you should read Hugh Gusterson’s insightful article about “Which Drone Future Will Americans  Choose?” and still believe that we actually do have a choice.

So instead I decided to talk about reflections from my 3 times weekly grocery trips as well as some Festive information about the Holiday Season and some Sunday Morning Humor.

A Paycheck to Paycheck Society

As we are going into the last four week dash of grocery shopping and gift hunting, I would like to share a little secret with those of you, who always shy away from buying the larger bottle of ketchup in favor of the smaller one because of cash flow considerations. American grocery stores offer interesting reflections of financial irony, enticing (allowing) the poor to buy higher priced smaller packaged items, while the more prosperous among us take the advantage of buying those same products in larger volumes, but at substantially lower prices. Is this news to you?

There’s some real irony in this as often the stereotype of someone making bulk purchases is a person down to his last penny and watching every cent. But in reality, larger purchases at discounted pricing are for the better off; while buying the tiny packages at higher pricing is for the poor.

Of course I’m familiar with the economic law that states “the more you purchase of a product, the better the price you purchase at.” What rational person would prefer to pay more for a product when the same product in a larger packaging is staring them in the face for 30% less? But that’s only one side of the equation. The other side presents a real economic conundrum.

Imagine finding yourself in the condiments row of a supermarket where you notice that two bottles of ketchup – one larger and one smaller, same brand-name with the per-ounce price of each clearly labeled for the shopper. After doing some quick math in your head, the bigger bottle turns out to be about 30% cheaper than the small one per ounce of product. You quickly verify that you’re “comparing apples with apples” and this isn’t some special sale, but just the normal price, the only difference being packaged in a different size. According to any financial markets theory, this opportunity shouldn’t exist.

Designed Around Paycheck to Paycheck

Yet, whether it’s ketchup or just about anything else at the grocery store, one can save money by simply purchasing a larger package these days. And no I’m not even talking about bulk discount retailers like Costco, Sam’s Club or Restaurant Depot, but just your regular neighborhood grocery store. For people like me this advantage is in reality an earning, rather than a saving, but for the average American in the grocery store, the sad truth is that the pricing system of our entire society is based on people living paycheck to paycheck. It is designed around shoppers with near zero dollars in their checking accounts and that is why there are so many people buying the smaller packaged quantities? For many Americans the difference between a weekly $100 grocery bill and a $200 bill is enormous, which directs not only the purchase behavior from brand-name to store brand, but also the packaged sizing of products purchased.

I had a friend down in St.Maarten who bought a pack of cigarettes every day. Cost $2. A carton of 10 packs was only $12 or $1.20 per pack. $0.80 savings per day is $5.60 of earnings per week, had he bought a carton. Per year he would have had earned $292 in risk free income. His reason for purchasing one pack a day was: “Maybe I quit tomorrow.” He never did.

Next time I’m going to the grocery store and earn 5% to 10% riskless return on my groceries I know it’s great for me, but it’s disheartening to know that these savings are essentially the result of a paycheck-to-paycheck society. Either people can’t afford to make their ends meet with their paychecks, or they have completely lost control of their spending. But then again, there is something virtuous about these prices as well. In the free market, the price system actually rewards one for earning a greater income by offering cheaper prices for larger purchases. The same is true of other pricing as well. With a bigger down payment and more income, one pays lower interest rates on the mortgage – again, a reward for doing better. When it comes to government however, it’s the complete opposite. We are actually punished for earning greater incomes by paying higher taxes. Funny, isn’t it?

And while talking about government, here is a WARNING

After a recent wave of identify thefts, the FBI estimates there are over 500 fake ACA (Obamacare) websites set up for the sole purpose of stealing your personal information. So protect yourself and remember: the real one is the one that doesn’t work!

Restaurants Open on Thanksgiving Day

Courtesy of the Amelia Island Tourist Development Council

Following Restaurants are open and take reservations for Thanksgiving:

• Amelia Island Coffee – 207 Centre Street – (904) -321 2111

• Barbara Jean’s – 960030 Gateway Blv – (904)-277 3700

• Café 4750 (Ritz Carlton-Amelia Island) – 4750 Amelia Island Pkwy – (904) 277 1100

• David’s Restaurant – 802 Ash Street -(904) 310 6049

• Horizons – 4828 First Coast Highway – (904) 321 2430

• Huddle House – 1855 South 8th Street – (904) 261 2933

• Jack and Diane’s – 708 Centre Street – (904) 321 1444

• Marché Burette – 6800 First Coast Highway – (904) 491 4834

• Merge – 510 South 8th Street – (904) 277 8797

• Pablo’s Mexican Grill – 12 North 2nd Street – (904) 261 0049

• Slider’s Seaside Grill – 1998 South Fletcher Ave – (904) 277 6652

• Salt – (Ritz Carlton – Amelia Island) 4750 Amelia Island Pkwy – (904) 277 1100

• The Surf – 3199 South Fletcher Ave. – (904) 261 5711

• The Verandah – 6800 First Coats Highway – (904) 321 5050

Some Sunday Funday Impressions

Hunting Season has started here in North Florida so I thought you might like this one:

Click on Photograph for 360° tour

Daily I receive loads of great stories and beautiful pictures, but I was very happy to receive one last week with a 360° photograph one of our guests at the Amelia Oceanfront B&B took last June. Amazing technology. If you’re interested in finding out more about this contact Suburban Video directly.

In Closing for Today I’ll leave you with some of my favorites for this week. Click on them to enlarge.

This is a tattoo I would wear