Thursday, February 16, 2012

Book Review: "Retirement Quest: Make Better Decisions"

Retirement. This word inspires several images. For some it may trigger a mental picture of plush condos in a southern climate. {Especially if you live in the frigid north like Bear Lake, Idaho. ;) } For others, it may conjure up something like this:

Some of us are rapidly approaching the so-called, "Golden Years," and it can be a tiny bit scary, considering the current state of the economy. Fortunately, there is now a book that can help us wade through the quagmire of the financial world. It's entitled: "Retirement Quest: Make Better Decisions." This handy book is written by John Hauserman, a CFP, and executive officer of Retirement Journey, LLC. John is a 5-star wealth manager and in 2011, he was named the Baltimore area regional ambassador serving on behalf of the Certified Planner Board of Standards. In other words, John knows what he's talking about. ;)

In the pages of this book you will find unbiased advice that illustrates the highs and lows of the financial world. John explains what can happen in the best and worst case scenarios when planning for retirement. It is a much-needed heads up for anyone who is trying to figure out a financial game-plan for the retirement years. Throughout the book you will find highlighted tidbits like:

"Those who choose to spend their energy longing for the mythical safety of a bygone era, or who fail to find their way to thorough and competent planning strategies are likely to find a very harsh reality waiting at the end of their rainbow."


"The widespread use of 401k and 403b retirement plans, and the forced discipline of automatic contributions . . . can, when executed properly, shift an enormous amount of wealth into the hands of the average rank-and-file worker."

John discusses the current state of the social security system and offers helpful ideas about how to cope with the changes that might be in store. He offers insights into risk management and counsel concerning investments. He also offers a no-cost, online interactive planning map for anyone who is interested in the financial planning process. (You can find it here: Retirement Quest Financial Map)

Toward the end of the book, John offers hope to anyone who is troubled by thoughts of retirement in today's economy: "For previous generations, retirement planning involved working for an employer for thirty or so years, retiring with a stipend, and dying a few short years later . . . Looking to the future . . . A worker who accepts the challenge of personal responsibility, builds a well-thought-out-long-term strategy, and invests accordingly may expect to build a significant amount of wealth. These assets can be used for retirement income, and may also provide an inheritance and legacy for families which might otherwise be destined to toil in perpetual financial want."

You can find John's website here: Retirement Quest and his book is available on this link at Amazon:
Retirement Quest: Make Better Decisions 

Monday, February 6, 2012

And in the Darkness--Light

I recently watched a very inspiring movie, entitled, "Soul Surfer." When I added it to my list of movies to watch from Netflix, I was impressed by the reviews, and that the storyline was based on something that really happened. I was unprepared for the impact this movie would have on me personally.

Now the title doesn't do the movie justice, but after seeing it, it is indeed appropriate. (Click on this link for more information: All About Bethany Hamilton) In a nutshell, this movie tells the story of a young, teenage surfer girl named Bethany Hamilton. She had already won several surfing competitions in Hawaii, and she was about to compete nationally when disaster struck: while out surfing one day with friends, she was attacked by a shark. This random act of violence caused Bethany to lose an arm. Her survival was miraculous, considering the loss of blood, and the distance she was from the nearest hospital.

While she was recovering, a wise doctor told her that she could still do anything she wanted in life--but that she would have to learn different ways to achieve her goals. Bethany still wanted to surf. Instead of giving up something she loved, a grim determination was born. She went back to the sea and her surfboard and despite several challenges, began to compete again.

When she lost the first competition, she was understandably distraught. She gave away her surfboards and decided she was through with surfing. In tears, she asked family members and friends why this had happened to her. She wondered how any of this could fit in with God's plan for her life.

I think there are moments in all of our lives when we reach that crossroad--when we wonder why certain challenges surface, some without warning. We are often left heartbroken, shattered, and questioning our faith. It can be a dark time, especially when the adversary sends forth his fiery darts. (Have you ever noticed that he tends to kick us when we're down?)

That is when we need to look around us for the light that is always there--even when we are shrouded in dark despair. I have found that those dark times are true character-building moments. When I have been driven to my knees--I have always found strength beyond my own. In my own life I have faced two life-threatening chronic illnesses (Type 1 diabetes & lupus) the suicide deaths of two family members (my father and my brother-in-law) financial setbacks, failures, and disappointments. I have survived two car accidents, one motorcycle accident, and as a teenager, an assault in the park across from our home at the time. I have accidentally poured hot oil over half of my body (this while working as a cook for a drive-in) and recently survived rolling a 4-wheeler down the side of a mountain. Through all of these, and other adventures, I have come to learn that no matter what it is that we are called upon to endure, we are never alone. Our Savior, who endured everything that any one of us would ever suffer, understands best how to heal our hearts. He will always provide a way for us to wade out of the dark pools of grief if we will simply look and live. (See 1 Nephi 17:40-41)

Now in Bethany Hamilton's case, she half-heartedly went with a youth group to offer aid to the survivors of the tsunami in Thailand. As she began helping others whose lives had been devastated, she found the hope to continue on with her own. When she returned to her home in Hawaii, she competed again in a national competition. She lost, but told her family she was fine with that since she had surfed one of the best waves of her life during the competition. "It's not about winning," she said proudly, thrilled by her performance. Incidentally, she went on to win this same competition the next year.

Not giving up is the key to moving forward when any of us are dealing with tragic loss or trials. Sometimes we need reminded of that fact. I know I did. It is important to look and live, so that one day we can return home to our Father with no regrets.

"And out of darkness came the hands that reach thro' nature, moulding men. " Alfred Lord Tennyson