If you’re going to play the victim game, then I suppose you’re always going to be a victim. You are what you speak. We’re all going to be handed a raw deal from time to time. What we do with that hand out however, is where success and victim separate.
I don’t like being a victim. Oh, I may complain from time to time but I think complaining is all part of the success process. I think you have to go low before you can rise. Wallow in your grief. Then pick yourself up, brush yourself off and seek another way. One of my favorite sayings is: Find Another Way Through The Maze. Back up and look for another route to get to your final destination.
Herein, is the kicker. You have to know where you are going in order to get there. I want to live a successful retirement life. Not a perfect life. I just want to live in victory. Not victimization. Living a successful retirement life, to me, means no excuses, no procrastination. I look for the positive and concentrate my efforts into making life the best that it can possibly be for me. Not the other guy….but for ME!
If your retirement years haven’t turned out like you planned, stop shrugging your shoulders and mumbling “woe is me…..I never made enough money to save…..my spouse left me……..story of my life…..this always happens to me……….I always get the short end of the lollipop………”
Your main goal is to keep a roof over your head, food on the table, utilities running (heat, a/c, water, sewer, sanitation and electricity) a hot shower every once in a while and maintain your health. If you’re doing all of that, you’re doing better than 75% of everyone else. Pat yourself on the back! You didn’t save enough? Curtail your spending/expenses, keep working, delay Social Security or earn an income whichever way you can. Got health issues? Take care of them. Medicare covers more than you know!
We need to understand the power of ‘sacrifice’ when it comes to our retirement. When the chips are down we need to sometimes make painful yet powerful adjustments. Playing a victim is easy. Striving for success is hard.
When I lost my computer business in 2001, it was at the height of the dot com disaster. People weren’t buying computers anymore. The whole industry soured on technology. I went from making $2million dollars a year to barely making $500 a month! It was fast and it was quick. I had just borrowed $125,000 to put in an expansive inventory for the upcoming December holiday season and guess what? I didn’t sell one darn computer. How could I? No one had any money. And in a matter of days, neither did I.
I only had one solution out of the mess I created for myself and it was a very painful one. I had to sell my beautiful home in the Hamptons, pay off my creditors and I had to move away and downsize drastically. My youngest daughter didn’t speak to me for a year after that. “Mommy, you sold my home.” was her complaint. No sweetie. Mommy didn’t sell YOUR home. I sold mine. I went from being a big shot to a nobody. I went from a 9 room near-the-beach house to a 4 room modular house in the middle of nowhere. I went from action and adventure to obscurity. But it was something that had to be done and I did it.
I was lucky though. I had enough equity to pay off my business bills, buy land, erect another home, buy two cars, AND put money in the bank for a rainy day. My failed business taught me to never trust a bank ever again (they seized all my accounts, repossessed my car, my motorboat and destroyed my credit for a decade) and to go totally debt free. These life decisions are still paying me dividends 18 years later and have fared very well. It was a humbling experience. One that I will never forget. It was a journey, however. One that led me to success. (My daughter has since forgiven me)
The greatest financial advisors (IMHO) are David Bach, Dave Ramsey and Suze Orman. Know what they all have in common that catapulted them to achieve great financial success? They all went broke and recovered beautifully from it.
In other words, they don’t play themselves as a victim. And neither do I. Whatever it is I have to do to get myself back on top, that’s what I’m doing. The way I was in real life is the way I am in retirement. I recently got hit with a hard blow. I wallowed in it for a while. But I just picked myself up, figured out what I did have vs what I didn’t have and worked with what I had. DH can’t work as he did before. DH has a medical problem. DH can’t collect his Social Security as we originally planned. We have to wait three years before he can (due to medical insurance limitations). We have to depend mostly on my monthly income. That only totals $1,946. I have to utilize our liquid cash to hold us over for the next three years. I’m terrified of making a mistake by spending too much. Knowing I’m scared is what keeps me on track.
You’re not going to find me dumpster diving or eBegging people to bail me out. There’s no Go Fund Me page. I’m not going to sit and lament. You’re not going to find DH and I eating rice & beans or sharing Qtips (he gets one side and I get the other) Instead, I’m going to make drastic changes to our lifestyle BUT I’m going to do it while maintaining our dignity and mutual respect. I see my self as a victor. Not as a victim.
So, how do I turn this around and make it work for me?
I stopped all meals out. All three daily meals are prepared at home. I cut back on our grocery shopping. I seek discounts and bargains. I stopped all vacations. I cancelled all reservations and got my money back. I had to think and regroup. We have thousands of airline miles which can afford us one free vacation per year!
I started investing our money and earn dividends and interest rather than let our money sit still. I cut our electric use back. I cut our heating bills back (wear a sweater!) I stopped all entertainment costs. I discontinued hiring outside help. I purged. I sold. I save. I streamlined.
These initiatives have created stability. There’s light at the end of the three year path. I’m facing the reality that we may have to eventually sell our current home and downsize yet once again (to another part of the country) Bring it on. I’m not afraid. I’m not attached to anything. And neither is my daughter.