Some of the best
financial minds in the business cannot predict volatile market swings. Many
have seen their retirement savings
and down like a roller coaster the past few weeks.
Personally, we've been
through tough financial storms before, such as the 1987 stock market crash,
the long and chilly bear market of 2000-2002 and the difficult times of
2008. And without trying to sound like Pollyanna, it is during these drops in the markets that we find
ourselves to be the most grateful.
Before you reject this
idea out of hand, hear us out.
When the financial future seem unpredictable
and world events are clearly out of our hands, these are the exact times
where we are forced to look at what
security means in other ways.
These situations compel us to recognize the
personal capital we have as
previous bear markets, we use history as a guide and take heart from the knowledge
that these downturns have always ended. In times past, we decided on a
specific number that our nest egg would reach before we would choose to go
back to work. We also discussed the type of work we would look for, as well
as how much money we would need to earn to compensate for any market losses.
If those new jobs
would require another
vehicle purchase, a long commute with the consequent
fuel expense, or a new wardrobe, we weighed that against living the
lifestyle we've been enjoying for almost 30 years. We know that
with each other and with our financial choices is important.
decided it's more important to us to continue to travel the world as long as
we're able. We as Americans have been deeply blessed with opportunity and
wealth, and living among people who have never seen such favor brings a
point home to us: This is our time to give.
We take any portfolio
loss as a time to volunteer and
give to those who would never be able to live the fortunate lifestyle that
we have created. We are still able to give of ourselves, because our future
is not completely tied up in what our financial statements say, and we value
the astounding worth of our human currency.
There are always people worse off than we are. Our ability to give
from our experience and talents is vast. This is a significant source of
valuable exchange, and it enriches our lives far beyond any financial asset
Sure, you need money to
retire early -- but that's only half of the story. No one can forecast the
future, and if you're strong enough to take the leap of early retirement,
you know that you can manage no matter what's brought upon you.
No one who retires early
gets there by following the crowd.
You're unique, independent, and in
control of your future, even if you have no idea what that future will turn
out to be. That's what makes life exciting, right? So at some point you need
to have faith, take the leap, and know that everything will work out.
We do not like to not lock ourselves in mentally or creatively. We know that it's necessary for us to have fun with the
degree of freedom that our personalities require, and we keep these words of
Ralph Waldo Emerson close to our hearts: "It's one of the most beautiful
compensations in life ... that no man can sincerely try to help another
without helping himself."
What you can do
If you're currently
retired, or if you're considering retirement, consider the following volunteer-related options.
Volunteering puts your skills to work and offers you social interaction. It
can easily replace costly mindless entertainment options, and it creates a win-win situation. These exchanges of human
currency will enrich your life and the lives of those you touch.
** Assess your talents
and experience. Find out where these talents would be appreciated in your
part of the world. Could you teach at a community college or coach sports
for an evening league? What about donating your organizational skills at a
food bank? Could you volunteer in your local hospice program? Help someone
get his or her GED? Type in your ZIP code at
Volunteer Match to find
hundreds of opportunities.
** Especially with the holiday
season coming up, why not sort through the items in your garage and closets
and gift the bounty to a homeless shelter, a
Goodwill near you, or your church
** Do you have a
neighbor who is a widow or widower? Cooking that person a meal and
delivering it may serve as a break in their personal darkness. Helping out another can
break up any notion of feeling poor and allow you to see the wealth you truly have.