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This Ain’t Your Father’s Retirement
By Peter “Coach Pete” D’Arruda

“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed.” - Mahatma Gandhi

I was a “honeymoon baby.” That is, I was a souvenir of my parent’s honeymoon. I was born exactly nine months to the day from when it started. My arrival was a mixed blessing at best. My father, a full time student working on his Master’s degree and a Ph.D. in Physics, and my mother, also a college student, needed an addition to the family like they needed a hole in the head.

To say that I grew up in a family of modest means is an understatement. But we never went hungry. One of my earliest memories is that of a large metal can on the kitchen counter stenciled with the words, “peanut butter,” in bold, government-style letters. Sitting next to it was a plain box marked “cheese” in the same stark lettering. I would learn later that it was something called “government surplus,” a precursor to food stamps. It was free, but you had to be poor to qualify for it.

Wants versus needs

Things got a little better as I grew older, but not much. There was little money in the house. What there was went to pay for necessities like nourishment and shelter. Those were needs. As I remember it, there was never a problem in our home making a distinction between needs and wants. Needs, I came to conclude, are absolute and gnawingly apparent. Wants are arbitrary and usually frivolous.

It troubles me that today’s society, especially in wealthy countries like the United States, is defined by its craving for instancy. Baby boomers started the push button era sometime in the 1950s and soon, consumers were hooked on instant coffee, instant tea, frozen TV dinners and so many labor-saving devices that kitchens couldn’t contain them all. Now, we are addicts, and we have passed the habit on to our kids. The line of distinction between wants and needs always seems to blur when there is plenty, but usually comes back into sharp focus during hard times.

According to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Social and Demographic Trends project, Americans are rethinking what they can and cannot live without. It used to be that most folks saw such things as microwave ovens, home air conditioning and TVs as luxuries; now, more people see them as necessities. Do you have a cell phone? Could you part with it? Half of those polled said they viewed cell phones and personal computers as necessities. Food is a necessity. You can’t eat a computer. Would you go hungry to keep your cell phone? That is the true test, I suppose.

Economic recession has a way of teaching us priorities. Since the era of abundance in the 1990s, the television, the most sacrosanct of all luxury items, is now considered a necessity for only 52 percent of those surveyed — down from 64 percent. The media bombards us daily with things that are attractive and appealing. Advertising moguls are paid millions to find new ways of making us want the things they dangle before us. Credit cards make them easy to purchase. It is no wonder that some think there is a giant conspiracy out there, the purpose of which is to prevent anyone from saving anything! I know my mother would see it that way. “It’s a game,” she used to say. “And it goes like this: You have money in your pocket, and everyone around you is trying to get it out.”

Those words still come back to me every time I leave a Best Buy store with some new gadget that I felt sure I could not live another day without. I get that little tingle of conscience they call “buyer’s remorse.”


Debt versus savings

These days, America is addicted to credit the way drug addicts are hooked on narcotics. The actual number is hard to nail down, but one source recently stated that the United States owes more than $2.5 trillion in consumer debt. Even if it’s off a billion or two, that’s a lot! How much is a trillion?

  • Our standard nine-digit calculator can’t display it. It’s a one followed by 12 zeros.

  • A trillion one-dollar bills, laid end to end, would reach the sun.

  • A trillion dollars amounts to $3,333 for each of America’s 300 million people.

David Schwartz, a children's book author, says in his book, “How Much Is a Million?,”

  • "One million seconds comes out to be about 11½ days."

  •  "A billion seconds is 32 years."

  • "And a trillion seconds is 32,000 years."

With that in mind, here are a couple of staggering statistics. As of this writing, the United States federal deficit stands at $1.7 trillion. The national debt stands at over $15 trillion. The debt is incurred when the government spends more than it takes in. It is the debt that creates the operating deficit that resets annually. These deficits are paid for by the government selling interest-bearing Treasury securities.

This is where you gulp and swallow hard. If the federal government were ever to default on its promise to pay periodic interest payments or to repay the debt at maturity, the economy would spin into chaos and collapse. It is the interest on the national debt that gives the shivers to those who track this and understand what it means.

That’s why the question is often asked, “Will Medicare and Social Security be around when I retire?” The answer is yes, if you retire before 2024. The answer is maybe if you retire after that. According to the trustees who report on those programs annually, Medicare’s trust fund will run dry by 2024, and the Social Security will dry up in 2033. We say maybe those programs will still be here because steps will probably be taken to preserve Medicare and Social Security.But it remains to be seen what form those measures will take, and how the face of Medicare and Social Security will change as a result.

Sparse savings

According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute, about 60 percent of American workers say their household savings and investments total less than $25,000. According to the book, “The Narcissism Epidemic,” published in 2009, average credit card debt in the United States exceeds $11,000 -- triple what it was in 1990. That’s just credit card debt, and doesn’t include what we owe on our houses, boats, cars, etc.

How much are Americans saving for retirement? Not nearly enough. The average American worker spends 94 percent of disposable income. The EBRI’s report breaks down by age group the retirement savings of America as follows:

  • Under 35: $6,306

  • 35 – 44: $22,460

  • 45 – 54: $43,797

  • 55 – 64: $69,127

  • 65 – 75: $56,212

It’s all a matter of priorities. I do not recall ever going out to eat as a kid. Even after our belts were a little looser and we no longer ate government cheese, my father and mother were both too conscious of laying a foundation for our family’s future to waste money on something as frivolous as ordering from a menu. To this day, regardless of my financial situation, my eyes still go to the right side of the menu first, where the prices are listed. I can’t help it. It is a habit I learned from my frugal parents, who knew the value of a dime, and even more so the value of a dollar. Any surplus was to be used as a foundation for our future, not wasted.

Today, when I see young people eating out in a fancy restaurant, I can’t help but wonder if they have taken care of the necessities of life first. If not, then they are eating on borrowed money that will eventually have to be paid back by someone. I don’t mean to sound like the curmudgeon who resents seeing others experience joy. It just makes me wonder if we are perhaps headed in the wrong direction as a people -- a pampered society, not one of industry and thrift.

Could it be that retracing our steps back to those taken by an earlier generation might be the best way to move forward to the rich lives we all envision for ourselves?


Peter J. “Coach Pete” D’Arruda has 21 Years experience in the financial arena. Author of 4 books. Co-author of 3 books. Investment Advisor. Registered Financial Consultant (RFC). Certified Financial Educator (CFEd). Host of nationally syndicated FINANCIAL SAFARI Radio & TV shows. Numerous guest appearances on CNBC, BNN, & Fox Business Channels. Quoted in Wall Street Journal, Smart Money, Kipplinger, AARP Magazine, and many others.

(Peter “Coach Pete” D’Arruda became a client of the Insurance Pro Shop in 2008)

“Wisdom is knowing what to do next, skill is
knowing how to do it, and virtue is doing it.”

David Star Jordan

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Introducing 'Lead The Field'

The late Earl Nightingale is unquestionably my favorite motivational speaker. His 'Lead The Field' audio tapes have had more impact on our lives, for my wife and I, then any other writer, speaker, coach, mentor or friend.

His Lead the Field program has often been referred to as the “Program of Presidents” because so many top executives have incorporated Earl’s guidance and wisdom into their management philosophies.

When you listen to the 12 videos in this landmark program you’ll be awestruck by the simplicity and timelessness of Earl Nightingale’s words and ideas. You'll be able to...

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Lead The Field is a practical course on how to think and act like a successful businessperson. The timeless stories Nightingale uses to make his points are as profound as they are simple. Listen just once and you’ll be energized to achieve greatness.

Lead the Field has arguably changed more lives and created more millionaires than any other program Nightingale-Conant has produced.

We'll be presenting all 12 videos in the series, over the next twelve weeks. You'll want to Download This FREE Lead The Field Workbook to get the most out of this 12 part series.

This first except from Lead The Field explains his views on the The Magic Word and why it is the number one factor in your success.

The Magic Word
 (12:24 Minutes)

Success does not come naturally. It requires the conscious utilization of ourselves in the service of others. We can become whatever we seriously make up our minds to become. Whatever we seriously decide to do is naturally linked to our genetic possibilities. Just pursue your natural aptitude.

Earl Nightingale, Lead the Field

“Attitude” is the magic word. You are responsible for how your life turns out, and your attitude shapes that life for better or worse. Develop a winning attitude. Each of us creates his or her own life largely by our attitude. We all want good results. A healthy attitude is our best guarantee. Attitude is defined as the position or bearing as indicating action, feeling or mood. And it is our actions, feelings or moods that determine the actions, feelings and moods of others. Our attitude tells the world what we expect in return. Make yours expectant and cheerful. You get what you expect. You can control your attitude. Set it each morning. The world will reflect back to you the attitude you present to them. It is then, our attitude toward life that determines life’s attitude toward us. We get back what we put out. Others treat us as we treat them. They react to us. They only give us back a reflection of our own attitude. Our surroundings reflect us. Our environment is a mirror. Life is an echo chamber of cause and effect. What we sow we’ll reap. What we give we’ll get. Change and your surroundings will change. Each of us shapes his or her life largely by our habitual attitude. A new habit takes time. Most people begin their day in neutral. They will simply react to whatever confronts them. These are the people of our environment. That’s why it’s so important for us to control our attitudes.

"A great attitude does much more than turn on the lights in our worlds;
it seems to magically connect us to all sorts of serendipitous opportunities that were somehow absent before the change."

Earl Nightingale


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Beware High Impact!
By Forrest Wallace Cato

Recently friends have congratulated me on my new radio program on the CBS radio network.

At first glance, the above sentence seems simple and clear. But, the above sentence is not very subtle. You do not think this is subtle at all. A very brief second glance reveals that sentence to be an all-too-obvious attempt to impress you. Unfortunately the sentence is so awkward, amateurish, and ineffective, that the result is the exact opposite of what was intended. Some elementary thought before the sentence was presented would have helped.

The lesson here is: If you want to draw attention to something then you should know how to draw attention to something, or risk blundering. Don’t go for high impact! High impact usually means you are boldly proclaiming as in yelling. Do not yell your message! Think first. Wouldn’t a line whispered be more readily accepted? Certainly the “softly” stated line would be more endeared, cherished, and believed? Shouldn’t you respect your listener or reader’s intellect? Like “hard sell,” the high impact approach often invites scrutiny and resistance. Why encourage scrutiny with such a clumsy and phony line?

Close scrutiny might reveal that once a week the originator of the self-promotional line pays $300.00 for an hour or two on a low-wattage small town station claiming to reach 5,000 with their shotgun blast, but actually this may reach possibly 2,300. Dreams of becoming the next Dave Ramsey are fine, but Ramsey’s media exposures and image building efforts are all highly skilled, professional, and carefully managed.

Financial planner Phil Calandra, host of a popular, award-winning, and long-running, Atlanta radio talk program, explains: “A little scrutiny leads to the realization that countless financial planners ‘that you never heard of,’ have or once had, local radio programs in some small market areas. This often includes Internet radio programs with zero listeners. Most ‘hosts’ call these ‘shows,’ but they are ‘programs,’ and yes there is a difference. I have met very few planners with radio programs who actually knew what to do to generate prospects from their radio broadcast. Thus, most such programs are simply a waste and contribute little to anything other than possibly to their egos. Their ratings are usually so low that they don’t register any numbers. Unprofessional radio ‘programs’ are seldom a move-up to fame or marketing success.”

Phil Calandra is one of the many remarkable success stories from Cato & the Insurance Pro Shop

Recently I placed a client on a network TV program to “talk” for 20-minutes about his new legit (not self-published) book. Despite my best prepping, this client was pathetic when required to “perform.” He kept repeating each question slowly, then hesitating, making sounds like “errr,” and “ugh,” and appearing to struggle mentally -- searching for words to “pull out” and deliver. Then he would say something overly simple, always speaking very slowly. He always ended his responses by repeating what he had just slowly stated.

This client thought he could easily “wing” the network TV interview because he had experience on his own local independent radio program. But in the “big league” he was quickly terminated because he was so boring and such a turn-off to a national TV viewing audience. He jeopardized my chances of making additional placements with the involved producer who thought I was “nuts” for vouching for this guy. Gone was my hope of getting a good demo video (sample) of him being interviewed – this would have been for use in attempts to place him on additional TV talk shows. Of course, my client had no idea why he bombed.

Lesson here: Standards are enforced on network or cable productions as these are professionally produced. But on independent radio programs, little or no standards are enforced or even involved. Ask yourself, how impressive is an amateur radio program with no enforced standards? Who is going to be interested, much less impressed? Such amateur programs usually go for high impact. And high impact is often a turn-off.

The One Place Where
High-Impact Works

High impact is effectively used by comedians when absurdity or humor is the objective. In show biz this is called “lapping.” The term is derived from the vaudeville practice of making something so obvious or so simple that you literally “place it in the lab of each audience member.”

Frequently I am too blunt with clients and others because I am guilty of forever assuming they know more than they actually know about image building. Because of my lack of patience (that grows each year), I become too blunt and the end-result is that some people are offended. I struggle to not be so blunt, but I still repeat this mistake.

In your do-it-yourself efforts to build your image, learn when to avoid often going for impact so you do not merely repeat a mistake. For the person who uses high impact, it seems obvious to do this. But what is really obvious is that the person often doing this does not know what he or she is doing.

Forrest Wallace Cato CNN World News Headquarters, Atlanta, G

High impact can hardly be called a technique as this is merely the response that comes from lack of knowledge, not being skilled at effective communication, not enough thought, or no advance planning.

High impact branding for everything is still taught by a few elderly self-styled trainers in a few disciplines, but this has largely faded from the PR and marketing communications worlds (and schools) during the past thirty years. Advertisers have long known this. Today impact branding is only a small part of creating, establishing, and maintaining a desired image within a targeted marketplace. All-impact branding becomes self-defeating. For centuries all propaganda and information agencies, plus news agencies, in all countries, have also know this.

Again this relates to selling. Lesson number three: Never yell what is so important to you that you reveal how important it is to you. Insert what is so important to you in a low-key and more honest or accurate way and your propaganda message is more likely to be accepted. I am saying, “be more subtle, sort-of slip it in, and tone it down.” Everyone “reads between the lines” and forms their opinion based on their conclusions, not on what you shout, especially if you are shouting about yourself.

TASS and ITAR, the Russian news agencies, often present their one propaganda line surrounded in what is known as “soft” copy. Soft copy is honest, comfortable, non-screaming, and non-questionable paragraphs, all known to be true and accurate. They do this because the acceptance rate is so much higher and far more effective for the inserted single propaganda line. They have learned centuries ago: Don’t go for impact!

For your image building, or in any efforts to impress someone, there are times when high impact is appropriate. There are far more times when it is more effective for you to be subtle and not insult the intelligence of anyone. Seldom should you go for high impact. People who skillfully lobby in Washington well know this and message accordingly.

High impact often discredits the “image picture” you are attempting to paint and thus exposes your ulterior motive. If you are attempting to get your audience to reach your conclusion then intellectual skill is needed. Even repetitive impact branding efforts over time will not work. Doing this means you are giving your target audience no option but to accept your boast, claim, or POV, (point-of-view).

“One of the big errors professionals make is boldly proclaiming to the world how great they are. What people hear is how amateurish, desperate, or needy they are. Prospects will steer clear of an amateurish, desperate, or needy professional. Success stories told in a matter-of-fact way are significantly more effective than bold statements about self-greatness.”
Sandy Schussel JD, Author, Speaker, Sales Trainer

The skillful image-builder addresses one person when writing or speaking, and always offers an opportunity for the target person to reach his or her own conclusion based on that person’s evaluation of the provided content which may include a subtle and logical propaganda point surrounded by “soft” known-and-believable truths. Why multiply your odds of image building failure by being ignorant (having a lack of knowledge) of the proven process? Understand that overt impact brings risks of appearing “high handed,” and even amateurish.


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