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How to Tell You’re Not Retirement Ready

For most of us, retirement seems like this far-off thing, this thing that will happen to us one day, when we’re old and gray, but not something we really need to worry about now. That kind of thinking is really dangerous though, because as we all know, time goes by quickly- all too quickly.

Sure, you might be young and in the prime of your working game right now, but before you know it, it will be time to start preparing for retirement. And, the truth is, if you haven’t saved enough by that point, you’re going to be in for a rude awakening.

Hopefully, you have already started putting SOME money aside, but if you’re over 35 or so, you really need to be amping up your efforts. Below, we’ll share some tell-tale signs that you’re not preparing for retirement seriously enough, and, if you find that these signs apply to you, it’s definitely time to start taking your retirement planning more seriously.

Sign #1: You Can’t Pay for Out-of-Pocket Medical Expenses Easily

What would happen if you suddenly got sick or needed surgery and had to visit the doctor How would you pay for it? Would you finance it or would you be able to pay for it out of pocket, even if it meant dipping into your retirement savings?

If you fall into the first category, of having to finance it, you’re in trouble! Medical bills are costly, yes, but they’re a reality, a reality you’re probably going to face a lot more often as you near retirement age.

If you’re already struggling and don’t have funds to fall back on for situations like this one, then you definitely need to be more stringent about saving for retirement and about saving in general!

Sign #2: You’re Swimming in Debt

Debt is a serious problem among Americans of all ages. However, it becomes even more serious when you’re getting close to retirement age and you’re still swimming in it.

This is a pretty good indicator that a large chunk of your income is going to paying off debt, which is not what you should be focused on at this point in your life.

If you’re struggling with debt, stop it from mounting by curtailing your spending and get out of it as best you can. The sooner you can do that, the sooner you can start saving seriously for what matters most- retirement.

Sign #3: You Make Impulse Purchases

Finally, if you find that you’re still making a lot of impulse purchases, especially those of the expensive variety, this is a big warning sign that you’re not thinking about what’s truly important and about your future.

It’s time to grow up, to stop spending, and to start saving.Otherwise, retirement is going to be burdensome, and that’s really the opposite of what it should (and could!) be if you start saving seriously now.

 

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Idiots Decide to Boycott Starbucks Over Cups

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Every year Starbucks puts out a new coffee cup for the holiday season. Usually around that same time, Fox News and other conservative and Republican supporting media outlets declare that liberals have declared a “War on Christmas.” Somehow this year, the two events have combined into a mega war on christmas idiot event.

In a recent speech in Springfield, the capital of the state of Illinois, Leading GOP 2016 presidential contender, media personality,  and real estate mogul Donald Trump said “maybe we should boycott Starbucks.” Trump of course was referring to recent calls by Christian conservatives and evangelicals around the country to boycott the coffee chain. The entire “movement” of sorts started in the form of a video by one Joshua Feurstein, a self proclaimed American evangelist and traditional media, internet, and social media personality. In the video, Feurstein ranted about political correctness in this country (apparently he feels that he should be allowed to say racist things) and theorized that the reason Starbucks made their holiday coffee cups plain red this year is because they wanted to take Jesus Christ off all of their items in a move to accommodate America’s scourge of political correctness. The man went on to say that Starbucks Baristas (a term that the company uses to refer to the people that work behind the counter mixing and serving up the brand’s signature lattes, frappuccinos, and caramel macchiatos) are not allowed to wish patrons Merry Christmas, also apparently a move aimed at accommodating Christian hating liberals. The video has been viewed over 1.2 million times. There is even a hashtag on Twitter around the Starbucks War on Christmas topic.

The irony is that Evangelicals like Joshua Feurstein are seeking affirmation of their beliefs in the most unholy, ungodly place of all: corporate America. In the past, religious organizations around the country have frequently complained about the “commodification of Christmas”, claiming that corporations and advertisers have ruined the meaning of the holiday, which was initially meant to be a religious and spiritual time of year to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ. In 1991 in an open letter published by the New York Times, 25 members of the clergy wrote “Malls have become the new shrines of worship. Massive and alluring advertising crusades have wages war on essential meaning of the spiritual life, fostering the belief that the marketplace can fulfill our highest aspirations.” For years, some groups have even boycotted corporate America during the Christmas season. Religious people have often refrained from giving gifts to their children in an effort to spread a more spiritual message during the season.

Now, the opposite is true. Feurstein and other internet bible thumpers are calling on corporations like Starbucks to continue the commodification of Christmas for the purpose of selling more products. Any incident of removing the world Christmas from items like disposable cups, whether that incident was intentional or not, is seen as a battle in a larger war declared by liberal conspirators to remove the bible from our everyday lives and destroy Christmas once and for all.

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Straightforward Strategies to Become an Expert (It’s Simpler Than you Think)

If you want to increase your capacity to close deals and become a magnet for new clients, one of the best things you can do for your personal brand is to become an expert in your field.

An expert is an authority, someone who knows his stuff and that other people look to for unique problem-solving insights.

So how do you become an expert? You’re most likely already good at what you do. That’s why you’re able to make a living working in your chosen profession. Your knowledge and skill set solve the problems of real people so well that they’re willing to pay you for it.

But how do you go beyond “proficient” to the coveted expert-level status? How good to you have to become to really consider yourself an expert? Do you have to be the best in the world at what you do before you can say that about yourself?

Here’s the thing about the “expert” label: it’s not about how you see yourself, but about how other people see you. There’s no specific point at which you become an expert, nor is there a fancy certificate telling you you’re one. All it takes to become an expert is for other people to consider you as such. It’s all relative. Once people are coming to you for authoritative advice in your industry, you can safely say you’re an expert.

As you can see, the key isn’t only being proficient. That’s essential, but it isn’t the full equation. Becoming an expert requires putting your name out there, providing valuable information, and helping people. That’s marketing.

Following these strategies will help you become well-known within your industry, connect with a broad client-base, and strengthen your personal brand.

Create Educational Resources that Prove your Expertise

One of the most basic ways to show people you’re an expert is to provide free information that less-knowledgeable people can use to solve problems you’re already resolved. Website content is the most convenient way to do this. Through blog posts, infographics, podcasts, and videos, you can put together useful guides for your audience.

To get the most out of your content, make it in-depth. That shows you’re very knowledgeable about your subject-matter, rather than merely regurgitating what you found on Wikipedia. Don’t be afraid to publish posts above 2,000 words.

Also, flesh out your work with personal experiences and first-hand data. This gives you credibility and shows people you have a unique perspective to share.

Speak at Industry Conferences

Speaking at events can be intimidating, but it’s one of the surest ways to achieve expert status. Network to build connections with popular speakers in your industry and hustle your way into small speaking opportunities. As your reputation grows, so will demand for you.

Write a Book

Along with speaking, writing a book is a big sign to others that you have real experience and knowledge. You don’t have to write a 1,000 page monolith. Even a short ebook featured on your site is great for building credibility.

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Get Featured in Industry Publications

Read and become familiar with the magazines, blogs, and journals in your field. Make contact with the editorial staff, pitch your ideas, and contribute. Readers will start recognizing you as an industry leader.

Although the path to becoming an expert isn’t easy, it is simpler than you may think. Hone your skills, network, market yourself, and persevere–eventually you’ll reap the long-term fruit of being an expert.