The Great Retirement Con Game

many water bottles on blue backgroundBy Michael Drak

I don’t like to admit it, but over the years and due to circumstances largely beyond my control, I have turned into a skeptic.

I wasn’t born that way, but who here can blame me for turning into one with all the crazy stuff going on in this world? Today people seem to say anything they want. They just make stuff up. If you want proof of this, just watch the race for the presidency in the US. Enough said.

I discovered I was a skeptic one day while drinking bottled water. I used to get clean drinking water at several places in or outside my house. I just had to pick up the hose and there it was, as much as I wanted and best of all, it was free. I think we can all agree that when healthy things are free that’s a pretty rare and good thing, especially these days.

But things changed after I married the Contessa and became “sophisticated.” Water was no longer free and I began a new routine of driving to the grocery store to buy bottled water. It didn’t stop there, because I now drink a particular brand of water called “Smart Water,” probably not a very smart thing to do as it costs more than regular bottled water.

Have you read about what’s inside your bottle of water? The nutrition label is all zeros, because there’s nothing in it besides water.

It’s incredible how advertisers have been able to convince us to start drinking bottled water when we all have free clean water to drink at home. I would love to meet the person who came up with the idea that we need to drink eight 8-ounce bottles of water a day in order to stay healthy.

In North America bottled water is a $170 billion dollar industry. I don’t know where all this bottled water is coming from, but I can’t get this image out of my head of a couple of people sitting in a bathtub somewhere filling up water bottles. That’s what being skeptical does to you.

Beware The Spin Doctors

All joking aside, it’s important to understand advertisers have over the years developed the ability to put a spell over us. They can make us believe something is good for us when it really isn’t, as with bottled water, or even when that thing is harmful. A good example is how they used to manipulated us into accepting cigarette smoking was safe, cool and even sexy. Even now I cringe when I think about it.

Back in the day, cigarette companies were worried about how the growing health concerns over smoking would negatively affect sales. How they duped the public into thinking cigarette smoking was safe is just incredible, if not criminal. The spin doctors knew people trusted their doctors and would follow their advice. They began to use medical research and physicians to convince the public that cigarette smoking was not harmful. They advertised that cigarettes were “physician tested” and “approved.”

One of the most famous campaigns was the “more doctors” campaign for Camel cigarettes. It stated that more doctors smoke camels than any other cigarette. It made cigarette smoking seem safe, which it wasn’t. The reason they could truthfully say that most doctors smoked Camels is that the company was giving away free camels to all the doctors who smoked.

You see more and more examples of this type of manipulation every day. Is fracking really safe for the environment? Weapons of mass destruction anyone?

Remember, everything is created for a reason

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How “Victory Lap Retirement” was conceived

MOSCOW - AUGUST 08: Group Russian unknown golfers shake hands on annual open international event for professionals and fans - VI Moscow Festival Retrostyle in Le Meridien Moscow County Club August 08, 2008 in Moscow, Russia

Work while you play, play while you work: subtitle of Victory Lap Retirement

By Michael Drak

How did the Victory Lap concept originate? I smile every time I think about the fact that Jonathan and I have written a retirement book about not retiring. I know it’s weird, but weird seems to work in today’s world …

It all started about five years ago: the day I woke up and realized I didn’t want to do my corporate job anymore. Thinking like this was strange for me because I had always liked my job. I was good at it and it paid well, providing security and a good living for my family.

But truth be told, over the last few years the job was starting to have a negative effect both on my health and on my personal well-being. The stress of performing at a high level year in and year out was getting to me. I was reminded of this every morning, when I took my blood pressure medication.

For a long time I hadn’t been taking proper care of myself. I wasn’t in a good spot mentally or physically and was out of balance. I had been so caught up in the competitions, titles, and salary increases along the way in my career that I had lost track of who I was in the process.

Material success doesn’t guarantee happiness

I had bought into the idea that material success would eventually bring me happiness, but believe me on this, it doesn’t! I really didn’t know what would make me happy, I just knew that I didn’t like how I felt anymore. I used to laugh a lot more and I didn’t understand why that had stopped. I yearned to get rid of that nagging feeling and the sense that something needed to change. I had to slow down the pace of life and get out of the rat race.

But what was I going to do? Was retiring my only alternative? And if I did retire, to what would I be retiring? I had no idea, but I knew in my heart that a full-stop retirement just wasn’t in the cards for me: I get bored easily and the thought of possibly spending more years in retirement, with nothing to do, than I had spent in my working life scared me a little—no, make that a lot. I didn’t want my story to be, “He went to school, married, worked for a company for thirty-plus years while raising a family, then retired.” I had worked and sacrificed too much over the years to have it all end abruptly like that. My corporate job had served its purpose, but I wasn’t done yet and I knew my best days were still ahead. I wanted more — much more — out of life.

In my search for answers I visited the local library and read every retirement book I could get my hands on. Most of them were limited to the financial aspects of retirement. But then I was lucky to get my hands on a copy of Ernie Zelinski’s book How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free: Retirement Wisdom that You Won’t Get from Your Financial Advisor.

Zelinski’s book sparked it

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Mike Drak’s Findependence Day: next stop Victory Lap Retirement

Drak-2014

Mike Drak

By Mike Drak

Friday July 29th will be a day that I will remember for the rest of my life. After thirty-eight years, I finally packed in my banking career. I suppose my co-author Jonathan would call this my Findependence Day!

To be honest, it will take some getting used to as my banking job played an important role in my life. It provided financial security for my family and gave me a good reason to get out of bed most mornings.

My career, like most careers, had its good and bad points. Overall though, it was a good ride and one that I will miss to some degree, but I had to leave in order to publish Victory Lap Retirement and create my blog.

Banks really don’t like it when employees write books or blogs because it might not align with the story that they are trying to convey. Banks get nervous when employees stand out and don’t fit in, when employees invent something that is outside the approved message.

Banks are very protective of their brand. They want the customer experience to be the same in every branch across the country. They want every employee to talk, walk and act the same. They desire a high degree of predictable sameness, as it’s easier to control.

Why banks still sell the old version of Retirement

This is not a bad thing at first blush, but it tends to stifle individual creativity, which is costly long term both to the bank and its customers. The danger is that you end up being like every other bank selling the same story and nothing much happens out of the ordinary. Maybe this is why the banks continue to sell the old version of retirement, as it’s easier to sell to the masses. Marketing to the few is not very cost efficient.

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What Millennials can learn from the Boomers’ reinvention of Retirement

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L to R for the Digital Citizen Show: Hugh Reilly, Norman Evans, Jon Chevreau

By Kollin Lore

We are edging nearer to 2031, the year when all Baby Boomers will be age 65 and above, and most will at least be contemplating some form of Retirement or Semi-Retirement.

It will also be a time when the millennials will have pretty much all grown up and taken over the workforce.

Next month Jonathan Chevreau and Mike Drak’s Victory Lap Retirement will be published, a perfect time considering the age we are headed towards. However, though the book concerns the older generation, there is much to learn for millennials too.

Earlier in July, Chevreau discussed his upcoming book on Digital Citizen’s ThatChannel with creative director, Norman Evans, Laura Tyson, and host, Hugh Reilly. Click on the highlighted link to access the YouTube video: Get Ready to Earn Your “Playcheque.”

“The Boomers have reinvented every stage in life they have gone through,” said Chevreau. “Now they are going to reinvent retirement, by starting with the word ‘retirement’ because they are not ready to stop … That’s why Mike and I created the phrase Victory Lap.”

This titular ‘Victory Lap’ concerns finding that balance between stress and boredom following retirement. It means staying active and can include anything from travelling the world, to part time jobs, to volunteering to more time with family.

Of the many activities in which to partake during the Victory Lap, volunteering is an especially valuable past time to consider. Read more

What every woman needs to know about Retirement

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Akaisha Kaderli

By Akaisha Kaderli, RetireEarlyLifestyle.com

Special to FindependenceDay.com

 

The other day I read an article about women and retirement. In this piece, the number one premise for motivation was that we should be afraid. Very afraid. It said that for the most part, men did the planning for retirement and that we as women rely on them blindly.

I dislike reading articles such as this, first, because it is fear-based but second, it doesn’t take into consideration the talents women contribute to the mix of partnership and planning. While it might be true that men are “wired to provide for the household,” women have moved into professions which pay grandly. Many marriages today are a different blend of partnership than what our own parents or grandparents enjoyed. Along with their jobs, many women still run the household, so why not get involved in retirement planning in a proactive manner?

Retirement is a boring word

The word “retirement” conjures up images of old people on pensions or perhaps pictures of those who no longer contribute powerfully to society with their expertise and knowledge. I prefer the description “financially independent” for the freedom, influence and self-reliance it implies.

One can choose financial independence at any stage of life and it’s an exciting and worthy goal. The younger a person begins on this path, the more you have in your favor.

Women, listen up

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