“A true conservationist is a man who knows that the world is not given by his fathers, but borrowed from his children.”
– John James Audubon

Hey Collin County Parents,

Wow!  As you may have noticed, this week’s post is a few days late.  With school starting up on the 24th, my wife getting ready for her new students (she teaches 4th grade), my oldest daughter’s play practice and schedule (she was an awesome Bird Girl in Seussical Jr.), me spending the week at a legal education seminar sharpening my saw*, and having meetings on four of the five nights this week, it was like juggling chain saws.  I know I’m not alone in this – especially for you parents that have to take your kids back to school too.

Anyway, all that is to say, I’m sorry I’m a little late on getting the newsletter out this week.  This week’s will be short and sweet and I’ll have us back on track by Friday.

*If this is the first time you’ve heard the expression “sharpening your saw,” you’ve got to get Stephen Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” right now.  And if you do audible books at all, I recommend the unabridged audio version just to hear Dr. Covey tell his story about change of perspective.  (If you’ve read it, it is the story about the dad and the kids disrupting the subway car on a peaceful Sunday morning; and if you haven’t read it, I’m not going to spoil it for you!)

Okay, everyone back?

Before I get started this week, I’d like to speak some encouragement to you. I know that some people may be feeling pretty dispirited about their personal situation…and that anything discussing “financial independence” really seemed like a pipe dream, and unrealistic for them.

If that is you, I’d like to speak a word to you.

Don’t give up.

Yes, simplistic perhaps–but with all of the folks in this economy if you are electricians in Sterling Heights, who are going through hard times, it’s easy for them to believe that there isn’t a light at the end of the tunnel. Did you know that most millionaires have previously been bankrupt at some point? In fact, it’s often the “fire” of these times of trouble which serve to clarify things–and get you making smart decisions, perhaps for the first time.

So, if you’re feeling the financial heat right now, look out for the blessings in the midst of pain. I know it’s hard–but chances are, you’re being reminded of what’s REALLY important…and often, seeing this again can be a launch pad for living the kind of life that you really want to live.

So go for it!

Well, I’ve got some additional thoughts for you about what I wrote in last week’s Personal Strategy Note…

Aaron Miller’s
“Straight Talk” Personal Strategy
How To Achieve Financial Independence (Part 2)

Money has no value unless you’ve got the time and good health to enjoy it. In fact, if you have to be poor, would you rather be poor now or at retirement? By planning carefully and investing wisely, you shouldn’t have to make this choice.

Planning for Financial Independence
I believe that people ought to save early and often, and while it may seem weird to talk about it right now, make regular scheduled investments in the stock market through the use of mutual funds.

Over the long term, the U.S. stock market yields an annualized return of about 10% (assuming dividends are reinvested). Yes, things are volatile right now…but “market risk” is not the greatest danger to your savings – inflation is the greatest danger. The value of your retirement erodes at a rate of roughly three or four percent every year.

But the stock market has always recovered from even the steepest declines.

Here’s an historical note for you (pertinent now): the worst one-year period for the Dow ran from 01 July 1931 to 30 June 1932. It lost 68.92% of its value. Would you have bought stock then? If your goals were long term, that’s exactly what you should have done. The best 30-year period for the Dow ran from 01 July 1932 to 30 June 1962, during which time it offered an average annual return of 14.34%.

Becoming Financially Independent

Reaching financial independence isn’t always easy. It takes time and work. You cannot accomplish your goal of achieving it by wishing. It takes doing. It takes being committed to and being absolutely determined to act.

One way you can act now, is to take a look at your personal expenses. Here’s some tips to cut them…

* If you and your spouse both work, try to live on only one income. Invest the other.
* Save an emergency fund, but don’t make it too large. I like a small (one-month of expenses) emergency reserve, with everything else invested in mutual funds.
* Never borrow money, except to buy a home. If you use credit cards, use them only as a convenience, not to borrow.
* Pay yourself first. Every month, invest some portion of your income for your future.

Finding more money to actually invest is the best way for you to reach financial independence. And one great way to find extra money is to cut back on your existing expenses.

Yes, you can achieve financial independence, but you can’t get there overnight, and you can’t get there without setting goals and making sacrifices.

So start now.

Hope this helps!

To your family’s wealth, health, and happiness!

Aaron Miller

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