Irony

Had the opportunity to attend a Customer Response Summit (shout out to Chad McDaniels and  Execs in the Know for a great conference) so Sunday I headed to Ft. Lauderdale, a quick 1.5 hour flight for me. Add in 35 minutes to drive to the airport and getting there the required 1.5  hours before departure and the forty five minute shuttle ride to the hotel and my customer journey should have been about four and a quarter hours.

When I arrived at the airport the flight was showing 20 minutes delay. Not a big deal – or it shouldn’t have been. After several more delays, each one pushing it out only twenty or thirty minutes, we finally left 3 hours late. 3 hours on a 1.5 hour flight. I quite literally could have driven quicker. My total customer journey – from home to my hotel – took seven hours and twenty minutes and the entire delay was due to Silver Airways. The shuttle picked me up right on time and the drive to the hotel was actually about five minutes quicker than advertised.

The return trip was actually worse. I had booked an early shuttle, knowing that Miami traffic can be terrible. Even so, the return trip to the airport took one hour and twenty minutes, with ten of those due to the late arrival of the van to pick me up. Slightly nervous about the delays, I logged on to Silver’s website to check flight status and got another shock. The flight was showing a delay of more than two hours!

Once at the airport I wait in line at the counter for seven minutes while both available counter agents assist the same customer – the only one ahead of me. When I’m finally called upon the agent actually has less information than I do. Her system showed a delay now at two hours ten minutes while their website was predicting two and a half.

In a reverse application of Murphy’s Law the line at security was virtually non-existent. I breeze through and head to the gate where, according to the counter agent, I would find the supervisor who could give me more information. No such luck. The supervisor is nowhere to be found as I wait in line for nearly ten minutes. When my turn arrives, the gate agent can tell me no more than the counter agent had. When I explain that this is terrible customer service she looks at me with a blank expression and says there’s nothing she can do. I repeat that this is unacceptable and she asks me what I want. “Perhaps an attempt on your part to rebook me on another airline so I can get home at a reasonable hour,”I reply.

I’m quickly told this isn’t possible. Only in the event of a “very, very” long delay would they even offer vouchers as compensation. It seems to me that a delay of longer than the actual flight duration, extending the trip at least 300% should qualify as “very, very” and I say so. Nope – company policy states that they will only try to provide remedial service when delays reach FIVE hours! Take note – this is a regional airline that makes mostly short flights, what we sometimes call puddle jumps. I’m not even sure they own any planes capable of a five hour flight, yet this is their standard for a delay that negatively impacts the customer in their view.

As I settle in for my lengthy wait I can’t help but take notice of the operation. EVERY Silver Airways flight that left Ft. Lauderdale that evening was significantly delayed except for one flight to Bermuda and one to Orlando. They were cancelled completely.

The posted departure of my flight finally stabilized at 9:28, three hours and twenty-three minutes late. Eventually they announce that our plane has landed and will be available for boarding as soon as the passengers disembark and the plane is cleaned and refueled. We soon see the arriving passengers deplane and almost immediately after they finish, our boarding is announced.

Hmmmmm. I spent almost 15 years flying at least twice each week year round, and often much more. No way could they have cleaned anything and it must not have needed much fuel as there wasn’t enough time to gas up.

We line up and have our boarding passes scanned but are told to wait at the door to the jetway. Not my idea of “boarding” but I have no choice. After waiting about five more minutes a minor commotion arises. It seems there are two arriving passengers still on the plane because they need wheelchair assistance. And guess what they have none of at the gate? If you guessed wheelchairs you win a gold star.

After a couple more minutes to resolve this completely foreseeable issue, we’re told we can proceed. As this is the type of small plane where you walk out and climb stairs to board, we go down the jetway to the ramp that takes us down to the tarmac.  But as we reach the bottom of the ramp an agent rushes up and halts us. I look around and quickly spot the fuel truck next to our plane with the fuel hose snaked across the tarmac and attached to the plane.

Both the indoor boarding and the wait on the ramp (I’m at least grateful we’re in Florida and not Minnesota) were diversions. Blatant, frankly demeaning and insulting attempts to distract us with the illusion of progress when none had actually occurred.

But the inept service didn’t stop there. Like many airlines, Silver uses recordings for the standard announcements about stowing your carryon bags and what electronic devices you can use when. These announcements came across loud and clear – almost too loud as they approached the uncomfortable. A few minutes later, the pilot takes to the microphone and whispers some presumably important information about some paperwork, when we might leave, and (I think) when he estimated we would arrive. I’m really not sure as I could only pick out the occasional word.

We finally departed at 9:52 p.m. Once airborne, the flight attendant came by with a tray of 8 ounce mini bottles of water. At least on the slightly less delayed trip down we had a choice of Coke or Sprite in addition to water which I believe was in full sized bottles. We landed at about 11:40 p.m. – more than four hours after the scheduled time. After retrieving my car from the parking lot and heading out I finally arrived home at quarter past midnight.

The incredibly poor customer service demonstrated by Silver Airways resulted in my missing the opening evening session at the conference, getting only about four hours sleep before going to work on my return home, additional cost for parking, and over seven hours of my life being completely wasted. Multiply this times the other passengers on this flight and those on all the other flights, and then add in the much more serious inconveniences suffered by the passengers on the two cancelled flights and this one evening may well qualify as a shining example of the worst possible customer experience.

Needless to say I won’t be flying Silver again and I’ve already shared my experience with at least a dozen co-workers who, I suspect, will also choose alternate options when next they have to travel. As we have offices across the state, our folks fly frequently between the home office, Miami, Tampa, and Tallahassee – all Silver routes.

 

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What are you waiting for?

In 2013 nearly three-quarters of a million second homes were sold, an increase of nearly 30% from the prior year and 13% of all home sales. And we’re not talking about the uber-rich who often have as many houses as shoes. The average age of the buyers was 43 and their annual income averages just over $85,000. The properties they bought averaged $168,700 which was 12.5% higher than 2012. All these statistics come from NAR – the National Association of Realtors.

In the midst of continuing economic stagnation, why are so many people splurging on what many would consider a luxury purchase? Eight out of ten buyers feel this is a great time to buy a second home, which most will use for family retreats and some plan future residence. A few years ago, we are among them – a bit ahead of the curve to be sure but following the same rationale.

So what are you waiting for? If you’ve ever dreamed about owning a little cabin in the woods, a beach shack near the ocean, or a bungalow on a lake, this is the time. And your window of opportunity is likely closing fast. If these trends continue, prices will rise. There are signs that mortgage rates will continue to climb as well. Combined, these two factors could lock many of us out of the market.

In case you’re considering this, I offer a few lessons learned from our experience:

  1. It’s a big country and an even bigger world. Start by narrowing down your target zone. Are you a lake person? Like space? Want to be near the ocean? Or get back to the town you grew up in? Get this geographic requirement established early on, and then be as broad as you can. I had originally made up my mind that North Carolina was where I wanted to be without really thinking it through. I ended up looking there but also in Tennessee before finally finding our dream spot in Georgia.
  2. Take a vacation. Once you’ve figured out what kind of place you want to live, pick out a few towns that seem to meet your criteria and go visit them. Plan to spend about two nights in each town if possible. That will give you time to see the sights, learn about shopping, activities, restaurants, and entertainment. In smaller towns you might find many of these limited – during one trip I ended up in a place where none of the restaurants served dinner. Not in the mood for delivery pizza I managed to get to the grocery store before they closed at 8:00 to buy some bread and cold cuts. Quaint little place but I didn’t think I wanted to end up somewhere I’d have to drive more than 50 miles each way to eat dinner out.
  3. Gain alignment with all the interested parties. If money were no object I’d likely have a property so big it would take 30 minutes just to get down the driveway to begin the 20 minute drive into town. Cathy wanted privacy as well but would love to have the conveniences of town right outside the fence. As we looked at several places we were able to both narrow things down until we agreed on “as large a place as we can afford but within 15 minutes of civilization”.
  4. Think about the trip there. NAR’s study found that 46% of vacation homes were within 100 miles of the buyer’s primary residence while 34% were more than 500. The median distance was 180 miles. This matters most if you plan to use your place frequently. My brother’s lakeside cottage up north is about 2 hours from his main home. During the summer they go up every Friday after work and drive home early Monday morning. Our cabin is 7 hours away. We go up about once a month, leaving work early on Friday and taking a vacation day to travel back Monday. But after nearly four years that drive is getting old. I love our time at the cabin but dread driving up and especially back.
  5. What are your absolute musts? Cellular service is sketchy at the cabin and our choice of internet providers is limited to DSL through the local phone company or satellite, which is even slower. Television is strictly satellite, although we can currently choose between the two biggest providers in that segment. We actually cut that cord at the cabin and rely on Netflix, Amazon Prime, and DVDs for our entertainment but streaming video uses up most of the bandwidth eliminating any possibility of simultaneously working online efficiently.
  6. Naturally, you need to set a budget. We arbitrarily picked $125,000 as the top of the range when we started searching property listings. We hoped, and were eventually successful, to find something lower than that. Just as with primary residences, your options expand greatly as your budget increases, but there are usually limits. We could have found a place on the lake 5 miles from our cabin in the same price range but we would have had virtually no land, which means no privacy. We traded lakefront for acreage and since we’re more avid about riding our motorcycles and target shooting than we are boating, it was the right decision for us.
  7. Once you’ve accomplished all these foundational steps it’s time to start searching! The internet is a great tool for this. Many realtors have set up consolidation websites where they aggregate properties from the multiple listing services all in one place. The better ones let you sort and filter by price, type (house, condo, etc.), number of bedrooms and baths, and possibly even acreage, outbuildings, and other criteria. Set up a process to keep track of the places you’re interested in. I simply printed out the listings of those I wanted to consider and made sure that I had noted the source in case I wanted to go back online to look at it again. If there will be a gap between your online search and your physical scouting trips you’ll want to double check just before leaving to ensure the property hasn’t already sold.
  8. Hit the road again. Now you’ve got a stack of properties complete with addresses to plug into your nav system. Official MLS© listings typically include this. If not, a little cyber-sleuthing will get you what you need. If you’re the anal type like me you’ll want to plot them out and determine the best route to avoid backtracking. This will also help you determine where to book hotels. I found that I was able to view many more properties per day than I had originally thought. Here’s why:
  9. Prepare to be disappointed. Real estate agents are photographic geniuses. Don’t be surprised to find that the perfect little cottage nestled in a charming pinewood copse you have a picture of is actually right next door to a decaying shack landscaped with old appliances and broken down trucks. Or that the “seclude beachfront shanty” is next to a tiki bar that just gets hopping around 11 pm. If you’re searching in a very rural area, you may well find that even your GPS can’t locate the property. Between the can’t-finds, the can’t-reachs, and the oh-hell-no’s, you’ll likely run through your list faster than you might expect.

I hope you find this helpful and perhaps inspirational. We love our little patch of the mountains and encourage anyone considering a second home to take some action. There’s no time like the present. If, like us, you hope to retire there some day you’ll probably want to have it all fixed up just like you want and hopefully even mortgage free. That takes planning so the sooner your start the better.

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Outside the lines

The intranet home page at our office has a Quote of the Day section. Employees are invited to submit favorite quotes and those selected display there for a day. When I logged on this morning I noticed the QOTD was not only one I had submitted but actually one I had created. Thus, I was both the author and the submitter. Self-aggrandizement at its finest. 🙂 Actually I don’t even recall submitting the phrase, but I do use it in the signature block on my emails. Here’s the line:

No original work of art was ever created by carefully coloring inside the lines.

Profound, huh? I vaguely remember the genesis of this sparkling pearl of wisdom but I do recall that it had to do with my being sick of the overused “think outside the box” cliché. I recall thinking that I didn’t just want people thinking out of the box, I wanted them to disregard the traditional boundaries. Thinking out of the box results in coloring the turtle purple. Going outside the lines lets you turn the turtle into a spaceship, or a tropical island, or a ninja. That’s the kind of thinking I was trying to inspire when I dreamed up the phrase.

Sadly, I must admit to being neglectful in promoting this type of thinking lately. Like many companies these days, we’re faced with a marketplace that puts increasingly tighter constraints on our prices and thus costs. Optimizing costs is no longer a once a year budget time exercise but instead a daily effort. In that environment it’s all too easy to delude oneself into thinking that we don’t have the time, money, resources, or energy for creativity. And how incredibly short-sighted is that?

The truth is that times such as these demand our most creative, outside the lines, coloring. Whether we’re working to maintain our household budget in the face of increasing prices or looking for every last nickel and dime we can find in the company’s P&L statement, challenging times require thinking that challenges.

So why is it so difficult to climb out of the box and color beyond the lines? For many of us, the root cause is a lifetime of being trained to follow the rules. Many organizations loudly proclaim their support for creativity and innovation while failing to recognize that many leaders and managers immediately squash all such efforts. And some of those leaders and managers sidestep new ideas that push the envelope out of the fear that bending the rules often creates. It can be a vicious circle.

But root drivers aren’t legitimate reasons or excuses. It is our role to recognize them and work around, under, over, or through the ones that create barriers to creativity. Often taking that first risk leads to learning that the world won’t end if we zig left rather than follow the crowd curving right. Turning on the light usually reveals that the monster under the bed is actually a carelessly discarded pair of slippers.

What will you turn the turtle into today?

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WiFi router help needed

Hopefully one of my faithful readers can assist. Got fed up with Comcast’s rental fees a couple months back and bought an Arris wifi/telephone router. Come to find out Arris won’t provide tech support saying their contract with Comcast forbids it and Comcast won’t cause it isn’t their router. Nice catch-22, huh?

Anyway, tonight for the second time when I got home from a weekend at the cabin my iPad and phone wouldn’t connect to the wifi. Router lights were all good, but I reset, unplugged, etc. to no avail. So I logged in to 10.0.0.1 and discovered that the wifi name and password were somehow reset to the factory defaults, hence the inability of my devices to find it. I reset both and viola! iPad and android both back on. While in there I decided to change the password for the admin account, which was also on the factory default (‘admin’ and ‘password’ – not exactly high security). I left the user at admin but changed the password to something a bit more difficult. I got a “Password will be changed!” message and then Page Not Found. Now I can’t get back in at all. 10.0.0.1 just gets me “Problem loading page” and a Firefox message saying the site may be busy, etc.

Any ideas? If I can’t get in to the admin page I can’t reset things next time it decides to crap out on me. Is 10.0.0.1 an Xfinity (Comcast) site or is it actually my router’s address? Any help appreciated. Thanks.

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Our New Old Cabin

7:30 a.m. Wednesday, day five of our first trip to the cabin in over 4 months and the first sunny morning. It’s 61 degrees and 75% humidity, a welcome far cry from the double 90s back in Florida. I take my iPad and coffee out to the porch, immediately startling a rabbit who darts across the drive. He pauses, listening, watching, reluctant to leave the tasty foliage. Caution rules and he hops quickly into the forest, no doubt in search of another garden with less human presence.

I log on and start my morning crossword, happy that I finally sorted out the wiring issue that had our telephone and internet inoperable. I’ve been doing the USA Today© crossword for nearly two decades and it has become an integral part of my morning ritual. Only a few clues in when I hear a rustle and look up to see the young buck grazing at the lower pile of deer corn Cathy sets out each day. As I watch he’s joined first by one of the does and then a second. They’re becoming used to us. If we stay still and quiet they deem us an acceptable risk and continue to feed, albeit always wary and ready to bolt at any sudden movement or sound.

A whirring noise sounding like the largest baritone bumblebee you could imagine heralds the arrival of one of the hummingbirds. Their ability to hover and change direction instantly first captures your attention. For many of us, that’s all we get the chance to notice but we’ve had feeders outside our windows for several years now and as a result two pairs call our place home. This affords us the luxury of fairly long – at least in hummingbird terms – observation periods.

We’ve learned they have individual personalities. One is very skittish and rarely sits on the feeder perch, preferring to dart in and drink while she hovers. Another is braver and will light on a perch to eat for ten or more seconds, a virtual eternity in the frenetic life of a hummer. As with most birds, the more colorful plumage is reserved for the males, allowing for fairly easy identification of these incredibly fast little beings.

The females are territorial, despite the two couples sharing our yard. The more aggressive will frequently chase the meeker gal away from the feeder, even though a second (and now third) feeder is available just down the porch. They’ve also been known to buzz (Cathy calls it dive bomb and she shared a video of one “attack” on her on Facebook) humans, in an apparent attempt to shoo us away from their feeders. Seems like a case of biting the hand that feeds you but when you consider how very vulnerable such a small creature must feel it’s understandable.

Cathy joins me, careful to move slowly and stay quiet. The deer see, hear, smell, and likely sense her anyway but after watching her sit down decide to continue eating. Cathy holds Lady, our six pound Havanese, in her lap as she starts training her not to bark at or chase the deer. Lady is protective of her property like most dogs. And like most small dogs, her bravado far overreaches her ability. She didn’t hesitate last year to chase after a young doe who could easily have dispatched her with a quick hoof to the head. We were able to call Lady off as the doe ran into the woods but we’ve been cautious ever since. Better to train Lady to peacefully co-exist with the local wildlife.

I return to my crossword puzzle and by eight-thirty the deer are gone. Today the group totaled six, the most we’ve seen at one time. Cathy and Lady head back inside, the former to continue her week-long housecleaning efforts and the latter to take one of her several dozen naps of the day. I pause to refill my coffee and resume my seat on the porch as I consider how fortunate we are.

We purchased this small cabin with seven acres of forest only 3 ½ years ago. Since then we’ve been able to build a large garage that serves as cover for our cars and motorcycles as well as workshop area and start the renovation that just completed its largest phase. By going from just under 700 square feet to about 1,000 we’ve added a second bath, a large walk-in closet, and converted the living/dining great room area from a cramped awkward space to one in which we could comfortably entertain at least six or eight people. New roofing, siding, electrical, plumbing, heating, and insulation will make the cabin more comfortable and efficient. Next year we hope to replace the worn, dated kitchen cabinets and rearrange the layout for better utilization and at some point we’ll update the existing bath, but for now we have everything we need. Countless decisions on furniture arrangement, additions, and deletions remain but we’re in no real rush. We’ll likely reorganize everything several times as the new layout pretty much replaced all our old storage options. I foresee countless instances of “Honey, do you know where we put the left-handed screwdriver?” I’ve already tried to yank open the kitchen drawer that used to hold our silverware and is now a fixed panel on several occasions. Just thinking about all these little challenges brings a smile to my face, because each one represents both an opportunity and an achievement.

But the best part of all is and will likely always be this porch. I’ll be back this evening, a glass of fine scotch replacing the coffee as I wait for the deer to return for dinner.

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Snipping the Cord

We took the plunge last week and cut the satellite cord. Sort of. More like a snip. Let me explain. We just got back from our first visit to the cabin post-renovation. (YAY!!!!!) More about that in another blog. Since we had a complete new roof and all new siding installed, the satellite dish had to be removed months ago. We called and found out we could ‘pause’ service for only $5 a month (yes, we paid to NOT have service) and once our construction was over we’d be able to have things reconnected with no set up fees.

Over the past few months, we had plenty of time to think about and research things since we couldn’t go to the cabin. I read countless articles on cutting the cord – pros, cons, different approaches, etc. So we decided that we’d use our first few visits to the cabin as a trial run for doing without. We had plenty of other things to take care of so not arranging for re-installation was actually a blessing.

Here’s what we did. We set up the tvs in the living room and bedroom. Once we got our internet (DSL) working again (another story to be told later) we hooked up the Roku 2 box and also ran a HDMI cable with an iPad adaptor. Cathy always has movies on her iPad to watch during the drive up and back so we had a ready store of entertainment options. We also have access to Netflix and Hulu + although we’ve never tried using them to access television shows.

According to several articles I read nearly everything you might want to watch – outside of many sports events which isn’t an issue for us – is available through one of those two services or directly from the website of the various networks. Not completely true as we found out.

Cathy’s a huge NCIS fan and happy to watch reruns several times, which we can easily do via Comcast at our Florida house. The older episodes are in syndication and play just about every day. But at the cabin all we could find were clips, most about 3 minutes long, through any approach including the CBS website and app. This may be due to NCIS currently being on summer hiatus and they may be available during season a day or two after airing, but for now you’re out of luck if you need an NCIS fix.

Other networks we really enjoy, such as History and A&E, also offer very sparse selections. Hulu + listed these networks but only offered three or four episodes of two or three shows that we’ve never watched (or cared to).

We also learned a few tricks. Netflix is great for the series it does carry if you want to binge-watch. Select an episode of a favorite show, play it, and once finished Netflix takes you right to the next episode. All you have to do is click “ok” to start it. On the other hand, go to Fox TV news and you’ll have to individually select each story video – not at all convenient or fun. Newsy works much better, but for us the best approach was to stream the live newscast from the station we watch in Florida via the iPad and patch it to the television. Since there are no real local stations to the cabin we’re not missing much – the Atlanta news and weather really aren’t relevant to us up there.

The biggest lesson was learning just how addicted we are to being spoonfed “noise”. Wake up, start the coffee, and flip on the tv. Kind of sad when you think about it. The additional effort required to actively manage entertainment (rather than passively let it drone on) caused us to be much more selective and to watch much less. Instead we sat on the porch letting the hummingbirds and deer entertain us, or read a book (okay, Kindle eBook actually but still pretty much the same thing), or engaged in that nearly obsolete practice of conversation.

We don’t plan on hooking up the satellite anytime soon.

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You Can Retire Sooner

I’ve just finished reading “You can retire sooner than you think” by Wes Moss and I cannot recommend it any more highly. Cathy and I have reached the point where we can look ahead to retirement and almost see it, unlike earlier years when retirement seemed like some far away likely impossible destination. That ‘we’ll worry about that some other time’ attitude is all too prevalent and leads many to wind up woefully unprepared when the day eventually does arrive. From statistics I’ve seen cited in Wes’ book and other sources something greater than a quarter of all Americans have less than $1,000 saved toward retirement and another 30% have less than $25,000.

As a mid-term baby boomer, I’m one who had the rules change in the middle of the race. My parents had the security of a solid defined-benefit pension plan, along with Social Security, to rely on. Gen Y and most Gen X have typically never heard of or seen such a plan. They knew from the start that saving for retirement was on them, through 401ks and IRAs, and are constantly cautioned not to depend on Social Security.

Many boomers entered the workforce at a time when defined benefit pensions were commonplace and Social Security was as certain as taxes and death – happened for all of us. Then somewhere along the way the train started jumping the tracks. Companies went bankrupt and underfunded pension plans evaporated. As the business landscape became more competitive and the generation of profits more challenging, companies began looking at the long-term liability they faced with pensions and started moving away from them.

In my case, I have a mixed bag. I do have a nice little pension from a former employer that appears sound. My current company closed our pension plan about four years ago, but this froze the funds already vested and I’m confident they will be available when needed. Unfortunately, since I only had about six years participation in that plan, the amount I’ll receive when I retire will cover less than 15% of our expenses. Nonetheless, when we add in the past pension, Social Security, and savings in 401ks we’re in very good shape. I know this only because I read Wes’ book.

We took the time last weekend to tally up our current expenses. Technology I’ve only partially embraced heretofore made this far easier than I expected. By linking all the accounts – checking, savings, investment, credit cards, mortgages, car loans – to Quicken and hitting the “Update” button we had everything in one place. A little experimentation with the various reporting functions of the program and in no time at all we were able to lay out the actual side of a pretty comprehensive budget.

I share this because each of you is likely in one of three places. A few are hopefully far ahead of us and have been monitoring and planning your finances for years. You budget and stick to in, including the most critical piece – savings. Another group – hopefully also just a few – have yet to give the future the first thought. If you contribute anything to your 401k it might not even be enough to trigger the full matching contribution your company likely provides. You are destined to be among that 50%+ I mentioned in the first paragraph. But it isn’t too late for you. The rest – hopefully a large group – are like Cathy and I – you made just enough of the right decisions purely by happenstance and have managed to build up a fair little retirement nest egg in 401ks, IRAs, or other venues. But you really don’t know how much you’ll actually need to live comfortably in retirement. Every time you read one of those articles from some self-appointed “expert” you freak at the idea of needing $2 million, $5 million, or some other multi-million dollar fund you know you can’t possibly accumulate unless you work to the age of 90.

This is where the recommendation comes in. Regardless of which group you find yourself in, read “You Can Retire Sooner Than You Think”. Let me say that again. READ “YOU CAN RETIRE SOONER THAN YOU THINK”. Not tomorrow, not next week, or next month. Don’t save it for the plane ride on your next vacation or plan to wait until you hit the beach. Click this link http://www.amazon.com/You-Retire-Sooner-Than-Think/dp/007183902X and order it right now. And no, I don’t get a commission. In fact, Wes Moss has no idea who I am and knows nothing about this blog. It’s just that important a book.

Wes’ subtitle is ‘The 5 Money Secrets of the Happiest Retirees’. So even if you already have your finances well under control – that first group I mentioned above – there’s a lot for you to gain from reading the book. I learned a number of very interesting characteristics. I’m not fully convinced that Wes’ informal survey actually proves causation for some of the correlated factors he’s isolated. I also completely dismiss his advice for introverts which clearly demonstrates that he doesn’t understand our psychology, but he’s a finance guy, not a shrink so he’s forgiven.

What matters here is that you understand what the characteristics of happy retirees are and how they fit into your personality, lifestyle, and expectations. Then step back, run the budget numbers, and start figuring out how much you really need to be able to live the life you want once you retire. It makes no difference – except perhaps around urgency – whether retirement is 3, 13, or 30 out for you. Remember the advice of the great Yankee sage Yogi Berra – if you don’t know where you’re going you might not get there. Wes Moss can help you decide where you’re going and then lay out the roadmap you’ll need to follow to arrive in the right place at the time you want. Or even sooner.

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