Episode 2: Shattering the Mirror of Erised

In our second episode, Shattering the Mirror of Erised, SuperBOYs use powerful incantations – also known as facts and logic – to fight the mighty spell cast by Aunt Bizarro and her Mirror of Erised.

As our story opens, we come upon a celebration of all good cheer.  Our revelers, mostly senior citizens, are toasting the news that in 2012, their Social Security benefits will rise for the first time in three years.

And a woeful trio of years it’s been.

Beginning in 2008, many Americans lost as much as 40% of their retirement funds in the stock market rout.  Home values plummeted and have yet to rebound.  Energy costs – particularly gasoline, cut deeper than ever into disposable income.  Rising out-of-pocket medical costs remain unrestrained.  And inflation, although mild, shaved even more spending power from those 65 and older.

So no wonder Aunt Bizarro and her blind-faith minions are throwing a party.

The 2012 benefits increase “underscores the importance of Social Security as the only guaranteed, lifelong and inflation-adjusted source of retirement income for most Americans,” cheers Nancy LeaMond, an executive vice president with AARP, the vast propaganda bureau that masquerades as a friend to those 50 and over.

…For millions of American seniors already suffering in this economy and facing years of rising costs, shrinking returns on their savings and no cost-of-living increases, today’s…announcement lets them know there’s some relief around the corner,”

-chimes in Max Richtman, the ebullient president and CEO of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare.

[Read more…] “Episode 2: Shattering the Mirror of Erised”

The Rise of Aunt Bizarro and the Demise of the American Social Security Net

Sam and his little sister, Columbia, were born in the earliest days of our zealous nation.

History records that the Wilson offspring were raised in Menotomy, Massachusetts – now known as Arlington – to parents originally from Greenock, Scotland.

Sam was always the more visible of the two.  In 1797, the stern-eyed, elbow-nosed gent married a gal from Mason, New Hampshire, and together they had four children who they raised in their Ferry Street home. Aunt Columbia, as the tots called her, was a doting kinswoman.

Sam first served our country during the War of 1812. A meat packer by trade, he provided beef rations – which he shipped in barrels – to the Army.  Branded on the side of each cask were the initials “U.S.” – signifying their ownership by the United States government.

Shattering the Mirror of Erised

In our second episode – Shattering the Mirror of Erised, SuperBOYs use powerful incantations – also known as facts and logic – to fight the mighty spell cast by Aunt Bizarro and her Mirror of Erised. Learn what happens next

But the soldiers and workers who knew good ole Sam Wilson took to joshing that the “U.S.” stood for Uncle Sam.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

Aunt Columbia also tried her hand laboring as a national emblem, draping herself in the red, white and blue, and bidding to join big brother Sam on the patriotic trail.  In 1798, Philip Phile and Joseph Hopkinson teamed to write the music and lyrics for George Washington’s inaugural march, which came to be titled, “Hail, Columbia.”  Few historians properly credit Aunt Columbia as Phile’s and Hopkinson’s inspiration.

Sam and Columbia made a nice iconic tag-team, rallying the country through World Wars I and II, and adorning untold numbers of government placards and tourist postcards.

[Read more…] “The Rise of Aunt Bizarro and the Demise of the American Social Security Net”

How the Masked Forces of Evil Plot to Devour YOUR Money – and the Brave Superheroes Who Combat Them

Dank and fetid, the inner sanctums of SSH4TT (and no, it’s not what you think!) are devoid of natural light and fresh air.

Few are ever allowed to enter these unholy chambers.  Those who do, disfigured and debauched by their own villainy, steer clear of mirrors and other reminders of their foul order.

Vampire

In public, these odious creatures adorn themselves in gay masks and robes.  They are lauded and paraded as paragons of perspicacity.  Millions, yeah, tens of millions of innocents flock to the doorsteps of their opulent and cavernous estates – hoping to be swathed in the aura of their being – all the while stone-blind to the magnitude of their deception.

Vampire

As a corrupt order, members of SSH4TT have a singular mission – and they pursue it mercilessly. Like vampires that require fresh blood to animate their dead carcasses, SSH4TTs lust after money – other people’s money – to fuel their insatiable rapacity.

SSH4TTs conduct their business, as they have for decades, free of a worthy adversary.

That was, until now…

[Read more…] “How the Masked Forces of Evil Plot to Devour YOUR Money – and the Brave Superheroes Who Combat Them”

The Six Founding Members of SSH4TT – A League of Evildoers With an Unending Appetite for YOUR Money

Who are the six masked forces of evil who plot to devour your money? We reveal them here!

Stocks: Octohussy

Queen of Wall and Broad. She expulses barrels of ink (both liquid and digital) to project an image of herself as necessary, advisable, even compassionate.  All the while, her eight arms are reaching into every pocket and financial orifice of her prey, extracting their wealth, peace of mind and dreams for retirement.  Octohussy has no backbone or moral compass whatsoever.  She’ll contort, however necessary, to put the squeeze on her victims.Ramsey Orman Vise

Social Security: Aunt Bizarro

The sinister, sick-minded, grey-locked sister of Uncle Sam, and a first cousin of J. Wellington Wimpee (below).  Adorning herself in the American flag, she promises to protect the elderly and the ill – holding their money in her lockbox until they need it.  “I’ll gladly care for you in the future, so kindly hand over your earnings today,” she demands with a stone-like smile.  The lockbox, of course, is nothing but a dark void.

Home Equity:  Skyresh Detritus

High Admiral of SSH4TT.  Luring financial voyagers into his nest – well disguised as a cozy hearth – Skyresh binds them with promises of great wealth and flexibility, all the while chomping away at their financial foundations and opportunities.  Unwary investors check in, but few are lucky enough to check out undigested.

401(k)s:  Bokor

[Read more…] “The Six Founding Members of SSH4TT – A League of Evildoers With an Unending Appetite for YOUR Money”

What is Your Peace of Mind Quotient?

If You Don’t Already Know It, You’ll Discover It Here

Executive Summary: Knowing your true risk tolerance, or what we more broadly define as your personal Peace of Mind Quotient (POMQ), is vital to effectively directing your savings and investing strategies throughout the course of your life.

Really, until you get a handle on the emotional price you are willing to pay in pursuit of higher financial returns, you have no business chasing wealth.

People who fail to take their POMQ into account when developing their savings and investment strategies very often pay an exorbitant and unnecessarily high emotional penalty for their shortsightedness. Here we provide you with a fun and thought-provoking Peace of Mind Quotient Self-Assessment and encourage you to take five minutes or less to discover your score.

The conventional wisdom is that “peace of mind” is priceless.

It isn’t.

All of us have some level at which we are willing to tolerate stress, discomfort, worry, anxiety or other unpleasant feelings if the potential financial rewards are large enough.

Think of the popular NBC television show, Minute To Win It.  Contestants – ordinary folks with no special skills or athleticism – compete in up to ten consecutive 60-second challenges using common household items.

As the winnings mount, each challenge becomes progressively more difficult.  The suspense builds over the contestants’ fateful choice to pocket the cash they’ve already won or continue in pursuit of the ultimate prize of $1 million.  If at any step along the way they falter, the game is over and they must forfeit their earlier winnings.

Would you risk 60 seconds of intense stress and many thousands of dollars of existing gains for a shot at $1 million?

[Read more…] “What is Your Peace of Mind Quotient?”

Peace Of Mind Analysis Results

The Peace of Mind Quotient Categories and Recommendations

Once you’ve taken the Peace Of Mind Quotient Self-Assessment, you’ll find our recommendations below on how to use your score to help guide you when making critical financial decisions.  (Learn why knowing your Peace Of Mind Quotient is important.)

Men (and Women) of Steel

You have nerves of steel.  Compared with us and most people we know, you’re from another planet. [Read more…] “Peace Of Mind Analysis Results”

A Do-It-Yourself Fix For The Economy, Deficit, Social Security and Unemployment

Executive Summary: The best solutions to America’s economic woes and political gridlock won’t be found in the nation’s capitol.  We must return to our roots, where family, neighbors, church and community provided shelter from financial storms and health crises.  The road to fiscal redemption begins at your doorstep.

There are all manner of proposals, schemes, social engineering programs and wishful thinking being weighed as possible government responses to the seemingly unsolvable financial problems our nation faces.

Depressing economy newsOur economy wobbles on the edge of a second recession.

Unemployment refuses to yield despite trillions of dollars of taxpayer-funded stimulus.

The words default and U.S. debt – once unthinkable in the same sentence – now harmonize with alarming regularity and require an Atlas-like effort to keep hoisting our nation’s debt ceiling higher and higher.

As for the government programs designed to safeguard the health and financial security of our senior citizens, they have been unmasked as Ponzi schemes so massive that Bernie Madoff’s multi-billion dollar Wall Street fraud is really but a drop in the bucket by comparison.

To whom do we turn to lead us out of this mess?  The President?  The leaders of the House and Senate?

[Read more…] “A Do-It-Yourself Fix For The Economy, Deficit, Social Security and Unemployment”

Turn Off the News and Ignore the Economic Naysayers: You Are Not a Statistic

The numbers alone can be overwhelming.

Everyday, we are bombarded by news reports – and those who parrot them – reminding us of how dire our economic circumstances are.

Daily Reminders

Consider how demoralizing it is to be constantly reminded that your chances of finding employment – or holding onto the job you still have – dwindles if you have outdated skills, live in certain regions of the country, belong to specific ethnic groups, or have passed your 40s?

Look at the high percentage of fellow citizens who are out of work, or awash in credit card debt, or underwater on their home mortgage, or reliant on food stamps, or lacking adequate health insurance, or holding too little savings (especially if they lose their jobs or face a crisis), or likely will have to live as paupers in retirement.

If you fall into some or any of these categories, why even bother to get up in the morning?  After all, your fate is not your own. You are but a leaf on a raging river, being carried along by forces too strong to resist.

Although millions of Americans, sadly, do subscribe to such can’t-do thinking – and no doubt money misery does enjoy plenty of company – these “helpless” victims of the economy are absolutely wrong.

They are not a statistic and should never think of themselves as such

They are individuals, blessed with free will and living in a country where opportunity remains one of our most abundant natural resources.

Proud Americans
We can heal what ails our country’s economy – beginning one citizen at a time

Personal creativity, willpower, persistence and a commitment to do whatever it takes to succeed are far more reliable social safety nets than unemployment insurance, supplemental nutrition assistance (food stamps), Medicaid or Social Security.  Moreover, they are all well within our absolute individual control.

If you (or a family member, friend or neighbor) are out of work, your unemployment rate is 100%.  If you find a job, or create one for yourself, your unemployment rate drops to zero.

It really doesn’t matter what percent of the population was in the same boat with you when you determined to place your fate squarely in your own hands.

What matters is your commitment and diligent efforts to get out of the boat on your own and serve as a shining example of how others can follow your lead.

We can heal what ails our country’s economy – beginning one citizen at a time.

Some Common Sense Thoughts on the Need for a Declaration of Financial Independence

Executive Summary: Given the poor track record of the government and private sector when it comes to safeguarding the financial security of Americans, the authors propose a Declaration of Financial Independence in which individual citizens pledge to take responsibility for their own lifelong financial well being.

Americans need a financial revolution in 2011 as surely as we needed a political revolution in 1776.

Our system of earning, saving and investing money simply is broken.  It relies way too heavily on the tag team of government and mega-banks and financial institutions, and way too little on the self-reliance and individualism that made our nation great.

The federal government, by every reasonable standard, has proven to be a poor steward of our money and financial security.

The lockbox that was supposed to be Social Security – with Uncle Sam holding our funds – repeat, “our” funds – for us, turns out to be a thinly veiled Ponzi scheme that is rapidly draining to insolvency.  Ditto Medicaid.

It was the circus-like policies of the government-backed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that led directly to the housing crash in 2008 and turned the American Dream – owning one’s own home – into a financial nightmare for tens of millions of us.

The federal government poured close to $600 billion taxpayer dollars into the bailout of unstable private businesses, including AIG, Bank of America, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, General Motors, etc. – rather than permit the free market to right its own wrongs.

[Read more…] “Some Common Sense Thoughts on the Need for a Declaration of Financial Independence”

How Everyone Can Love Paying Bills and Taxes: No, We’re Not Crazy!

A core tenet of the Bank on Yourself Nation is that money should always bring pleasure or satisfaction, never regret or guilt.

overwhelmed by bills

For so many people, that principle seems unrealistic, especially considering how very hard it is most months just to stay afloat – paying for necessities such as groceries, medicines, utilities, transportation, insurance and the like.  Oh yes, let’s not forget the always hungry tax monster!

overwhelmed by bills

Seems to so many of us that our paychecks are swallowed whole by our obligations before we ever get the chance to even sample the flavor of having some accumulated cash in our pockets and bank accounts.

To which we can only respond… how wonderful!

Wonderful? Really? Paying Bills! And Taxes?”

Absolutely.

[Read more…] “How Everyone Can Love Paying Bills and Taxes: No, We’re Not Crazy!”