You Gotta Have a Plan

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How that is some people can retire at 50? Or not lose their shirt when there's a stock market "crash"?

Why are some people able to earn high incomes or even have "multiple streams of income?

How come some people retire to a life of luxury and world travel, while others barely have enough to feed and house themselves?

Of course, one part of it the answer is that some people are more intelligent and industrious than others. No matter what anyone says, we are not all the same. We may have been created equal, but no one has ever guaranteed us equality of results. That depends on our own efforts.

Another part of the answer is that some people consider the risks they will face and do something before they occur to mitigate the damages. One obvious way of doing this is by buying the proper kinds and amount of insurance to protect your home, health and life -- if you have an income stream to protect.

Less obvious, but still a very helpful plan is to become an expert at whatever you choose to do -- to make yourself indispensable to your employer.

If you work for yourself, you want to be the best at whatever it is you're doing, from practicing medicine to baking bread. You also have to have the will to persevere and work long hours at making yourself a success.

Yet another part of the answer is having a plan. Some people get up in the morning and let events carry them along through their day. Others plan what they will do with their life and stick to it.

They will learn about investments and how to diversify, so that when one asset goes down another holds its own or goes up. Or they will hire financial profesionals to do the work for them.

They save as much money as possible, using every tax sheltered vehicle allowed, including 401-K's, IRA's, Health Savings Plans and 529 educational savings plans. And then they will invest even more in taxable accounts.

They live well within their means. Some like Warren Buffet, one of the world's richest men, lives well under theirs. They will use credit judiciously or not at all.

Successful people will invest in businesses, rental real estate or work part time, while maintaining their full time job just so they have many streams of income. If one is lost, their world does not come to an end.

Many people play the lottery and hope they will strike it rich. The sad fact is that many think this is the only way get rich. But anybody with the will can find the way.

Our public libraries are filled with books on how to invest, how to insure yourself, how to set up a financial plan or how to open and run a business.

Many employers have tuition reimbursement plans -- they will pay your way if you want to better yourself. Or community colleges offer free adult education courses to help you learn new skills or improve on the old.

The internet now makes it easy to set up an online business while you continue with your day job.

The bottom line is you have to rely on yourself to earn and save as much as possible. If you do you can be one of the "lucky" ones who retire young with lots of money to spend.

If you don't you'll be living hand to mouth on your Social Security check.

The choice is yours.