#newyear #happynewyear #jointheride

The new year is coming this week. Do you know where you are?

Not your precise location, but where you are in life?

Better yet, do you know where you want to be? Is where you are en route to where you want to be, or are you currently off course, or lost?

If you’re off course, or lost, do you know what you need to do to get back on course? Do you see yourself never knowing where you are going, or even where you want to go?

Let’s start where you are, because it’s really the only place to start from.

If you are young, say 20-something, or 30-something, you are probably en route to somewhere. Do you have an idea of your ultimate destination? Your destination is all that’s important, because you’ll undoubtedly hit some bumps in the road, or turns that will get you off course. If you know that, you’ll know what you have to do to get back on course.

If you are fortunate enough to have a smooth ride to your ultimate destination, great. Chances are, though you won’t, so plan on unexpected diversions.

One way to combat diversions is to form good habits. If you like gooey desserts or snacks, forgo one a week. If you buy a cup or two of coffee a day, consider cutting out one or two a week. Better yet, make your own coffee at home and bring it with you. Same with any meals you might eat at work.

However you do it, figure out the money you are saving and PUT IT AWAY into a safe investment. Do the same with any raises you get at work, though these days, raises are scarce. Don’t touch what you’ve saved.Let it grow.

You’ll be surprised at how much money you’ll have at, say, age 50.

If you’ve reached 50 or higher, time is not on your side. But those same llitle things can still help you. Keep in mind, though that there are many vehicles out there that might help you make up lost ground. For one of the best, visit www.bign.com/pbilodeau. Younger folks, too, may find a way to get to their destinations faster by exploring this option.

So take the time to figure out where you are, where you want to go and how you are going to get there.

Consider being an entrepreneur. For a good manual on how to do that, check out Darren Hardy’s book, “The Entrepreneur Roller Coaster.”

Regardless of what you do, plan for obstacles, but know your destination. And, know what you need to do to get there.

Happy New Year!



#holidaystress #celebrations #holidays #Christmas
No matter which holiday you celebrate this time of year, make sure you celebrate and have fun.
Often, though, this time of year is one of stress and, as Gregg Steinberg, professor of human performance at Austin Peay University in Tennessee calls them, “irrational thoughts.”
Steinberg, who discussed this in a column in the Dec. 21, 2014, edition of the Tennessean newspaper in Nashville, says we often feel that the pressure is on us to be perfect. We have to cook the perfect holiday feast or keep that perfect holiday cheer.
Quoting famed psychologist Carl Jung, “Perfection belongs to the gods; the most we can hope for is excellence,” Steinberg writes.
Trying to be perfect during the holidays is impossible, causing us to suffer instead of feel joy, Steinberg writes.
In other words, feel the joy, love and other goodness of the season. Strive to make the celebration as good as it can be, without overthinking things. If you enjoy baking, go ahead, but don’t make it feel like a project. If you hate to bake, don’t. Leave it to those who love it. Or, if you must have baked goods around, attend one of the many holiday bake sales at churches, schools etc. If all else fails, buy what you like at the store and be done with it. Don’t stress about it.
Don’t agonize over that perfect gift for someone. Find what you think someone will like, buy it and give it to the person whenever you open gifts. Unless you love to spend hours shopping and fighting crowds – many people do – if you see something you think someone might like or use, grab it, pay for it at the checkout counter and go. Don’t add irrational stress to the holiday experience.
Here’s the tough part of keeping holidays joyful. At least for a while, forget about your troubles. Yes, that’s certainly easier said than done, especially if you have just lost a loved one and have had some financial hardships. In the latter case, just do what you can and don’t feel compelled to overspend. Those who love you would rather see you joyful than stressful. It doesn’t matter to them what you can or can’t afford.
How do you forget about your troubles if you are overwhelmed by them? Think about what is good in your life, and be grateful for those things. Focus on those things during this season. It will enhance your joy and reduce your stress.
Steinberg goes on to talk about irrational beliefs vs. realistic ones. He suggests making a list of all your beliefs that put pressure on you, and ask whether the beliefs are grounded in reality. In many cases, what you believe is true, or believe you must do, is based on opinion rather than fact. If such beliefs are hurting your performance, or causing you unhappiness, it’s time to find more rational beliefs, Steinberg writes.
Perhaps it may be time to check out something that could change your life. There are many things you may, or may not, be aware of that could turn you into a joyful person. For one of the best, visit www.bign.com/pbilodeau. You could find that fun way to relieve much of what stresses you.
Most importantly, have a joyful holiday season, and a prosperous new year. Examine your life and find out what is really important, and what is not. This should be a time of joy, not stress. It should be a time of celebration. Time with family, friends and life itself is certainly worth celebrating. Things don’t have to be perfect to be fun.
Enjoy. Celebrate. Live!


#officechairs #adjustablechairs #comfortablechairs
Life is like an adjustable office chair.
You get to your work station and adjust your chair until it’s perfectly comfortable for you and, of course, ergonomically correct.
As your work station changes, your chair changes. Or, if you keep your same comfortable chair, and your work station changes, you readjust the chair. Simple, right?
So why do many have so much trouble adjusting to life changes?
Sure, readjustments in life are not as simple as those for a chair.
Still, they have to be done.
How dare anyone take away the comfort of your chair?
To be sure, they can, and they will.
This thought about chairs and comfort beg another question: are you SO comfortable in that chair that you not dare give it up willingly, even if something better came along?
Yes, certain comforts can be inhibiting. Sometimes, risking potential discomfort can make one even more comfortable eventually.
So, as you sit in your perfectly adjusted chair, what are you feeling right now? Are you so content that you fear disrupting that comfort? Are you anxious that someone else may disrupt it, and you can’t stop him? Have you worn enough of the padding from the chair that you are aiming to retire to your rocking chair, with the attitude: time served? Or, are you restless, bored and/or frustrated?
If you are, or believe you might be, part of that latter group, visit www.bign.com/pbilodeau. You may see something you’ve never seen before, which could be uncomfortable. Or, you may see a potentially lucrative and fun new comfort zone.
Chairs, work stations and comforts can and will come and go. Just as you finally get comfortable in a new chair or work station, it could change. You have to decide whether the readjustments will be easy or hard. You have to decide that you will examine ALL adjustments before finding the right one.
Remember: life is an adjustable office chair. Find your comfort, realize it will be temporary and look for your next comfort zone.
May you not sit still as your chairs, or adjustments, change.


#ira #401(k), #retirement #savings
The share of American families that have IRAs or 401(k) retirement plans has spiraled down in the past decade, while the amount of assets in the accounts of people who have them has been climbing during that time.
So reported Tim Grant of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, quoting the Washington, D.C., based Employee Benefit Research Institute. It reported that the percentage of all families with an individual retirement plan, such as an IRA or 401(k), decreased from 52.8 percent in 2001 to 48.2 percent in 2013.
“For many families, individual account retirement plan savings constitute most of whatever financial assets they have,” Grant quotes Craig Copeland, senior research associate at EBRI.
The bevy of concerns these numbers produce is staggering. What will happen to fewer than 50 percent of the 76 million Baby Boomers, who for the next 18 years will be turning 65 at a rate of 8,000 a day? Grant quotes Thomas Mackell, former chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank in Richmond, Va., who believes many people are unable to save for long-term financial needs because U.S. wages have gone down, not up.
Yet, Grant quotes Mackell, those who have had the ability to save for retirement have benefited from a rising stock market.
Certainly, during the recent Great Recession, many have tapped into their retirement plans early, just to survive. But, they will pay a potentially huge price for that decision down the road.
When one is in middle age and loses a job, and can’t readily find another – or at least one that pays as well as the one he lost – he can feel very desperate. Not only has he lost current income, he potentially has lost the pension he was counting on. Social Security alone isn’t going to provide anyone with a good retirement.
If you are feeling desperate and are tempted to liquidate your retirement savings, stop! Get some financial counseling. Find a way to get through your rough times without sacrificing your future.
Remember, people are living longer. Retirement periods are lasting longer. Don’t let your money run out before you die.
Fortunately, for as many concerns about retirement savings that the ERBI numbers raise, there are many solutions as well. There are many ways to make a potentially great income that have nothing to do with traditional employment. For one of the best, visit www.bign.com/pbilodeau.
Not every income solution is for everyone, so examine them with care. But don’t shy away from looking if you believe you have to dip into your retirement savings early.
If you are young, start an IRA or 401(k) immediately. If you can, contribute the maximum amount you are allowed to. It wouldn’t hurt to check out other income streams, too, because even if you have a great job now, don’t expect it to be there for your lifetime.
Most of all, as we plunge headlong into the holiday season, first and foremost, be grateful for the good things you have in your life. If you are having financial issues, don’t hesitate to ask for – and look for — help. Don’t do anything rash with your money. Think not only about today, but the many years you potentially have left to live.
It’s not good to solving a financial problem today by messing up your financial future. The “help” you thought you were going to get in your elder years may not be there when you need it. YOU have to act, and the sooner, the better.
Live as well as you can for as long as you can. Remember, everything in life is about your choices. Choose wisely.


#cheapoil #OPEC #gasprices

The elements of an improving economy may not be obvious to everyone.
But the shrinking price of gasoline certainly is.
In fact, gasoline is as cheap as it has been in many years.
Why is it so cheap and how long are these prices expected to last?
On Thanksgiving Day 2014, OPEC (the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) decided not to cut crude oil production to raise prices.
On top of that, the United States, Canada and other regions are producing more oil, according to an article by Rick Jervis for USA Today. His article appeared in the Tennessean newspaper in Nashville Nov. 23, 2014, prior to the OPEC meeting on Thanksgiving.
Jervis’ article pointed out that while OPEC could still influence the oil market, it doesn’t have as much clout as it did years ago. In fact, a decision by OPEC – whatever that was – would have made the front page of every U.S. newspaper years ago. On Friday, newspapers ran the story but most ran it on the inside, or on the front of the business section.
Sure, we are loving paying less at the pump. It’s real money going back into our pockets. Still, the oil industry doesn’t like these low prices. OPEC was between a rock and a hard spot. If it cut production to raise prices, it would encourage more oil exploration in the United States and elsewhere. Getting oil out of the shale and tar sands of North Dakota and Texas, though it has been a blessing for us consumers, is still more expensive than getting it out of the deserts of the Middle East.
The lower prices are discouraging more exploration here and, as Jervis’ article pointed out, OPEC was keenly aware of that. The oil industry is not in business to give us cheap gasoline, though that has been the result of alternative oil sourcing.
Another big bonus for the United States is that it is not so reliant on countries who may not like us much. Though any new skirmish in the Middle East could send oil prices soaring again, it would also encourage more exploration here.
Also, we are using less oil and gasoline here. Vehicles are more fuel efficient. Many vehicles are only partially fueled by gasoline. Some vehicles are not fueled at all by gasoline. Less demand keeps prices down.
And, as The New York Times recently reported, alternative fuels, such as wind and solar power, are becoming nearly as cost-effective as coal and natural gas. That will trend well toward keeping oil and gasoline prices down.
In the last several years, many of us have been hurt by a troubled economy. We’ve been hurt so badly that we don’t see what’s good about today’s economy.
What should we do? First, put the money you are saving at the gas pump into a savings vehicle. It will take you a while to see financial recovery that way, but it would be a start.
Second, if you truly aren’t feeling the good economy, check out the many other ways there are to make money outside of a job. For one of the best, visit www.bign.com/pbilodeau. You’ll find average people making above-average incomes, and helping others do the same.
Just because you can’t see everything happening in the economy doesn’t mean they aren’t happening. The gasoline prices are obvious to all of us. The rising stock market may not be obvious to all.
The lesson for all of us is to be optimistic about the future. Don’t let the naysayers tell you we are heading for hell in a hand basket. The future looks bright. And, you can make your own future bright by taking action you may never have thought of taking. Go for it! You won’t know what there is to gain until you look for it.