Americans abhor failure, or so we’ve been led to believe. I joined the U.S. military in the late 1990s and can remember the Zero Defect Mentality the post-Cold War peace dividend bred into our military leaders. While I would like to think the longest-running armed conflict in U.S. history (Afghanistan), and the most controversial since Viet Nam (Iraq), bled our military leadership dry of the Zero Defect Mentality, I’ve watched it slowly creep back into prominence since 2010.
My current Commanding Officer (CO) is an exception to that trend. He uses a term to describe his willingness to accept failure: Recoverable Training Failure. It essentially means he allows people to learn from their mistakes, as long as those failures are recoverable (i.e. no one died or was seriously injured). He’d rather people fail in a training environment, take the hard lessons learned, apply them, and succeed operationally when it matters most. It’s a combat veteran’s mentality and is a good leadership philosophy in my opinion.
Calculating Your Pension’s Worth … Ain’t Like Dusting Crops
Anybody else exhausted from Part 2 of the Pension Series? I know I am. At 3200+ words it wasn’t concise. Amongst all those words, you may remember my promise to help you determine your pension’s worth in future posts. Well, the future is now, or at least partially. Unlike Part 2 though, I intend to break up the discussion over the next several posts. How many? I don’t know yet; at least two, maybe more. Since calculating your pension’s worth is more of a “how to process”, I hope the articles don’t need to be overly verbose. I understand people don’t have time to read 3200+ word posts every week, and frankly, I don’t have the time to write them.
For this post, I will examine the three key inputs in determining your pension’s worth. I will also examine some of the basic mathematical formulas used to calculate your pension’s worth. I will keep it simple because I am not a math genius by any means (liberal arts major here!), and more than likely you are going to use a pension calculator to make the calculations anyway. However, you should understand the inputs and formulas because like Han Solo said in “Star Wars A New Hope”: Continue reading The Pension Series (Part 3): What is Your Pension Worth?
I’ll admit up front this article won’t be to everyone’s liking which probably isn’t a good way to start out a blog post if you want people to read it. However, there’s a likelihood that some readers will get no more than a few paragraphs in, and question what the hell any of this has to do with Financial Independence (FI) or pensions. They may even think all I’m trying to do is blow my own horn. I’m not, but I could see how it might appear that way if you don’t stick around to the end. Admittedly, I used this post as an opportunity to engage in some much-needed writing therapy. One of my Docs told me it would help to write about events from my career which contributed to my PTS. Thus, dealing with the topic of “worth vs. worth it” gave me the opportunity to kill two birds with one stone. I’ll leave the determination of whether I successfully pulled it off up to you. Continue reading The Pension Series (Part 2): Worth vs. Worth It
Over the past two work weeks, I’ve helped financially counsel a fellow officer whose residual financial issues from the Great Recession stood to impact their career. There we were, almost 10 years from the start of the downturn, looking at foreclosure documents starting in 2009. They’d settled the foreclosure within the last year, and the DoD wanted answers. In some ways, I could hardly believe it. In other ways, it was a sobering reminder about the lasting impact that event will have on American society for years, possibly generations, to come.
It also proved an interesting glimpse into another financial way a life. I found a life almost alien to me because decades ago my fellow officer chose to build wealth through rental properties. Despite my personal negative history with a 2004 property purchase (as related previously on this blog), I hold no strong opinions about those who choose property investment as a method for building wealth. If it works for them, that’s great. However, my comrade-in-arms had specifically chosen a highly leveraged method for acquiring rental properties. As I questioned them on the simple details they should’ve known from using this strategy, I quickly realized they lacked the acumen for it.
I just realized the serendipitous nature of the topic I chose for this Labor Day weekend’s post, which is pension safety. Of course, for my one international reader, I refer to U.S. Labor Day. Don’t confuse it with the rest of the world’s International Worker’s (Labour) Day, otherwise known as May Day. The U.S. celebrates its laboring workers in September due to May Day’s association with the Haymarket Affair and the Communist Party. There’s no way this Cold War kid would celebrate some Commie Red version of Labor Day. Of course, now I feel torn between shouting either “WOLVERINES!” or “YeehaaAAAWWW!” in homage to one of the two greatest Cold War movies of all time. I’ll let you decide which one is laced with more irony. (Grumpus Maximus is an Amazon Associate, see Disclosures for more details.)
Jokes aside, this article marks the start of a new series of posts centered on pensions. My choice of Labor Day weekend to begin this series, while fitting, was coincidental. In all honesty, I don’t plan that far in advance. I decided to write about pensions because I noticed that the blog’s kind of light on pension discussions. That’s not good for a blog “Where Financial Independence (FI) and Pensions Meet to Create a Better Retired Life”. Thus, I felt it was time to rectify that oversight. Continue reading The Pension Series (Part 1): Pension Safety