I’m your client and I’m in a dilemma. I need some hard answers. It always seems that the more uncertain the times, the more certainty I demand from you. I apologize. I know that’s not fair, but that’s the way it is. As my CPA, you are the trusted family advisor and I am going to lean on you for answers.

Here’s my dilemma. I don’t have enough money to retire. I used to. Or, at least, I thought I did. No more. I now have a huge shortfall and I don’t know what to do about it.

Look, I’m not trying to get rich. I’m just afraid of being poor. My 85-year-old golfing buddies are running out of money. In fact, too many of them are poor. When these guys retired, $40,000 was a good income. That may have sounded large in 1989. I don’t remember. I know it’s not large in 2009. It’s less than $800 a week.

I’m guessing my friends didn’t expect to live this long. I know for a fact they never expected to pay $50 to gas up their cars. I’ve got friends earning $4,000 per month paying $2,500 a month for medicine. Since these guys have retired, prices have almost tripled and their incomes have remained constant. A Florida condo may sound nice on paper, but it’s a lousy place to be trapped.

So, please, tell me. How do I make up this shortfall? Don’t tell me I’ve got to do something. I know that. But what do I do? That’s the problem. The system is broken. Everything drilled into my head as investment gospel is apparently untrue.

I can’t simply save and make up this shortfall. Nobody can. I have to invest. I used to like the stock market. At least it allowed me to diversify. I don’t trust it anymore. What about gold? Is it too high? I like real estate, but it’s not very liquid. Should an individual investor be playing around with oil futures? I need some hard answers.

I know that conversation is playing itself out in your office and offices like yours all across the country, and I know that it’s not fair to you. But as the trusted family advisor, you’ve got to be the source of encouragement. Simply put, you’ve got to be at your strongest when you are no doubt at your most uncertain. Clients don’t see you up at three o’clock in the morning, drinking milk, doubting yourself. They see you as a beacon of anti-stress.

As well, clients need the relationship now more than ever. They need your wisdom and they need you to be strong. We all need someone to lean on.

And all that begs a question. Who motivates you? Or, more precisely, how do you motivate yourself?

Here are a few suggestions.

Be uncool. It’s now cool to be negative. Mainstream media is passing off character assassination as objective reporting. Our beliefs, our values and our morals are derided on television and in Hollywood. Get high on America and her prospects for the future. To quote Charles Kuralt: “It does no harm just once in a while to acknowledge that the whole country isn’t in flames, that there are people in the country besides politicians, entertainers and criminals.”

Stand tall. Say no to the obsession with self. It’s time that your clients decided between their needs and their wants.

And stay away from negative people. Let the other guy decide to be negative. You decide to be positive. Enthusiasm is passion and passion is contagious. Your clients will love you for it. I know. I am a client.

Don Connelly is the founder of Don Connelly & Associates and has lectured tens of thousands of financial services professionals and investors.


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