Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Are YOU a Hoarder? Are You Sure? (Part IV of a Four Part Series)

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Is it Hoarding or Energy Management?

We contend that to maintain life we have to expend energy.  Sustaining our lives requires either the expenditure of our own energy or the energy of others.  By what right can we expect others to supply our energy needs in the present or in the future?

Successful living is about managing energy wisely and successful living is largely within the eye of the beholder. You know…different strokes for different folks.  It isn’t our desire to determine what success is for others, individually or collectively, but rather our desire is to determine what success means to us.

What is the answer to the topical question…Are YOU a Hoarder? Are You Sure?  Drum roll please.  The answer is - we ALL are hoarders.  We hoard energy in various forms and combinations.  We can hoard the derivatives of our energy manifested in the form of money or supplies gleaned from our “hard work in the garden” and we can hoard our energy in the form of leisure.  So, it is not a matter if we hoard, but rather what we hoard. What do you hoard?

Since the modern day usage of the word “hoarding” has been skewed somewhat, from its original meaning, we believe a less offensive and more accurate label to describe the concept of putting away nuts for the winter might be called energy management.

Think of energy management in terms familiar to pilots of aircraft.  The pilot spends fuel (energy) to achieve altitude (a form of stored energy).  Stored energy, in the form of altitude, is precious to a pilot as that stored energy can be used sparingly, in an engine out scenario, to glide to a safe landing.  The pilot, at altitude, has hoarded an extra margin of energy that translates to an extra margin of safety and peace of mind.

Is the pilot who hoards energy, in the form of altitude, and who prefers an extra margin of peace of mind for himself and an extra margin of safety for his passengers exhibiting a lack of faith in God or is he just showing gratitude for the innate reasoning ability God gave him?  Would you want to entrust your life to the pilot who thinks God will bail them out of every stupid decision they make or would you prefer to entrust your life to the pilot who assumes full responsibility for their risk profile and acts responsibly in mitigating, to the highest degree professionally possible, the inherent risks associated with that activity?

Everyone, without exception, hoards something.  If we value leisure, we hoard our energy.  If we value putting away nuts for the winter, we spend our present energy for future leisure when nut gathering isn’t feasible.  If we value our leisure time and nut gathering, we delicately balance the two objectives.

There is nothing inherently wrong with either hoarding energy, in the form of leisure, or hoarding nuts.  The issue of morality only comes into play when we attempt to misappropriate someone else’s stored nuts by stealing them directly or through political or religious proxy.  The issue of envy and covetousness comes into play when we feel entitled to the energy of others or the derivatives of their energy (their property).  When the entitlement mindset morphs into quasi-theft, with institutions serving as brokers of goods appropriated from the productive to supply to those who worship leisure, a form of slavery begins to emerge.  In the extreme, the productive cease to produce because they are disincentivized and society soon implodes on itself.

As hoarders of energy, in one form or another, we get to choose the financial altitude we fly at and the corresponding margin of financial safety that suits our individual preferences and risk profile.  Some may be quite content to fly low and slow on the edge of the performance envelope, with little room for error, while others may seek more certainty, more peace of mind, and a greater margin of financial safety for themselves and those they care about.

We also, in addition to answering the title question about whether or not you are a hoarder, promised to answer the question of how we know when enough is enough when saving for retirement.

If we keep moving our target goals out further, in time, or to a particular financial figure, are we showing a lack of faith in God?  Should we just take a leap of faith?  In a nutshell, enough savings for retirement is reached at whatever point we can sleep with our decision after carefully evaluating the constantly changing dynamics going on in the world around us.  Are we paying attention to what is going on around us and around the world?  It does matter.

Should we put our faith in government and religious institutions to help us make this most critical decision?  Did THEY see the current financial disaster coming or are they now scrambling for liquidity like everyone else?  If they didn’t see the financial disaster coming, why would we trust them to show us the way out of the financial calamity?

If we make the wrong decision, will we expect to be bailed out of our mistake by someone else?  And, by what right can we expect to be bailed out by others when we know we have no right to anyone else’s energy?  Isn’t our energy representative of life itself?  By what perverted logic would anyone assume to have the right to someone else’s life?

If we’ve carefully considered these questions and can sleep soundly with the answers, retirement is no longer a far off dream. The time for retirement is now.

This was a fun series to write and we hope you enjoyed it and found value in it.

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