08/14/2013 06:10 pm ET Updated Oct 14, 2013

Is Time Running Out to Take Control of Your Financial Future?

At about 30-years-old I started to notice that my birthdays seemed to arrive faster. Once I crossed 40, they hit breakneck speed. Have you ever experience this?

Why do the birthdays just seem to keep coming faster? Chances are it has to do with "expectation" and "reflection." You think about things that are important to you with a sense of expectation. Then after they happen, you look back at them.

When I was a kid, I looked forward to things like Christmas or getting out of school for summer vacation. They always seemed to be light years away. Then, when they finally did arrive, they were gone and over in a flash.

Once summer vacation was over or New Year's Day had passed, my waiting for them again was filled with what seemed to be agonizing expectation. Each next important event seemed to be incredibly far away. At the same time, I would regularly look back on such events and my perception would be that happened "so long ago!" My guess is you experience the same thing.

Let me try and prove it to you.

Think about your first love, your first kiss, getting your driver's license, your first job, etc. When you were in front of all those events, they may have seemed hopelessly far in the future. However once you achieved them, they quickly retreated into the past.

The older you get, the more mileposts you have to look back on. That's likely why they seem to speed past so far and so fast. For me, the calendar is racing ahead. It seems as if there is never enough time to get everything done and the situation only gets worse.

When it comes to birthdays, I'm very conscious that "50" is creeping up on me faster than a NASCAR event. If you have already crossed the half century mark, you are surely spending some of your mental energy entertaining the "expectation" of retirement. Personally, I love what I do so much, that the thought of retirement doesn't sit well with me. I imagine myself continuing to do what I do until I drop dead at the ripe old age of 120.

However, I realize two truths; first, I might change my mind. Second not everyone feels that way and as retirement age approaches, important financial and lifestyle decisions can seem to rush at you.

Common dilemmas may be the decision to downsize to a smaller home or move to a new location. Bigger concerns include being able to generate predictable retirement income, protecting your portfolio and doing some smart planning and anticipating each decision well in advance.

I've met too many people who had spent years making good decisions and then when the economy tanked in 2007, saw all their years of planning and preparation disappear or dramatically decrease. Whether we are thrust into dire circumstances or have slowly and silently just arrived there, the initial impulse is to panic. That won't help. Instead, take a few minutes from your busy life, and picture your retirement years in your mind.

  • Who are you with?
  • What kinds of things are you doing?
  • Where are you living?
  • How old are you?

Visualizing your retirement is an important first step toward achieving your dreams. The second step is accepting it will not just happen on its own. You need to dream it, plan for it, and then implement your plan.

So, how do you do that? You start by knowing your retirement income needs. Most experts agree that retirees will need about 80 percent of their pre-retirement income to live comfortably during retirement. If your annual salary before retirement is $80,000, your retirement income to continue the same standard of living would be $64,000. Whatever that number is for you, you have to ask yourself if you could live comfortably on that and how close will other factors bring you to that (such as a pension and/or Social Security).

Then the task becomes, where will the rest come from? If you're seriously behind on building your nest egg or if you don't foresee a time in the future where you will be able to stop working, then it might be time to get excited about real estate. Why do I say this? Well, real estate has always been an area where people can turn a little effort into a lot of profit. Whether it be from flipping houses, buying and creating cash flow from rental income, purchasing tax liens for high rates of return or wholesaling deals and making money in the middle, (a great technique for anyone who has little to no money to start with). Right now the real estate market nationwide is shifting and it is prime time for the everyday person to get their piece of it.

Real estate is my life, and with over 20 years of non-stop investing I've personally experienced that there is always a profitable strategy that fits the current market cycle. However, the massive spike in real estate, followed by the inevitable and dramatic crash, is setting up a solid rebound. I truly believe this is the greatest time for everyone who would like to secure a better future to get educated, learn from those who are doing it, and jump into real estate investing.

With the right knowledge and proper action, you can accumulate the money you will need and create an ongoing income -- but the time to start is now. As we start to slide past 50, the cost of waiting to can be much too high. So, while time continues to pass, you can still take action and take control of your financial future.

- Dean Graziosi

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