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If you are like me, you are looking at your parent’s generation, the generation just after them, and at your own and wondering what the hell went wrong. Our parents are going broke in the market. For those that got to retire, they moved to their retirement spot, built their house, and settled in. They figured that their half a million in cash with a 6% return would provide them with a nice little life and someday their children will get a little boost.

Then, the market went bad.

The 6% went to 1% and the vacation lifestyle went out the window. Suddenly, they needed to dip into the principal (which is really bad) or go back to work.

For those that haven’t retired, the market stole 30% to 70% of what they had saved. The dream of being done in a year or two went out the window. Suddenly, traveling and paying for their children’s college careers went out the window.

Things had to go.

Those in their 40s are looking at working until their 70 or older. Some are even still paying their own school loans.

The American dream has lost its luster.

So where does that leave those of us from 39 down to 19? Are we just going to work until we die — at these long hours in companies we don’t care about? Will we continue to do this all while saving our pennies for a Caribbean cruise that makes 7 days a year worth getting up for? Are we stuck being our parents having to go back to work — seeing our life savings get ripped away by the super wealthy who want to pad their own retirement plans?  That choice is up to you.

If you’re under 40, you have a chance to change your course. You can begin by building real wealth that you control and manage — or you can leave it to everyone else. Just remember: I have never met anyone that cares about my future more than I do.

In today’s world, there are only a few people who haven’t been destroyed by the markets. Those are people who invested in real estate. Stop laughing. Yes, I read the reports, but remember that the housing disaster dealt with people who bought personal homes and second homes.

It didn’t involve people who bought cheap homes and rented them out.

Each month, these landlords go around to their mailbox and open it up to find a stack of checks. When everyone is losing their homes, these landlords are putting a “For Rent” sign out to find a line of people waiting. If you want to create financial freedom for yourself, the rules of the game haven’t changed. Save, invest in tangible items, and grow.

The year 2000 brought in the get-rich-quick dreams of overleveraging, easy money, and big dreams. It ended the same way as all get-rich-quick schemes do — back to the poor house.

It is hard work, late nights, and steadiness that change your future. I can’t tell you that you will be 35 sitting in a penthouse with an ocean view or 55 waving from your yacht.

Yet, when the world crashes, you will be thankful for the life boat.

Anna Domzalski is a staff writer for the Financial Bin. Anna will soon begin her role as Dean of Financial Bin University and will conduct online budgeting classes beginning in February 2012. She can be reached via email at [email protected].
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