U.S. flags adorn the facade of the New York Stock Exchange early Tuesday morning Jan. 22, 2008. U.S. stock futures seesawed Tuesday after the Federal Reserve, responding to a growing financial market crisis, slashed interest rates 0.75 percentage point.(AP Photo/Richard Drew)

The American Benefits Association was convened to review the systematic problems in the Society regarding Pensions, Healthcare, Retirement Plans, and Stock Market Options.  It was widely taught and accepted to pursue employment with companies that offer decent benefits to include affordable healthcare, stock options, and retirement plans, but many businesses fall short in employing qualified and educated human resource professionals.

Companies and its employees often suffer if they do not make good decisions in selecting healthcare plans.  This coupled with placing the retirement responsibility onto an individual and a group of uneducated employees is a cause for what could potentially be America’s greatest financial disaster.  It’s simple enough to ask Americans to invest in long term retirement plans in the stock market to promise a secure retirement, along with insurance in event of an early accident, sickness, or death, but many do not follow this advice due to a volatile and complicated, unpredictable market.  In basic terms, the stock market is complicated and many hold the belief they will not suffer an accident or sickness until after their retirement years, even if they have a high risk lifestyle of jumping out of airplanes, snow skiing in the alps every year, or something even as simple as a high risk pregnancy or complicated childbirth.  Many don’t plan for lawsuits and the stress that positions in industry or government offers and need to be educated on more than just healthcare.  Companies fall very short in this educational endeavor and with the widespread concerns of predatory lending and buying, employees are left directionless with many not willing to invest or play the game due to high interest rates and minimal promise of return.

Retirement Planning in itself starts with a clear set of career goals where many American’s are left to make decisions on their own, adding stress to not only the retirement and healthcare system, but also employees and the companies supporting them.  The common advice back in the 80s was to find a company that offers good benefits and to stay with them for a twenty or thirty year career, but that trend has changed.  Many want to widen their experience of the Americas System to truly grasp the nature of Social Security, Disability, and the Financial System which requires making a few decisions which could result in larger payoffs, but at the end of the day the advice remains the same:  Invest Early in a diverse portfolio to save money when you no longer work (aka. Retirement), ensure you have a decent healthcare plan with your chosen company, and manage finances for the future and not for the circumstances of today.   It’s a concept of Not Living for Today, but for Tomorrow.  With such a high level of consumerism, the thing that actually drives the economy, citizens fail because we want what we want and we don’t want to have to wait.  If the Financial System is based upon buying, selling, and building and citizens focus on saving money, it doesn’t necessarily stop economic growth, but changes the where and when the money can be found and multiplied.  It’s like deciding I’m going to enjoy my 20s and 30s with new cars, travel, entertainment, designer wear and accessories and dial it back in my later years, spending later on mortgages and living expenses since market conditions made buying a home unaffordable.

For example, if I were a citizen who put my money into the stock market on a regular basis versus consumerism, then I’m banking on an ideal that I must suffer in material satisfaction in the here and now, deferring enjoyment of nice clothing, houses, cars, and vacations when I’m in my 40s and 50s, assuming I’m making these decisions in my 20s.  As an investor, I have to just hope and pray my dollar is well preserved, my stock options are sound, and my return can be realized at some point.  It only takes a few bad leaders, financial crisis’ and war to destroy this, leaving American Citizens in ruin and for me, it actually turned out that way.

Personally, as a 20 year old, I educated myself on retirement plans, investing in the stock market, planning careful career decisions, making strategic moves to increase my earnings and lower my expenses, as well as improving my work experience and satisfaction, but a legal and healthcare crisis was presented, causing a major setback in life, prosperity, and pursuit of happiness, leaving a very grim future of financial and emotional ruin since health and happiness go hand in hand.  The common advice was to go to college, invest in your future, buy a home, and start a family, but since those steps took place in the wrong order, in a broken system with ill-equipped participants, I found myself homeless and forced to rely on another broken system called Social Security.

It was often referred to as “Planning for Early Retirement,” when really it’s called “Planning Early for Retirement.”  The financial strategy being taught by people like Suze Orman and other financial advisers was to set a financial goal to retire early and quit working, enjoy life as a millionaire, and vacation in other countries.  Looking back on this, I laugh because if I did that, I would have to work for 25 years, live conservatively from paycheck to paycheck and hope the system improved and didn’t crash as it had before, while managing the risk that Social Security would not be available and would not be enough in my future.  My mindset of course, was that I would not get injured, would have ample job satisfaction and would make good life decisions.

With Media Propaganda such as the Previous Stock Market Crash, the current Real Estate Crisis/Crash, the threat of not having Social Security and the conflicting idea of Living in the Moment vs coming up with a 10 year plan to secure ALL of America’s future, I found myself a bit frustrated not only by the poverty, but also sickness, war, and what came to be, personal famine.  After the forced Healthcare crisis came along, I found myself in UTTER disgust and dismay at America’s Financial System.

What is more funny is the ideal that I was being sold financial products with a hidden message of putting me out of work early when I was a type of woman that could see working well into my 60s or 70s.  At the age of this presentation, I was not considering building a fortune 500 company or even working for one, so I was unable to grasp the concept of a wealthy financial future, but the idea of becoming an early millionaire sounded appealing.  While many adaptable investment options were provided depending upon my financial goals, the promise of stable market was not.

I bought my first retirement plan in my 20s, before I made the decision to leave the United States Military.  I was offered it by a young woman who was an independent saleswoman for a Retirement Company who gladly took the time to educate me and put together a decent plan.  Internally, I bought into it to help her earn a commission, but really, I purchased financial education, which resulted in a savings plan with early termination penalties.  My first investment was somewhat of a financial loss, just as my first job after leaving the military, but the educational reward made it a win.

I wonder what would’ve happened if I did not purchase this plan and had not been informed of Stocks, Bonds, and Mutual Funds.  I was very impressed by the system, the saleswoman, and the industry itself; so much so, that I considered making it my career, especially after watching a movie, seeing the excitement on the trading floor, and meeting a young woman who was a successful stock broker.  They too had reported their career required a major time investment, with higher earnings early on, provided they  made sound investment decisions and were trusted and empowered by the clients.  Later, I learned of a few people in this career field became corrupt, predatory, sneaky in their presentation and investment strategy, and some buyers and sellers ultimately committing suicide because of one single bad investment or being sold what I call “Crapwear.”  The financial industry became corrupt, driven by dirty sales tactics because it was a commission based structure leaving much room for bloodthirsty people to engage in unethical and criminal activity.

I was greatly disgusted by the lack of regulation, complication, and criminal susceptibility in the financial and real estate market so I chose not to play and am forced to live in poverty.  Looking at these systems as a whole, I see America too has been greatly damaged.

I’m in my 40s now, disabled, forced to live on $1000 per month, and not coincidentally, is the same amount of money I thought I’d require to survive on in San Diego as a stock broker.  Had rental prices, healthcare costs, and the cost of smoking not increased, it would’ve been, but just surviving is not the goal.  I knew then when I came up with that figure, it would not be enough, I was estimating very low, and realized, I could survive on a minimum of $3000 per month, with the idea that anything above and beyond that would be earned through hard work and determination provided I worked for a sound company with the right tools, access to potential customers, decent training and I and America did not suffer from an illness.  Initially, I thought working on a commission based structure alone was too risky, but if with a base salary, it could be an exciting and unpredictable career – much like the stock market itself.

During this planning stage, companies came forward to offer Legal Protections at a regular monthly cost, healthcare options, retirement plans and investment strategies, but they seemed to offer a doomsday approach, leaving a young woman in her twenties to feel it would be financially impossible to buy a home, build a family, and work in an unpredictable career.  With the chances of being fired for making bad decisions, working under bad leaders, purchasing the wrong plan or not purchasing a plan leaves one fearful of the future, planning for disaster, rather than success.

All of this propaganda, in fact, led to a lawsuit, illness, and inability to thrive financially.  Looking back I wonder what went wrong.  I’d like to be able to just say it was my own bad financial planning, but really it was the State of America and its poor systems that created the sickness and poverty.

Purchasing Legal Protection would not have saved me from being forced to pay a lawyer $350 per hour over a course of 2 years and not cashing in a mutual fund early to move out of a high cost region would not have prevented the unfair treatment and violation of human rights that took place.  My financial and retirement system was in tact, but the Legal System was broken, leading to a great financial emotional near fatal disaster.

I had hoped to pursue higher education to improve that system, but life choices prevented this.  I was just accepted to law school and in a position to pay for it financially, using my invested GI Bill, but was forced to learn it on the job, performing as my own lawyer; ultimately losing in the battle due to the lack of time and inability to work as a Project Manager in California’s Capitol City, a Family Law Lawyer, and new Mother.  In this process, I found another broken system or two and threw up my hands and quit.

I was in shock.

By Savvy