Sticking to Your Principles (and other life lessons)

LCC reader Ron emailed me recently about my post: “Should we hold all things in common?” He writes:

I share your opinion about Social Security. I was ordained into ministry in 1981 and, when given the opportunity, I opted out of Social Security. I tried to invest what I could through the years, for the last 16 years in hospital chaplaincy I have built up a little, but I never have been paid much of a salary. We put some of our pay into a 401k plan and had T. Rowe Price invest it. What I had in that account really took a hit in 08 and 09. So, now I’m 64 going on 65, and I have very very little to look forward to in retirement. The reality is, for my wife and I to live the next 15-20 years means I will just keep working if the hospital will let me. I’m OK with that, because I don’t really believe in “retirement” anyway. I guess I’m sharing this with you because I am finding out that its one thing to say you believe something and make a decision when you’re young. It’s another thing to live with the reality of the results when you have gotten much older and your health is declining.

It is somewhat sad to hear stories like this, but also heartening to hear about people willing to take total responsibility for their lives. There are definitely a few life lessons we can learn from Ron:

  1. Start saving early. When one cannot trust in Social “Security” and one is responsible for your own life, preparation is key. The market may be down now, but what if he had saved nothing at all?
  2. Never retire. Find something to do in life that will keep you growing, moving, learning, and earning. Ron is going to be set because he has something he loves to do and the will to keep doing it.
  3. Stick with the marketplace. Ron’s investments may be down now, but market fluctuation is a fact of life. Stay the course and remember that the market is very resilient.
  4. Stick with your principles, but know it won’t always be easy. Ron could have sold out long ago, but he remains steadfast and finds satisfaction there — that’s an honorable achievement.

The growth of virtue is a reward in itself. I hope you also are on a path onward and upward.