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‘Why Does Anyone Young Want to Elect Bernie Sanders for President?’ – Byline Times

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Bonnie Greer remembers her Baby Boomer past and wonders what happened to a healthy disrespect for your elders.

Many of us, what you would call ‘three score and ten’ and even more, are still doing the business. And this is good. I can say this because I’m in that category.

Many of my friends – and this happened a lot in the world of culture – did not make it to this point; did not make it out of their forties because of AIDS, drugs, all the tragedies of the 1970s and 80s. If you did, you live with that and it is part of your story forever. 

Maybe it gives you a kind of resilience, the fact that you survived. Maybe it gives you a kind of agency and a boldness, too. And there is this simultaneity of youth and age that has never happened to any human generation before. 

A friend of mine, now dancing around in her bovver boots and short skirt and safety pins in her ears, explained to me that she was having babies when Punk came around the first time. Her babies — now in their thirties — keep their counsel about mum’s ‘new look’. This is best. Because we cannot be stopped, we Baby Boomers. I’ve even done the Retro Punk thing a little bit, too, I must admit. I thought it was lame the first time around. So I get a do-over. Nice, huh?

Anyway, back when Punk first emerged, I was more New York “No New York”: austere, ‘smack’, ‘Low’, East/West Berlin/East Village thing. Punk just looked, well, too jolly. There were the ‘roubles then in Northern Ireland and the Recession in America. And also lots of coke, and smack.  If you were so inclined. Punk was an affectation. 

We looked at those younger, but we never looked to our elders. Quite the contrary. We did not see them as anything other than the opposite of what we wanted to be. “Hope I die before I get old” Roger Daltrey sang. And we all meant it. But, voila!  we’re still here.


Many of us Baby Boomers are the fruit of the cradle-to-grave service of the NHS.  And free university.  And going back and forth to the Continent if we wanted to. This is not to make our youth sound glorious. It was not. It is just to say that we made a cut-off:  the Wise Elders, were just that. Our elders. We respectfully listened. Sometimes. But usually did the opposite. 

Maybe that’s what you’re supposed to do when you’re young.  Maybe that’s what the definition of young is. But with many of the young no… it’s the opposite. This, to me,  is a bit worrying. For example, I ask myself the question: “Why does anyone young  want to elect Bernie Sanders President?”         

First,  let me be up front. I have nothing against socialism. Everything else has been tried and not been successful for the poor and working class.  So why not give socialism a go? 

Most Americans think that ‘socialism’ means communism, the fount of all evil. Communism in its purest form existed for about three weeks during the Paris Commune of 1871. The Commune put women at the heart of much of it, so no soul-searching about female leadership.  The women “manned” the cannon up at Montmartre. It was the women who held off the reactionary  forces of most of the rest of France, too.  But they were, for the most part, young and vigorous. The Parisians withstood a siege eating rats, the whole nine yards, because they had hope for the future. Because there was a  future. In their leaders.

And this, for me, is where Senator Bernie Sanders , Independent of Vermont and Democrat when he runs for President, comes in.          

Let me say upfront: if Bernie is the Dem nominee for President I’ll be out there banging the drum like everyone else. But, come on, what future is it with a pre-Baby Boomer:  a guy older than Joe Biden?  Older than Trump. Older than even me?

Being President ages you.  Look at Obama. Young People: Bernie had a heart attack. If I was his wife, I would never let him near a campaign trail.  To some this all may sound ageist. And all Americans have the right, maybe even the duty, to stand up and be counted against Donald Trump, the hero of Patrick Bateman, the killer in “American Psycho.” 

In some ways, Bernie is a kind of hero. He’s out there. But believe this:  Bernie ‘The Socialist’ is a gift to Trump. He is the candidate he dreams about. Because if Bernie Sanders wins the Democratic Party nomination for President, Christmas comes early for our current “Twitler”.


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Cubicle Cultures

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At 48, I feel a bit old for a career change but so many people do it. I've read tons of articles and columns of how happy people are by eschewing corporate America, buying a cheap van, fixing it up, and hitting the road. Many of those stories don't give enough detail on how these "travelers" actually pay for all this which is why I call BS on most of them. But a bit of legwork finds that they had plenty of money in savings of one sort or another and, really, living in a van is a hell of a lot cheaper than a mortgage. These travelers discovered themselves and realized what makes them happy. Most literally moved into industries they've always wanted, ie information technology (IT), creative, or whatever. A great many of them are close to my age, albeit usually younger, and just roll with it.

I'm not risk averse at all so a career change would be healthy for my psyche. My wife is risk averse. I mean REALLY risk averse. Her side of the discussion is: we make a great living, live in a wonderful home, and want our kids to have a place they know will always be there for them. She's pragmatic and convinces me to stay put to look for alternative solutions and she's right.

I've been in IT for close 27 years and become the stereotype dinosaur. New technologies, fancy-shmancy programming languages, required certifications, and the list goes on, are of no interest to me. Leaving an industry that has treated me well with pay and benefits flies in the face of conventional wisdom. When I roll out of bed the first thing I think of is I don't want to go. To me, that's the sign that change is needed. But what would change really look like and what would I do to replace the generous income level I've enjoyed for almost three decades? Where would I even begin? What if it all fails? Those three questions are what I ask myself every single day without answering them.

In July of 2006 I was at my parents house and about to quit my job (it was at a podunk credit union with a field of membership no bigger than a parking lot). They told me they knew the branch manager of a rather large credit union and put her in touch with me. The credit union was in a hiring spree and IT was a big part of it. She bugged me for days asking if I had applied to any positions and I kept saying that I was not interested in IT work anymore yet the bugging continued. With two kids, little income, child support, and the worst health care benefits I've ever had, the bugging (which I did not realize years later that someone doing something nice for me) couldn't have come at a better time . Her bugging paid off in dividends I had never seen in my career and it was the right move. I've now been at that credit union for 11 years. However, pure burnout is also where I'm at, completely disenfranchised and ready for a very radical career change.

I had been off LinkedIn for about three years because I saw once that my company CIO and an assistant vice president in my chain of command had trolled my page with the latter wanting to connect. No. I immediately deleted my profile. It was creepy and I don't want my day gig in my personal life more than it is already. Plus I had a side hustle doing media work listed at the top of the page. That probably didn't look good to the chain of command. Not that they frown upon moonlighting but they may think that I don't respect the company enough to list it first. However, I was targeting customers that could benefit from my media services because that's what I wanted to do.

Fast forward 3 years. I'm coming back to life looking for my new career, basically resurrecting my love for media but I've been out of the game for a while and it feels new again. The motivation is back! Writing, voice acting, original music are what I love to do … I'm great at it! I will make money and work very hard to ensure success. How do I know this? Because I've declared it. I'm preparing for it. I'm going to explore what it means to be happy with what I do for a living and I will embrace the risk that goes with it. Focus, drive, and passion have been reinstated. Don't get me wrong, I won't just up and leave my day gig but I will at some point.

About a month ago I hired a resume writing service that also builds LinkedIn profiles. It's been worth every penny. Resumes are being emailed, jobs have been targeted, companies in different media genres are being applied to, auditions are being submitted, continuing my third book has been a blast, all the activities I love are now taking over and readjusting my focus.

For me … no van can take the place of all that.

Facts You Should Know Before Getting an Environmental Lawyer Job

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Environmental law firms handle a variety of cases involving environmental related issues and are one of the best places to get an environmental lawyer job. It is important before searching for a job as an environmental lawyer that you do some research. You want to be sure that you understand what the job entails, the education that you need and what to expect during your job hunt and once you find a job.

Working in Environmental Law:

An environmental lawyer job will involve preparing cases, working with clients and going to trial. Environmental law focuses on cases involving individuals or companies that have violated environmental laws or otherwise threatened the welfare of the environment. A lot of the focus is on businesses that are harming the environment and not following the laws relating to environmental safety.

Education:

To get an environmental lawyer job it is necessary to go to college and law school, plus pass the bar exam in the state or states in which you will practice. Studying to be an environmental lawyer requires taking courses in various areas of law including administrative and alternative dispute resolution. You will also have to take courses specific to environmental law, such as air pollution, conservation, ecology, and Federal Natural Resource law.

Job Outlook and Salary:

A career in environmental law has an average growth estimate as predicted by government economists. As environmental issues continue to dominate the government and the minds of the public, it is possible for growth to be slightly more than predicted. Growth also depends on current environmental lawyers. If there is a surge in retirement, then job openings could be more than expected.

Environmental law salary, as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2004, was about $73,000 for lawyers working within the government. Salary can vary depending on where you work. Jobs are available from a variety of different employers. These include private firms, various government agencies at different levels of government and businesses of varying sizes. Jobs are available to prosecute against environmental offenders and defend them. The salary can also vary depending on which side of a case you are working.

Getting a job as an environmental lawyer requires some serious commitment. Many lawyers who are involved in this area of law have some personal interest in the environment and are passionate about protecting it or they feel the need to protect those who are being prosecuted for violating environmental laws.

As a lawyer of any kind, it is very important that you are willing to work hard and make your way up the career ladder. Many lawyers start out at the bottom where they mainly handled administrative duties. It takes time to prove yourself as a lawyer and work up to the level where you actually get to go to trial and represent clients in front of a judge or jury. For those that are committed to being an environmental lawyer, it is well worth the years of education and the hard work that it takes to become a respected environmental lawyer.

Assisted dying is not the easy way out

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(The Conversation is an independent and nonprofit source of news, analysis and commentary from academic experts.)

Anita Hannig, Brandeis University

(THE CONVERSATION) One in every five Americans now lives in a state with legal access to a medically assisted death. In theory, assisted dying laws allow patients with a terminal prognosis to hasten the end of their life, once their suffering has overcome any desire to live. While these laws may make the process of dying less painful for some, they don’t make it easier. Of the countries that have aid-in-dying laws, the U.S. has the most restrictive. Intended to reduce unnecessary suffering, the laws can sometimes have the opposite effect.

My work as a medical anthropologist explores the field of medicine from a cultural angle, focusing primarily on birth and death. Over the past four years, I’ve studied how access to a medically assisted death is transforming the ways Americans die. I have spent hundreds of hours accompanying patients, families and physicians on their road to an assisted death. And, I have witnessed some of these deaths firsthand.


This research has taught me one thing: An assisted death is not the path of least resistance. For many, it is the path of most resistance. Those who pursue it face a range of barriers, at a time when their health is rapidly declining. Some patients navigate these waters successfully and manage to secure the coveted bottle of life-ending medication. Others give in to the opposition or simply run out of time.

History of the laws

The country’s first right-to-die law, Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act (1994), came after a fierce, century-long struggle to give terminally ill patients access to some form of medical assistance in dying.

Legislators in Ohio and Iowa proposed the first two of these bills in 1906. Known as the “chloroform bills,” they envisioned the use of chloroform on fatally ill or injured patients to induce their death, but their terms were so flawed that they never saw the light of day. Other legislative bills – introduced in Nebraska in 1937, Florida in 1967 and Idaho in 1969 – met similar fates.

When a committee of lawyers, physicians and activists sat down to craft Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act in 1993, similar ballot initiatives had recently failed in Washington (1991) and California (1992). To appease vocal opposition, lawmakers laced the Oregon statute with a long list of restrictions and safeguards.


Unlike all previous proposals, the Oregon measure no longer allowed for euthanasia. That’s the act of injecting a patient with a lethal dose of narcotics. Under the law, patients would have to ingest the lethal dose themselves – a final protection meant to ensure the absolutely voluntary nature of their death. The act also introduced a 15-day waiting period between a patient’s first and second request, intended as a period of reflection.

It worked. Oregonians narrowly approved the measure, but a three-year legal stay prevented it from being enacted. In 1997, Oregonians reaffirmed their support for the act, and it became law. Since then, each state that has added an assisted dying law to their books has either followed the strict Oregon model or, in the case of Hawaii, added more constraints. Those include requiring a mandatory mental health exam and a 20-day waiting period in between requests.

The letter of the law

Unlike other countries that permit assisted dying, such as Canada, the Netherlands and Belgium, in the U.S. intolerable suffering and an incurable medical condition alone are not enough to qualify someone for an aided death. A patient must already be within six months of the end of their life – coinciding with the admission criteria for hospice. That means protracted degenerative diseases with open-ended prognoses like amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) don’t usually qualify, at least not until a patient’s breathing becomes severely compromised.

Every year, dozens of eligible patients who apply for an assisted death are so close to the end of their life that they die during the mandated waiting period. And by the time a patient becomes eligible for an assisted death, they may have missed the window when they are able to ingest the lethal medication. In contrast to their Canadian, Dutch and Belgian colleagues, American physicians cannot administer these drugs to their patients.

Lou Libby, a pulmonologist from Portland, Oregon, told me that the physical manifestations of many advanced neurodegenerative diseases bump up against this requirement. Again, consider ALS. Alongside their diminishing ability to breathe, patients with ALS almost always lose their ability to swallow.

“You have to be able to ingest the medication yourself. And here you have all these patients who can’t even swallow.”

As I learned during my research, the stress over their ability to swallow can provoke a great deal of anxiety in patients, particularly when it comes to correctly timing their death. Taking the medication too early means cutting short a life still worth living; waiting too long means possibly missing their chance. To have the kind of death they prefer, some patients choose to die earlier than they would have liked.

Cultural roadblocks

Despite popular backing for medical assistance in dying – seven in 10 Americans support it – the cultural stigma and moral ambivalence around these laws remain potent. Across the country, many religiously owned health systems decline to participate in their state’s assisted dying law.

In rural parts of Oregon and along the coastal corridor, where Catholic health systems often run the only hospital in town, patients routinely struggle to find two physicians who will approve their request, or a pharmacist who will fill their prescription. Many hospices refuse to cooperate with a patient’s desire to seek an assisted death, leading patients to feel abandoned. Many assisted living and nursing facilities still prohibit the practice under their roof, forcing patients to make alternative arrangements, sometimes at a nearby motel. In trying to reclaim control over the way they die, these patients often are being stripped of some of that control in the process.

Medical aid-in-dying will become an even bigger issue as baby boomers face the end of their lives. It is mainly older patients who want access to an assisted death. In Oregon, for example, nearly 80% of those who sought medical assistance in dying in 2018 were 65 or older. Boomers, as in many other aspects of their lives, likely will want more say over their deaths.

Assisted dying reframes how we, as a society, understand the potential of medicine, not as a way to extend life but to mitigate the process of dying. Patients who endure intractable, painful diseases sometimes reach a moment when the prospect of staying alive feels worse than the prospect of dying. At that point, the idea of having a say over the timing and manner of their death can bring enormous comfort. But few are aware of all the hurdles they must clear to exercise this kind of control.

[ Like what you’ve read? Want more? Sign up for The Conversation’s daily newsletter. ]

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article here: https://theconversation.com/assisted-dying-is-not-the-easy-way-out-129424.


How much are you paying for that home loan?

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Feb. 17, 2020

Do you know the interest rate on your home mortgage? If you don’t, you’re not alone.

More than 1 in 4 mortgage holders doesn’t, according to a new study by Bankrate.com.

The survey found that millennials with a mortgage are more likely to be unsure of their rate than Gen Xers or baby boomers.

So why does this matter?

If you don’t know the interest rate you’re paying on your mortgage, you won’t know when it’s time to refinance. And with mortgage rates so low, it may be time to do that and lower your monthly payments for years to come.

The average 30 year fixed is currently around 3.7 percent. The average 15-year fixed is just slightly above 3 percent, according to Bankrate.

More Info: Survey: More than a quarter of mortgage holders don’t know their interest rate

Ask the Right Questions When Making a Midlife Career Change

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Thomas Szasz, a psychiatrist and contrarian thinker, once said, the self is not something that one finds. It is something one creates. This is very good career change advice indeed!

View career change as the norm

Studies show that people change jobs and even careers as much as 7 to 10 times during their working life. I myself am a case in point. Much of my career has been devoted to teaching and writing in many different contexts, but I've also worked in business and done freelance educational consulting at the corporate level.

I've taught English as a second language at many different settings: high school, college and university. I've trained ESL teachers both in the classroom and through distance education. I've written over a half dozen textbooks for language learning. Many were best sellers. Other career changes include working for an e-learning company, an educational publisher in a management position, and a small merger and acquisitions company.

The quest for new and meaningful work at midlife has become the norm. Experiencing midlife career change and seeking career change advice is a growing trend for many people in the 45 to 75 age bracket. Many are not retiring in the traditional sense. Some are looking to start new businesses. For some baby boomers there is what Marc Freedman calls an "encore career." He describes the growing trend among baby boomers to develop a new career that is both fulfilling and financially rewarding.

Have a supportive network

Sure, I've taken risks. I've had many worthwhile experiences, but it hasn't always been a garden of roses. I've had successes as well as failures. I've had to readjust my bearings on many occasions.

What has helped me keep on track in finding new enriching and fulfilling professional experiences? It helps to have a caring business coach, a network of friends and colleagues in similar situations, and a loving, patient, supportive wife.

Ask the right questions

Moving in the right direction, developing yourself, transforming your thinking takes a reflective stance. Ask yourself challenging questions. Take the necessary time to answer these questions. Be honest!

• Who are you?
• What's important to you?
• What are your dreams, hopes and aspirations?

• What do you want – really?
• Where do see yourself going?
• Where do you see yourself in one year, three years and 10 years?

• What options do you have?
• What possibilities do you see for yourself?
• Are you ready to reinvent your life?

Read some good books on the topic

If you're contemplating a career change, I recommend investing the time to read the classic book by Richard N. Bolles, What Color Is Your Parachute? and do the "flower exercise." There is no better way for understanding who you are at the present moment.

My colleague, Dr. Fred Horowitz, plunges into this exercise every few years as a way of reconnecting with himself. It's not good enough to start it. You have to complete it.

I also highly recommend the work of Ernie Zelinski, author of The Joy of Not Working . Offering his own unique formula, he takes an unconventional approach to career change by working less and enjoying yourself more.

Helpful Tips on How to Make Money on the Internet

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You've had all the spam emails claiming you can make hundreds or even thousands on the internet just by doing some small thing. Yeah, right, there's near enough no chance those will work for anyone other than the spammer. So what can you do if you want to find out how to make money on the internet?

Start out by observing. It's difficult to keep your wallet safely locked away at times – many of the people who advertise on the internet are world class copywriters who know exactly what buttons to push to get as many as people as possible to whip out their credit card. But you need to get a handle on what's working online. Maybe you are drawn to pages and pages of text – the websites that look like they're the sales page for War and Peace – or maybe you prefer the flashy videos and lots of noise. This kind of observation should start to become second nature.

Narrow down what you want to do. The subject of making money on the internet is massive. You need to focus and home in on just one thing. Do that well – ideally at least as well as your competition – and you're going in the right direction.

Make yourself a shortlist of ten or twenty possible "businesses" you can run – selling stuff on eBay, making websites that get clicks for Google AdSense, all that kind of thing – but narrowed down by topic. So not just selling on eBay but selling non-allergenic hand made quilts with patterns that babies will like. Get really, really focussed. Almost stupidly so. Especially when you're starting out, you need the "rush" of a quick sale and narrowing your focus will help here as you'll likely be one of the very few people in the world who are meeting that exact need.

One sale a month is fine for this. Because you're not limited to that one niche. You can move on to selling those same hand made quilts but this time those that appeal to grannies. And then baby boomers. And so on.

You can then hone your skills in these markets. Sure, they're small but because you're offering precisely what they want to buy you're ahead of the curve just by being there.

The beauty of this is that internet is so vast that even seemingly miniature markets are actually quite large. For instance, I make sales most days selling a hypnosis track for a problem almost no-one is aware even exists.

Promote your business. Otherwise no-one will know it exists, apart from maybe Google's robots. The promotion can take the form of an article such as this one, with a link at the end to your website. In small markets, even one article will likely be enough. In bigger markets, you'll need to do more promotion but the principle is the same.

As with every business, keep track of your overheads including the amount of time you spend. If you're not careful, it's easy to become a "busy fool", chasing your own tail but not getting anywhere. So monitor what you're doing and do more of the things that make you sales.

FULL SPEED AHEAD: Age Appropriate Rehab Tough To Find | Health

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Everyone was hopeful when Bob was admitted into the out-patient program his son had selected for him.

When Bob was informed that he was in a “mixed-age” rehab center, he didn’t think much of it. He figured he would find a few people around his own age at the facility. To his disappointment, he discovered that he was the oldest patient at the mixed-age facility by a good 15 years.

During the first month, Bob tried his best but he had a great deal of trouble relating to the younger people around him. He was embarrassed about sharing his feelings in the group sessions. He suspected that the other patients looked upon him as if he were an alien from another planet.

He even overheard them referring to him as “Gramps” and the “Old Codger.”

By the second month, he was convinced that being lumped together with these younger generational patients simply wasn’t working. The staff tried their best to accommodate Bob’s needs, but the fact that he wasn’t able to keep up with their rigorous schedule, that he was constantly tired and needed to rest, that he kept missing sessions and falling behind in the group work because of his outside medical appointments made things very problematic for everyone.

By the time the third month rolled around, Bob had become the odd man out.

The staff pretty much ignored Bob’s legitimate age specific issues and focused on catering to the needs of their younger participants. Before the third month was over, Bob dropped out …. and relapsed.

As we discussed Bob’s story, Dr. Harry grew slightly agitated and then bluntly said, “Nobody has to look into any damn medical journal to tell you that paying attention to an older adult’s loneliness, their fears, their grief, their medical conditions, their over-prescribed medications, their pain, their confusion, their concept of death, and their faith is as important as paying attention to their dependency issues.”

Dr. Harry couldn’t have put it more succinctly. The idea that one size fits all simply does not work for older adults.

Baby boomers need age-specific rehabs. Facilities which provide a treatment plan that is designed to focus on an older adult’s dependency issues as well as their mental, physical and medical preexisting conditions.

The problem is that of the 14,800 national treatment facilities across the country, only 18 percent provide the focused attention and care older adults require. That equates to 4,500 age-specific rehabs to accommodate 4.4 million addicted older adults which is at best a drop in the bucket and at worst a looming national health care crisis.

In fact, even if all of the mixed-age and age-specific rehabs across the country were combined to only cater to older adults, there still wouldn’t be enough brick and mortar facilities to go around.

As an article in Market Watch reported, the 14,800 rehab treatment centers nationwide, which are all bursting at the seams at 100 percent capacity, only treat a sum total of 2.5 million adults annually.

So where are the National Institutes of Health’s predicted 4.4 million older addicted adults going to find the much needed age specific treatment they will be requiring?

This was the stark reality that Bob and his family were about to grapple with when Bob turned up unexpectedly at his son’s home. Depressed and ready to throw in the towel, he recounted some of the disturbing ageist experiences he had encountered. His entire family rallied around him. They understood and acknowledged that what Bob needed was not what he had been offered.

His oldest son began looking into new treatment centers that were a better fit for Bob. But what his son soon discovered was that finding the right situation for his Dad was about as easy as finding a needle in a haystack in a barn filled with a myriad of haystacks without needles.

To Be Continued

Allan Goldstein is a retirement counselor in Long Beach.

Canadians Retiring With Debt

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Remember when Canadians used to save for retirement? Now, just the opposite is happening. More and more seniors are reaching retirement age with not only zero savings, but significant debt as well.

It's a disturbing trend. A recent survey by CIBC revealed that nearly half (46%) of Canada's Baby Boomers are still paying off their mortgages. 75% of all Boomers are in debt.

As retirement creeps closer each day, these financial straits spell bad news on the horizon. The average Canadian plans to retire at the age of 61. However, with some carrying debts in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, it could be an unlikely goal. A recent Ipsos-Reid poll found that 48% of Canadians between 45 and 60 did not feel financially prepared for retirement. 49% of these respondents believed that they would carry debt into retirement, primarily high-interest credit card debt.

Paying off debt in retirement is almost impossible. Seniors do not have the earning potential they did while employed. While working, the focus should be on paying off the house. Mortgage brokers stress that paying off a mortgage should be a first priority. It should be done before even thinking about saving for retirement. The benchmark they recommend is to have the first mortgage paid down at least ten years before retirement.

Another bugbear is the American debt crisis. A recession down south could spell out higher unemployment, forced retirement, and slower growth. Pensions can be affected, and those planning to retire in the near future may have to put off plans for a few years to recoup losses.

The market has been unstable. Last week's plummet caused Canadians with equity mutual funds lose 10 per cent of their retirement savings overnight. The CPP continues to be stable, but it is tumultuous times to have money put away. Paying down debt, however, is the best investment of all.

TransUnion recently reported that the average Canadian, in the last January-to-March period, had almost $ 26,000 debt through credit cards, loans, lines of credit, and credit options. This is not even counting mortgages. A lot of this debt is accrued through frivolous spending and making poor financial decisions. This means they will be bringing the burden into retirement.

Credit card debt is the worst kind of debt for Canadians entering retirement. Ironically, it is also more prevalent than a mortgage or line of credit, which charges lower interest rates. By leveraging the equity in their homes, Canadians approaching retirement can pay down their high-interest debt with a second mortgage. Done properly, this is a financially responsible way to begin saving money for retirement sooner.

How to make the leap from gig worker to prosperous business owner

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A stretch of stores along the base of Munjoy Hill had open signs out and were ready for business as part of small business Saturday, November 28, 2015.

Gabe Souza | Portland Press Herald | Getty Images

When Miguel Sanchez, 29, started driving for Uber in 2012 after dropping out of Glendale Community College in Arizona, he dreamed of starting a taco stand.

Driving around the Phoenix metropolitan area, he noticed that the upscale neighborhoods where people took a lot of Uber rides were also the ones where restaurants did well. That taught him an important lesson: He needed to open up shop in an upscale area. “That’s where there’s high disposable income,” he says.

Sanchez, known locally as Wadaa Mike, soon found a location in Scottsdale and, using his income from Uber, leased his stand next to a bar that fed him a steady stream of customers. Driving when cash flow was tight helped him get through tough times. He eventually found an investor.

When the bar closed, he opened another stand, and a catering service, under his brand Wadaa Street Tacos and sold the company in 2016. He says sales were just under $1 million annually.

Now interested in commercial real estate, he’s working as a realtor in his uncle’s real estate brokerage, Pulse Realty & Associates.

“Whatever dream you’re chasing, I believe Uber is a stepping-stone to your next destination,” Sanchez said.

Miguel Sanchez, a former Uber driver, launched Street Tacos, a taco stand business in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Many people try gig work for a simple reason: “They just want to make some extra money,” says Angela Heath, principal of the consultancy TKC and organizer of The GIGCon, on online summit for gig workers that is part of Global Entrepreneurship Week. Today, 57 million Americans work as freelancers, an increase of four million since 2014, according to Upwork’s Freelancing in America survey.

As free agents like Sanchez are discovering, finding work through an app or a freelance platform can be an unexpected gateway to running a more traditional type of business. Many are learning skills like how to attract customers and market themselves, and finding opportunities to expand their professional skills without the risk of losing their day jobs, says Donna Kelley, a professor of entrepreneurship at Babson College. “It is a low-risk way to enter entrepreneurship,” she said.

And for those with the entrepreneurial spark, one of the most powerful lessons is the importance of turning a healthy profit. Once they learn the basics of business and begin getting word-of-mouth referrals, these gig workers often branch out beyond the platforms, where they don’t have to pay middlemen to send them work. Some supplement platform-based work with projects they find through other efforts. “They go wherever the opportunities are,” Heath said.

The Freelancing in America survey, produced by Upwork and the Freelancers Union, found that the largest group of freelancers in the country (45%) provide skilled services, such as computer programming, writing, design, IT, marketing and business consulting. Another 30% provide unskilled services such as dog walking, cleaning or driving for ride-sharing services. Many of these services lend themselves well to businesses that the founders can just as easily run outside of a freelance platform, once they build a good reputation in their field.

Stepping-stone to business ownership

Many seem to be taking the first step. One striking trend in the survey was that the share of freelancers who are working on their own full time, as opposed to freelancing on the side, increased from 17% in 2014 to 28% in 2019.

And with freelancing more popular with each generation, there are more people picking up entry-level business skills than ever before. Among Gen Z (those 18–22) 53% freelance, compared to 40% of millennials (ages 23–38), 31% of Gen X (ages 39–54) and 29% of baby boomers (ages 55+), the survey found.

That’s been the case for app developer Carissa Lintao, 23. Needing to find a way to make money while at Thomas Edison State University, she Googled “online work” and came across Upwork, which matches freelance professionals with clients who need projects done. Lintao, based in Bayonne, New Jersey, put up a profile and soon won her first project, writing a story for a client’s book, back in 2015.

Carissa Lintao starting a side gig to help pay for college which led her to launch her app development firm Apptuitive.

Laurel Creative

Although that project was low paying, Lintao says, “it was fun.” And it was closer to her area of interest than getting a retail job at a local mall. “I would have been working at Forever 21,” she added.

Lintao was confident she was on the right track when, four months later, she won a second $50 project, developing a trivia app for a client in the tech industry who made gaming apps. “That was the equivalent of a million dollars to me at the moment,” Lintao said. The client was so happy with her work that she ended up developing a portfolio of projects for him, earning what she estimates to be at least $1,000 in total.

“He introduced me to the world that is now mobile app development,” she said. “I got into it at just the right time.”

That was about four years ago. With her business growing, Lintao took a leap of faith after graduating from college in 2018 and went full-time with her business. Now, in addition to finding work through Upwork, her agency Apptuitive finds projects through organic search and marketing directories.

“By the time I graduated, I was figuring out the difference between freelancing and entrepreneurship and trying to connect those dots,” Lintao said.

She now has built a team of three freelancers and contractors so she can grow her business. “That’s my focus for this year, trying to scale what I am doing,” she said. So far she has four to 15 clients a month and forecasts year-end revenue between $80,000 and $100,000.

Building a business

When Kimberly Spencer, 32, launched her business-coaching practice, Crown Yourself Enterprises, she says, “I literally didn’t know where to start.”

The Burbank, California, resident, who ran a successful Pilates business for 10 years and then underwent training and certification in a formal coaching program, put up a profile on the platform Thumbtack, which offered qualified leads.

When Spencer won her first few clients, her confidence began building. “It gave me practice in having a sales conversation,” she said.

However, she ultimately found that many of the potential customers who approached her were not a good fit, because they were “price shoppers,” prioritizing rock-bottom rates above the value delivered.

When Spencer analyzed what she was spending to get leads, she realized it would be more profitable to focus on attracting customers through word-of-mouth referrals. Once she got referrals from satisfied customers, she arranged to do a short consulting session for a minimal fee and make recommendations for the best package for a potential client, an approach she previously used when running her Pilates studio.

Today, she has 73 clients. With her business growing, Spencer also developed six online self-study courses on topics such as leadership, productivity and mindset, and expanded into live workshops and events in San Diego and Los Angeles, where she encourages attendees to network and partner with each other — something she didn’t see as much in her platform-based work.

“In gigs it felt very competitive,” Spencer said. “Now it feels much more based in collaboration and connection.”

As Spencer and other gig workers turned entrepreneurs often realize, it’s a lot easier to build a small business with growth potential if you’ve got the right people behind you.

More from Invest in You:
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Make 2020 the year to get invested
Why military vets start their own business

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Disclosure: NBCUniversal and Comcast Ventures are investors in Acorns.