It is close to Thanksgiving, so I’m going to take a whole new approach to my writing this week. I’m going to talk about gratitude.

The first thing I would like to share is my gratitude for my parents. Many people talk about privilege. We live in a world where many people think other people have privilege. As far as financially, I had absolutely no privilege. I was raised very poor, my family had six children that we’re inside of the home, I was the youngest of those six children, we had to raise all of our own food, and my mom made most of our own clothing. We were just poor.

However, I can tell you I had an amazing privilege of having great parents who loved me, who were there to help me make good choices, and to help make me into the person that I am today. Unfortunately, they both passed away. They both died at a fairly early age. I was raised in southern Utah. During the time that they were doing the atomic bomb testing was the time that my parents were going through their youth, and in their early years, they were exposed to the radiation that came over southern Utah when that testing was done. Unfortunately, they both ended up getting cancer.

My mom died at age 60, and my dad ended up passing away at 72. I’m so grateful for what they did for me and the part that they played in my life, and how they’ve helped me become the person I am today. Hopefully, I can use the skills and the talents I now have to be able to provide you with a great experience. I do want to talk about five things that I believe we all should be grateful for as we approach retirement.

The number one thing on my list for things that I believe we should all be thankful for, especially as we approach retirement, is the Social Security program. It may seem strange that I’m thankful for a government program, but when you look at it, it’s been able to give a much better life to retirees, and it has been helping them live a more safe and secure life.

The program was brought about back in 1935 by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and it was set up for two main purposes. The first one was to be an insurance against living too long as average life expectancy at that time was only 62, and you couldn’t start getting benefits until age 65. The other one was to help alleviate poverty in retirement. At that time, about 50% of retirees were living below the poverty level, and so they put the program in place to hopefully help those individuals have a much better life.

As we fast forward 85 years, what we find is the program has become a pretty expensive retirement program. Luckily changes have been made because average life expectancy—if you include infant mortalities and accidents happen during your working years—is somewhere between age 78 and 79. Had the program not changed, these benefits wouldn’t be available until you were in your 80s.

The other thing is it has helped alleviate that poverty. We have about 9.5% of retirees who are under the poverty level compared to that 50%, so it’s done a great job at helping to provide the benefits that it set out to provide.

They have had to make changes to the program. In 1983, there was a major overhaul, and we’ll also have to make changes to the program somewhere around 2035. However, the program should continue to last for decades to come, and it should be able to continue to provide the benefits that retirees need. The great thing about the program is it is a guaranteed inflation adjusted stream of income throughout the rest of your life.

For many people, this is hard to come by now. We used to have pension plans, or other assets, that would allow us to get inflation adjusted income or lifetime guaranteed income. Now the option we have is Social Security. For the majority of people, they’re going to have to look at an annuity, or something like that, to get them the inflation adjusted income they need, no matter how long they expect to live. Annuity can be a great way to do that.

The second thing that I’m very grateful for is the Medicare program, which is another great program that the government has put together. It was brought about in 1965, so it’s not as old as a Social Security program.However, it provides health care benefits for 67 million plus Americans. It is the largest health care provider that we currently have in America. It is doing a great job, and there are over a billion plus claims being filed on an annual basis.

The Medicare program has done an absolutely great job at administering the program and providing benefits for retirees. But it’s also set the standard for many other healthcare programs out there. It is a leader, and it’s the largest insurance company that exists as I mentioned. As such, it has a lot of power when we look at the overall medical field and the insurance area. They’ve been able to help lower cost, and they’ve been able to use the program to try to build efficiencies inside of there. One of the biggest challenges that program does have is you can’t go on Medicare until age 65. You can go onto Social Security if you’re getting survivor benefits as early as 60. If you’re getting regular retirement benefits at 62, there’s a little bit of a gap that occurs.

But still, as we look at the future of retirement and what it may look like for you, you should be very grateful for this program because it’s going to allow you into the program without worrying about pre-existing conditions. If structured correctly, you can get a Medigap Plan to attach on to Medicare that will cover many of those pre-existing condition concerns that you would have, and many of the co-pays as well as deductibles that you would have under the Medicare program.

The third thing that I’m grateful for is the historically low tax rates that we currently enjoy. I’ve been a CPA now for about 25 years. During this time, I’ve seen many ups and downs in the economy. I’ve seen many ups and downs in the various tax rates that are out there. What I find is that right now we’re in a very unique time. We have one of the lowest tax rates that we’ve ever had in the history of America. Currently, it’s 37% in the highest bracket. There was a period of time during World War Two where the highest bracket was 94%. If you can imagine paying that much in tax and ending up having to give the majority of your income to the government, the federal government, and if you lived in a state like California, that had state tax at the time, you would have given almost everything that was left back to that state that you lived in. I’m very grateful for this.

The other thing that I’m really grateful for is for most people, we know when tax rates are going to go up, and that is January 1, 2026. We’ve got a very unique period of time right now. asAs we look to the next five years that we can prepare for a period of time the taxes could end up being maybe even double what they are now.

Some people don’t think it’s possible that we could have rates go up that fast, but when you talk to some of the top economists—because of the overspending the government has and the unfunded liabilities of Social Security and Medicare—many of them believe that that’s the only way that the government’s going to be able to solve their financial issues as we look to the future.

There was a period of time that they could cut spending, and still they could do that. If you look around, you see that cutting spending is not going to happen anytime soon. In fact, everyone from both sides of the aisle are promoting that we just continue to go into further debt. Currently, that’s not a huge issue because we’re able to pay the interest on that debt. There will be a day where the debt gets so large that we are going to have some issues, so take advantage of these next few years—even this year before we hit year end and convert money into a Roth account, or maybe take advantage of a life insurance retirement plan, so you can start directing money into an environment where it will grow tax free, and you can pull it out tax free. We can make some transitions during this period of time that maybe we would not otherwise be able to do, where tax rates are higher than they currently are.

Number four is the ability to gain knowledge. Now, as I mentioned before, I was raised in a family that had no income; we were very poor. We raised our own food. My mom made most of our clothes, and most of our cars were lucky to make it out of town. In fact, I remember many times having to borrow friends’ cars. My dad would call them up and borrow their car. We could go to northern Utah to be able to see family members. We were just in a bad situation.

Well, with that came a lack of education. My family, not one of them had ever gone to or graduated from college. I realized that knowledge brought power. So as a kid, I remember trying to figure out for myself how I could get into college. How could I gain an education so that my life could change? Well, throughout my high school career, luckily, I had people at the high school that were willing to help me, and there were some government programs that were willing to help me.

I was able to go on and get my degree without, unfortunately, any help from my parents. They didn’t have the financial resources. They didn’t even understand how to get into college because it’s something they’d never done. I was able to go on and get my education, get a master’s degree, get my CPA license, and it has completely changed my life. Now it’s changing the lives of other people because I’m able to share that knowledge with them to help them get to a more safe and secure retirement.

You have the opportunity to gain a lot of knowledge about your retirement. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve gone to college. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve gone to high school and really doesn’t matter what you’ve done in your life. You’re at a point now that if you are reading this blog, you can listen to podcasts, you can watch webinars, you can participate in live events, you can gain a lot of knowledge from what I teach. I currently have 13 different webinars that I teach on various retirement strategies to get you to a tax-free and risk-free retirement.

Every week, I release a new podcast that talks about various retirement topics. We have live retirement shows that are being produced on various social media platforms throughout the week. All this information can be found through my website. We also have the prosperity club, which will allow you to get access to this information, especially the webinars on an instant basis where you can go in there and get access now and not have to wait to sign up for an upcoming webinar that may not fit your time schedule. Also, it will allow you to go back through the webinar and make sure you’re getting the information you need to better understand what your retirement looks like.

Something I’m very excited about as we do have the opportunity to learn, you’ve got a great resource here. My job is to help you understand your retirement to give you the information you need. You can make the right decision.

A lot of people out there are vying for your retirement dollars, trying to tell you how they can help you. My goal is to give you the information. So as these people come into your life, you can make better decisions, and you can better understand what it’s going to take for you to get to a tax-free and risk-free retirement that’s going to be safe and secure.

The last thing I’m thankful for is the fact that we’re all alive. I realize that death is a part of life. As I mentioned, I’ve had both my parents pass away. I’ve had other family members who have passed away and close friends that have gone on to the next life. However, I am so grateful that all of us are here today, that we’re able to spend this time even though it’s virtually through maybe a computer screen, a cell phone, whatever you may be using to stream this podcast. We’re able to be here together and be able to enjoy learning from each other.

That’s one of the great things about what I do is I get a lot of questions asked of me. Most of them I know the answers to because of the studying that I’ve done up to this point. There are always questions that come in that I don’t know the answer to. It gives me an opportunity to learn from you and to learn more about the concerns you have about your retirement.

I think that’s one of the great things also for me is I get to see some of the emotion that you go through some of those worries that keep you up at night and that make you worry about what your future is going to look like. Then I can take that situation, try to provide educational tools and resources to help take those worries out of your life, so you can just enjoy this period of time and not worry. We live in an environment where there’s enough worrying going on by other people.

There’s enough stress that’s happening in our daily lives without us making it worse by spending our lives just worrying about things that oftentimes we can’t change. It’s been proven that only about 8% of the worries we have actually ever come about and should be things that we worry about. Let’s take our time, and let’s enjoy our lives. Let’s express gratitude.

I have great gratitude for each of you for your support and what you do to allow me to continue to do what I love, which is sharing education with other people. Let’s have gratitude that we are alive. Let’s spend that time with our family, our loved ones. We never know when that time is going to end. The last thing I think any of us would like is to pass on to that next life, wishing that we had taken more time to spend with those we love and to express more gratitude for those who have helped change our life, for those who have helped make us better people, and for those who have allowed us to become the people that we’ve become.

Those are my five top areas that I believe we should express gratitude in our retirement. I hope you will take this opportunity as we approach the end of the year to figure out things that you can be grateful for, not only in your retirement, but in your life and then use the opportunity to become an influence in the lives of others, to take that opportunity to share those things that you have with those around you, and to help us make the world a better place. We live in an absolutely amazing country that’s full of hope, that’s full of opportunity. We’ve just got to always remember that it’s there and do our part to promote it.