20 Jun 2017

What Do Superheroes and Psychologists Have in Common? monitorLIVE Event Explores the Intersection of Passion and Profession

Much like superheroes, psychologists often have origin stories—impactful events that have shaped their professional identity and defined their mission. This was a major theme of the June 1st monitorLIVE event in Los Angeles, during which clinical psychologist and superhero enthusiast Andrea Letamendi, PhD, shared her origin story that began as a graduate student.

As Dr. Letamendi explained, her origin story was marked by an experience of, “psychic disequilibrium," which occurs when individuals do not see their own identities reflected in their environment. As a graduate student, Dr. Letamendi rarely saw herself represented in her chosen field of psychology—she met few psychologists who shared her cultural background, history of immigration and discrimination, or passions and hobbies, including comics.  This struggle activated her personal supervillain, “Imposter Syndrome.” The villain resurfaced during stressful times such as during comps and dissertation research, making her feel like she did not belong in graduate school or in the field.

She was finally able to defeat the Imposter Syndrome villain with the antidote of being her true professional and personal self. She had been ignoring her love of comic books, which was a large part of her authentic identity. She did not know that the field of psychology offers a variety of career options and many ways to incorporate hobbies and interests into professional careers. She became a true superhero when she combined her passion for comics with her background in psychology to create her side hustle, an extra income stream that allows people to pursue an interest while keeping their full-time job.

Dr. Letamendi shared that side hustles can restore the professional identities of practitioners, helping them remember why they were initially drawn to the psychology field. Side hustles also help with daily burnout and compassion fatigue. She now connects her identity with her psychology background through her podcast, “The Arkham Sessions,” where she analyzes every episode of “Batman: the Animated Series” through the lens of a clinical psychologist. She examines characters and analyzes their behaviors and personalities. Dr. Letamendi’s childhood dream came full circle when DC Comics made her Batgirl’s psychologist in one of its published stories.

The point to a side hustle is not only to make money, but also to fulfill one’s creative passion. This is why Dr. Letamendi’s podcasts are free, in the spirit of “Giving Psychology Away.”

Dr. Letamendi’s mission, shaped by her origin story, is to increase public knowledge of mental health and to encourage help-seeking among people who would not otherwise seek treatment. Although she accomplishes this mission through her daily work, her side hustle gives her the opportunity to live and work authentically.

monitorLIVE events connect psychology professionals and thought leaders to learn about and discuss issues that impact and elevate the discipline. Keep an eye out for future monitorLIVE events coming to a city near you.

Review photos from monitorLIVE: Los Angeles. This networking event from APA brings together psychology professionals and thought leaders to learn about and discuss issues that impact and elevate the discipline. The featured speaker in Los Angeles was clinical psychologist and superhero enthusiast, Andrea Letamendi, PhD. Dr. Letamendi offered her perspective on fusing a psychology background with a passion to open career opportunities one may never have considered.

Did you find this presentation useful?

1 0
19 Jun 2017

6 Steps for Actually Achieving Early Retirement

6 Steps for Actually Achieving Early Retirement

Early retirement sounds incredible, right? Imagine being able to walk away from your nine-to-five job at 45 years old, and then spend the rest of your life doing whatever you want!

While the idea of early retirement is gaining a lot of traction in the media and in the personal finance space, the reality remains that retiring at any age is a process that takes sustained discipline for years.

In a nutshell, the most common strategy for retiring earlier than the standard age of 65 requires two key components. The first is to maximize your investment portfolio to create a large enough nest egg to support decades without working. The second is to live as minimally as possible during the early years of your career.

Before we dig in to real strategies that can be used to retire early, please understand that early retirement simply isn't for everyone. There is a significant financial risk to cutting any career short, and many early retirees still work in some capacity to support their lifestyle.

It's also important to remember that the traditional path to retirement is still very much the norm! There's nothing wrong with having a long, fulfilling career in a field that allows you to contribute to society in a meaningful way.

Here's what you need to do to retire early:

1. Understand the 4 percent rule (aka Safe Withdrawal Rate)

Over the years, the most common guideline found in the early retirement community for determining the amount needed to sustain life outside of a career is "the 4 percent rule." The idea behind the 4 percent rule is that early retirees can safely withdraw 4 percent from their overall investment portfolio every year to live on and never run out of money.

The reasoning is fairly simple. If you assume average returns of at least 6 percent on your investments, your portfolio will never decline with only 4 percent being withdrawn yearly. Depending on the source you use, the stock market rate of return averages anywhere from 6-12 percent over time (it's important to note that returns in the market are not guaranteed! These are just based on what has happened historically).

2. Find out how much income you will need

The biggest component to early retirement is figuring out what type of lifestyle you are hoping to achieve. A safe rule of thumb is to assume that you'll need 80 percent of your current income to live comfortably in retirement, but depending on what type of life you envision for yourself postcareer, the numbers may be higher or lower.

Right now, the trend for younger people who have "retired" is minimalism. The idea is that if you drastically reduce the amount of money it takes to survive on a yearly basis, the earlier you can actually leave traditional work.

This usually equates to drastic changes in lifestyle. Many younger retirees opt to downsize their homes or sell them altogether and live in RVs (yes . . .  seriously). There is actually a fascinating trend happening with travel trailer manufacturers where millennials are propping up the entire RV industry!

Another common sacrifice is the type of cars that early retirees drive. Because the cost of financing new cars that rapidly depreciate is very high, those in early retirement tend to drive older paid-off cars and learn to do much of the maintenance themselves.

All of these factors should go into your calculations for how much income you will need in a potential early retirement scenario. It's important to be realistic with how you will approach your lifestyle, and it never hurts to pad the numbers.

3. Calculate how large your portfolio needs to be

Using the safe withdrawal rate detailed above in step 1 and then determining what type of lifestyle you'll live as a retiree in step 2, you can calculate how much money you will need in your portfolio to effectively retire without running out of money.

Let's say that you determined that your ideal retired lifestyle will cost $50,000 per year. Multiplying that amount by 25 (4 percent of your portfolio is 1/25) will give you the total nest egg you need to achieve before you can effectively retire.

In this scenario: $50,000 x 25 = $1,250,000

Again, assuming average market returns over time (not guaranteed), you can withdraw $50,000 per year from a $1.25 million retirement portfolio and never actually run out of money. In the perfect scenario, your nest egg would continue to grow even with the $50,000 per year taken out.

Obviously, you would also need to anticipate any future large purchases for the 4 percent rule to actually work. If you are planning on living out the rest of your life in a sailboat that costs $25,000, you'll need to build that into your nest egg along with all future estimated maintenance costs.

4. Account for inflation

It's important to understand that a nest egg of $1,250,000 won't actually be worth that amount in the future. Inflation is constantly eating away at your money's purchasing power, and the effects can be substantial.

Unfortunately, it's literally impossible to calculate exactly how much bigger your portfolio will need to be years from now to battle future inflation. But, we can use past numbers to at least get close!

Using an inflation calculator like this one from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, you can see how inflation might change the amount you need to retire over the coming years.

Let's say you want to retire 20 years from now. All you need to do is take the $1,250,000 number that we calculated earlier and plug in that number for a previous 20-year period.

From 1997 to 2017, $1,250,000 would actually need to be $1,907,958.80 to maintain the same purchasing power. So you can roughly assume that you'll actually need almost $700,000 more than the initial $1,250,000 nest egg to effectively retire early.

Again, these are just estimates, but they will allow you to plan properly for early retirement.

5. Find new income streams

If you want to comfortably retire early, you will probably find that it's a good idea to find extra sources of income when you step away from your career for good. The traditional idea of retirement is the complete absence of work, but if you want to do it early, that might not be realistic.

It may be necessary to find some type of part-time employment to avoid digging in too far to your nest egg. Another option is to start a small business, but it doesn't have to be complicated. Even something as simple as flipping old furniture or buying and selling items on eBay might be enough to provide a nice buffer.

6. Plan for the worst

My biggest concern for early retirees is unexpected costs that might come up later in life. If you planned for the absolute bare minimum amount needed to retire, all it could take is one major accident or sickness to completely derail your retirement plans.

Similar to inflation, it isn't possible to specifically plan for a future issue. However, it should be part of your approach in deciding if early retirement is even possible or worth it in the long run.

The bottom line on early retirement

Just remember—early retirement sounds great in theory. There is a large amount of risk to consider when making this type of financial decision. That's not to say it isn't possible, but you should absolutely proceed with caution.

-- Bobby Hoyt is a former high school teacher who paid off $40,000 of student loan debt in a year and a half. He now runs the personal finance site MillennialMoneyMan.com full-time, and has been seen on CNBC, Forbes, Business Insider, Reuters, Marketwatch, and many other major publications.

The opinions and advice expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those held by the American Psychology Association (APA).

Did you find this article useful?

2 2
06 Jun 2017

Predatory Publishers Increasingly Targeting Psychologists, Social Scientists

Predatory Publishers Increasingly Targeting Psychologists, Social Scientists

Publishing in peer-reviewed journals can be rewarding — it allows us to share our research with peers and can advance academic careers. However, it can also be difficult and frustrating. Journals on average reject 75 percent of submissions, according to an APA report (American Psychologist, 2014). Peer review can take months and often requires authors to make significant changes to articles prior to publication.

So just imagine the joy psychologists might experience upon receiving an email from a journal (with a name very similar to a respectable APA journal) that invites them personally to submit a paper for a forthcoming issue. The journal promises peer review within one week and publication within two weeks. Imagine further that the journal claims to have a high impact factor, partly due to the fact that its content is freely available worldwide.

As the old adage goes: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Unfortunately, there is a high likelihood that such an invitation has been sent by a "predatory publisher." While these publishers initially focused on biomedical sciences, a growing number now target psychologists and social scientists.

What are predatory publishers?

Predatory publishers are counterfeit scholarly publishers that aim to trick honest researchers into thinking they are legitimate. They use spam email to solicit research manuscripts, which they quickly accept and publish in their many online open-access journals. Though they claim to peer review articles, many conduct no peer review at all or carry out a minimalist or pro forma review, accepting and publishing flawed manuscripts that most legitimate journals would reject.

Predatory journals are supported by fees charged to authors upon acceptance of their manuscripts, and their goal is profit. The journals want to accept and publish as many manuscripts as possible to increase their revenue. This income strategy conflicts with peer review, which, when done properly, often results in manuscripts being denied publication.

Predatory publishers have fooled many honest scholars into believing that they are legitimate. Experts at mimicking respected publishing houses, they use sophisticated spam techniques, pandering to researchers through personalized spam that praises a researcher's earlier work while inviting a new submission. Other spam emails appeal to authors needing to publish in journals that have earned an impact factor. Companies now exist that supply fake impact factors to questionable journals, metrics they then display in their spam email advertising.

Problems caused by predatory publishing

Predatory publishing harms the scientific community in numerous ways. First, authors may be misled into investing their money and intellectual capital in a journal that they think is high impact and stable when it is neither. Some predatory online publications exist for very short periods of time and are rarely cited in journals that are indexed by reputable databases.

Second, predatory publishing has created a substantial body of published literature that is branded as science, but has not passed through adequate peer review, which is a primary form of quality control. For many readers, reporters and the public, the distinction between authentic and junk science is not readily discernable, yet these publications are readily accessible by anyone.

Compounding the problem, comprehensive academic indexes such as Google Scholar routinely index the junk science, mingling it with authentic research in search results. How are learners, such as high school and college students, supposed to tell them apart? Moreover, new research builds on already-published research, as anyone who has ever compiled a literature review knows. Writing such reviews now requires additional skill and more effort, for the author now must filter out unvetted research.

What can be done?

Researchers and academic disciplines benefit from open access to well-managed, high-quality journals. So what can be done to protect the integrity of open-access publishing?

First, researchers need to develop a "scholarly publishing literacy" skillset to recognize and avoid predatory publishers. Researchers can no longer assume that all scholarly journals are trustworthy and must be on guard against the perils of predatory publishers. Educating graduate students, fellows and junior faculty about predatory publishing should become a routine part of mentoring. (See sidebar for tips from APA staff on how to avoid predatory publishers.)

Second, scholars can refuse to serve on the editorial boards of predatory publishers, which seek to enhance their reputations by creating affiliations with scholars at reputable academic institutions.

Finally, the process of scholarly evaluation must adjust to reflect the new reality of scholarly publishing. Tenure and promotion committees must more carefully scrutinize candidates' publishing records. A quick scan of a CV is no longer sufficient, for journal titles that look authentic may not be. To be fair to those seeking promotion and tenure, this recommendation needs to be combined with the first — educating scholars about appropriate venues for scholarly publishing.

The world of publishing is quickly evolving. Electronic media are increasingly supplanting print media; journals are increasingly accessed through subscription packages rather than subscriptions to individual journals; and funding agencies and professional associations are increasingly pushing for free public access to scientific publications. The challenge before us is to protect the integrity of scholarly publishing even as we adapt to new technologies, circumstances and demands.

By Jeffrey Beall, DSc, a librarian at the University of Colorado Denver & James M. Dubois, PhD, the director of the Center for Clinical Research Ethics at Washington University in St. Louis.


Did you find this article useful?

2 0