Sunday, October 12, 2008

Retirement Dreams

The world economic meltdown has endangered a lot of retirement dreams. Wall Street hit Main Street when American workers lost $2 trillion in retirement savings. Hardest hit are Baby Boomers who watch 401k’s turn into 201k’s. My 401k has lost more than $30,000 this month. I’m sure that’s only peanuts to a CEO who draws a multi-million dollar salary, but where I come from, $30,000 is a lot of money.

Those of us who believed “diversified” retirement portfolios would help us weather hard economic times have been rudely awakened to a new reality. Not only are stocks going down, but our safety net, bonds, are losing value too. In our efforts to out earn inflation, we fell victim to the fickle stock index.

I have always put as much as I could into my 401k because I want a secure retirement. The money that went down the tubes could have bought a lot of things. Not that I really need anything I don’t have. My home is eighteen years old, but it doesn’t have a mortgage. My car has more than 100,000 miles, but I own it.

I have chosen not to let my shrinking 401k ruin my life. I’ll be OK in my retirement. It just may be a lot farther in the future than I thought it would be. Or, it may not be as financially stable as I planned it to be. It irritates me that I put money aside for almost thirty years to see it become the incredibly shrinking fund. Irritates me, but does not depress me, or scare me. I grew up poor, and I have no fear of poverty. I really don’t want or desire a lot of material items. The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 will not dash my dreams!

This is the second time I’ve made major mental adjustments to my retirement expectations. The first time was when Jim developed dementia, and I realized we were not going to grow old together. Jim’s retirement dream was to purchase a motor home and travel.

Now I plan to enjoy the peace and quiet of home with occasional trips to the Rocky Mountains, the Oregon Coast, or other places that pique my interest. I want to spend a lot of time with my family and have more time to write—neither of which is costly. I can still retain ninety percent of my retirement dream irregardless of what happens in the stock market. Home-brewed coffee on my deck sounds good to me and costs only a fraction of Starbucks. I look forward to my share of total relaxation, deep breaths of fresh air and sunshine, squirrel and bird watching. With slight adjustments, futures are looking up for retirement.


Anonymous said...

Good perspective. I have seriously considered returning to a "real" job. Have tried to dust off my resume but wonder what 30 years of experience will get me.

The word retirement has never really been in our vocabulary but now it is even more a reality that we may have to work until they tell us we can't. Pretty sad.

Anonymous said...

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