I made a stupid comment back a few months ago.
I was talking to a senior citizen friend and I commented that “old folks” like us aren’t as hurt by the recession. She looked at me with shock and asked what was I talking about. She and everyone she knew had lost much of her retirement income because of the change in the economy.
My comment was made thinking only of “seniors” as not being as apt to “lose jobs” because we’re already retired. But she’s right. Many of our friends have told us tales of woe because their income from investments, which they are depending on for the staples of life, is now greatly reduced.
I’d lost a bundle back in 1987 when the dot coms failed. Nasdaq had shown remarkable growth so I moved much of my retirement to “risky” ventures. When the dot coms went broke, I was hit hard. It took me years to recover – actually I never recovered because I’d have twice as much in my retirement fund as I do now, if the fall then hadn’t occurred.
That experience taught us to become more conservative. Over the years, we did get back into stocks, but we were always on guard. By mid-2008 we started feeling really skiddish. In late summer we had moved most everything out of the stock market. When the September crash occurred, we were safe. We had moved almost everything from stocks to secure bonds. True, we weren’t earning much, but we didn’t lose anything.
Some of our friends ask why we didn’t warn them about a “pending collapse.” At the time, we felt we were being overly cautious.
Settling Mom’s estate occurred at an opportune time, but it was a matter of chance. It happened that she died just before the crash. I had invested her funds in annuities. She had a sizeable portfolio.
Mom died on September 14th. Later, as I reported her death to her various investment companies, they were obligated to pay at the September 14th rate. The crash had occurred about September 22nd. As her heir, I benefitted from the timing, although it certainly wasn’t in any way anything I would have wished for. It just happened that the cash-out was timely.
We also benefitted because the condo we bought in October 2008 was priced at $240,000 in 2006 but because of the economy, the price dropped drastically. By the time we bought it, the price was $125,000. Yes, it’s continued to lose some of it’s value over the past few months, but we’re sure it will go up in value eventually.
I feel truly sad for our friends who have been hard hit. A year or 18 months ago, I remember talking to a close friend who mentioned that he’d paid over $320,000 for a condo. I was envious. That same condo is now worth “maybe” $200,000 (probably less). It is likely that is was financed. They could owe more than its current value.
Over the past few years in Florida, I became acquainted with a sweet lady at the pool. She must be in her late 80’s. She and her husband have loved investing. She was proud of how well they’d done. But that was before September 2008. I spoke to her right after the crash. She and her husband had lost $100,000 in the value of their portfolio. A few days later she said their loss had grown to $200,000. I haven’t seen her lately but the last time I saw her, she wasn’t mentioning her investments.
These aren’t people who are rich. They are retirees who earned their funds with hard work. They saved and invested. They felt they were “set for life.” Now in their 70’s or 80’s or 90’s, they are in a different position.
John and I are among the fortunate few. We have our debt-free home(s) and we are “comfortable.” We are conservative in our spending and don’t go over-board. We don’t do things extravagantly. But we don’t go on cruises nor have we ever purchased a new car in the 24 years we’ve been married.
I shop eBay and re-sale shops. We are bargain hunters.
John and I have not been hurt by the “stock market” but we have other losses. We are “property poor.” In addition to our home in Saginaw, our new condo in Florida, and our place in Michigan’s U.P., we also own two farms and one-sixth interest in another. Obviously real estate values have tanked.
When I mentioned that we pay taxes on our home, our condo, our place in the U.P., two farms, and a camping club membership, I was asked if I was “bragging.” What??!! Bragging??!! Are they kidding?! That comment can only be made by someone who hasn’t watched what’s happened. At this point, we can’t sell the properties which we thought of as “investments.” Now we’re stuck paying property taxes on all of them plus camping club dues, and association dues on our Saginaw home, our U.P. property, and our condo. We would like to divest, but who’d we sell to? I sure wasn’t bragging. I was complaining.
So thinking about it, I realize I sure was stupid when I said that the recession doesn’t affect retirees.