Yesterday, I read about a woman, an empty-nester in the
Midwest, who made the error of investing in an upscale
four bedroom house that now has negative equity;
meaning she owes more than it’s worth.
Unlike many Californians, who are upside down a
hundred thousand, a half-million or more, this
distressed lady is regretting her extravagance because
she’ll have to sell at a cash loss of $5,000.
I read this, and though my sympathy goes out to all
folks who predicated their purchases upon a perception
real estate prices only rise, I thought, “Heck, she’s
sweating only five thousand bucks?”
But $5,000 constitutes a major part of her retirement
How can that be?
Like the recently retired employer of mine in the
financial industry, who received a twelve million
dollar payout, doesn’t everyone have
six-figure and seven-figure cushions to fall back on
when their other investments fall through?
In a word: No.
And Social Security, that system that so many predict
will fail someday, won’t that agency make up for the
When you reach AARP age, 50 and up, the Social
Security Administration sends you annual forms
recapping your accumulated contributions to the fund.
Based on these figures, the notice tells you how
little you’ll get if you retire at 62 or later.
A baby-boomer, who started paying into Social Security
when he was in his middle teens, and contributing
every year since, could retire at 62, and get the
grand sum of $986 per month. That might be enough to
pay his utilities and insurance.
How is the rest of the nut going to be cracked?
The simple answer is by working until he drops.
Investment companies spend millions to advertise the
concept that we should save a lot for retirement,
beginning early, and even if we’re late to the game,
we can catch-up and still accumulate a nest-egg in
Simple math suggests this is partly true.
“Save early,” is sound advice, but catching-up so you
can have a life of leisure on the golf course or
quilting, just doesn’t seem feasible.
The other day I got a proxy statement from the Auto
Club which wants to increase the mandatory retirement
age of its Board of Directors to 73 or to 76. My
initial reaction was to toss out this appeal for my
I’m reconsidering, appreciating the fact that these
seniors may need the extra income.
In much of the wildly optimistic, goofball, New Age
literature, you still see the once funny saying that
on your deathbed, the last words you’ll utter will NOT
“Gee, I wish I spent more time at the office!”
Tell that to the distressed Midwestern homeowner I
mentioned earlier, and to millions of her
contemporaries, who are facing the prospect of
fighting to stay in, or to get back into the
Somehow I’m sensing that not staying employed long
enough is precisely what many will be lamenting.