Observations on life

I lost half my retirement savings in the Great Recession. 

No doubt you have heard the above phrase repeated many times. You may also have heard that home value declines caused a great loss of accumulated wealth.

All that was true at the low point of the recession, but it’s not true any longer. Even inept investors like me have recovered, that is as long as they didn’t panic and lock in their losses.

Since 2009 the stock market has recovered and more and even housing prices have recovered in most areas. In other words, the average American’s  wealth has and continues to grow … provided they have made and continue to make prudent financial decisions for which you do not have to be a financial genius.

Save early, save often, save much

Save early, save often, save much

For my part being age 72 and retired six years, I am a conservative investor, perhaps a bit too conservative for my own good. Nevertheless, I compared my 401k balance on the day before I retired and as of yesterday. I found that even after taking the required minimum distributions, I have $1.173 for each dollar I had on January 1, 2010 and that is with over half the account in fixed income investments. I could have done a lot better with a bit more equity fund allocation.

There is a lesson here, don’t believe all the gloom and doom you hear about. Stay the course, make prudent financial and life decisions. Opportunity still exists.

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2 replies »

  1. I saw a report the said the bottom 20% income group net worth grew 48% over the last 20 years and the middle class net worth has grown 40%, Looks good on paper, but most of that is because of home values and that is only accessible with a HELC loan and you will have to pay interest. Better than high interest credit cards, but you do put your house at risk. Also, in that same 20 years inflation has moved prices up 60%, so many are worse off. Everything costs more so when you use credit to purchase cars, homes, and other stuff you are paying more in interest charges. Even with the low interest rates today on car loans, you will pay double the interest on a loan today. My income has gone up 60% in the last 20 years and my standard of living has remained the same, I have stayed even with inflation, many people have not been so lucky. I live in a low cost of living state. No wonder many do not have anything left to pay for college for their kids or put much money away for retirement.

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    • Actually over the last 20 years inflation has gone up 51%. Measuring income is tricky. If you stay in the same job doing the same thing for twenty years, you are not going to get very far ahead. That has always been true. General wage increases have always tracked inflation more or less. The key is promotions, changing careers and or, as I also did figuring out how to make extra money on the side. Two of my three sons are doing that now. One does home improvement as a side job and he has a masters in business management and the other got his real estate license to supplement his income. People can’t sit still and wait for things to happen.

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