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Economy impacts financial planning for those retirement years

This is the second of three articles on the issues of retirement.

In the Ozarks of Missouri,my grandparents never got to retire, nor did I ever hear them discuss it. The dream of sitting on the front porch in a rocking chair with their dog at their feet was always a serene unrealized thought. Because of their hard-scrabbled living on a small farm, they never had enough money to retire. From sun-up to sundown they collected the eggs, milked the cows, worked for neighbors for 50 cents a day. washed their laundry by hand on a washboard, cooked, and did numerous other chores that occupied their time but brought little cash to show for that strenuous effort to survive.There was no retirement for them.

Today we have a better life, one in which we can dream and plan for retirement and actually realize it. Even in these threatening economic days of impending financial disaster, that dream is still with us. However, the challenge of our monetary system precipitates intelligent thinking about when, where and how to retire.

In wrapping up a career and settling into retirement, there are some issues to confront. Before retirement we can ask “now what?” As we confront the challenges of retirement we have more options that our grandparents. We have options such as downsizing, starting a new “second” career,” moving to the sun belt or some other area of choice, going back to school, giving a portion of our time as a community volunteer, or spending more time and resources on grandchildren.

Retirement is the optimum time to make decisions on the number and subjects of a will or trust, and certainly to think about our demise — be that in 10, 20 or 30 years, if we are lucky. Retirement presents us with challenges.

Our decision on when, where, and how to fully retire in the next five years will hinge on how to afford this longed for lifestyle.The stability of sources of income for retirement is more serious than it has ever been since the Great Depression of the 1930s. The tumbling stock market is trashing my investments. The balance and value on my portfolio is steadily going downhill, a 25% decline in value since January. I am thankful though, in the midst of this crisis, that none of my investment companies have gone bankrupt.  For me, less in value of investments is better than a total zero. I am following St. Paul’s advice: “be ye thankful.”

Our choice of  options for a retirement lifestyle will also hinge on the falling value of our homes. Whether it’s true or false, we are given the impression that the decline of the value and worth of our personal property is less than the median decline for the rest of the nation. It’s certain that home values are continuing to fall in many areas. We hope the fall is less in our community.

Another expense that can drain our savings for retirement will be the cost of medical care. In retirement this cost can quickly accelerate. One reliable study found that “65-year-old males generally need to save $196,000 to cover their health care premiums during retirement; for females, who live longer, it’s $224,000.”

For a successful retirement, first count the cost. The answer to “what now” as you contemplate retirement, is influenced by one’s personal assets, investments, pensions and income. The solution to this challenge may be to keep working or change the retirement date. In retirement, especially in the confusion and uncertainty of these days, life will not be easy.  However, a healthy and mature attitude can give us strength to confront the various challenges enveloping the thought of retirement.

Rev. Charles Moreland
Rev. Charles Moreland
Rev. Charles Moreland, retired, has lived in Clarksville for seven years and holds great pride in his adopted city and its people. His one objection in Tennessee is the Hall law of taxes on dividends and savings. Charles served in the U.S. Army Chaplaincy from 1966-1986, retiring to serve as a United Methodist pastor near Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. He serves on the Boards of Directors for the ARP, Roxy Theater and MCDP. Though retired, he is a regular speaker at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. His five grandchildren, ages two to thirteen years, live in Evansville, Indiana. He is a veteran of the Vietnam War and served in Germany and Korea while on active duty.

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