The probing question “Are you ready to retire?” is more perplexing today in the light of our financial plight. There is uncertainty about the place we call retirement. As I write I have a “happy face” coffee cup staring at me; one that has been diverted to a container of pencils, markers and pens. I wish we could don a happy face as we ponder our retirement and a secure financial future. Instead, for many our dreams for that better future had taken on a sad face.
It’s hard to maintain a happy face about our future when our personal finances and monetary worth for retirement are steadily declining, when our retirement plans are going bankrupt. In our communities, cities and states are raiding their rainy day funds to prevent raising taxes. International governments and their citizens are also in financial straits. Presently, places from our own Clarksville, to Mexico City, to Heidleberg, London, Asian cities are all experiencing financial world. Such unfortunate events precipitate the “sad face” facing retirees.
Our neighbors who have already retired are facing despair as their financial security diminishes substantially. In the locker room I hear complaints from retirees who suddenly find their secure plans for their future sabotaged by the monetary crisis. Social Security had its marginal annual increase and that helps some budgets but is not enough to offset other losses.
Our retirement plans are swayed by economy and income. Previous plans are now scrapped on the rubbish heap of our dreams as the economy suffers a nervous breakdown. Optimism and that “smiley face” have made a quick retreat as investments drop 25% or more of their previous net worth.
Personally, I refuse to estimate my losses, though for now they are just “paper losses.” I recognize that refusal is a form of denial and wishful thinking, but perhaps now, after Christmas and the holiday season, I’ll find the fortitude and motivation to analyze my situation. Statistics show that “only 18% of workers are confident that they would have enough money for a comfortable retirement, down from 27% in 2007.” The sad faces emerges.
The smiling face, that symbol of optimism, is still there though; it’s a psychological, emotional and spiritual dimension that can help take this adversity in stride and keep at least a faint smiley face going.
“Our retirement health doesn’t have to fluctuate with the health of the economy.” It’s well to remember and to practice the creed that well-being is not completely dependent on dollars and bank accounts. We can have a measure of confidence, hope and encouragement as our resources diminish and fade.
We can improve the smiley face with the rationalization and understanding that we do have some control; our health and outlook should hinge on the things we can control:
- Spending habits
- Retirement savings
Managing these items expands the potential for retiring with that smiley face. Read and study informational materials on finance, such as those reports in Money Advisor by Consumer Reports. A wealth of valuable information is at your fingertips.