I only scan-read news headlines. I have little patience for what’s to come…unless there is a call for the world’s evacuation.
Depending on the patience of their perimeters at any given time, my retinae speed through the eye-level section of the main Yahoo! page (although, a bit of the head’s downward – a.k.a. the “I’m modest” – drop is advised). You know, the one with the image-enriched, horizontal “All Stories” escalator? With its leftward, rightward or “stop here and read” movements? Where you spot a life and death matter, such as the royal couple’s fake doubles having the royal baby before its due date?
A great invention for people like myself is the convenience of the click on one of the side arrows: go, go, go, pause (to check the announced immediacy, or better yet, its significance for humanity); go, go, go, pause (repeat), and so on. It was one of my “tell-me-only-when-there-is-life-on-Mars”-days again, when my attention span didn’t refuse some incoming data. Despite the fact that there was no hint at any global red alert. In fact, quite the contrary – as you will see for yourselves below, along with my attitude toward them:
“Hyperrealistic images” (So? I, after all, had been “hyper-“ventilating on account of my minute-detailing exposure through old and new Facebook friends of my country of birth to not only “realistic” but very real images of an internal-war-like development there since May 31, 2013.)
“What 128 degrees feel like” (So? I, after all, had known what those degrees feel like for the last eleven summers in my place of residence. That is: 90+ degrees of heat, hand-in-hand with high-level and resilient humidity, plus my 38+ degrees of heat-generating body fat.)
“Common diet, exercise mistakes” (So? I, after all, had demonstrated an award-winning persistence in repeating any and all ‘dieting’ and “exercise mistakes” anyone would claim to know about. “Common” or not.)
“Glittery nail polish for adults” (So? I, after all, had achieved the age of glamorous privileges where nails decide to skip growth. Why attract attention to “glittery” absences?)
Then appeared a caption that helped me forgive myself for having looked over the ones above: “What Have I Done? Baby Boomers Reveal Their Deepest Regrets” The opening statement related to my person in the custom-ordered fashion: “Over 50, underfunded, and ill-prepared for retirement.” What followed up was no cause for disappointment, either: “Unfortunately, that’s an all-too-common scenario for the Baby Boomer generation – those born between 1946 and 1964 — many of whom are still smarting from the economic downturn and are now looking back at their earlier financial choices with regret.”
The more I read, the more I realized the immense match in the financial regrets when “the Baby Boomers in [our] Yahoo! Contributor Network community” and myself were concerned. The core questions were the same: “Should they have bought that house at the height of the housing bubble? […] Should they have pursued a higher-paying career field?” The stories of Donna Hicks, Kimberly Schimmel, Rebecca Black, Karlene Trudell, Kelly Tweeddale and Larry Gross revealed an amazing similarity to that of mine:
“Why Didn’t I Save for Retirement? I entered into adulthood and even had a family without ever hearing terms such as ‘401(k)’ and had no idea how to plan for my future financially. Worse yet is that I am college educated but still had no financial knowledge. I did not know which way to turn to find out anything about financially preparing for later life, so I didn’t.”
Dear Donna: Even a Ph.D. didn’t help.
“I Squandered My Intellectual Capital[.] […] In my typical, all-or-nothing fashion, I embraced motherhood with gusto. My husband became the breadwinner while I cared for our” child. “[…] I waited too long to earn a low-value degree in a declining job market.”
Dear Kimberly: I took too long to earn a high-value degree on an all-consuming professional field in a back then foreigner-unfriendly, now steadily declining “job market.”
“I Should Never Have Taken That Early Withdrawal From My Pension Fund[.] […] Withdrawing funds from a pension is a taxable event, which results in reducing the payout amount significantly. Yes, withdrawing the funds helped me jump over my financial hurdle at the time. Nevertheless, considering the reduced amount I received and the loss of those retirement funds compared with what I had to do to replace them, it was a financial setback. Twenty-five years later, I still kick myself.”
Dear Rebecca: The freedom I bought for myself from a (non-abusive) marriage cost me a tragic collapse of my finances. “[Six] years later, I still kick myself” and will continue to do so “twenty-five years later,” if I were to have that much remaining time.
“Credit Card Debt Nearly Ruined My Retirement[.]”
Dear Karlene: As the matters stand for me at the moment, I am convinced my retirement is not “nearly” but surely ruined due to “credit card debt”.
“We Should Have Never Sold Our Dream Home[.]”
Dear Kelly: This issue is and will always be a painful reminder for me of a grave mistake I have committed before and during my divorce. I hope you have been able to correct your loss by buying your dream home back, or building it once again.
“Health, Money and First Impressions[.] […] Being 59 years old[,] […] I wish back, in my young days I had paid more attention to my health […] [.]”
Dear Larry: Your professional past (as a well-paid “accounting executive”) is nothing in which I have ever been trained. Regardless, I couldn’t possibly omit your story here. For, in age, hence in concerns about affording a future I am in a closest bracket to you. But moreover, your dominant dilemma is a mirror image of mine: Having compromised my health but having to make a living under strenuous circumstances for years to come.
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The narrations by the few Baby Boomers on their regrets over their early financial decisions and my interjections with an identical story-composite may appear to be about self-pity. Neither had such an aim. My intent was, rather, to adopt as a conversation framework – with all due post-mortem respect – a statement by Leo Tolstoy: “Happiness does not depend on outward things, but on the way we see them (goodreads).”
The mind-bridging I hope to see materializing here – among Baby Boomers and non-Baby Boomers alike – could center, for instance, around our different views on the conditions of and hindrances for our financial survival within the particular demands of our times. As a starter…my concerns accumulate within the periphery of those voiced in the article above, “What Have I Done?” Let’s assume we have a long life ahead and have loved ones toward whom we would like at least on occasion to display some monetary generosity. The “outward things” in the Tolstoy-deliberation, then, constitute nothing but a necessity. Let us now imagine the lack of them all: No retirement savings. Long lost, abandoned or lent intellectual capital. Irreversible and significant loss of savings to tax and fine due to early withdrawal from the retirement funds. Substantial amount in credit card debt. Sale of a high-value home irreplaceable in financial terms. Loss or compromise of health, hence loss or compromise of capacity to make a living.
I, for one, claim “happiness does […] depend on outward things,” for I can’t see in any different “way” a life without retirement funds or any intellectual capital to make a living off of; under the burden of heavy debt; with no four walls of my own (as in to rent), or with loss of health.
As I have done, I hope that you, too, will join in this conversation with your perspective on this matter. It would be a great pleasure for me to see you here, for the first time, or for your return visit. Whether you would prefer to accept my invitation or choose to remain silent. Either way, I welcome you all and wish you a week of good health and high spirits!
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Disclaimer – Dear Readers: All quotes in my main text originate from the one and the same article as it is written out in its complete title at the outset only, in order to avoid interruption to the flow of your reading by repeating the citing.
4 responses to “The Baby Boomer Generation: Finances”
Well done Hulya! Quite a reality check for us baby boomers.
Thank you, Kathy. With gratitude for your continued understanding and supportive words.
Feel really sad and hope that I can learn the lessons and do not have to have the same regrets 20 years from now. But then, its all destiny, no matter how hard we try, we may ultimately not get what we want or need. I hope you are fighting back and ready to keep this battle on as long as you can.
I hope you will have no regrets regardless of how many years down the road. As for all being “destiny”, I have some reservations only in the trust when it comes to “all”. I believe to some (reasonable) extent we do have some direction we can give to our own lives but that topic is way too complicated and will take you and me away from the one at hand. Thank you for your kind words expressing your concern. I am fighting back (at whatever that may be) and have been making new plans to combat the losses to a decent extent. But then again, aren’t we all in a similar struggle – unless, of course, we are privileged in financial terms from birth on? Thank you very much for listening again. It is always very good to see you here!