If you are like most Americans, you may suddenly be questioning what is going on with the economy. And if you are recently retired you might be questioning whether you did the right thing. While I am certainly not an economic advisor, I do realize there are things one can do to minimize the stress associated with rising prices, loss of investment value and a fixed income.
First it is important to take a realistic assessment of your current situation. It is time to sit down with family members and talk about the current status of investments. If you have money in the stock market it is imperative to know how much you have lost, or in rare cases, gained. The mortgage crisis necessitates that one look realistically at the market value of your home and what are your total costs of home ownership, including any mortgage, taxes, insurance, maintenance and utility costs. I always think it is good to put the information on a computer spreadsheet, or paper, so you have a visual reference.
It is also important to look at where you have your money. Investments we thought were safe a few years ago may not be that safe anymore. Money should be in a bank of good standing. By that, I mean one that is identified as one of the top five banks in the country. The government will insure savings up to $100,000 for each depositor. Therefore, if your retirement nest egg exceeds that amount, it may be a time to move savings to make sure all your money is secure.Also, look at what your investments have earned you in the last year, the last five years and the last ten years. Diversification is the key in this investment environment. Losses are minimized by diversifying your portfolio in most cases.
If you do not have a financial advisor, it may be time to go to one that is recommended by someone you trust. With the instability of the housing market and stock market, it may be time to put money where there is minimal financial risk, such as CD’s. When you find a financial advisor, make sure he is not paid by commissions on transactions he or she may make for you. You never want a person who would churn your money but one that looks for stable, long term investments.
On the bright side, I feel very fortunate that now that I am retired I do not have to commute to work each day and pay the high gas prices. I recently read there is a shortage of bicycles in major cities because people are reevaluating how they get to work. There are always errands to do and this is the perfect time to start riding a bike, or walking to places that before would have seemed too far away.
Another factor that may bring peace of mind to retirees is you can always go back to work. You may not want to go back to the high pressure job you had before, but you might sleep better at night if you bring in a few extra dollars to hedge against rising prices. Retirees are often highly sought out by employers who know they can employ well trained staff members who have a history of reliable work habits.
Finally, we are not alone. We are all in this together. While it might be scary to face the truth, it is the first step to assessing what really needs to be done.