Thursday, May 14, 2009

Could've Been Me

Thanks to Boston Gal for linking to this story on public radio: Putting a New Value on the Golden Years.

I have very mixed feelings as I read it.

Pretty much, any story about a single (in Meredith McKenzie's case, widowed) older woman coping with today's economic environment captures my interest. I think it is cool that she gave up real estate (or, it gave her up) to take a lesser-paying but more emotionally fruitful position helping to protect the environment. She was able to turn volunteer work into a second career, which is also admirable, though funding for her position is now in question. And she is able to adapt from renting a large home on the beach, to a one room, converted garage--again, making do with what she (no longer) has.

But what about her lack of savings?

My God! She's 56 years old, and has apparently been a widow for more than a decade. Not to mention, she was earning six figures! How could she NOT have saved anything?

I don't have a lot of room to talk--I didn't start serious savings until I was in my late 40's. I have my excuses: my child-rearing didn't end until last year; I wasn't earning anywhere near six figures; I--oh, never mind! The truth is, I just wasn't paying attention.

Then again, what about Meredith's lack of real estate? I mean, she was in the business. You'd think she might have saved toward a down payment, if not for retirement.

Meredith scares me because I can see how easily I might be her! And yet, she seems like the kind of person who would be great to be friends with, or to have to dinner.

I guess I just wouldn't take financial advice from her!


Anonymous said...

Better late than never. She's still young @56. She's just getting started. This economy has been a wake up call for many.

Carol said...

I hope that, after downsizing her life like she did, that she recognizes how important it will be to have "a little something" put aside for retirement....there's no telling how long she can keep on working...

Florence said...

Yikes! What if she gets sick? I'm all for volunteering for environmental work and downsizing but I need an income and an emergency fund or my stress level goes through the roof.

BTW, there's an article in yesterday's NYT that just boggled my mind:

In case the link doesn't work, the
title of the article is My Personal Credit Crisis.