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Old 01-16-2018, 08:20 PM
3,018 posts, read 2,239,304 times
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Originally Posted by Neerwhal View Post
This is in the same family as "what advice would you give a [20/30/40] year old" except I'd really like to hear from people who came back from a big retirement setback.

When we were in our late 30s, all of the following happened to us:
  • *Divorce (not mutually agreed but you can't stop someone from an affair and walking out on small children)
    *Job loss during recession
    *Car accident
    *Medium health issue ($5k costs not covered because it was dental, during unemployment + divorce)

Those were the major things. After surviving about a year on all emergency funds and retirement cashed out during a low, we started at about $0, good credit still. Other people we knew faced major health issues. Some lost their homes because they had to sell underwater to move to remain employed (we didn't know anyone with subprime loans), tanked their credit anyway.

But I'm only 40.

For those who faced serious misfortune, and made it to 60 - 70 in good shape, how did you come back to get into the retirement phase? What did you do to make up time?

(No lectures about how people aren't supposed to get sick, divorced, or why anyone should take a job that pays less than their unemployment insurance even when it will cause them to lose said insurance, please.)

I was able to hold on to my job and ride out the housing crash of 2006-2010 which set me back five years. My wife was fortunate to stay employed as well.

How did I make up for lost time? I couldn't. I was already working as many hours during the week as possible.

But again my wife and I were fortunate to be in our late 40s when the housing market collapsed. We had time to recover. I'm 60 this year and no way could we recover if I were to make such poor financial decisions again. (I bought investment property back in 2005.)

Last edited by john3232; 01-16-2018 at 09:08 PM..
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Old 01-16-2018, 08:39 PM
Location: East Coast
2,902 posts, read 4,582,931 times
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Originally Posted by yellowsnow View Post
My H dropped dead at 61. No will...because he was still too young to drop dead. I ended up losing half of what I had because in most states if you die intestate, the widow can only inherit half. That's the law. You can't change it. The moral to this story is do your will.
Originally Posted by exit82 View Post
Just curious- who gets the other half? I would assume the remaining spouse gets "everything"
I know someone whose husband died intestate. Half of certain assets went to her, the other half was split among the children. Yes, indeed...make sure you have a will and keep it up to date.
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Old 01-16-2018, 10:29 PM
Location: Seattle Eastside
640 posts, read 334,169 times
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Great stories, all of these. Thanks for sharing.

I guess I should have specified, not "how did you keep from shooting yourself in the head" but "how did you manage to earn enough to take care if your family and still retire".

We contribute the max to our 401ks, put in for a Roth, and are saving in our home but by any standard we won't be able to retire until 72-75.

Obviously continuing to live will be helpful in achieving a retirement goal.

It is great to hear all of your stories though. Most advice given to people my age and younger is essentially, "live a perfect life, be an engineer or a doctor, and don't get sick."

It's true but not realistic.
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Old 01-17-2018, 07:05 AM
Location: Ft. Myers
17,628 posts, read 11,177,890 times
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Sometimes life can kick you right in the behind, and you just have to keep perspective. About 20 years ago, I was going through a very ugly, horrible divorce. It was tearing the family apart, and I was pretty close to being a madman. I was doing things that were so out of character for me, but I was just going crazy.

One day, when I was feeling particularly low, I was driving home from work and stopped at a red light. Crossing in front of me were two people who were coming home from the grocery store. Both of them were in wheelchairs, and both were evidently very paralyzed , by the way they appeared. Suddenly, I thought to myself that my world could be so much worse, and I was feeling sorry for myself while these two brave people were not letting their problems stop them from living their lives.

I guess, no matter how bad things get, there is someone out there who would trade their problems for ours in a heartbeat.
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Old 01-17-2018, 07:37 AM
Location: Wonderland
44,768 posts, read 36,172,094 times
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When I was about 40, within a year all this happened to me:

1) I had to have a complete hysterectomy.
2) I found out my husband was having multiple affairs.
3) I filed for divorce.
4) Since I co owned a business with my soon to be ex husband, I had to disengage from that and start over.
5) My mom had a major stroke and needed my help - out of state.
6) I had to sell my "dream house" and move.
7) My oldest son got arrested (charges dropped but still stressful).
8) My dog died.
9) I found out that my ex husband had falsified taxes for years, so I had to go back and refile about seven years of taxes or the IRS would come after me for about $100K - because my now ex husband had literally disappeared off the face of the earth (more on that next).
10) My ex husband disappeared, which led to a criminal investigation. I was quickly cleared of any implication of criminal activity but it was still stressful and ridiculous.

A year later, I met the man who is now my husband. I took the opportunity during and after the divorce, to totally re evaluate my life and to get myself together, back on my feet, etc. It was GREAT - honestly the best thing that had ever happened to me, but at the time it was absolute hell to go through. But I got to start from scratch so to speak. I rebuilt my career, my health, my mindset, my finances, and most of all, my faith. I rebuilt my relationships with family members, with healthy boundaries in place. I found out that I was made of some very strong stuff but I also found out that when I thought I was completely alone, I was not alone - my faith in God was restored.

I made a conscious decision NOT to become an embittered middle aged woman and it worked. It was a great opportunity to get down to basics and to regroup, and that's what I did. Much better for it all.

Now I am 56 and I've been happily married to a terrific guy for 12 years. We've built a great life together. By the way, he is 60 and he had also gone through a terrible divorce, lost just about everything (except his job), and like me had even had to deal with the IRS due to a deceptive ex spouse. Unbeknownst to me, while I was going through my own personal purge, he was too - and he was also reaching the same conclusions. I firmly believe that God put us together. I think He does have a sense of humor and I think He probably looked down on His creation and said something along the lines of "Bless their hearts...I think I'll give them a chance together - at least they'll laugh together a lot." And we have!
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Old 01-17-2018, 08:01 AM
Location: Coastal New Jersey
56,071 posts, read 54,565,498 times
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I got divorced in my early 40s after a marriage to someone with a lot of bad, expensive habits. I had to raise my daughter with only occasional, random, child support payments on which i could not rely. I was tens of thousands of dollars in debt.

The upside is that I had been working for the same public transportation agency since I was 20, and while I was never going to be rich (and I don't have a degree, went in after secretarial school), we had primo health benefits and we are in a state pension plan.

They had a 401K-type program that's set up for the public sector, but I lived to the penny and could not afford to participate.

About ten-fifteen years ago, I found myself in a position where I possessed some historical knowledge that had left with a lot of retirees, and people I'd worked with when I was young were now in positions of authority. Over five years I had three good promotions, and in the next eight years I got a couple more. I bought a home (condo) for the first time at 52. I retired from a management position with responsibilities unique to my department and the region in general. My pension is more than sufficient, and since I left two years ago, I've been working part-time to pay off some debt I still carried from my daughter's education. I have not looked for a job. They have come to me.

I think I'll be done soon. I have good health, knock on wood, and I took my health benefits with me at no cost when I retired. I would like to enjoy not working.

If I look back 18 - 20 years, I thought I might be in a worse position than I am at this point.

Last edited by Mightyqueen801; 01-17-2018 at 08:39 AM..
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Old 01-17-2018, 09:07 AM
Location: Cushing OK
14,547 posts, read 17,546,296 times
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Originally Posted by GeoffD View Post
I bought a condo at age 30 a year before the S&L meltdown. I sold it a few years later for 60 cents on the dollar. I had to accelerate payments for several years to get out and I had to borrow against my paid-for car to have the cash to pay the realtor fee. So I had negative net worth in my early 30's. This was back when your choice was bankruptcy or paying your debts. No such thing as "forgiveness" or "short sale". I kind of roll my eyes at what happened in the Great Recession.

At age 40, I got divorced. I had to do 'divide-by-2' on my net worth. I had to sell a very nice house that was almost paid for settle. I'd done pretty well. Inflation-adjusted, my net worth then was similar to what it is now.

At age 50, I got divorced again. This one wasn't as costly but it made a dent in my finances.

At the beginning of the Great Recession. I was unemployed for 14 1/2 months.

Last year, I was unemployed for another 10+ months.

I've gotten very good at having no illusions about my personal finances. When I'm not working, I'm able to crank my spending way back. The first time I was unemployed, I was able to live off an unemployment check and interest income. The second time, I spent about 15% of my emergency fund.
One of the best things which can happen to someone just starting out financially is to learn from it. It doesn't matter if you have six figures or 4, or less. It's time to define what you have and what you need, and how you can make these figure together. Its also time to look at how you spend every penny, and ask if you really really needed that purchase you got on a whim.

Though its hard, its good for those starting out, or those who feel untouchable, to get into the habit of a budget and limits on stuff spent without there being a really good reason, and how to prioritize your spending. And to not assume life will go on the same and the plan for real emergencies.

Sadly you are a rarity and most people don't have a clue what to do if financial disastor strikes. I was raised by parents who remembered, and spent carefully. And I benefited from the accounting classes I took. I got used to seeing available cash as what's left after the bills and food, and think about it before I hit enter.

My net worth isn't really worth dealing with, but the idea of a budget based on reality is the cornerstone of any and all money decisions and has made it possible for me to have a home and not have to spend huge amounts to keep it.
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Old 01-17-2018, 12:07 PM
Location: We_tside PNW (Columbia Gorge) / CO / SA TX / Thailand
22,569 posts, read 39,952,759 times
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Originally Posted by yellowsnow View Post
There are losses you can't recover from. You just do the best you can with what you have left. ...
My H dropped dead at 61. ...
I worked for a while but all the good jobs were gone and it made no sense to work for lousy wages and no benefits. So after a while I gave up on the idea of ever recovering what I lost. I just do the best I can!
^^^ Heed this advice ^^^

My parents and inlaws both lost everything after retirement, they survived, but had to do different jobs / tasks / have reduced expectations of retirement spending. Both were self-employed.
My mom did 6 'flip' homes ((primary residence) tax free gains) AFTER retirement (she did a lot of the work and was not in good health as a result. She continued to have a very good retirement (between flip homes). At age 88 I would say her 'flip' days are over (but she still hunts for bargains).

FIL did a lot more 'contracting' / work (until age 80)

Neighbors spent all their retirement savings bailing out an adult child, they will be working into their 80's (Self employed). They are doing fine, just re-adjusted expectations / spending.

Friends we were with last night had an investment advisor that stuck ALL their retirement investments with Madoff. Poof - GONE They started a 'home repair business' at age 70

  • Keep diversified, (income and investments)
  • Don't get married if divorce is an option (rather than 'till-death-do-us-part')
  • Have estate planning from day one (first day you have a dependent, especially kids)
  • Be prepared to execute Plan B (always have one)
  • Don't over-extend (leveraged time and $$)
  • Live below you means (so you have practice when you have NOTHING)
  • Don't burn your bridges
  • You may need to work late in life (keep your skills and health in check)
  • Don't over-react (such as driving on ice... no sudden movements, no agressive braking)

"Life is Fragile, Handle with Care" (A sticker I kept on the rear fender of my racing motorcycle)
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Old 01-17-2018, 05:47 PM
Location: R.I.
978 posts, read 605,665 times
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In 2001 at the age of 44 my 49 year old husband died suddenly from a heart attack. Fortunately for me two weeks prior to my husband's death I finally returned to full time work which was with the Federal Government after flitting around with different part time jobs for a couple of years prior. Within a month following my husband's death I was informed by his heath insurance carrier which I was covered under that I had one more month of coverage then adios. Thankfully I was able to pick up coverage with my new job immediately, and additionally I picked up private TDI insurance because Fed workers don't pay into state TDI and I really needed that now being completely self supporting.

I did as best as I could to move on and working full time was a blessing that took me away from my very lonely house. Through the purchase of a car I met a wonderful man and we became friends and a year after our meeting we began dating. Life began to start to look up and then out of the blue I started not feeling well, long story short I was diagnosed with endometrial cancer. Thankfully my cancer was caught early, and having to be out of work a number of months I was very glad I decided to pick up that TDI insurance.

Since my husband and I concentrated in paying off our home which we did 3 years before he died, there was not much in the way of savings for retirement because that was our next goal. I did not go into panic mode because I knew at least I would retire with a pension, but that and SS would not be enough for the long haul so I had to additionally save outside of that. With not not having a mortgage to pay and getting fairly steady salary increases, that allowed me to max contribute to my TSP/401K which fortunately I had enough work years ahead of me to contribute to make up for the retirement saving that we put off so I would be able to self fund my own retirement. I won't be retiring at 62 which happens next year, but very happy that I should be able to when I hit my Social Security FRA of 66.6.

As they say sh-t happens in one way or another for everyone over the course of their lives and I don't think there will ever be an immunization created to prevent that. And as bad as things can be, you will always find another in far worse shape than you so you count what little blessings you have left when you are going through a difficult time in your life and do your best to move forward because you can't go back to correct past mistakes or retrieve losses.
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Old 01-17-2018, 07:38 PM
4,433 posts, read 2,612,363 times
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Well, many on here know my synopsis story of at one point in my life being homeless and living under a bridge.
I've also started basically COMPLETELY OVER again about 7 times in my life.

First, my father used to beat the living craps out of us, and my mother had MS and by age 9 as the eldest child I had to start taking on not only her housekeeping role, but to do her personal care as well. By age 13 she was in a wheelchair and the beatings stopped at 14 but I was getting big enough to fight back, even though I was a short scrawny kid. So childhood was not the most pleasant.

When I graduated high school WITH a N.Y. state Regents diploma i went to community college to please MOTHER. I was burnt out on all that intense grueling studying for the 3 hour regents exams. I about flunked out, so I told my father rather than waste the money, is like some time to figure out things and went to work. St first I was minimum wage, but changed jobs and willing to 3rd shift for the shift differential, when I was recruited for different department I was given a raise above the differential, so I was well above minimum by then. Thst worked a couple years toll I read about much higher paying jobs in another state, so I left "home" and moved there...my first starting over.

There I was hired to be a receiving supervisor for a dept store, and was paid well above minimum. WITH a new vehicle and extremely high cost of living I took s second job in a restaurant cooking. That was fine but several things went wrong. I was making $10.00/ hr when minimum was what $3.65 i saved a lot of money though, about $50k but: 1) I began having back problems, the beginning of degenerative disc disease setting in at 24. 2) a house fire in the middle if the night in new England in Feb where I had to crawl out a window wearing only socks and underwear, all I had worn to bed. I had to be treated for smoke inhalation at the hospital after. So after losing a house full of schtuff I started over again in place. 3) Then a few years later 1990 comes and The economy tanked in that resort area. I left to start over again in a new state, florida. There I also took one year of college business management courses, came out with 3 As and 1 B per semester.left before I could finish.

While in Florida because the winter season was closing, jobs were hard to find. Then I got home invaded robbed at hunting knife point. That wasn't good boding, so I left to move "home" and start over yet again.

At home I took pay cuts as a stocker in a grocery store, bit COL was soo much lower i could do with one job. But tge next thing started medically was intense gall bladder issues, but it took them 5 years to realize it needed to come out. My back staryed to pkauge me more and more. Otger medical issues, set in and I had no insurance through work. Then I lost thst job, had too much medical time off only allowed 3 days a year, and exceeded that. I floundered from and through job after job. Back to minimum wage then.

Then 1995 I started long term stays in the hospital bith for exploratory and corrective surgeries. In one 12 rolling month period I spent 8 months of thst in the hospital.

By 1997 I was homeless having hone through all my savings and retirement and found a quiet bridge next to railroad tracks to live under. It happened to he close to a friend, who would let me sleep on his couch during bitter cold nights. I finally got approved after 5 applications to welfare die to homelessness, but it was winter and all the men's rooms were full, so I stayed withvssid friend who let me stay then could I could pay him rent, he ended up using me and my funds and Food stamps .
I found a place a dump really of a "cottage" that I could afford and the landlord let me pay bimonthly, when my cash benefits came in. This,was yet another starting over. I furnished the cottage literally from curbside cast offs from the "wealthier neighbor hood" near by. I literally carried furniture home on my bad back. I was advised to apply for SSDI.
More hospital stays, more surgeries, more medical issues. In 1999 I was well enough to attend our community college this time for health care administration, since I knew so much about it. But once again health issues cropped up causing me to drop out after one semester.

My OH came into my life in 2000. In fall 2002 I was approved for SSDI by the admin law judge. In 2003, everything seemed better.

My OH had just come out of bankruptcy, and I was broke and credit crashed. I got us on a happy road. Now we own a house, have a 2006 and 2014 vehicles paid for, have paid down the house where we now oen 54%. We took on some dbt to upgrade and finish off the bonus room, we should have all that debt and tge house paid for in another 3 years, 5 years,after buying it.and money in the bank. Not as much as we could, but as soon as all the debt and house are gone we should be able to starts socking away in earnest fir retirement .

I have just had my 21st surgery, take 19 meds to keep this body going, have a specialist of almost every type looking after me.

I have gone back to work to help pay the bills and am enjoying it but my back says otherwise some days.

So i, when faced with adversary, I have just always started over!!!

We plan to fully retire when my OH turns 70 in 2029, and me at 67 in 2030. That is if we are good. Well have about 10 years of socking away money in addition to what we already have (not enough), and will inherit at least three properties if nothing else. Well convert those to rentals in our chosen retirement area . Well be able to buy about 10 rentals in exchange for thise 3 northern properties. And hopefully can spend some more return trip time in Hawai'i as,well. But if not we'll be happy in the warmer climate.

Thats,the longer version.
Hope you enjoy.
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