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Making It Work

August 22, 2011 - I don't know about you, but it seems like I'm having a growing number of conversations that begin something like this: "I can't put my finger on it - it just seems like something is wrong these days." As more and more of us come to the realization that bad news isn't as rare as it used to be, a commensurate number have begun thinking in terms of preparing for what lies ahead. If you're a baby boomer, like me, those preparations include looking toward the day when you will stop working. That won't include all of us, however: 40 percent of all baby boomers will not ever be able to quit working. Part of the reason for that is another grim statistic - namely, that 36 percent of boomers have never saved for retirement. Statistics do not, of course, tell the whole story. They never have, they never will; particularly not now, with the future looking so very uncertain. Be that as it may, there is one unrelenting fact confronting these individuals: facing a future that may well incorporate economic and environmental collapse without adequate funds could be a nightmare.

Those of you for whom retirement (or, for that matter, disability) is not yet an immediate concern would do well to look to the future, nonetheless. Though you may have already begun accumulating funds in a 401K, there are a lot more factors to be taken into account. Do you have health insurance? Life insurance? If you're married, does your spouse work? Are you both healthy? Do you plan to pay for your house as quickly as possibly, or will you carry a 30-year mortgage? How many children do you have? How healthy are they? (One of the leading causes of bankruptcy in America is the inability to pay medical bills.) Will your parents reside with you one day? Will they be a financial asset, or a financial drain? Will you enjoy an inheritance one day?

There can be no doubt about it, there's a lot to consider. None of the aforementioned considerations is the subject of this article, however. That's because there's a statistic I haven't mentioned yet. Would you care to hazard a guess? Let's see; lots of these factors have to do with family, and so does this one. That's right - I'm talking about divorce. Divorce became much more common during the 70's, when we baby boomers were tying the knot. In fact, 35 percent of baby boomers have been divorced. While the tragedy of divorce is hard enough to deal with on an emotional level, it comes with a financial price, as well. Divorced women can face terrible financial hardship, particularly if their ex-husbands fail to pay child support. Other reasons for financial deprivation following a divorce include failing to reduce living expenses from a two-income level to a one-income level, and living beyond one's means in order to compensate children for the divorce. Guilt is a terribly powerful motivator.

So permit me to dole out, to the children and grandchildren of baby boomers, some good old-fashioned advice. She doesn't appreciate the fact that she never has to visit an auto mechanic? She's overly critical, and never bothers to utter the words "thank you?" He's a slob, and leaves the bathroom looking like a scene of utter devastation? He was mean about your cooking in front of friends? All are valid grievances. Really - your concerns are legitimate. Just when were you planning on talking to your partner about your unhappiness? My children, it does no good to compile a list of 57 of your helpmate's worst shortcomings. The list can't make things right, and in the meantime, your anger is eating away at you. Tell him he's a moron when he's a moron. Don't wait until you're ready to explode. Tell her she's thoughtless and uncaring. Yes, she'll cry and deny it. But the fact is, you stand a much better chance of working things out if you learn to communicate. It's one of life's hardest lessons. Learn it. That way, when things get rough, you will have someone alongside you to help you face it.

And who knows? You might even get to RETIRE!!


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