This is a riff on a Ravelry Rant of mine. Triggered by today's mail - I received my first invitation to join AARP.
I know for a lot of women that's a killer - ME?? OLD ENOUGH FOR AARP??? But...but...I'm still HOT!!! Right?? Right??? And yeah, I do have those thoughts too. But what really struck me was the Incongruity of an invite to join The American Association of Retired Persons, while smacking against the reality that I, and many of my friends, won't be able to afford to retire.
Not because we fucked up, bought McMansions and maxed the credit cards and bought boats and took vacations instead of investing in our retirement plans. I live in a 1600 sq. ft. house we bought as a Freddie Mac forclosure. My last vacation was sleeping on an air mattress at my son's house. I survived and even moved ahead after my husband died of cancer and my house was hit by 3 hurricanes in one year, I was able to manage everything thrown at me. I survived it all, and even held my own after a ruptured brain aneurysm. I am proud of what I have done, how I have survived it all, but I am still screwed because the Great Toilet of the Economy has been flushed, and I went down the drain with it.
I was unemployed for 5 months after my previous employer, a homebuilder, went into receivership - I finally started a good new job last week. Very good employer, good benefits, a 15% pay cut, but there were no other nibbles, let alone choices, so I have to accept it and smile. I really am grateful to have it, it really is a good opportunity in a hideous market. But it's 30 miles from my house, which has lost about $80K in value in the last year, which, silly me, I'd thought of as my "cushion" to put toward retirement planning. Invest in real estate! Yeah. Kiss that goodbye, and in FL the market is so dead it's not even worth listing it yet.
My new employer does allow us to flex hours to get out of the hideous Orlando traffic (public transportation nearly non-existent, and light rail plan killed AGAIN recently, because the old bastards who retire to FL do it because they think they'll never pay taxes again, so they vote against anything that involves money, and screw those working people). I have no option but to drive, all I can do is tweak my hours to make the commute as efficient as I can, and economize elsewhere to make up the cost of gas plus the pay cut, plus all of the other incidental costs of living rising as they are. Making up the savings I had to spend to live while out of work for 5 months is really not an option, so my emergency funds are depleted and my credit cards have balances and it'll take forever to pay them off on my new budget.
Oh, and did I mention that my 82 year old mother had to go into assisted living, which is costing approx $1,000 more each month than she gets in her monthly check? I am doing the math on her savings and will be selling off her assets and trying to figure out how to make this work. I think she'll be okay. She's far better off than I am, she at least HAS a guaranteed check every month.
I turn 50 next month, and today I got my first invite from AARP. The American Association of Retired Persons. Some years ago they shortened it to AARP, in recognition that most people didn't retire at 50. I think they're going to have to drop the R next, because my friends and I do not even dream about retirement - our 401Ks are losing value, the real estate we were told to invest in is tanking too, those of us who lost their jobs had to burn savings to live, those who still have jobs are scared every day that they're next. Retirement? Heh. We are so screwed. Which, in turn, hurts everybody, because much as we'd like to get out of the job market and leave it to you young'uns, a lot of us just can't.
The gas prices are just one part of an economic avalanche, and I don't think we have a clue about the ultimate effect.