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Not the Retirement she was looking for
Old 06-10-2012, 08:31 AM   #1
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Not the Retirement she was looking for

Apologies to Star Wars fans.

Laid-off Admin Assistant forced to use SS benefits early. “It just seems a waste of a life, to be honest.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/10/bu...eep-price.html
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Old 06-10-2012, 08:39 AM   #2
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I think this is going to be a reoccurring scenario for many in the future.
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Old 06-10-2012, 09:52 AM   #3
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I agree, sadly.
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Old 06-10-2012, 10:02 AM   #4
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She made 64K a year and a couple years being unemployed depleted her savings? She lived in Charlotte NC and could not find a job? I know Charlotte and she could get a job waiting tables there very easily. I do not feel sorry for people with stories like hers.
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Old 06-10-2012, 10:19 AM   #5
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I know Charlotte and she could get a job waiting tables there very easily.
I would assume not for the $64k/year she was accustomed to earning.

A (married) woman who lives a few doors down from us lost her job at a local (mega) company a bit over two years ago.

DW/she speak once in awhile, and she has the same type of attitude. She's only willing to take a job that is smilar to the one she held for 20+ years in pay/benefits/duties.

Unfortunately, due to her being in her early/mid-50's (can't speak of her education/experience), I doubt if that will ever happen. Her DH is at the same company (different area) and it looks like he's OK at this time.

Some people are just not willing to give up what they had but expect (in today's economy) to replicate a long held position.

I can see where layoff's (of older employees) along with the feeling that you can just "replace" your job is not facing reality. Additionally, if you're not willing to do with less, you can burn through your assets - whatever they are - at a much higher rate rather than understand that you need to sit down and make a possible plan for the future rather to just be "a wishing and a hoping" for the future.

It is a sad situation and yes, I believe it will continue to happen in this economy, and for us that are a bit "over the hill" and still need/desire to w*rk...
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Old 06-10-2012, 10:51 AM   #6
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Altogether now, doesn't she really suck? How could anyone be so feckless? Isn't she morally bankrupt?
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Old 06-10-2012, 10:52 AM   #7
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I guess I'm firmly in the "no sympathy" camp. I wouldn't say she "sucks" but she didn't take every opportunity she had available. Unfortunately, I've seen many people do exactly what she did and ended up with the same result.

I lost my 6 figure job in 2002 at the age of 51. We slashed expenses to the bone - sold the house and moved into an apartment. By the end of 2002 I was working as a substitute teacher for about $10k. DW had a low pay position with benefits so it wasn't a disaster. We were actually still saving money but family income was less than a third of the prior level. I was studying to get emergency certification to teach math. I never stopped looking for a "real" job during all this and got a position seriously below my prior position. I jumped at it. The company s*cked big-time and I got another position quickly. This time as a contractor at NASA. It was way below my original level and salary. Less than 2 years later I got a position without the title and theoretical prestige of the original position but it paid more. It paid double my NASA contract job.

Yes Virginia, you can survive a job loss in a bad labor market. You just have to swallow anything that resembles "pride" and focus on the big picture.
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Old 06-10-2012, 11:57 AM   #8
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Can't teach (some) old dogs new tricks?
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Old 06-10-2012, 12:13 PM   #9
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Altogether now, doesn't she really suck? How could anyone be so feckless? Isn't she morally bankrupt?
Besides her age, he other big problem is being single.
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Old 06-10-2012, 12:50 PM   #10
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She maybe didn't manage as well as some smarter, more disciplined, and luckier folks would have. But she looks hungry to me, and I am sympathetic.

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Old 06-10-2012, 01:15 PM   #11
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We don't really know her or anything about her other than what the article included.

I can't even imagine trying to live on such a low SS check and nothing else, though. I suppose she has food stamps too, but even so her situation sounds awful.
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Old 06-10-2012, 01:41 PM   #12
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I feel sorry for her. But for the grace of God go I.
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Old 06-10-2012, 01:54 PM   #13
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I guess I'm firmly in the "no sympathy" camp. I wouldn't say she "sucks" but she didn't take every opportunity she had available. Unfortunately, I've seen many people do exactly what she did and ended up with the same result.

I lost my 6 figure job in 2002 at the age of 51. We slashed expenses to the bone - sold the house and moved into an apartment. By the end of 2002 I was working as a substitute teacher for about $10k. DW had a low pay position with benefits so it wasn't a disaster. We were actually still saving money but family income was less than a third of the prior level. I was studying to get emergency certification to teach math. I never stopped looking for a "real" job during all this and got a position seriously below my prior position. I jumped at it. The company s*cked big-time and I got another position quickly. This time as a contractor at NASA. It was way below my original level and salary. Less than 2 years later I got a position without the title and theoretical prestige of the original position but it paid more. It paid double my NASA contract job.

Yes Virginia, you can survive a job loss in a bad labor market. You just have to swallow anything that resembles "pride" and focus on the big picture.
I have a lot of admiration for you. Seeing some of my co-workers who went through similar situations, I know it is very difficult to do what you did. People tend to hope and wait for their luck to turn, and in some cases, it doesn't, and in hindsight, they regret that they didn't sell the house sooner, they didn't cut the spending more, sooner, etc, etc. Also, it is difficult for older people to realize that they are old now, and the odds are against them.
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Old 06-10-2012, 01:54 PM   #14
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We don't really know her or anything about her other than what the article included.

I can't even imagine trying to live on such a low SS check and nothing else, though. I suppose she has food stamps too, but even so her situation sounds awful.
I wouldn't assume she also get food stamps on her social security check level. She might but it's not so easy for a single person to get them.

There is a lot of "morality play" in this story although the writer focuses on her poverty despite her desire to get another job. Look at how fast she burned through her savings. She obviously hadn't saved much and probably did little to reduce her cash flow until it became critical. She wanted to work until she was 70 but how realistic is that for many people? She obviously had no Plan B. The article said she went through numerous part time jobs. I know Houston has an infinite number of retail and fast food positions open as I type and I certainly see people older than me/her in them. Yes, they probably pay around $10/hr but that would sure supplement her SS.

My current employer had a layoff in 2008. About 1/3 of my department was let go. I was included in the layoff but another department temporarily picked me up for a special project. When it was done, the layoffs were over and the company was rehiring people. I talked with a number of people at approximately my pay level. I was appalled at the number that said they were going to make no lifestyle changes, live off their 401k (no outside savings to speak of) and hope for the best.

I'm sorry. You can't fix STUPID.
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Old 06-10-2012, 02:09 PM   #15
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I have a lot of admiration for you. Seeing some of my co-workers who went through similar situations, I know it is very difficult to do what you did. People tend to hope and wait for their luck to turn, and in some cases, it doesn't, and in hindsight, they regret that they didn't sell the house sooner, they didn't cut the spending more, sooner, etc, etc. Also, it is difficult for older people to realize that they are old now, and the odds are against them.
Our posts crossed in cyber-space. Thank you for your compliment but I owe most of my financial and work ethic opinions to my parents.

My mother was a spend-aholic. We were constantly broke and in debt. My father was ultra-blue collar and lost jobs in the '50's steel industry shake out and various other industries until he got a job as a letter carrier in 1969 - the year I started college. I got not a penny from my parents for college and never expected one. Financial problems continued until my mother passed away at 65. My father retired from the post office with about 20 years of service a couple of years later with almost no cash and only SS and the post office pension. He passed away 15 years later with almost a hundred thousand in assets.

When I was in high school, he got a contract to cut FHA repo houses. He was out there every day and two of his sons were out there every Saturday and Sunday cutting lawns. He said he would pay us each a dollar an hour which he never did and I knew at the time he never could. I asked him about this just before he died and he got a big smile on his face. He said that was what my share of his estate should cover.

I saw what uncontrolled spending does. I also saw a man kicked down so many times even I lost count but I don't think he ever kept count. He just kept getting up and doing the best he could with what he could find. I like to think I learned the best lessons each could teach me.
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Old 06-10-2012, 02:14 PM   #16
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Actually, I do kind of feel sorry for her, if only for the lack of preparedness. She says she always assumed that she would work until 70, so perhaps that expectation of continued employment meant she had to save only a little. Likewise, the article describes running through her savings and 401k while she (perhaps unrealistically) expected to find employment like that she lost. It doesn't sound like she adjusted lifestyle until she had to. Even now, her budget apparently includes cellphone and satellite TV.

I'm all for positive thinking, but if you think so positively that you believe you are bulletproof and immune to negative consequences, then you can really suffer if things don't turn out as well as you hoped for (I cannot say "planned for" in this case).

I think a lot of people seem to be in this camp.
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Old 06-10-2012, 02:38 PM   #17
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Actually, I do kind of feel sorry for her, if only for the lack of preparedness. She says she always assumed that she would work until 70, so perhaps that expectation of continued employment meant she had to save only a little. Likewise, the article describes running through her savings and 401k while she (perhaps unrealistically) expected to find employment like that she lost. It doesn't sound like she adjusted lifestyle until she had to. Even now, her budget apparently includes cellphone and satellite TV.

I'm all for positive thinking, but if you think so positively that you believe you are bulletproof and immune to negative consequences, then you can really suffer if things don't turn out as well as you hoped for (I cannot say "planned for" in this case).

I think a lot of people seem to be in this camp.
Again, unfortunately some people fail to face the reality of their respective situations. Thinking one is always going to have gainful and good paying employment into their late 60s, I think is unrealistic for most, especially in this economy. Failing to recognize that age discrimination is alive and well, and always will be, hurt this lady with the unrealistic expectation that she would eventually land something comparable to what she had.

Again, I don't think she is or will necessarily be the exception in the future as many fail to plan and have an unrealistic of view of what it takes to be financially independent. All that said, anyone of us could be in dire straights due to some unknown catastrophic event were to take place in our lives.
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Old 06-10-2012, 02:57 PM   #18
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I understand people sympathizing with her and, on the other hand, I can understand the critics too who say that there are things she could have done better.

I've always felt that there is so much underutilization of human talent. Some people are not entrepreneurs and just want to perform well on a job. Just glad I don't need a job. It can be very discouraging looking for one.

I mentioned on another thread that our son just found a job after graduating a few weeks ago. But he planned his schooling around it, interned for it while in college, and interviewed thoughtfully. He starts his first professional job tomorrow.
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Old 06-10-2012, 02:58 PM   #19
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I think we as a society have lost our capacity to be compassionate toward those who have made "bad decisions" (defined as ones we don't agree with all too often). Just because I may think someone made poor decisions doesn't mean I think they "deserve" the fate they have. I sense society coming down more and more on the "they don't deserve our help or sympathy" side of the fence about more and more things.

Having said that, there's something to be said for "fool me twice, shame on me" if they are unable to learn from past mistakes.
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Old 06-10-2012, 02:59 PM   #20
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...(snip)...
I saw what uncontrolled spending does. I also saw a man kicked down so many times even I lost count but I don't think he ever kept count. He just kept getting up and doing the best he could with what he could find. I like to think I learned the best lessons each could teach me.
Thanks for sharing your story and best of luck to you!

We should note that not all of us got the lessons we did and some people are not telling the whole story. It may be there are things that have held them back that are too personal or even embarrassing to tell a reporter. Those things could lead us to be more sympathetic towards them, or the opposite.
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