So far outside the box you can't even see the box from here.
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Monday, August 5, 2013
Personal financial meltdowns
I've learned my lesson the hard way. No matter how stable or secure a financial situation is, it can go away in an instant.
When I was a firefighter, I thought my financial situation was pretty good. I had seniority in a unionized shop. We were told that if anything happened to us, we'd be taken care of. I even had some wage insurance that would cover me for a year.
Then I got injured and discovered I would not be taken care of. Legal expenses came out of my pocket. The first year wasn't bad, but once the insurance ran out, things got very tight. It took 4 years for everything to get settled. Had the state not settled with me, within two weeks my house was going up for auction. Mentally I'd let go of all my material possessions.
So now I have a little pension from the state. That's supposed to last for the rest of my life. When I retired the system was funded at 104%. Everyone could be paid and there would still be money left over. Last I heard it was funded at something like 35%. Good work professional money managers!
The strain is being felt. The state hasn't given me a raise in years. The medical subsidy did not keep up with the price of insurance so I had to drop medical benefits. However, the checks keep getting deposited on time -so far.
What will I do if the system goes under? Fortunately, I've been down that road before. I know what it feels like to say goodbye to all my possessions. You know what? It doesn't feel that bad. It's almost liberating. When you've lost everything, you've nothing to fear. Having no fear is a powerful arrow in a warrior's quiver.
Should those monthly checks every stop, I'd quickly strip my life down to the bare essentials. Waiting for foreclosures and tax seizures is for people with hope that something will turn up at the last minute. My luck was all used up on that years ago. Now I wouldn't chance it. I'd act first and liquidate on my terms. Before long my expenses would be reduced to the point that they could be satisfied with occasional casual labor. That's also a liberating feeling.
One thing the 2008 housing crisis has shown me. The big guys will be protected at all costs. The government bailed them out, not homeowners. The system was tweaked so that normal capitalist rewards and penalties would not take place. Don't expect rescue from “the system.” The big boys have their golden parachutes. Us little guys will be stitching together ratty old bed sheets as we fall to the ground.
Forget hope. Maybe not forget it, but don't trust in it. Consider what you'll do if things continue to grind down rather than progress forward. Prep like a pessimist. We might be doing a bit more than the metaphorical tightening of the belt. We might have to do the equivalent of deciding what limbs we can live without.
I live in an area of NH known as the Great North Woods. I'm in my dome-i-cile out in the county with my lovely wife and a varying number of family and friends
-part red neck, part hippie but all country. Experimenting and enjoying the adventure of life.