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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.

-Sixbears

19 comments:

  1. Sixbear i understand how you feel.I have a couple of campers you have the veggie van i have apiece of property in a friends name also.My wife understands why i have fall back positions.Depending on a house of cards is crazy without a fall back option.At worst we would do work camping.How often have you had coffee on the deck and looked around and wondered "if i wasnt tied to here where would i be" I have many times.Its the wander lust that makes the mind turn to these thoughts.Plus we know life can shit on us!So we plan if it did.

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    1. My lovely wife and i deal with wander lust by wandering for months at a time. It is nice to have a home and family to come back to, but the family part is the important part.

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  2. Knowing first hand what can happen and being mentally prepared for dealing with it seems like a big plus. A step ahead of many, I fear!

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    1. They are hard lessons to learn, and really, I hope most people never have to learn them.

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  3. You can count on no-one except the Lord, not even yourself. And don't think the Lord will do things like you expect.

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    1. Sometimes the only thing in life we have left is faith.

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  4. I have been getting ready like crazy. I'm on SSD and in 2015 the fund is broke and there is supposed to be a 30% cut in benefits by law. I am working on producing my own power and installing the wood stove next month. I can eat a 30% cut and still pay all my bills right now, but inflation could really hit hard.
    Who knows what may happen but I have plenty of the basics and if we go all Weimar hyper inflation I may payoff my house with a couple of loaves of bread. LOL

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    1. You see trouble coming and are taking positive steps. Puts you ahead of most. Bet they find a way to index our "fixed" house payments to inflation.

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  5. As the old saying goes "Don't count your chickens before they hatch" - always have a backup plan ready.

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  6. We have lived below the poverty level for years, we can't afford propane so we heat totally with wood. I will say that the further you live down the economic ladder less you have to worry about the fall should the ladder break. When the boys at the top finally fall one day, it will be spectacular.

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    1. When the ladder breaks, the guys at the top will be looking to land on the little guys on the bottom. I plan on dodging.

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  7. Things are really booming around my place. There are a lot of new busnisses and factories building here and even moving corporate headquarters to this area. Of course, since I am old and live on Social Security (no pensions from anywone)it makes no difference to me.

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    1. Depends where you are. I remember how FL looked before 2008. Boom then hard crash. Only now starting to recover some. Seems like in some areas, the only real business was building houses. That can't go on forever.

      Those on a fixed income are in a world all their own.

      You've probably seen a few booms and busts in your time.

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  8. I have a brother in law soon on 8/13 he will have worked for an umbrella factory 30 years, this with ptsd and mental health problems! He finally got the ptsd money he needed after 30 years of trying, we went to the governors of Oregon and Washington and patty Murray of Washington boom he got his money and only 3 mos. of past monies they owed him, the VA wanted him to die the bastards..I worked for the VA it is shameful now of what it used to be, they don't have enough help and those that do work are overburdened, of course the doctors make good pay and cannot be sued if they kill a person, the nurses registered and with a BS degree leave after they work one full year they get disgusted! I have always felt one can put away a lot of dough if one just has a mind to do it..my brother in law spends like no tomorrow always has he has had so little in life, but luckiest fellow I have ever known if he puts his name in for any contest he wins, he wins at lotto & lottery, but he doesn't play often, he cannot drink because of the drugs he must take to live, he used to many years ago and it drove him crazy, he lives in the boondox and loves it only thing of it is many have moved to that area and smoke meth and do heroin, he takes a public bus 2 back and forth to work each day and lives in a mobile he got from the gal he loved & lived with for 20 years who died 10 full years ago from MD, could never marry she would lose all the benefits she got, it was sad, he nearly went under but we rallied, never heard from him in 25 years he lived and lives in the boonies something about being calm and with his love of his life, she is gone now and he is pretty miserable..He spends and spends, he says I fought for that ptsd money and I work everydamn day I am gonna spend it as I see it..We are so frugal, my hubs a union pension and social security, me social security, I make sure to use coupons, can stuff, dry stuff, hang our clothes to dry when it gets the least warm in our garage..I save so much by putting the dough in several accounts, automatically, we live frugally my hubs the oldest of a huge brood with no father in the scene whatsoever, I am the next to the spoiled brat baby, but she was almost 6 years younger so I was I guess thebaby, but hell to the no my Mom died and that was it for me, my sister was tiny, they googled over her, hey we lost our Mom too..Life is unfair, pay yourself first, deny yourself lots of shit in the Malls and save..We don't need things to make us happy, we go to a tiny beach with childhood friends some married lots widows and widowers and have a ball, we go with another couple in their prius all the friends cars homes and cars are paid for..they don't give all their retirement money to their kids at all, their kids work like hell, I say it is a matter of perspective, the youngings today will never live like the babyboomers ever, our only is not married, no children one kitteh cat, great job and for some reason we cannot believe and are thrilled about saves the money religiously..she says one never knows and wants to make sure if something happens to us, she has something to help us with, we could not believe her comments recently..she is a wonderful young lady, but has no plans to ever marry or have kids, she always said to me her momma it ain't for me!Love your blog, you and your sweet wife sound so for real, and I mean for real..I love you use veggie oil or oil to fuel your vehicle..I ride a bike and walk never have driven, lived in California and still walked, biked and rode tiny buses and big buses could not see spending money on fossil fuels while trying to get thru college, oh, my I am like an old hippie never got consumptionitis at all! Ciao!

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    1. Thanks for your kind words.

      A few "old hippies" stuck to their values and stuck to what was real.

      It's tough to fight the system for what was promised. I thought 4 years were bad. Of course, many get nothing.

      Keep fighting the good fight.

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  9. My brotherinlaw got honored by the company he has faithfully worked for 30 years, they gave him a big fat check..We are having a huge feast at his place, we got him a new fridge, stove and sink and disposal, having a dear friend get them and install all of them, we are roasting meat on an open pit, meat a fellow I have known most of my life got on a big hunting trip in Montana, he remembered my brother in law, we have been married nearly 40 years and wanted to help us out..We are thrilled, I paid for all the appliances out of a fund I had in case something happened to my hubs when we first got married nearly 40 years ago, never used the savings account only used a tiny amount and got great appliances & the sink and disposal is what he wanted most, his new stuff and we ripped out the shitty rug and threw out his shitty furniture and got new stuff makes for a whole new place for him, plus got a nice air conditioner at a garage sale the fellow brought it inside and installed it for free all for only $15.00 I made him lunch and gave him a blackberry pie I just made, he was grateful and kind..lives in the outerskirts of the area where my brother in law lives on 30 acres in a lovely home he built wood and bricks oh, my so lovely..One can just about do what one can do if one is a skinflint hippy like I am, my hubs likes comfort but we watch and compare everything, I think people get the wrong opinion of hippies, I am immaculate and we recycle everything and re-use everything and don't throw money away on new this and that..the appliances and sink and disposal were sorely needed, the mobile is even insulated we did it, it is really all brand new..our family member could have never done what was needed, he doesn't have the capacity to think that much ahead, oky doky for us, we love and help him a lot. ciao have a wonderful week!

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    1. Good story. Love it when things come together like that.

      Keep the faith. :)

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