Celebrating (Lifehacking at 50+)

Last week was the birthday marathon, a seven-day fest of eating and drinking and doing things I’ve always wanted to do. Every once in a while I must indulge myself just to remind my mind what (and who) is important in my life, and what’s not.

Back in 2000, it was London. Great restaurants, trips to Greenwich and Bath, and my birthday watching Shakespeare at the Globe Theater. Could not have asked for anything better.

This year it was Seattle. I’ve always wanted to see the Space Needle, ride the monorail, go to Pike Place Market and just stand on the waterfront. So I did. My sis and I took in a Mariners game (they won), the Dale Chihuly Museum and Gardens, and some meals that were an insult to the poor and an affront to the gods.

And we celebrated. I personally celebrated three things. First, of course, was the birthday (the Mariners game). Second was leaving my previous life behind, throwing nostalgia out the window, selling my parents’ furniture and moving on (a fabulous meal at Queen City Grill on 1st Ave).

Third was the fact that I Did It. At a tapas bar I celebrated the fact that I made back every penny I lost in the crash of 2008. It took me five years, but now I am whole again, and in much better shape than I was back then because in those intervening five years, I have learned:

1. How the market works and that you cannot trust a broker to look out for you.

2. How to buy investments with your IRA (more about this in a future blog).

3. And most important – YOU CANNOT RETIRE ON YOUR SAVINGS. YOU MUST HAVE AN INCOME STREAM THAT WILL PAY FOR THE LIFE YOU WANT TO LEAD. I cannot stress this enough. Once you start spending principal, you are screwed. And you cannot leave that principal where it can be depleted in a day or two by criminal Wall Streeters.

So in that five years, the husband and I fired our broker and got out of the market, bought some great investment vehicles which create a nice income for us, and bought still more with my IRA. Now, not only do I have an okay retirement income (not rolling in dough, but pays for the groceries and health insurance), I am building my IRA back up again. And I am not spending principal. Principal, as a matter of fact, is appreciating nicely.

Uncle Sam still gets quite a chunk. Money is never free, and frankly, I enjoy the things taxes pay for (roads, schools and such). But the paltry sum left over is enough to live on and enjoy the occasional celebration.

It’s a great feeling and I’m still smiling to myself because I Did It.

Have you Done It? Have you recovered from the crash? If so, how did you do that? Or were you smart enough not to lose anything back then?

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