Monday, September 17, 2012

Am I Better Off?

That loaded question is making the rounds on all the talk and news shows. I've been thinking about it since the primaries began last century (or so it seems).

Am I better off? Absolutely. I have my health and health insurance. I am retired, although not drawing Social Security yet. With government intervention back in 1984, I started building IRAs and 401(k)s. I kept building until I retired last December. Even with three huge financial busts that smooshed my investments, I'm better off financially than I was four years ago. Or eight years before that. Why? Because I can pay my bills and not fuss too much about future payouts from Social Security. Still a 99er, but safe for now.

I looked at the stock market, because our IRAs and 401(k)s are invested in various financial instruments. Four years ago on November 20, 2008 the market was staggering 7,550. Today, it is over 13,500. Will it stay there? If I knew that, I'd buy a lottery ticket and pocket the winnings. So, yes, in this one marker, I'm better off that I was four years ago.

Are my friends better off? One with a child who has cystic fibrosis has health insurance for the first time. She's better off. One friend keeps his 21-year-old son on his health insurance. If he couldn't, he'd be paying over $1000 a month in meds our of pocket. Not sustainable. Another is working after being unemployed for two years. He changed careers and his attitude on working. Is he making less than before? Certainly, but he has more time with his family and is a healthier person. Have some of my friends lost money? Of course, but some of their investments were in the high risk category.

Over all, my friends and I are in a better place that we were four years ago. But that doesn't hold true for many others. We still need to put people back to work. We need to keep health insurance coverage for those with pre-existing conditions and for young people who find it hard, if not impossible, to find work. We need to realize some jobs are not coming back. We need to think outside the box and find other ways to feed the chilluns and keep a roof overhead. Just like we did with the bust when high earners lost everything and still found ways to move forward. It's a challenge, but they did it. Isn't it time for a different group to try new things, new ways of making a living?

1 comment:

Bob Sanchez said...

My state of well-being hasn't changed much in the last four years, since my wife and I are happily retired and we got out of the stock market long ago.

For others, I sense perhaps a slight economic improvement, but I do agree that the Affordable Health Care Act will make many lives easier in the long run.