How to Overcome Adversity on Your Way to Retirement






When I was a girl I watched my Mom and her sister struggle to make ends meet. Because my Dad and Uncle died at early ages, the security they thought they would have and what actually happened were as different as night and day.

That taught me that it pays to be prepared. Life’s unpredictable, but the more you can save when times are good, the better you’ll be able to make it through when times are tougher. I saw this first hand in my family and, thankfully, we were able to make the best of a bad situation.

My husband, Jim, worked at a plant while I worked part time for many years at a drapery manufacturing company. I enjoy the creativity of what I did, so around 35 years ago I opened my own drapery business. Everything was going just fine.

Then the unexpected hit. Jim was laid off from the plant after working for them for almost 20 years and soon became ill. He couldn’t work. At that time we had one son in elementary school and 2 ready to go to college.

Because of my experience as a kid, we’d made sure that we saved for retirement all of our married life. We would have the maximum taken out of our checks for funding pensions and, during our double income periods, we made sure we saved for IRAs and put away any extra for the college kids.

With the severance Jim received from the plant, we built and equipped a workroom in back of our home for my business. My business did well, and I was soon employing 12 people. We also made sure that we stuck to our savings goals and kept on putting 5,000 or 6,000 towards IRAs each year.

After around 10 years Jim recovered, and went on to get a job with the Louisiana Department of Transportation drawing and designing roads all day. Now he is swimming in lemonade and just loves his job. Because we’d planned and stuck to our goals throughout, we got through Jim’s illness and still made sure we had enough for our retirement and the kids’ college educations.


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  • What are thoughts about buying a condo at age 61? Looking ahead to my retirement, I realize I will have a difficult time affording 1122/mo. or more by then for rent. I would have to take some money out of my 401k for downpayment and closing costs which would result in taxes, however, monthly expenditure would be less than rent. I have an emergency fund of approx. 18,000 and do not want to touch that. Also, possibility of an inheritance when father passes, though no guarantees there, depending on if he has to spend it down on medical costs. Should I wait to see if I have an inheritance and buy then or do the above from 401k? Have been advised not a good idea, but wonder what your thoughts are.

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