I Thought I Was Retired, But I Am Now Unemployed - Official Kabbalah Publication of the Bnei Baruch Kabbalah Education & Research Institute
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I Thought I Was Retired, But I Am Now Unemployed

Like so many people, my carefully crafted retirement plans are in shatters. Now it is time to move past the “blame game” and find our own solutions

I retired in late 2006 with a conservative financial plan in place that would last through the lives of my wife and myself and still leave a little something for the kids. My financial planner and I choose an appropriate asset allocation model and we needed only 5% returns to be in good shape. My wife and I planned on working or volunteering, because we wanted to and not because we had to. After many years in corporate America, this seemed like a great position to be in as we faced our “golden years.”

I am still in a little bit of shock over everything that has happened in the financial markets over the past year. On the one hand, events unfolded in the blink of an eye, and on the other, it was a death by a thousand cuts. My retirement plans were solid and in place, but now they are gone. Disappeared. Vanished. Dead. They will not be revived and I am left with the shock, disbelief despair and anger of trying to figure out what to do next.

Searching for Answers

What I want to know is: Who is responsible for all this? I played by the rules. I put my money in secure investments. I didn’t gamble on housing or any of the other get rich schemes out there. Perhaps I was too willing to accept the advice of financial planners with all of their asset allocation models and long-term investment theories. History always repeats itself, the market runs in cycles, you cannot time the market, and so, in the end, you buy and hold investments, trusting the theory that what comes down will eventually rise even higher. But I don’t think this will be so this time. The mess we are in right now feels very different. No one is talking about rebounding to past highs. All of the talk is about whether we can avoid the dire straits of a total system collapse.

There is probably much blame to go around. For years, while I was still a part of corporate America, I was incensed at the salaries, bonuses, perks and power being given to our CEO and to all CEOs. CEOs in the USA average 450 times the pay of the average worker, CEOs in the next highest ranking country average 22 times the average worker’s pay. It’s not too hard to see that something was terribly wrong, but times were booming, money was being made, stock prices were climbing, so who cared? Of course now we find out that most of these profits were just shell games and the people who could, manipulated their way to huge paydays. The foxes raided the hen houses, and they have all gotten away.

I need to get back to work. I need to earn money comparable to my former salary, but it won’t be easy. My age and experience work against me, not for me. The job market is terrible, and we just hit 23 straight months of net job losses. There is no end in sight, but still, I conduct my daily job searches, try to stay positive, and pray I do not lose everything I have worked so hard to acquire.

A Way Forward

I am an optimistic person, but it is clear to me that all of the rules have changed. I have no confidence in the economic stimulus plans, although I am a supporter of this President. I do not see how we can buy our way out of this mess. It is like we are trying to pay off the judge in order to avoid going to jail, but the judge is harsh and does not accept bribes. Something tells me that we must accept our sentence and learn from all this. I don’t claim to know what our lesson or lessons might be, but I feel certain that our lives have to change, as do our desires. “He who dies with the most toys wins” was a funny bumper sticker, but it is funny no more. I think it is time to end this era of greed, selfishness and overconsumption. It is time to focus on needs and not wants, and it certainly wouldn’t hurt to think about how our actions affect the other guy, and not just about “what is in it for me.”

There are so many of us in this predicament. It is as if we are stranded on an island and there is no one coming to our rescue – certainly not the government! Perhaps therein lie our opportunities. Those of us with firsthand experience on how the old rules no longer apply can begin to create the new rules. We can find strength by looking to each other. Our unique bond will then expand into a feeling of being truly connected, and this connection will feel so good and right that we’ll begin to desire more of it. As we nurture this connection, we’ll begin to realize what our world could look like if we took care of each other instead of taking care of only ourselves.

Why not put this into action? It has been talked about often, but never implemented. What do we have to lose?