Really Bad Stuff
Really bad stuff is anything that keeps on costing money. We had a model train layout that was a lot of fun to build. When we had a new home built, we actually added an additional room to the house so we could display it. Five years later, the only time we ran the train (after I would crawl under the table to fiddle with it) was when the grandchildren came. After about fifteen minutes, they would usually get bored and go back to their computer games.
We had to heat, cool and pay taxes on that damn train display room. We eventually tried to sell the layout, but ended up calling the Salvation Army to haul it away. As I watched it go out the door I thought to myself, “Was it really worth all that time and money?” Over the years we invested several thousands of dollars in that train system, but wouldn’t we have been better off investing that money? We could have even used some of it for a cruise or trip with our grandkids.
We have many friends with vintage automobiles or some other collection of depreciating assets who actually rent storage facilities to store their stuff. A few have even sheepishly admitted to not visiting their stuff in storage for the last few years. In most cases, it started out as fun stuff and turned into really bad stuff – stuff that costs money and chips away at retirement funds.
It is all too easy to become a slave to one’s stuff. If something is eating away at your nest egg and not enhancing your life, it’s time to let it go.
The Times, They Are A-Changin’
I saw a sign nailed to a post that makes my next point quite succinctly.
No, I’m not telling you to say five Hail Marys. However, it is time for us all to take stock as we move toward or through retirement. Retirement has many perks: free time, an empty nest, and kids who have moved off of the family payroll – which usually frees up some cash. But far too often folks end up spending that money on stuff, stuff… and more stuff.
Unfortunately, retirement also means we’re producing less income than we were during our peak earning years. Retirement changes our financial situation, and our priorities need to change along with it. Capital, not an accumulation of stuff, is what will provide the income one needs to pay the bills during retirement.
Seniors Need Money More than Stuff
Numerous studies indicate that seniors are not generating enough income; they are working longer or taking part-time jobs to make up the difference. Many are also selling off assets (commonly known as stuff). How and when that happens can have a major effect on one’s retirement lifestyle. If we wait until we really need the money, we are at the mercy of the market. Sellers never get the best price under those circumstances and we have to take what we can get.
Or people end up selling assets in the wrong order. They need money and sell their really good stuff first because it’s the most valuable. Once the really good stuff is gone, they move down the ladder. But wouldn’t we be better selling the other stuff first and hanging onto appreciating assets as long as possible?
On the other hand, even if one doesn’t need the money now, maybe it’s time to be proactive. Why not sell everything other than “really good” and “good” stuff, and invest the profits? Turning a liability into an asset is always a good thing. It’s almost like free money. Almost.
Senior Garage Sale Day
Like it or not, we are in the midst of a generational war. The government is stealing massive amounts of wealth through taxes and stagnant Social Security payments to seniors. They’re holding down rates so you can’t even sanely contemplate opening a CD account, while an ever increasing share of the rise of health care costs is being shifted onto the shoulders of seniors. It is time for us to throw off our “stuff shackles” and strike back.
I propose a national Senior Garage Sale Day. Seniors can sell all their non-appreciating stuff and invest the cash they receive to help fund their retirements. The day should include a reverse-carding rule: buyers over age 50 should be refused entry. It would be a generational win-win. The younger generation would get a lot of stuff at a discounted price, while their parents and grandparents would receive much-needed cash for their retirement accounts.
It is time for us all to repent and change our ways. Which would we rather have: money in our retirement accounts or stuff?
All kidding aside it’s time for us to make sure we’re not bogged down with junk and missing out on income for our retirement years. It’s gotten a lot harder these days to get by.
If you’re interested in not only surviving, but thriving during retirement then you should check out our upcoming online presentation, America’s Broken Promise: Strategies for a Retirement Worth Living, premiering on September 5th.
This event features John Stossel from Fox Business News and formerly ABC’s 20/20, David Walker, former Comptroller of the United States of America, Jeff White, president of American Financial Group, and me, Dennis Miller. Click here to find out more. (We expect response to be overwhelming, so you should sign up now—it’s free—to make sure you’re not left out.)