In Light of the Current Financial Upheaval, What's the Toughest Financial Crisis You've Faced in Your Life?
Posted September 16, 2008, 1:47 pm in Investing
Growing Bolder asks leaders, thinkers, writers, life coaches, entertainers and role models to weigh in on issues affecting our lives.
Read the responses from our esteemed panel of Thought Leaders, then add your own thoughts at the bottom of the page!
I've gone waaaay back thinking about the toughest financial crisis I've ever faced--to the first year after I finished college and moved to New York. My father, who had footed the bills for my expensive private education, was, himself, facing a health crisis--which meant he couldn't work. At my request, he sold my car in California, wired me the resulting $500, and said lovingly, "Here's your stake to begin adult life with. I'm afraid it's all your mother and I can give you, but I have every confidence you'll make it on your own." There were weeks that year when my $70-a-month salary (paid in cash under-the-table, I fear) working as a "contestant getter" for a fly-by-night game show outfit on 57th and 7th Avenue couldn't cover the 15 cents it cost to get on a subway and I walked to Riverside Drive. But you know what? I learned to live within my means those "lean" couple of years until I got a toe-hold in the news business, and it was a lesson I've carried with me my entire life. And I didn't expect anyone--even my wonderful parents--to bail me out.
About Ciji Ware
She is an expert and author specializing in baby boomer books. She has a lot to say about the downturn in the housing market. Her latest book "Rightsizing Your Life" has become a must-read for the boomer generation. Ciji is one of GB's favorite guests. Saying she's multitalented is an understatement. She was a reporter/commentator on radio and television in Los Angeles for over 20 years. She's the first female Harvard grad to serve as president of the Harvard Alumni Association. She's also written three novels. Old time radio fans will recognize her last name. Her father, Harlan Ware was one of the main writers of the long-time classic One Man's Family.
I grew up during the Depression Era. It was not really a personal crisis; but through the experience, I learned the value of money on hand or in the bank. The experience prepared me for the present day economy. Credit can lead to trouble.
About Helen Kuhn
She may be a late bloomer, but 94-year-old Helen Kuhn is anything but a wallflower. After getting married for the first time at the age of 60, one year later she took another brave leap and got her pilot's license. When she turned 70 she became instrument rated -- the most difficult rating in aviation. This is a woman who's feet are firmly planted on the ground, but continues to reach for the skies!
Kind of funny... For the last few years of her life, I WAS the financial columnist Sylvia Porter. She was quite ill, so I took over her thrice-weekly column and wrote her last book, Sylvia Porter's Your Finances in the 1990's. As I watch the raving and panicking about what's going on in an actually very strong economy I can imagine her laughter at the foolishness, after which we'd discuss what we'd write to put everyone straight. Pitiful, but I suppose people insist on worrying about something!
About Marjorie Thompson
She grew up with a guitar always by her side, but as an adult, Thompson's life took a different route. She finished her Ph.D., became a dean at Brown University and had seven kids. But an ad in a magazine struck a chord with Thompson and she decided to pick up the guitar once again and fulfill a fantasy she's had since childhood. Finally, after 35 years, Thompson got her chops back and started writing songs. Overnight, Thompson went from an Ivy League dean to a record producer, a songwriter and a performer. She's even appeared on Oprah for her major mid-life career change.
A humorous story about a "financial crisis"...When, at age 19, my first husband and I married, he was in the Air Force. Shortly after our wedding he was transferred to another air base. Between our marriage and the transfer, my new husband's pay did not keep up with us...so...when we found ourselves with only a few dollars for groceries, I had to get creative - especially challenging for a new bride. Off to the store I went, and came home with a big beef bone, and a pound of tiny pasta. Those two ingredients, along with some home-canned green beans given us by a friend, were the fixings for a huge pot of soup, which we ate for the entire week. Up till the day my husband died, 29 years later, I could never get him to eat soup again! P.S. The soup was delicious but by the end of the week I was tired of it too.
About Nancy Nordstrom
Nancy is proof that it's never too late. She didn't publish her first book, much less even write it until she turned 61. And what a book it is! Learning Later, Living Greater will help you transform your retirement years into a personal renaissance of education, personal growth and social engagement. Nancy is the diredtor of the Elderhostel Institute Network, the largest educational organization for older adults in America. She is an expert on lifelong learning, something she believes is critical for anyone over the age of 50 who is interested in living a more fulfilling life.
This financial crisis could be the worst one I have ever faced. I participated in TIAA-CREF for most of my academic career. About half of my annuity comes from the CREF Stock Account. If the stock market plunges, guess what will happen to my monthly income? The large financial institutions that have failed cannot be bailed out by the Federal Government with money the government don't have, whilst waging a war or two and pushing other major world powers around. I worked and saved for 35 years and was looking forward to a comfortable retirement. Now at 70 years of age I am very worried about the future. What can I do about it? Very little. I have not bought or sold any of my outside investments, but I greatly fear that they will decline in value as my annuity income will. Thank heavens I don't owe anybody money, but we are all going to have to learn how to get by with less. That goes for the CEOs of the financial institutions that are failing--what happened to the money? Why aren't they being asked to give it back, or better yet, why aren't they going to jail instead of getting a government handout?
About Pat Bond
It's never too late to get in the game and she is proof! Pat decided in her 40s to give sports a try. It may have been the best idea she ever had! Now, she is a multi-sport athlete who has been involved in the Senior Games for many years and thrives on the competition. She won 8 gold medals in 2007 Games in the 65-69 age group. She is the Chair of the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee of Manatee County. She's also an avid photographer.
While in the Air Force, newly married, making $112 per month, baby on the way, paying $50.00 per month for an old house to rent. Working at a gas station for $1.25 per hour when not on duty or called out on alert. Finally took my .22 caliber single shot rifle I had since I was 12 years old and sold it for $20.00. Had enough money to buy new wife a pair of shoes and some baby clothes for the new one coming soon. I used to make up a for sale sign to hang across the back of our chihuahua and let him run around the house wearing that sign. It always got a laugh our of my wife. We never sold the chihuahua, he lived to a ripe old age of 16.
About Ed Shadle
At age 60, he is a speed demon who's attempting to steal something the British have had for 20 years -- the world land speed record. And he plans on doing it with a jet-powered car he created himself. Shadle, who worked with IBM for 30 years, created the car from an old fighter plane. The North American Eagle is an old Lockheed F-104 Starfighter that he modified to not lift off the ground. But Shadle doesn't want to be the driver of the car when the record attempt is made in Nevada, so he's looking for a driver by holding an essay contest. Shadle says the car will go up 800 mph, which is more than half of the speed of the old airplane that flew 1,400 mph.
Shirley W. Mitchell
I have been blessed during the "FATHER KNOWS BEST," years to be a stay at home mom of 3 children. My husband, a successful businessman, gave me a great life with extensive travel opportunities. However, I did have a financial crisis when attending ALABAMA COLLEGE, Montevallo, Al. 1956-58. I had worked during the summer at Red Stone Arsenal, Huntsville, AL and paid my Freshman tuition. My dad paid my second semester when he sold his cotton in he fall. My sophomore year I worked during the summer at Alabama Power in Birmingham, AL for my first semester tuition. My dad had planned to pay my second semester tuition with his cotton sales; however, it rained all that fall and ruined the crops. There was no savings account. My Uncle Nubert who raised chickens for a living, gave me $l,100 for my last semester. During my sophomore year, I worked for Dr. Vicory, as her office assistant. I fully believe she gave me the job because she knew I needed it. I wasn't that good at office work, coming from a background of a farm family. The affect was that I formed the belief that anything is possible if you believe, and have the passion to succeed. You also have to have humility and Compassion. I learned many lessons, but the one most important was that it's important to help people in need!
About Shirley W. Mitchell
After 7 decades on this earth, Shirley has more energy than people half her age! She's the author of Fabulous after 50, Sensational after 60, and a number of other highly motivating reads. She's the host of radio's Aging Outside the Box. She is an internet tour de force, with a number of web sites of her own. She is a passionate member of Growing Bolder where her user name is Fabulous (be sure to send her a note!). Shirly is proof of the philosophy she spreads, that age is just a number, not a limit.
I've always believed in diversity in my financial portfolio. It's sort of a shock absorber in investing. I also believe that this stock market meltdown will not end any time soon, and may last as long as 2 to 3 years before recovering. As the Zen master says, We'll see!!
About Ted Skup
He believes that with obesity levels at an all-time high, fitness needs be a national priority. He says despite the fact we have an arsenal of exercise options at our disposal, the ultimate choice is, the simple push-up. Skup takes on the 35-billion-dollar fitness industry and explains why it is failing us, with its bogus claims, magic bullets, and quick fixes. Although the fitness industry may not want to hear it, push-ups are free, no equipment, no gimmicks and totally portable. He is the author of Death, Taxes & Push-ups.
My toughest financial crisis was when, at 49, my dad died suddenly of a massive coronary. I was 19 and wondered how my mom would carry on. Within six months I took and part time job after school ( I was an NYU subway student), my mom learned how to drive and got a job. Ten years earlier, my dad lost a bundle investing in a new business. He never forgave himself, and kept his anger and frustration inside. The shift from prosperity to frugality, then tragedy, losing Dad, catapulted me from boyhood to manhood in a matter of weeks. And, I never again let money matters be the core dynamic of my well being. Great question!
About Howard Stone
With Americans living longer, healthier lives, the conventional idea of retirement is obsolete. Millions of Americans are working past the age of sixty-five - not because they have to, but because they want to. Many, like Howard and his wife Marika, discover second careers, start their own businesses, or go back to school. Howard enjoyed a long career in international advertising sales and magazine publishing before he became a certified life coach at age sixty-four. Marika is the editorial director of 2young2retire.com and has been a journalist, English teacher, public relations account executive, and small business owner. She is also a certified Kripalu yoga teacher.
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