Saturday, April 20, 2013

How We Made Hard Economic Times the Best Time of Our Lives

Henry Ward Beecher: Wealth Quotes
It is not what we take up, but what we give up, that makes us rich.

All of our plans and dreams are broken now. If everything had happened the way we planned, we would be taking trips. We would be enjoying the dinner theatre. We would be debt-free. However, due to the housing market slump, we lost quite a bit of money. Within a few months, the value of our beautiful home had deteriorated about $70.000. We had put it up for sale so that we could down size and reserve some money for traveling and unexpected expenses in our old age. Foolishly, we had purchased another home before this one sold. You know the rest. As they say, the rest is history.

We both came out of retirement and got jobs. We were just existing. I got a job in retail. I was dog-tired every night but actually that kept me going. When I wasn't at work, I was sleeping or eating. I was trying to mask my depression. Jim was working in telemarketing. He dreaded each day of begging people to buy magazines. As most of us know, it is not easy to get a good job in our retirement years. (I hope that the next generation will forgive people for being old and give them a chance to earn a decent living). Somehow, we barely managed to pay two mortgage payments, two utility bills, double home- owners insurance and taxes.

It is now two years later and we are still under the cloud of debt and shame. Our realtor is still trying to sell our home. (People who are looking at it are offering about $100,00 less than it was listed for.) These buyers remind me of vultures coming to eat the last remains of a dead carcass. Having said that, I would probably do the same if I were on the other end of the situation.

The stress and humiliation brought us both to our knees. Every month that went by was like a beating. Every beating seemed to hurt worse.

Jim was such a good planner for retirement. Many years he worked two jobs and we saved and invested in stock. Now, the stock market was plunging. My heart ached as I thought of how hard we both had worked, only to have it snatched away.

Then one day, it dawned on me that I had to change. The circumstances were not going to change. We had already wasted two years of our life worrying and stressed. I could not go on another day feeling so hopeless and victimized.

We moved to our new home that we had purchased. (We had tried to sell it, also.) It didn't really matter which home we lived in and the new one was paid for. We would now pursue at least part of our plan, even though the mortgage and expense of the other house loomed over our heads.

I was still sleeping every chance I got. I knew I had to pull myself up and get going again.

I started looking for things to be thankful for.

New acquaintances urged me to walk with them every morning. I made myself do that. (See my other story: "Weight Watchers and Me.") After a couple of weeks, I began to go to the pool. Jim began to make new friends. We were going through the motions of every day living. I was smiling but inside crying.

See this video, "Smile." Can you watch it without crying? Here is little Connie Talbot:

Again, I realized the situation was never going to change. We had to change. We turned in our cell phones, got the cheapest cable TV we could. We began to cook nutritious cheap meals. We also had to cut down on giving gifts. We still give, but within our means. (See my article: "My Good Goodie Drawer."

One day when our granddaughter, Alayna was visiting us, we decided to go on a picnic. It was a very simple thing. We drove up on a high hill near our house. The view is always beautiful. We took chocolate cake. Sunny, our faithful dog went with us. Alayna looked us at the breath-taking sunset and said, "This is the best day of my whole vacation! This is one of my very best days!"

I knew she was right.

Lucretius: Wealth Quotes
It is great wealth to a soul to live frugally with a contented mind.

Henry Ward Beecher: Wealth Quotes
It is the heart that makes a man rich

He is rich according to what he is, not according to what he has.

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