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« Paralysis | Main | Anniversary »
Saturday
Sep272008

The Gatlinburg Trip

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Each year late in September we go to the Gatlinburg, Tennessee area with a group of our friends.  The guys enjoy golf, the gals enjoy all the kitschy little shops, and we all enjoy the beauty of the mountains.  This is a trip that is eagerly anticipated by all of the participants and has been a tradition for some for nearly thiry years.  All of us stayed in one large, 12 bedroom lodge this year, and as usual we enjoyed each other's company.  These folks are really more than just friends; they are our family without the blood ties.  We could hardly care for one other more if we had blood ties.  Of course, the composition of the group has evolved over the years, but it has always been from our church.  This year we had ten couples and two single ladies make the trip.  The ages of the folks range from the late 50's to the early 70's with three of the couples retired, one nearly retired, and three of four more within a year or two of retirement.  Most of this group would likely be considered middle class, with a few perhaps bumping into the upper middle class socio-economic realms.  Although I am certainly not  privy to the financial situation of all of our group, I believe that most, if not all, are either enjoying a successful retirement, or are financially preparing to do so.  This is the case even though all of this group grew up in lower middle class families.  We would doubtless all agree that as adults we are faring better financially than did our parents, and better than we as young adults had expected to do.  So, as I considered my friends and their apparently successful retirement planning this week, I wondered if what they had in common might explain how they come to find themselves in their present situation. 

Here are a few of the characteristics that we share:

1.  With the exception of one family, we have avoided divorce.  If a couple is to experience divorce without it ruining both of their finances, there had better be plenty of money to divvy up.  This was the case here.  In general, divorce is a very poor retirement planning tool.  It is to be avoided if at all possible.

2.  Most have lived in the same, modest home for a number of years.  I dare say that all paid off their mortgage, or will pay it off,  prior to retireing.

3.  Several began their adult lives in various branches of the military.  One guy experienced the worse that the Vietnam war had to offer.

4.  We are a conservative bunch, in both our political beliefs as well as our investment choices.  Few of us have "swung for the fences" with our investments.

5.  Our group is unabashedly patriotic and believe that we live in the greatest country on earth.  We expect ourselves, and others, to take responsibility for their actions and lives.  At the same time, we believe in the basic precepts of liberality.  We believe that we have the responsibility to help our community and our fellow man.  We believe the Bible when it says "as you sow, so shall you reap."

6.  Most, if not all, have lived frugal, unpretentious lifestyles.  We don't care very much how the "Jones" do it.

7.  Most have worked for the same company, or in the same industry for a number of years.  There has been little "job hopping" in this group.  Most of these families have nursed 401k plans for a number of years.

8.  Virtually all of the wives have worked outside of the home for at least some portion of their married lives.  In some cases it has been only temporarily; others have had careers.

9.  Almost all of the families have been blessed with relatively good health, so catastrophic hospital bills have been avoided.  In the few cases where there have been major health challenges, good health insurance was available.

10.  I suspect that all of this group began thinking about and planning for their retirement years ago.  They understand the power of advance planning and the miracle of compound interest and how it would eventually affect their retirement experience.

The vagaries of the market and the economic challenges our economy is presently facing may yet derail some of this group's retirement plans.  This group is certainly not immune to such factors, but my guess is that just as our country will survive this present scare, so will I and my friends.  If need be, we will either delay our retirements, or find some way to supplement our retirement incomes.  This group has already seen, and survived, much.  We survived the nuclear war scare of our childhood; the Cuban missle crisis; the assinations of John Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, and Martin Luther King; the Vietnam war; the hippy era and flower power; the feminine revoluton and bra burning; the Asian financial panic; September 11, 2001; the bursting of the dot-com bubble and resulting market meltdown; and various other economic and cultural challenges.  Additionally, all of us have had various trials and challenges unique to us as individuals.  I suspect that we will also be able to pull off retirement, in whatever form it may take in each of our individual cases.  You gotta believe, don't you? 


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    Retirementflightplans - Journal - The Gatlinburg Trip
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    Retirementflightplans - Journal - The Gatlinburg Trip
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    Retirementflightplans - Journal - The Gatlinburg Trip
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    Retirementflightplans - Journal - The Gatlinburg Trip
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    Retirementflightplans - Journal - The Gatlinburg Trip
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    Retirementflightplans - Journal - The Gatlinburg Trip
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    Retirementflightplans - Journal - The Gatlinburg Trip
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    Retirementflightplans - Journal - The Gatlinburg Trip
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