Friday, December 25, 2009

The American Dream

So I’m sitting on my deck the other day looking out over my yard - I have a comfortable (not big) home with a two car garage on an acre of land – and I’m thinking to myself what is so damn appealing about the American Dream? I have a mortgage, property taxes, when the roof needs fixing it costs thousands, when the water pump goes it costs thousands, when it rains too much for too long we’re in the basement bailing out water, the oil bill is killer, the electricity bill goes up every month and if the septic system ever lets go we’re screwed. The amount of money that one spends to own a home over the life of their tenure in that home is mind-boggling. And some day, which truthfully could be tomorrow I could be dead and then what? Who the hell is going to care about the damn septic system? Not me that’s for sure.

I want to know who in the hell thought this was a good idea. Why do we think we need this? I could rent an apartment for a couple hundred more each month than my mortgage and tax bill combined and I’d be done. No worries about roofs or septic systems or water in the basement. I wouldn’t have to shovel the driveway in the winter and when it needs to be resurfaced it’s somebody else’s problem. And when I drop dead somebody else will move in and nobody is going to know the difference.

It occurred to me several years ago when the stock market started to tank, and continued to tank monthly that I had been socking all of this money away for years for a retirement that is still many years away and in one short year every gain that I had made was wiped out. Twenty years of savings cut by at least a third just like that. And so was I to believe that now I cannot retire? Or that I’m going to end up in the streets someday? What if I get sick? What if I live to a hundred? Let’s face it, who is the average person who can afford to live to a hundred? That’s too damn long unless you have some kick-ass retirement fund that somehow managed to survive the latest purge. I might as well drive down the highway at eighty miles an hour and throw my money out the window. Same difference as investing in a retirement stock fund. All those years when I still had years until retirement all the experts told me to invest in higher-risk, higher yield funds. You’re young, you have time, don’t be so conservative. And I listened, what the hell did I know? And in practically one day so much of it was gone. It is a total crapshoot and the thing that really gets me is that all of these supposed experts, Harvard MBA economists, they’re guessing right along with everyone else. How many Harvard MBAs have we heard on CNN over the past eighteen months each telling us something different?

But the real kicker is that I could spend the next fifteen years saving my ass off for retirement, finally retire and then drop dead without ever having spent a dime of all that savings. I’m going to work like a dog, deny myself a trip to Paris, multiple trips to Paris because I MIGHT one day need to pay for a nursing home?

Seriously, let me ask this again. Whose idea was this?


  1. No kidding eh. My hubby lost almost ALL of his investment. Over the years he had bought shares in the bank that had employed him for 30 years. The shares dropped from over 5 pounds to less than 50 pence per share. Goodbye money.

  2. Gone like it was nothing. I can remember twenty-five years ago or so when IRAs and other stock investment funds came about for retirement savings. So the government was offering tax deferment and so this was supposed to be the best thing ever This would take up the slack where disappearing pensions were leaving off. What a crock. It all makes me wonder how we're supposed to be living. There is, in my mind, a missing link and I'll be damned if I can figure out what it is.