Wednesday, January 04, 2012

History Lesson

Many of my clients were children of the depression. The big one, where unemployment was 25% and many staples were rationed.

Their parents were part of the greatest generation. Men (and women) who fought for the rights of those they did not know, both here and abroad. Some gave their life so we could be free while others returned home but were shattered by the experience of war.

When they returned they attended school on the GI bill and got a "free" education that wasn't really free but paid for with blood and guts.

They bought homes with subsidized VA loans that were earned, not given to them.

The depression babies, those whose parents went to war and sometimes never came back only knew hard times.

Many of these people went to work for big companies like Southern Railways, Chesapeake, Norfolk, Eastern Airlines, Pan Am Airways, F W Woolworth. Companies that promised pensions when you retired.

Others went to work for Sears, J C Penney, GM, Chrysler, Greyhound Bus Lines, Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company. Companies that were rock solid and offered good pay plus a retirement plan.

Some companies no longer exist, others are around but a mere shell of what they once were and every one terminated their retirement plan years ago.

If you think the greatest generation and depression babies were stupid or planned to fail you are dead wrong. Many of them postponed purchases until they had the money to pay for things. The only thing they financed was a home and maybe a car.

Everything else was paid for in cash and money was always set aside for a rainy day.

Yet a lot of these people, people who are my clients, are living from SS check to SS check plus a little bit of savings. many still have mortgages even though they lived in the same home for 40 years. They have credit card debts with balances from buying food, medicine and other necessities.

They don't have cable TV or buy a new car every 2 years. They don't have iPad's or iPhones or big screen TV's.

They attend church and give a tenth of their monthly income to charity.

Many of them buy small life insurance policies and wish they could buy more. They regret relying on life insurance tied to their job or buying a term insurance plan that expired before they did.

These people did not plan to fail yet they are smarter and wiser than many of the people who profess to know it all and swear they will be financially set by the time they are 60.

They did not plan on working for a company that would go out of business, marrying a spouse whose health would take a turn for the worse, draining their life savings before finally leaving this earth.

Nor did they count on raising their children beyond age 18 or becoming a day care for their grandchildren.

Yet somehow the people who were born in the 60's through the 80's feel they are entitled to having everything given to them. They believe they are smarter than their parents and grandparents and will always have money in the bank, a good job and a steady income.

They believe they are immune to down sizing, divorce and paying for drug counseling for their children or hiring attorney's to keep them out of jail for a DUI.

They see life insurance as a temporary need that will end by the time they are 50.

If you are in this group maybe everything will work out as planned, but you don't have to be too old to know that man plans and God laughs.
blog comments powered by Disqus