So now that the Dow is closing on 11,000 again, I spent part of yesterday evening counting up my shekels.
Some time back, I figured the crash of the Bush economy (oh, how i luv bugging my rightie friends with that one! 😉 ) had drained my retirement savings of about $180,000.
Things are looking somewhat better today. Thanks to ten nontaxable grand available from a whole life policy, I contrived to set things up so I could pay my share of the downtown house’s mortgage without drawing down from the big, professionally managed IRA. Landing a temporary loan modification helped, too: the reduction in monthly payments will draw out the number of months the $10,000 lasts.
Despite partially drawing down the cash in that policy, total retirement savings are now down “only” $95,400 from the all-time high in October 2007.
We know, of course, that stocks were hugely overvalued in October of 2007. And some say they’re overvalued now. Seeking a more realistic measure, I compared total savings today with the figure that appeared in January 2001, when I first started tracking the various accounts in Excel. In that scenario, over 9.4 years my savings have grown by $18,211.
Looks like a pretty poor return on investment, eh?
However, it must be remembered that I used some of my savings to pay off the loan on my house. I also used about 30 grand to copurchase the downtown house with my son. So, it could be said that some of the funds were simply reinvested elsewhere
That notwithstanding, there’s no question the crash did some serious damage. If we look at the amount that was in savings in December 2006, before the run-up had built any momentum, we see that today’s bottom line is down $55,716 off what might be regarded as a reasonable figure.
Well, it’s better than a $180,000 loss, anyway. Just depends on how you look at it, eh?
Checking net worth: Respectable, though down about $400,000 from the 2007 estimate. Net worth sustained a huge loss when the mortgage on the downtown house went upside-down. Equity in that property is now negative…to the tune of about –$60,000. However, my own house, the one that’s paid for, retained its value and may even have crept up a little. So, even though M’hijito and I took a bath in real estate, it could have been worse. A lot worse.
My net worth is still significantly stronger than most Americans’. A calculator at CNN Money suggests the median net worth for Americans my age is $232,000; mine is about three times that. For 65-year-olds in my post-canning income bracket, median net worth is $34,375; mine is about twenty times that. For those in my pre-canning income bracket, median net worth would be $301,475; mine is 2.2 times that.
Despite the fact that I moved a fair amount of cash from equities into real estate, I’m still none too thrilled at the piddling $18,000 ten-year growth in liquid holdings.
But on reflection, my sense is that a free-and-clear house may be more valuable than smoke-and-mirrors money in stocks and bonds. While the sale price of a house may rise and fall, the value of a roof over your head is pretty immutable. It’s hard to evict a person from a house that has no mortgage.
To rent my house would cost between $800 and $1,200 a month. At 4.8 percent, principal and interest for a traditional 20 percent-down mortgage on this house would cost about $995. So I figure owning the house outright represents a return on investment of about $1,000 a month. Though that’s only a 5% annual return on the house’s present sale value, the fact is that if I had to pay $1,000 a month out of my much-reduced “retirement” income, I could not afford to stay in my home! And since my home is nothing very extravagant, that would mean that when I was laid off I would have had to move into some pretty downscale digs.
Another benefit to owning the house: when I shuffle off this mortal coil, the house will pass directly to my son, giving him a pleasant place to live with very little overhead. He then can rent the downtown house for the amount of the mortgage (or, if things are better, sell it) and end up with a solid basis to build his own retirement savings.
Both of these advantages, IMHO, are huge.
How are things in your money bin? Are you seeing any improvement?