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Is Your Retirement Still Viable?

What Happened To Your Retirement Benefits?

Many people of retirement age have found themselves wondering whether or not they will be able to retire at all. Every time you turn on the news or read a newspaper, you get the feeling that all the years you've planned for retirement has been for naught. With the economy going through a recession, you may not even want to think about retiring and if you have already retired, you may get a sinking feeling in your stomach that your retirement years are going to be spent struggling financially.

What happened? Initially, you did all the right things but like so many others, you may have got caught in the hype of making fast money in what seemed to be a never ending economic upturn. You were led to believe that the good times would never end so you may have gambled a little too much with your nest egg and now that money has all but disappeared.

You might say that you didn't gamble with your retirement, and that may well be the truth. But someone else did and now you are paying for it. You are not alone. Millions of people have lost heavily, not just the poor, but the middle class and the wealthy are pretty much in the same boat. Many wealthy individuals and certain companies have suddenly found themselves struggling to make ends meet with no visible ways to rebound.

How did all of this happen? We all listened to the people who called themselves "investment specialists and financial experts" and we did what they told us to do. We were told to pull the equity out of our homes and rental properties and to invest the money in the stock market, which seemed like a good strategy until the economy went bad.

All of a sudden, the housing market collapsed and sent home prices on a downward spiral. This left many homeowners owing more on their properties than what their homes were worth, while their mortgage payments were still rising because of the adjustable rate mortgages that were being pushed at the time.

Also during this period, the stock market collapsed and stock values took a nose dive. To make matters worse, many companies had invested their employee's 401(k) funds in stocks and securities and that money vanished into thin air, leaving many employees in a bind because much of the matching fund money in their 401(k) plans and other investment vehicles was earmarked for their retirement years.

Who lost? We all did. Even many of those who made the most money over the past few years have found themselves licking their wounds. Some businesses are struggling to meet their obligations to insure that retirement benefits for their employees remain safe, and many employees and some of those who have already retired, are paying a heavy price. They worked hard all of their lives thinking that they were on the right track to financial well being, but now, many have found themselves living below what is considered to be the national poverty level. They did what they thought was right. They worked hard, they invested, they saved, and now, their retirement isn't as solid as they once thought.

So what do you do now? Take a moment to reflect. Make a mental note of all the things that you could have, and should have, done differently over the years that could have made a more positive impact on your financial health. Start putting those thoughts into a plan of action and work your plan. Remember, it's never to late to start working on another plan or to start making positive adjustments to the one you already have.

No matter where you find yourself in today's economy, it's not the end of the world and there is always hope for the future. Don't let an economic setback become an obstacle to your future successes. Many of the wealthiest people in the world failed more than once before they became successful.

You have to look to your financial future with an unshakable determination to start anew. Keep looking ahead. Things will get better in the future. What you have to do is start a new plan for yourself today. That plan should include responsible choices and sound judgments.

Remember that any investment you make is a gamble, but some gambles are more riskier than others and always keep an eye on your investments. The economy goes through cycles so you should always be ready to take advantage of the upward cycles and be prepared for the downturns.

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