Retirement Impossible

Looking at my various investment accounts, as they fast erase their gains of the last two years and start to go red, I wonder if retirement will ever be possible. I thought a few years ago when we were in a “recession,” my investments at the bottom would eventually equate to some reasonable returns.

It’s so difficult to understand if I have bad investments, if the market is just killing everyone equally right now, and if there are any other places I should be putting my cash right now. Watching about $10k in investments disappear in two months is painful. I understand in a few months it could swing the other way, but right now I’m starting to lose faith in the economy overall. I can see the next 10 years being the lost years of America, and in that time the market will either remain flat or even decline.

I’m one of the fortunate people in America with a good job, who isn’t in debt, who can actually invest my money in the market and hope to see it grow. But, like the few of us left, there is no growth. The only growth is on Wall Street — for the criminals that received huge bonuses from taxpayer bailout money. I’m not political, I’m not walking the streets protesting, but it does seem a bit unfair that Bank CEO pay jumped 26 percent in 2010 after two years of decline (source: — I’m a capitalist. I don’t believe in loan-free bailouts.

My networth right now is $130k… in July it was $148k. Yikes. My goal this year was to hit $150k… but it looks like this year is going to be closer to a wash come January. Worse, I’m worried the few stocks I have that are performing well (specifically Apple) are going to end up declining and will put my account into the red. What led me to check on my stocks was figuring out that my 18 month BoA CD (that I started in 2005 with $7000) had just automatically renewed for another 18 months at .35% interest. I was bummed i missed the grace period to pull the money out, and then went to check how my other accounts were performing…

Since 2006…

Bank of America CD (+$1,214.32)
Sharebuilder Stock Account: .98% (+$521.04)
Sharebuilder IRA: 4.37% ($293.63)
Vanguard MidCap Fund: -6.17% (-$325.32)
Vanguard Retirement Accounts: 6.9% (+$1,742.20)
Vanguard 529 (+$141.06)
401k: +3.5% (+$583)
Prosper: (+$1.26)
Lending Club: (+$1.05)

I want to believe in the market, but what if it’s not going to work like it has in the past? It feels like the world has changed. I’m wondering if there are better places to put my money… for instance, would it be smarter to take my cash and put a downpayment on a $500k condo right now? I have been following the strategy that I’m better off spending $600 a month on rent and putting as much as possible into stocks, ETFs, and my retirement accounts. As all those accounts lose thousands of dollars, I’m starting to think I’d be better off just putting my cash into a condo. What do you think?


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3 thoughts on “Retirement Impossible”

  1. What’s your stocks/bonds ratio? My net worth has still managed to go up each month, but that’s because before the market downturn, it was going up almost $3,000 per month and I haven’t been losing quite *that* much.

    Do you have reminders for when your CDs come due? I do, which helps me to rearrange the funds. Ugh 0.35% is terrible! It looks like Ally’s 18-month CD is at 1.14% now…

    “As all those accounts lose thousands of dollars, I’m starting to think I’d be better off just putting my cash into a condo. What do you think?” I think that’s why people say to diversify with some of your funds in real estate (i.e. a house or a condo) and some of your funds in a retirement portfolio. I’m just nowhere near buying a house yet at 23 in terms of life goals…

  2. I'm not sure property is the best investment to make right now if you're worried about asset price declines.

    It's certainly a terrible environment out there for people who want to "buy and not worry about" an investment, ie, the overwhelming majority of people. It's definitely worth taking a long look at what investments you have and considering wether you should take profits from winning investments you're worried about, or take the loss on ones that appear to be doomed.

    It's not easy – but if it was easy there wouldn't be any need for people to blog about it. 🙂

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