Well, ok, maybe you don’t, but I do. Trouble is, they don’t make the kind of dog I want. There are therapy dogs trained to help people with disabilities, to hear for the hearing-impaired, to help people convalesce in hospitals and nursing homes, to help veterans recover from the trauma of war. The airport in San Jose, CA even has therapy dogs walking the terminals to calm those anxious about flying, the theory being that if you pet a dog, you will forget that your airplane is going to go down in flames over Kansas.
No, I want a therapy dog for the money-impaired retiree, we who are trying to recover from the post-traumatic shock of the market and housing meltdowns of recent years. Maybe you too now need some soft fur therapy if you lost 40 to 50% of your house’s value…the house that was going to be the family piggy bank since you hadn’t saved 8 times your annual income for retirement. (Who actually does this?)
Me, I’d like one therapy dog for past losses it and another puppy for current investments yielding under ½ of 1% percent, which is the current overnight rate, lower than inflation, higher by a smidge than absolutely nothing at all. Actually, it is nothing at all since inflation is beating it by several points. I’d call that dog Benny after Ben Bernanke, head of the Federal Reserve.
What I Can’t Get Over
I can get over the notion of people in retirement becoming the newly poor…not nouveau riche, but nouveau pauvre…but I can’t get over the idea that we are not marching in the streets over federal policy that denies savers and investors any livable return. Well, maybe we have not marched in the streets since the Vietnam War, but we could at least write letters, talk to our representatives and prod the AARP to get on board this issue.
Now I hear a lot of reasons why the rates are so low—economic recovery being the most parroted—-but nobody talks about the benefits to the biggest debtor of them all, a federal government in the hole for over 16 trillion dollars. Call me paranoid for having these thoughts, but if I appointed the head of the Federal Reserve, the guy who sets the interest rates for my debts, I’d pick someone who kept the interest rates near zero.
And so it came to pass.
And who else benefits from these next to nothing interest rates? Certainly not responsible retirees, savers, holders of CD’s, treasury notes and other once reliable instruments of generating income for us who are either retired or let go in a downsizing.
What To Do?
First, listen to what most sensible and honest investment advisors say: Just because you are not as well off as you used to be, don’t go off chasing high-risk investments promising higher returns. Risk goes up as promised returns go up, yet cash-strapped retirees, too old to chase risk, are falling for investment schemes that promise high returns. An “investment advisor” told me to put all my money into marinas in Australia. I won’t even get into what friends and friends of friends say except one acquaintance wanted me to finance triangles under which one could sit to get magical vibes from the universe. He also wanted to give me other magical vibes—a two-fer.
Instead, I resisted both offers and put my assets into balanced funds at Vanguard. www.Vanguard.com. Vanguard doesn’t promise the earth or get you into docks on a far away continent. Instead, they bring you down to earth and have lots of good information on their site. Even if you think of yourself as investment illiterate, Vanguard will help newbies understand what to do in these unstable times. In a simple online survey, if you put in what you are willing to endure in terms of risk, they will suggest what diversified and balanced investments might make sense.
Which gets me back to my therapy dogs—dogs to calm economic assaults, money worries, and the fantasies of eating cat food when I’m 95.
So what kind of dog would make the best therapy dog for wallet worries? Is your own dog a best friend when you read your bank statements? Are there therapy cats? Please post comments and photos below.
Woof. And thanks to Pohan, Lindyi and Tuppus for dog pics.