What the meltdown means to me, one of the Greatest Generation


My mom is in the eighty plus group, lives alone, and manages her own finances. She has been retired for more than twenty-six years, living off of pensions, Social Security and savings. While she is concerned about rising costs, especially gas and energy, the economic meltdown does not really affect her financial status.

Like many of her friends and others in her age group, she learned a long time ago how to stretch dollars. She grew up in the depression and "frugal" could be her middle name. She saves foil wrap and baggies, pays off all of her credit cards in full each month, and combines trips with her car to save gas. Her occasional splurges are trips to the casino where she spends no more than $20 and usually gets a free meal.

Mom does not have a large stock portfolio. As she says, "What more do I need to save for?" Her house and car are paid in full and she retired with no debt. In spite of relatively modest income, she is able to put money away each month for unexpected expenses.

While she does not see dramatic changes in finances for herself, she worries about her children and grandchildren. College, rent and homeownership is so much more expensive than years ago. After all, her first home cost less than $3000 in the 1950's. The same home is now around $350,000. Yet, wages have not increased proportionally.

I emulate and admire my mom's approach to money. With simple needs, she has the extra money for trips to Europe or cruises in the Mediterranean. Spending less than you earn is a simple formula for success.

Barbara Bartlein is the People Pro. For her FREE e-mail newsletter, please visit The People Pro.

Originally published