I was born into this world at the beginning of the Great Depression of 1929. As a child I grew up knowing only one President, Franklin D. Roosevelt. And now in 2009, some 80 years later, I am again facing what many are saying will be "The Greatest Depression", and I have lived through twelve Presidents with the thirteenth about to take office. Everything has changed, and yet nothing has changed!
By the time that first market crash had bottomed out in 1932, stocks had lost nearly 90% of their value. However, by a combination of good judgment and good luck, my family had exited the market just two months before my birth … their "wealth" intact. The writing was "on the wall" for anyone to see …. few bothered to even look.
Now, fast-forward eighty years to yet another bubble and another depression. Armed as I was with a clear memory of the terrible economic toll taken by the Great Depression, the financial storm clouds I saw gathering on the horizon back in 2004 were sufficient warning for me to follow in the footsteps of my parents, It was time to "get out of Dodge!" And so here I am, in Ecuador - safe and sound.
This time the "writing on the wall" was instead the analysis of a few financial newsletter writers on the Internet. The predictions were, however, exactly the same …. the bubbles were bursting, the stock market was about to crash. I did as my family before me had done, cashed-out and found myself a safe haven to ride out the financial storm .... or at least I found a place where I could have fun dancing in the rain.
Now, according to my friends back in the US, everyone is stressed to the max and worried about what the future holds for them. Not me!
It's not because I don't care or that I'm not concerned about my friends and former neighbors who are indeed suffering. It is because I'm totally immersed in a new culture and lifestyle, one not dominated by CNN, financial markets or terrorism. Folks around here watch TV, when they even have one, for sports and soap operas, not for the latest Dow report or the ubiquitous Homeland Security alerts. I myself do not even have a television set or take a daily newspaper. Instead, I get a cross-section of opinion on the Internet and enjoy important, thought-provoking books on my Kindle Reader.
From my vantage point here in Ecuador, I'm simply an interested spectator. I'm no longer directly involved in the political, social or financial pressures and tensions. Here in the peace and tranquility of Hacienda San Joaquin, I'm part of a society that truly takes things easy. It's sometimes called the "mañana" syndrome. The one phrase I keep hearing from my local neighbors is "no problemas". Just think about that for a second: No problems!
Please don't get me wrong …. I am NOT a bystander when it comes to life itself, only life's anxieties. In fact, in my retirement I now have the time (and means) to enjoy a rich, active lifestyle to the fullest --- like lingering over morning coffee, long walks along the river bordering my house, traveling throughout South America and writing for my enjoyment.
And here's something important: It's not too late for you to "get out of Dodge", too; especially if you are not encumbered with family, not up to your ears in debt and able to retire comfortably on not all that much. I find that with only my Social Security (without needing to dip into savings) I can live here like a King. There is no doubt at all that it's all going to get a LOT worse before it gets any better. Don't dilly-dally, hoping things might get better. It's important for you and your loved ones to face reality and make the proper life choices right now. As the famous Nike ad says: JUST DO IT!