Even in my early 30s, retirement loomed over me. Adverts and friends spoke of taking out pensions, of saving for retirement, and of being prepared. It was a world away from my 20’s where little of that mattered and retirement felt like something which would never come, but having your own children and a husband changed that. However, it was not until my own parents ran into trouble as their own retirements were around the corner that I began to seriously think about it.
A Sudden Downturn
Disaster struck last year when my father was downsized. He’d been a solid worker for a medium sized company, one of the few manufacturing businesses left in the area. Over several decades he’d built up a good reputation as a reliable employee, a skilled fabricator, and a mentor to dozens of younger employees. His money was OK and was enough to live on if they could get through to their retirement.
My mum, for her part, is a warm and loving ex-teacher. While she’d never been allowed to teach me, my schoolmates said she was a funny and engaging English literature teacher even in the classroom. At home she made sure my sister and I too fell in love with reading. However, in her mid-50s she suffered from a breakdown and was diagnosed with a brain tumor shortly after. The cost of her successful treatment left her financially broke and unable to work full-time. After living on the edge to bring up 3 children (I also have a younger brother), they now found themselves living on the edge with a mortgage to pay off and crippling medical bills.
The Cost of My Father’s Downsizing:
Downsizing is the largest cause of financial stress in senior citizens (those over 65) in America today. Here’s the full list:
Job Loss/Reduction – 51%
Healthcare – 29.5%
Other – 21.6%
Unpaid Taxes – 12.7%
Divorce/separation – 8.2%
Bankruptcy – 6.7%
Foreclosure notices – 5.7%
With no recourse, his hours were cut almost in half and so were his wages. Instantly, they were faced with unaffordable healthcare payments and mortgage payments. Their savings had been wiped out by bringing us up and my mother’s cancer. Things were looking bleak for them and while we tried to contribute, we had our own young families to bring up and our own mortgage payments.
The stress began to show itself in my father particularly. He’d never been in the position of not earning enough before. His entire adult life had been centered around work – putting in 40 to 50 hour shifts a week, most weeks of the year, to bring home the money we needed. Now he was at home more than he was used to and his income was down. Suddenly, his energy levels dropped, he spent more time in bed or lounging around, he complained of headaches, lethargy, a tight chest, and we feared he was going to have a heart attack.
How Yoga Saved Us:
Luckily for us, my sister has become a full-time yoga instructor as one of her 3 jobs. Being an English teacher for foreign students does not pay enough, so she does yoga instruction two evenings a week. She devised an idea – with my financial knowledge, and her yoga, we’d clear our parents minds, help improve their health, and then reduce their financial stress. We began by improving their diets and downsizing their costs. Meanwhile, my sister worked with our father particularly to meditate and learn new yoga poses to improve his well-being, calm his mind, and allow him to make more sensible decisions. Since then he’s found himself a new job – it pays less, but enough because they’ve downsized to a smaller home with no mortgage.
Sally Keys is a professional freelance writer with many years experience across many different areas. She made the move to freelancing from a stressful corporate job and loves the work-life balance it offers her. When not at work, Sally enjoys reading, hiking, spending time with her family and travelling as much as possible.
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