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Advice From A Little Girl

I don't know about you, but this past week has worn me out. For the first time, I understand why people jumped out of windows after the stock market crash of & '29 . & When I was a kid, and heard those stories from my grandparents, I would think, "How silly, they could have just started over." & Easier said than done, unless you are looking from the vantage point of a child, or a young adult just starting out, or a politician with a generous salary, guaranteed health insurance, and a lifelong pension.

Many of us have watched our own pensions, investments, and retirement funds dwindle away in a matter of hours. & Personally, I'm just grateful that my three girls are out of college. & We were able to help them in a way we probably could not today.

During past recessions, raising three children, I was so broke I had nothing to lose. (I know...I should of said, "Sorry kids...no dinner tonight. Mom and Dad have decided to save for retirement.") But around the age of 45, terrified by a barrage of articles from economists telling me I should have started saving in my 20's, I decided I had better get serious about saving for old age. & I developed a plan, and stuck to it as best I could. When I started investing in the stock market, I reinvested profits rather than take them, even though there were capital gains taxes to be paid. & "Building for the future", I thought. & Boy, that was stupid, because now those profits are gone...evaporated, so that means I paid taxes on money I will never see. &

Many sleepless nights crept by this past week, as I tried to decide what to do. Should I liquidate the remaining stock I held, or "ride it out" as they say. & I watched the news, compulsively scanned the Internet, called brokers, listened to the worried talk of friends, eavesdropped on strangers, channeled Jim Kramer , and Suze Orman .

Progressing into the self-abuse phase...."I should have seen this coming", I yelled at myself. I could have pointed my fear and frustration toward my husband, who knows a lot more about investing than I do, or my banker daughter ("Why did I spend all that money sending you to business school if you can't give me any advice?"), but that felt really, really scary. Finally, by Sunday, my head was spinning and I had made myself sick with worry.

Waiting for the Congress to act on the bailout , trying to understand what a bailout would mean, wondering who would actually be helped by the bailout, listening to the partisan fighting, watching the panic on Monday, I finally cracked. &

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