Thursday, January 15, 2009

Freezing Cold and Flat Broke

Living in a small town with a five minute commute, I often go great lengths of time without looking at my fuel gauge so when it flashed on this morning on my way to work, I wasn't to thrilled since it was a balmy minus 18 degrees outside. I pulled into the gas station, pulled the lever to release the gas tank flap and got out into the frigid air. The gas tank flap was still in place so I opened the door and pulled it again with the same results. I pulled out my pocketknife and stuck it in the crack thinking maybe it was open but just hadn't kicked out and pried gently. It was still firmly latched so I pulled the release for the third time and this time I was rewarded.

I turned my attention to the pump and pressed the pay with credit outside button and again received no reaction to my action. I tried again. The third time I pressed with all my might and finally heard the beep from the machine as the screen shot slowly dissolved into the next screen with instructions. Instead of the usual fraction of a second transition, it took a full 30 seconds. It was agony as I waded through the various options before I finally got the gas to start flowing. I can't say I blame the pumps because I am moving pretty slowly to myself this morning. In fact, I did something I haven't done in years. I gave up my normal farthest from the building parking spot and trolled the parking lot until I found a spot close to the doors.

On another topic, I received my quarterly statement for my retirement accounts from my financial guy a week or so ago that covers the last quarter of last year. It took me until this morning to find enough courage to open it. I wish I hadn't. All the money and gains that I have put in over the last five years since I opened the account upon starting my current job are gone. It is down 50% from the high less than a year ago. Had I known then what I know now, I wished I had stored all that in my mattress instead and opened it up today to dump back into the stock market. But I didn't and thus I am stuck with the knowledge that retirement certainly isn't going to come this year. Of course when I am in my 30's, I've got time for that but I still want it to come as soon as possible. I'm just glad I opened it up this morning when I have the full day to forget about it and not in the evening right before bed.


geri said...

Ed, -18? Oh wow. That stuck lid happened to me too for the first time this winter. That's horrible about your retirement accounts. I personally know of a couple (not us) who lost $600,000 before Thanksgiving and I could only wonder how they could still stay sane.

The Real Mother Hen said...

We hit another record high yesterday - it was 63F, unbelievable!

Sorry to hear about your retirement acct; the good news is prosperity will come again after this turn. So you will see the figures rise again.

TC said...

Our high today is -6. And really, it's tough to get excited about a "high" like that you know?

The stock market and the whole current economic situation are super depressing. :-/ I'm ready to move to like Ireland or something. If anyone has any job contacts there.

Ed Abbey said...

Geri - Yeah, our high today is supposed to reach minus 5. The great thing about these extreme cold snaps, when it reached the freezing point at 32, it seems like summer!

Mother Hen - That is certainly the good news. I just wish I had a couple hundred grand to throw into the retirement count right now.

TC - I figured that you would be a little colder being farther north than us. We are going to have a high of minus five! Wasn't it Ireland where every single bank collapsed in this economic downturn?

Beau said...

You're about 16 degrees colder than we are... and things sure do move slowly. The financial mess is hard to look at- the IRA accounts haven't gone anywhere in 10 years either. I used to feel guilty for spending money on a few things before, but now I'm glad I did. But I agree with MHen- it will come back, and I'll just keep socking it away slowly over time. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Sage said...

We were -15 at this morning at the house, -8 in town. It was a balmy +1 at 2 PM! I know that pain opening those statements--my accounts are mostly down in the 40% range :(

PhilippinesPhil said...

The cold! Its all YOURS!

Going through a divorce these last couple years I fortuitously put most of my money into cash and cd's. I never dreamed it would have been one of the best investment decisions I ever made. gloat.