First Person: As a Gen-Xer, I’m Not Feeling Rich

Yahoo Contributor Network

It's supposedly the roaring days again as the stock market reaches all-time highs and housing prices in some parts are up double digits. According to a recent article by CNBC, household wealth hit an all-time high in American, registering in at $70.4 trillion during the first quarter of the year. However, some of us don't feel rich. As a Gen-Xer who bought during the housing bubble, there are a number of reasons I don't feel rich.

Starting with negative net worth

Although we increased our net worth following the recession, that wasn't a difficult feat to accomplish. We had negative net worth before the Great Recession even started. During the recession, we became more frugal and paid off our debt. We made extra payments toward our mortgage so that we wouldn't be underwater. Now that the recession is over, we have positive net worth. However, we don't have nearly enough to satisfy the "target savings goals" for retirement established by experts. A recent Daily Finance article pointed out that 41 percent of Gen-Xers have saved less than $100,000 for retirement. I fall into that category.

Losing on our home purchase

Even though housing prices are up, it's completely meaningless to all the original homeowners in my 8-year-old Florida subdivision. We all bought during the housing bubble. Although the more recent buyers landed great short sale and foreclosure deals, the original owners would probably lose anywhere from $50,000 to $100,000 if they sold at this time. I may owe $20,000 less than my home is worth, but that doesn't make me feel rich. I don't have to be a genius to realize my home was a terrible financial investment because it is still worth $70,000 less than what I purchased it for during the housing bubble.

Waiting for the next crash

My retirement accounts also do not make me feel wealthy. The values of my retirement accounts are up, but they could sink down as soon as there is another market crash. I know the next 20 to 30 years will be completely unpredictable. It's been difficult to save as much for retirement when I'm dealing with furloughs at work as well as permanent pay cuts. My paycheck is also smaller due to increases in health insurance costs.

Supplementing the seniors

In addition to supplementing our teenagers, we have been assisting the senior citizens in our family. Like many baby boomers, our relatives decided to retire early without thinking about the financial consequences. Although we stopped paying our elders' credit card bills, we still give them a "senior allowance," that cuts into our discretionary spending fund. It also makes it challenging to help our children pay their college bills.

Some experts claim we aren't feeling wealthy because of inflation. It's true a dollar does not buy as much as it used to buy. They also claim only 5 percent of Americans hold the majority of stocks. I own plenty of stocks, but they aren't worth a lot of money. I don't feel rich for one simple reason: I don't have much money. Maybe that will all change by the time the next economic downturn comes around. By then, I might actually have something to lose.

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More from this contributor:

When I Don't Follow a Millionaire's Advice

I'm Glad I Talked to a Bill Collector

I'm Not Letting the Recession Haunt my Retirement


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