Dancing With Financial Fallout

October 9, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
The troubles on Wall Street have hit retirement accounts hard. Some wonder if they'll be able to retire when they want to. But local retirees also worry because many still have investments tied to the stock market.

Retirement's no time to end the active life. Dance class is in session at the Fresno Adult School Senior Center. But the twists, turns and dips we see on the dance floor are also happening in the stock market.

"I love dancing. I've been dancing all my life. Does it help take your mind off what's going on Wall Street? Well not really. It's at the back of my mind," said retiree Joe Castillo.

Joe Castillo has worked hard his whole life, as have all the other seniors here. For many though their retirement plan is now out of step with a struggling economy. "Yeah I figured once I retired I'd have enough money to retire on and now I might not have it anymore."

So many seniors go to Manchester Center to vent. "This is a place where they can come and state their opinions and talk to people that are in the same circumstances as they are," said Adult School Teacher Helen Wink.

They worry about social security, paying for prescriptions. Some are wary of the Wall Street woes. "A little scary because a friend of mine has money in the market and that is his retirement," said Ben Harrison.

Ben actually went back to work 11 years ago as a part-time driver to stay busy and earn some extra cash. Other seniors sought to take the risk out of their retirement fund.

"Well I took my 401-k out of mutual funds and put it in government securities, T-bills, bonds," said retiree Winnie Phelps.

Winnie's approach as she neared retirement is one often suggested by financial planners. "I followed it but a lot of people I know don't. They trust other people to handle their financial affairs."

Helen Wink, the Adult School teacher, said it is important seniors have a support group, a group of friends, to help get them through these tough times; and that's what the center provides.



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