From the spring newsletter

Publication Staff

Kathy Mellstrom

Retirement in Crisis?

A progression of feature articles about retirement from the magazine Kiplinger’s Personal Finance tells a story of changing times.  The titles optimistically urge us to “Retire Rich” in the February 2008 issue and “Retire on Time” in September 2008.  February 2009’s article insists “You Can Afford to Retire” (caveat: maybe a few years later than you had planned).

The last year and a half has seen drastic changes in the national and now even the global economy.  Those over age fifty (like our CVEC members) who are retired or are approaching retirement are being affected in particular ways by the stock market plunge and the drop in home values.

According to financial planners, the most important issue in retirement is ensuring that your funds last through your retirement years.  There are myriad formulas used to calculate how much in assets of various kinds this requires, depending on how many years of retirement life are anticipated.  Unfortunately, the unforeseen twenty to more than thirty percent loss of value of 401(K) retirement accounts was not part of the original calculation.

The depressed housing market is yet another blow to the plans of many.  Typically, seniors who still own the home of their middle years expect to sell it in order to downsize or to make the move to a senior-friendly condominium, cooperative apartment setting, or assisted living facility.  Anyone who was planning to do so this year must either wait until the market recovers or sell for a much lower price than counted on.  Local anecdote and a recent feature article in the StarTribune confirm the prevalence of this dilemma.  On the other hand, the planners note, those who can afford it may purchase their retirement home now at a lower price and hold on to their old home until prices go back up.

All financial planners are very protective of retirement funds.  If you are still working, they advise, do not stop your contributions or make early withdrawals.  If you are retired, temporarily reduce or halt withdrawals if you can, and withdraw from bonds rather than stocks to extend the life of your retirement portfolio.  Do not take your funds out of stocks, because you will be selling at a loss and losing the chance to gain when the market rebounds.  Those who kept their stocks during the Great Depression eventually made up their losses.  However, it took twenty-five years; we hope for a more rapid recovery this time.

From the Director

From the Director January 2009:

The 2008 – 09 academic year is going very well, with exciting classes and record level enrollments.  The stimulating interaction between excellent teachers and experienced students that drives the Collegium continues.  Our financial situation remains strong, though our equity funds of course have dropped.  Our fund drive was down slightly, but that is fine.  We all face economic stress, and CVEC has maintained sufficient reserves.

New developments include a project led by Ed Lufkin and Ray Eng to revise and update our web page, hoping to improve information


A preview

and communication options for our members.  We have engaged outside expertise to help us understand and use the latest new technologies.   Barbara Jenkins is settling in as our new Financial Director, following in the great footsteps of Lori and Teresa.  Several computer dragons were slain, clearing the way for smooth operations.
The Annual Members Meeting is set for May 3rd and will feature our esteemed Professor Hartley Clark as speaker.  Fall term faculty will describe their upcoming courses, and we will elect new members to our Board.  Save the date and watch for future announcements.
We will soon begin planning jointly with the Northfield Senior Center for the third annual trip to the Great Rivers Shakespeare Festival in Winona between  June 26 and July 26. GRSF will be performing  The Tempest and Love’s Labours Lost.  One option being considered is seeing both plays in one trip – a matinee and an evening performance, with dinner between.  If you have any thoughts about this option or other suggestions, please call  me at 507-645-9642 or email
The Curriculum Committee is working on the 2009 –10 course list.  The goal will be to provide more classes next year.  Given age demographics and the movement of retired folks to Northfield, it appears likely that CVEC will grow in membership. The number of students from neighboring communities, especially Faribault, is increasing as well.  If you would like to consider teaching a class, please contact me.
We have fewer classes this coming spring than originally scheduled.  Several teachers had to withdraw, and it is very difficult to obtain last minute replacements.  We thank Myrna Johnson for stepping in at the last minute with her course on the history of movie musicals, which we expect will be very popular.