Notes on Surviving the Real Estate Implosion

It happened roughly three years after I retired.

Jesus. This is a stark and vivid memory: when we were close to the bottom and we’d lost 40% of our investments on paper; and I was freaking out and depressed and getting way too drunk way too often because I thought I was about to get sucked right back into the hell I’d worked so hard to escape…anyway, I came home from the gym one afternoon and realized I’d left my wedding ring on the top shelf of the locker I’d used.

I called a guy at the gym and told him exactly where to look, and he came back to the phone and said it wasn’t there.

So I slammed myself into the car and tore out, and for the entire half-hour drive back to the gym–we lived way out in the sticks–I was driving probably seventy-five on back roads, fucking raging at myself, loud, about the generally fucked-up world and fucked-up markets and my own fucked-up stupidity and arrogance, and at one point I actually considered praying because the question had hit me hard: what else do I have to lose? What else that’s important to me is going to be taken away? And I knew the answer to that question.

That was the low point of it. But believe it or not, that’s the exact moment I remember it turning.

I found the ring exactly where I’d told the gym guy to look for it. Fucker was blind, I guess.

And things gradually got better. We had eighteen months’ worth of cash on hand, rode the volatility out without panic-selling, got into the barter economy in our county, spent a lot of quality time with friends doing things that weren’t terribly expensive…in short, we just sort of hung in there and survived it.

So: here I sit. 10:58 PM EDT after an evening with my friends at a charity auction…dishwasher running in the background, my kid at a birthday sleepover, my wife in the master bath doing god knows whatever it is she does in there at this time of night…yeah, life is fine, even at mundane moments like these.

That’s the prize of sticking to the plan, I guess. Hard to learn; easy to remember.

Author: ER Dude

Sick of your job? After a thirteen-year career, Early Retirement Dude fled corporate America for good. You can do it too! Visit or email

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