I've had a few interesting online conversations over the past couple of weeks. Most of the places I hang out online are not the kind of places where name-calling and extremism flourish, so you actually can *have* conversations, even when people disagree. A lot of people I'm in touch with (from all over the world) are really worried right now.
Some are worried to the point of scared. These would be my non-white, non-straight, non-Christian friends in red states. Not only do some of them expect to lose their health insurance when the new administration repeals the Affordable Care Act, some of them are expecting to lose their civil liberties as well.
Some are afraid their marriages will be declared void. Some are afraid that they or their friends will be victims of the hate speech or violence that have surged. Some were already experiencing hate speech, harassment or vandalism and now feel that their local governments, previously just picking away at their right to equal protection, are going to say "hey, if you don't like it, feel free to GTFO."
Here in California, my state government has issued a statement to the effect that "we will hold the line." My U.S. rep is a good guy and my U.S. senators are cool. My primary concern is not for my personal safety or my civil liberties, it's for my retirement.
If the new administration's policies have the effect many expect, we will be looking at another recession. At 57 and 51, Mr. P and I don't really have time to recover from that.
If they "privatize" Medicare (aka turn health insurance for retirees over to for-profit insurance companies), we may not suffer much because neither of us expects or wants to use, in retirement, the kind of healthcare services that cost a ton of money. Extreme measures, no thanks.
If they repeal the ACA (highly likely I'd say) the individual mandate will be gone, so we can choose to go uninsured, which will actually reduce our retirement cost-of-living. And yes, I know: if one of us gets severely ill or injured, we will not be able to afford care, and we will die. But: our insurance premium now is well over $1000/mo, counting my employer's contribution - and that's a high-deductible plan. That's not sustainable on a reduced, retirement income.
We still have ten+ years in which to get ourselves as healthy as we possibly can, while we wait to see how this shakes out.
I don't believe the new administration will succeed in "privatizing" Social Security. Too many red voters depend on it for their financial security in retirement, and it is also the only source of income for many disabled people. The so-far-appalling DT team and the McConnell Congress may well succeed in reconfiguring Social Security, though. Just to give one example of a way to reduce the program's costs, maybe only one person per household will be allowed to claim benefits. Or maybe, like Medicaid, you only receive benefits once you have exhausted all your own resources.
And of course, any such socially-destructive change to a long-standing program of this nature is likely to be protested and hard-fought, and ultimately reversed when a progressive administration comes back to power. But that may be too late for us.
So one of the things I've done to cope, since the election, was go back to my recently-completed Sierra house plan, and reduce it in size by a third.
It was a theoretical exercise, in part, to see if I could render a house plan that included all the elements that make our life pleasant and comfortable here. The good news is that I pretty much managed it. Not all of our treasures would be able to go with us; we would have to make cuts that were painful, not just expedient.
But when you are looking at years, maybe decades, of life in which your income may be half what you were planning on, the first thing to do is make the cost of living lower. The most effective way to do that is to have a smaller, more efficient residence.
The house plan was already modest at under 1600 square feet, and already efficient in terms of power and water use. The new plan is under 1000 square feet and should cost less than $500/mo to operate. That's utilities, insurance, and taxes - though of course, property insurance may go up too, since that is one of the few bulletproof industries; and property taxes may go up because there will be fewer people with insurance, which means the state will have to pick up more costs.
If things really go south, and my 401(k) loses half its value, well ... we'll have to sell the lot, and we won't be able to build this house at all. If one of us becomes disabled, the other person just won't retire.
That's the worst-case scenario: welcome back to the 1930s, y'all. I don't expect that to happen, but I'm not an idiot, so I have to plan as if it might. We don't have kids to move in with.
We had just gotten to our best-ever financial position, but in two weeks my 401(k) is down a non-trivial amount. So, not feeling super positive over here.