I have this place in Florida that was built by my mother and father some 32 years ago, and which sits on the 9th green at the Inverrary Country Club--the place where Jackie Gleason roamed and where the Inverrary PGA Classic was held for many, many years. It's also a place that is quite beautiful and was bequeathed to me when my parents passed away.
The one aspect that hasn't changed much over the years is the activity around the pool. Although many of the older folks have gone on to that much greener fairway in the sky, there are still a few left to carry on the tradition known as CARP: "Current Active Retirement Planning."
And did they ever. I remember quite vividly trying to take a nap in the sun and having to listen to the constant carping around me, which generally concerned money in one form or another. At the risk of generalizing and perhaps stereotyping, which could cause a stream of angry letters and e-emails, the conversations were usually divided into two distinct groups: male and female.
The men all discussed the outrageous prices in the supermarkets. After all, they were retired and really had nothing to do once they had satisfied their obligatory round of golf. Many were, of course, not the famed 19-holers so they came to the pool in the afternoon to chomp on their cigars and talk about how Publix had a sale on grape tomatoes at $3.99 a box but Winn Dixie was now running at a dollar more.
"Outrageous! But, did you see what I paid for seltzer the other day? A bargain. I paid only 39 cents a bottle or three for a dollar."
"What kind was it?"
"I don’t drink generic. I only drink Canada Dry."
"But that's $1.09 a bottle. The generic brand is made by Canada Dry anyway."
And on and on it went until your ears began to sizzle and your head felt like it was melting--and not from the sun.
Then the ears picked up the women on the other side. Social Security checks came rolling in the first Wednesday of the month, or the second, or third, or fourth, depending on your birth date. But, no matter what, the women treated them the same. They all zeroed in on a particular intersection in the neighborhood where each of the four corners was inhabited by a bank. They regularly deposited funds in a saving account in one bank, let it ride for a certain period of time to pick up interest, then opened an account in another bank, and repeated the same procedure until they had accounts in all four banks. Then they would begin rocking and rolling, which meant moving funds from one bank to another depending on who had the higher rate of interest at the particular time. CDs also played a part and they would follow the same routine with those.
Now, try these little tidbits. According to Kemper Funds, those age 55 and over control more than 70 percent of the wealth in this country. According to a Boston College study, each year 50 percent of this country's wealth transfers into the hands of women and since women generally outlive men, guess what? You got it. Right now, women control 51.3 percent of the private wealth in the U.S., according to my daughter Michele at the Federal Reserve, and it's growing. Besides, who rocks the economy, baby?
So, the bottom line is that the while the men discuss the price of seltzer, the women are making margins.
And now you know who you should listen to.
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