About 10 years ago, my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. We got her on all the right medicines, but she got worse. Eventually, she needed round-the-clock care. It was very expensive, and we ended up having to sell our house in order to pay for her treatment. In the end, the cancer got her. We threw everything we had at that damn disease, and I don’t regret a penny we spent trying to fight it–she was the love of my life. But, in hindsight, I wish we’d bought a long-term care policy. At least we would have been able to keep the house.
-Gary, 68, Everett, Wash.
The same as most of the country: That I didn’t bail out of the stock market at the first sign of trouble. If I had a time machine, I would go back to the summer of ’07 and sell everything and put it all in bonds. Instead, I listened to my broker and held tight. “Don’t panic. If you panic, you’ll end up making a bad situation worse,” he said. I wish I’d listened to my gut, but I figured he’s the one with all the degrees. Well, needless to say, I’m not a client of his anymore.
-Paul, 58, Shrewsbury, Mass.
Oh my goodness, that’s an easy one. We kick ourselves all the time that we didn’t decide to downsize when home prices were at the top. At one point, we were told that our house would fetch $1.2 million. But we thought, well, we’re not in any hurry. Let’s wait, and maybe it’ll go higher. Boy, was that a foolish mistake. When we were finally ready to retire, the housing crash had already occurred. We ended up selling last year for $699,000. Ouch!
-Rosalie, 74, Claremont, Calif.
Let me tell you, word to the wise: Get a prenup. I don’t care how in love you are when you get married, when things get nasty, you will not believe what people are capable of. And I have been married three times, so I know of what I speak. My first wife–what a piece of work!–she took everything I had, handed me my butt in court. I had to start all over again. Then, I met wife number two. Do you think I learned my lesson? Nope. Married and divorced her, and lost everything again. When I met my third wife, the first thing I did was drag her to my lawyer’s office. She’s a sweetheart and she would never do what they did, but just in case…
-Jordan, 69, Paterson, N.J.