The Kids Are Through College, You Retire Next Month, and You’re Dead Broke. What’s Next?

Category: Financial and taxes in retirement

July 1, 2014 — Congratulations on getting the kids through college. With today’s out of control tuition costs, that was no easy task. And nice going with the retirement, we hope you get a hard-earned rest from a lifetime of work. The “Broke” part isn’t so good though, so here are 8 steps on how to help fix that.

Unfortunately you are not alone. It is estimated that only about half of baby boomers will be able to maintain their pre-retirement lifestyle. The Employee Benefits Research Institute’s (EBRI.org) 2014 survey reported that only 55% of retirees are very or somewhat confident they will have enough money to live comfortably in retirement. A discomforting 44 percent of retirees report having a problem with their level of debt.

Social Security was never meant to be anything more than a safety net. Yet among elderly Social Security beneficiaries, 22% of married couples and about 47% of unmarried persons rely on Social Security for 90% or more of their income. The average monthly Social Security retirement benefit was $1,294 in 2014. Retirement savings won’t help much either, since only half of Americans over 45 have saved more than $25,000. The result – millions of baby boomers are going to living at or near the poverty level.

Unless you can be content scraping by on bargains and living on a shoestring, you’ve got to take drastic action, right now. Here are 8 steps we recommend (for more tips like these see our more than 100 “coping with retirement” articles in the “Financial” category of the Topretirements.com blog).

8 Steps to Take Right Now
– Postpone the retirement, if you can. The longer you work the more you can save, and the more time you can delay tapping your retirement funds. According to the EBRI, far more workers expect to work in retirement than actually do. The percentage of workers planning to work for pay in retirement now stands at 65 percent, compared with just 27 percent of retirees who report they work for pay in retirement. Whatever the reason for this split, don’t assume that you will be able to find work once you retire.

– Get out of debt. You will have enough trouble surviving financially without having to pay high interest rates on your debt. Talk with a credit counselor, cut your expenses, pay down your debt, take a second job – do whatever you can to eliminate this extra burden now.

– Start saving more than you think you can. Anything saved from this point is much better than nothing. The government will let you put extra $1000 into your IRA ($6500 total) if you are 50 are over, so take advantage. Unfortunately you are going to need a lot of money throughout your retirement, so some sacrifice now might keep you from living in poverty later on.

– Do not take your Social Security benefit until you absolutely have to. We are frankly shocked by how many people unthinkingly sign up for their Social Security benefits at age 62, even people who are still working and don’t need the money. Note that the age 62 benefit is 75% of the Full Retirement Age (FRA) benefit. Sure, it makes sense to do this if you have nothing else to live on and/or you have reason to believe you and your spouse won’t live into at least your late 70s, when the differential for early vs. late claiming equalizes. But by not waiting at least until you reach your FRA (age 66 for baby boomers born before 1955) you cheat yourself out of hundreds of dollars more per month, possibly for decades. If you wait until age 70 to claim your benefit will go up by 8% each year you wait past age 66, a hard to equal return. You also protect your spouse by delaying, because when you die your survivor will get your entire monthly benefit (assuming yours is higher than his/hers).

– Line up a part-time job now. As we mentioned most pre-retirees are overly optimistic about their employment prospects in retirement. That’s why it is important to do some planning before you retire. Do you have a hobby you can turn into a little business? Are you moving to a tourist area where there is a strong labor market? Can you continue to work in your present field on a part-time basis? These are questions worth planning for.

– Downsize your home. Long-time subscribers will know this is one of our pet peeves. But every month you delay moving to a smaller, more affordable and more efficient home eats into your available retirement funds. The money you save on taxes, maintenance, and energy could go into a nicer lifestyle – which sounds like a good trade to us!

– Move to a lower cost environment. If you really are going to have to scrimp in retirement you had better continue on with more drastic measures. A low tax state probably won’t make much difference if your income is very low – except for property tax. Some states, mostly in the south, do have lower property taxes. Our member William also recently reminded us that not just the automobile state registration fees but also the local personal property taxes can be much higher in some states. Also consider your energy bills, transportation, insurance, cost of services, and general cost of living – you can probably find a cheaper state or town than the one you live in now.

– Identify, and cut your expenses today. If you expect to be one of the unlucky baby boomers who looks forward to a diminished lifestyle in retirement, consider this your wake-up call. Take a hard look at your budget by cataloging all of your expenses, then see where you can cut. Developing this budget (including your income sources) should actually be your first step. As the sage of Philadelphia, Benjamin Franklin, said: “A penny save is a penny earned”.

For Further Reading:
5 Ways to Find Second Act Careers
Want to Maximize Your Retirement Dollars – Move to These States
See “Which of These 7 Fantasies Could Wreck Your Retirement
The Biggest Unexpected Retirement Expense You Never Thought of
Not So Much, A Million Dollars for Retirement
EBRI- Confidence Returns for Those with Retirement Plans

Comments? What do you think the future holds for your retirement, financially speaking. Are you among those who think they will be comfortable in retirement. What strategies do you plan on taking to cope if you find that you will need some extra help? Please share your thoughts in the Comments section below.



Posted by Admin on June 30th, 2014

88 Comments »

  1. 😎 Wow! Now this is a category that fits! I never, ever made enough money to save, little lone ‘invest’ except the most paultry of sums, long since used after retirement. We do own our home, minus a year’s worth of payments which are low enough to get paid. If I could I would pay more/month. We have no debt. That’s our blessing … for now. So what we do have to control over, so far, is to stay in our home which is aging or are we ready to sell & go to an ‘active living center’. There is one in our area, not fancy, but down at the mouth either where you start in your own apartment & move within the same complex as you need more care. What to do … what to do. I would also like to relocate at least to an area that has somewhat seasonal weather changes but we have 2 children within an hour of us so probably aren’t going to do that. Our only ‘dependable’ income at the moment is SS & a somewhat sporadic income which could come to an end at any time – about $400/average/month. I’ll be back. Interested in how others are coping.

    by Jeanne C — July 1, 2014

  2. Downsizing your home is one of the best ways to save money in retirement. It will save you on maintenance costs, utilities and more! Plus a smaller house requires less upkeep, which gives you more times for doing the activities you love in retirement.

    by Newby Management — July 1, 2014

  3. To NEWBY – I totally agree and am constantly in amazement at a bunch of these “old timers” who buy 3,4,5 bedrooms homes with just as many baths all under the guise of visitors or family coming. How often does that occur? Even when it does you could put them up in the HILTON for weeks and still save money by not owning these huge homes,land, cars etc. guess some just such deep pockets that they no not what to do with the $$$$$$.

    We orig raised 3 children in a 1200 sq ft rancher with 3 small BR’s and a 1 1/2 bath. Just the two of us now and we are searching for a small 2 BR/2ba home in an affordable property tax region. Granted we will pick a State that doesn’t tax SS BUT one must really be careful about the Real Estate Taxes – including Florida – which in some places is NOT ALL THAT CHEAP.

    Then comes the big question – do I want to pay LOT RENT in a 55+ park? Some are paying in excess of $7000.00 a year Lot Rent. Yes, you read it correctly.
    Wow – to me that is just amazing and CRAZY. Oh well life is about choices and if u have have enough money to enjoy your choices whatever they may be.

    Newby – would appreciate your thoughts about lot rent, mobile homes etc.

    by Robert — July 2, 2014

  4. One thing to ask if you are considering lot rent is what will the immediate increase be once the house is sold. Just sold my mother’s manufactured house in North Ft. Myers in a lovely, gated golf community. Her lot rent was reasonable and covered just about everything – 24 hour security, lawn care, trash pick-up, great amenities, etc. best of all, NO property taxes! However, upon closing, the new owners were informed by the management company that the rent would increase $170.00 a month immediately! If you can find a park that is owner-owned, that might be a better alternative.

    by SandyZ — July 2, 2014

  5. There are some nice 55 communities in North Fort Myers that are owner-owned and do not pay lot rent.

    by vicki — July 2, 2014

  6. Don’t take Social Security until you have to????

    I don’t understand why the financial guru ALWAYS say that. Have you done the math? I have. It would take you 24 years to break even with all the money you would NOT have received at MINIMUM retirement age (62) versus age 66 (just 4 years later). Do you really want to wait that long to break even?

    For me, I am taking my Social Security as soon as I am eligible. For one thing, life it too short to wait. For another, if “means testing” kicks in, you will get cheated out of what you earned anyway. It would be harder to take money away from someone who is already getting SS than someone who is “waiting” and has not started receiving it.

    by Mike — July 2, 2014

  7. Thanks for another good article on retirement. Because of TopRetirements, I am making better decisions (albeit later in life) about my “golden” years – I think they’re more “copper” years, which will still be okay. All of the suggestions make sense. I do have a question, however. I was told to take SS at age 66 and keep working, save all the SS money, and then retire at 68. Supposedly this is because I would retire young enough to have energy and strength for my early retirement years to travel, and have a nest egg from the SS, along with the money saved in my 401k and from my job. I wonder what some “experts” on here think of that. I’ll be 64 pretty quick, so no big rush, but I’m wondering about this tact. I am very healthy, active, own my own little rancheria in Tucson, and hay is my major expense (going to trim that bill down in the next year). I do have some debt, which will be paid off before I turn 66. Thank you.

    by Brickhorse — July 2, 2014

  8. I hope to sell my 4/2 sfh, relocate to an area with a lower cost of living, and buy a little condo. This should substantially reduce my fixed monthly costs.

    I am not ready to stop working, nor can I afford to do so, so I may have to accept a lower salary in my new area. However, I estimate that if I can just leave my nest egg alone, it should be enough to support me modestly by age 65 or so. I hope I can earn enough to support myself AND keep adding to my nest egg, but who knows?

    I am 47 now, divorced, and my youngest child has one more year of high school. The next phase of my life is on the horizon.

    by Petunia 100 — July 2, 2014

  9. I hear you all. I quit at 60 Yes Im lucky to have SSD and pension from NJ But I earned it. My wife got screwed by a major hospital she was at for 13 yrs by 2 managers that had it in for her. She made more than them. Upstairs didnt care. We will move on. Leaving NJ. I worked my whole life for this time. As a private investor we will be fine. Outside NJ which our propery taxes are 1000 a month we will be going to a great area and it will be 200 a month or so. Life gets in the way with obligations but I was always focused on the end. Its here now.I have created a toll booth style of investing that is paying off every month. Its to bad for most that finacial commitment isnt important. Ive been broke and Ive been wealthy, wealthy is better and Im staying there without NJ.If your poor my heart goes out to you. Take advantage of Obama care and social programs. To those who did well. Toll booth investing is the key. All the parts came into line , no one is substantial but combined it works. NJ was the worse investment I ever made especially in the town I live. But we are out of here by the end of next year. The drain is the educational system which is awful and exspensive. 70% of my propery taxes go to these idiots.What a waste. I cant wait to go.

    by njjake — July 2, 2014

  10. I hope to get a bigger place. Before you get excited, we have been living in a tiny box of a condo for the last 16 years. While it has been fine up to now we wish to have things like 2 bathrooms, a washer dryer, a yard…….call me crazy but retirement is for having what you want and can afford once you are done scrimping for the kids sakes! I want a real house! With three bedrooms. One for us, one for my studio and one for a guest! 😆

    by Roberta — July 2, 2014

  11. We are looking to retire in Spokane Valley, WA. area coming from Colorado. We stand to lose $100k from what we paid if we sell here however a single story home is out of our reach for a comparable size home now. The stairs are the issue and there is a big space upstairs we do not visit. However, in looking at RE in WA. it seems many homes have basements which involve stairs. Looks like WA is tax friendly to retirees. I guess the comment or question is do we say forget the money and go where we may be happier? With selling at a loss, paying a realtor to sell, moving costs, storage, etc. we will probably break even meaning we will end up with a cheaper home but no extra $. We are looking at a $275k cash investment, total price paid $328k and selling at $? But who knows how long they will live and we are not happy here. We retired at 64 and 62. Any thoughts?

    by downinthedogs — July 2, 2014

  12. Great article and comments by all. We are an example of what you can accomplish if you just buckle down and get determined to get it together to retire. In 2003 my mid-50’s husband was pushed into retirement by his international employer a few months shy of his 30 year anniversary, thereby cutting his pension income by 1/3+ for the rest of his life. He was too young to retire, especially on the paltry pension he started to receive. I was downsized a few months later and got suckered into a work-at-home scheme that ended us forcing me into bankruptcy by the end of 2004. As the ball dropped in Times Square on January 1, 2005 we found ourselves broke, unemployed, bankrupt, 57 and 59 respectively, and by 2am on Jan. 2, we added a newly born very premature granddaughter that weighed in at 1lb 12oz to the mix. Her parents were also flat broke, and we knew they were going to need help. It didn’t take us long to figure out we had to figure out how to turn this around. We both buckled down and found jobs – my husband ended up with a position very similar to what he had been doing, but at $20k less per yr. I took a step back so I could find work faster. There were more positions open for Executive Assistants than there were for Office or Benefits Managers. I had intended to also find partime work to add to our savings, but with my granddaughter clinging to life in the NICU we committed to taking shifts with her parents so one of us would be there at least 20 out of 24 hours each day. So, instead of working a second job, we did everything we could to pare down our living expenses – no eating out (even packed meals to take to hospital), no laundry service, no bought lunches or Starbucks, no travel, shopping at thrift stores, I used public transportation to get to work (even before gas prices escalated, that saved me almost $300 in gas and parking), called around and changed car insurance, etc. etc.Both of us now had 401ks available so we started investing 15% each pre-tax, and gradually increased it to 25% for me and 20% for him. When his company started offering a Roth 401k he immediately switched over. When we felt we could handle it, we started saving a few hundred dollars more each month through direct deposit in the credit union – that gave us ready cash to pay taxes and buy Christmas gifts for our growing group of grandchildren. We also refinanced the house at some point, reducing our payment by $200 and shortening the term to 15 years. So we continued saving and staying pretty much debt-free until I hit 66 and after doing a lot of calculations I came to the conclusion that it made sense for me to take SS. I first used it to pay off the used SUV we had bought for my husband (he drove 28k+ miles a year)and then I socked it away to help pad our rainy day fund. Around this time I also took advantage of the Roth conversion amnesty and converted a chunk of my 401k to a Roth account and spread the tax liability over 3 years. Originally I had calculated that we would each need to work to age 70 before we could retire – an believe me, I was grateful that even seemed possible given our bad luck and bad choices and where we were in 2005. But by last year, with the help of a great adviser (took FOREVER to find one we felt we could trust) we came to the conclusion that we could move that timeframe up so I retired in December 2013 and my husband retired end of Feb. this year. We have enough income with his original pension, our two SS checks, a tiny pension from my last employer and two annuities we allocated a small chunk of our savings to, that we hope to not draw on our savings for several years. We are invested in areas that do not depend on the stock market and offer consistent returns. We will eventually start drawing just the earnings, but right now that is not necessary. Our mortgage should be paid off in 7-8 years, offering us a nice drop in our monthly expenses. Our house is already pretty small and my husband is not ready to give up his shop building so I doubt we’ll move any time soon. I am proud of what we accomplished in 8 years and I am confident that we can not only survive, but create a retirement that is certainly not luxurious but is very comfortable. If we can do it, so can anyone. It may take two jobs for a couple of years or it may take cutting expenses, driving your car a few years longer than you’d like, giving up steak dinners and substituting a SUBWAY 6″ instead. We got down to the bare bones for several years but then we were gradually able to add back the things we truly wanted – my husband pays a neighbor to mow the lawn ($20 week April – November) and I get my hair done every 6 weeks and a pedicure every month. We eat out at a family type restaurant a couple times a month and we splurge on a nicer venue once a month. We go to a movie once a month, and take 2-3 day jaunts to the mountains (summer) and the beach (spring and fall). We travel 5 hrs from home to volunteer one week a month March – November at a historic site. We take an inflatable mattress and a cooler & camp out in the site workshop to keep costs down. Our volunteer IDs gets us into several museums and other historic sites in the area and also provides discounts at several places, including a 505 discount at the site cafeteria. So we work but also “vacation” a bit. It’s amazing what you can come up with if you just explore and get creative. This article touched on several things we did to change our picture. It’s a great place to start.

    by NCGenie — July 2, 2014

  13. I’m confused about what the best thing to do is. I fully intend to sell this 3 bed, 2 bath house in WAY overpriced New Jersey when I retire. However, my husband is 3 years younger than me, so this is a big problem. I want to move to either AZ or maybe TX – where we can buy a 2 bed, 2 bath small house with small fenced in yard. Unfortunately, we will still have a mortgage. I want to work as long as possible, but with today’s job market, I may wind up being laid off sooner than I like. And finding a similar job in my 60’s will be near impossible.

    by Carrie — July 2, 2014

  14. Hello….I was disable in a car accident and have been on social security disability for approximately 20 years. I was married and had a very comfortable lifestyle. After getting disabled after 8 years it ended in divorce. after that, I had to declare bankruptcy. And am now living on a shoestring.I am able to do some kinds of part time work, which I do when there is one available. Thankfully I have no debt I live in a small subsidized very nice apartment which is very small though.. I find it quite confining. I am grateful for clothes on my back, a roof over my head and food to eat
    I wanted to ask your opinion of what woman of 63 can do to relocate to a warmer climate like Arizona or Western Colorado and rent and live inexpensively. I welcome any suggestions. …..but honestly like I said before, I am thankful to have clothes on my back food to eat in a roof over my head.

    by Rebecca — July 2, 2014

  15. I was a young widow at age 55 after my husband passed away from cancer. Luckily we both worked hard and saved money since we got married you at 20. I was able to move to Arizona buy a new home and start over. It was not easy, but somehow you do it. I would say to anyone out there take care of yourself, be smart with your finances, educate yourself. Life throws you curve balls!
    To Rebecca: There are lots of reasonable places to rent in the Phoenix metro area. I moved here from S. California and love it in AZ.

    by Loralee — July 3, 2014

  16. NCGenie,
    I take my hat off to you – you really proved that “when there’s a will, there’s a way”!

    by Nikki — July 3, 2014

  17. Regarding Social Security it’s not only about the “break even” date and whether or not you will be leaving money in there that you could have received. It’s about your health and longevity and whether or not you can afford to live on the smaller payments in the future. If you take the benefit at 62 and have a spouse it significantly lowers the spousal death benefit for life. I for one would find it difficult to live on the amount that I would get at 62 when I am 82. So, everyone is different but I don’t feel like I am cheating myself by waiting. It’s a gamble and you have to weigh all the circumstances. We live in CT and taxes and real estate are very high. We plan on moving to Nevada where there are no state income taxes and the real estate is more reasonably priced, there is no snow to shovel and no mosquitoes!

    by Karen — July 4, 2014

  18. Mike; Your 24 year break even point seems a bit optimistic. I worked for the Social Security Administration many years ago and if I recall correctly we used to tell folks the break even point was around 7 years. Granted that was back when the FRA was 65 and the hit at 62 was only 20% instead of 25%. I’m sure there are some calculators out there, but 24 years doesn’t strike me as accurate.

    When to take social security is a personal decision and everyone’s circumstances are different. Some folks can’t wait to exit the rat race at 62 and others need to work longer to build up their savings.

    by Leonard — July 4, 2014

  19. I live in Australia and am aged 76. I would love to live my retirement in my “birth country but am afraid of the horrific medical expenses. Both myself and my wife have pre-existing medical conditions so am very undure of affordability. We have an income of around

    My wife and myself would like to spend the rest of our retirement in my “birth country.” We have an income of around $40,000 AU annually which can vary anywhere from approx. 95% to 55% of the American Dollar.Since we both have pre-existinhg medical conditions, we have no idea of health insurance costs. We know we would like to go somewhere sunny like Ariz., N.Mexico, or somewhere in the eastern southern states. We have a good lifestyle down somewhere in a southern state and are pondering whether a move is wise. Any help klor comments would be appreciated.
    Clyde Sillaman

    by Clyde Sillaman — July 4, 2014

  20. Leonard,
    I wish 7 years were true. No so. I took my own SS earnings figures from my statement and plugged then into a spreadsheet. I also did not account for any increases as I did not know what they would be. They would apply to all SS amounts anyway. The figures speak for themselves, right there in the two columns. Tit and see.

    by Mike — July 4, 2014

  21. Sorry. I meant “try it and see”.

    Darned fat fingers!

    by Mike — July 4, 2014

  22. I believe the break even age whether you start ss at 62, 66, or 70 is on average around 78. I have seen way too many people die before age 62, or shortly thereafter. Heart attacks, strokes, and CANCER are human reality; just look at actuary statistics. I have seen people die from cancer in their fifties and sixties, with parents who lived into their nineties. So when to take social security is a gamble. We just don’t know how long we will live. I am 64, and plan to wait until age 70 to take social security. I am taking a very big gamble. My dad died at age 60 from cancer, and my brother died at age 55 from cancer. I don’t rely on the so called experts to dictate to me when to take social security; as I believe that is a decision each individual must make for themselves.

    by Bubbajog — July 4, 2014

  23. Bubbajog – I believe all choices have consequences and I also believe the SS depends on people trying to wait until they can collect the so called maximum because ss also knows that most people either die before the collect or shortly thereafter.

    You said it all – it’s a Gamble. I hardly ever won any money gambling so I personally chose not to gamble. I took ss at 62 and am now 75. Hallelujah.

    by Robert — July 5, 2014

  24. Mike, I love you man but you obviously were not a math major. 24 years to break even on SS is way off!! For me, the difference to break even on early verses late is 11 years, not 24. And that is the difference between age 62 and age 70.
    In most cases, it is smart to wait as long as you can, as you make 8% more money, each year that you wait. For myself, I would have gotten $1200 a month at 62 and $2200 at 70. That is not far from being doubled!!
    And if you were to wait until 70 and then die at 71, who cares? You don’t need any money when you are dead!!

    by Darrel — July 5, 2014

  25. Darrel – you forgot something. You could have died way before reaching 70 to collect your so called double amount. Again – purely a gamble.

    “a bird in the hand is worth more than two in the bush”.

    BTW= the way the government broke I am not so sure that you won’t need some money for them to collect when ur dead.

    by robert — July 6, 2014

  26. There are a lot of sites that discuss the fact that the break-even calculator isn’t a good way to calculate when to take S.S., such as http://www.socialsecuritychoices.com/blog/?p=288. This one explains why SS took down their calculator. We need bookies to play the odds. I’m gong to work until hidden age discrimination in my workplace sweeps me into an early lay-off. I’ll then have to decide between living on savings until 65 or 66 to maximize SS (I’ll be getting close to the maximum benefit if I wait that long), or taking an early benefit and preserving savings for awhile longer. I haven’t played with the numbers yet Lots of factors go into this, including taxes and guesses on life expectancy.

    by Ted — July 6, 2014

  27. I did an Excel spread sheet and compared collecting SS at age 62 and age 66.

    I didn’t add any cost of living to the calculations because I don’t know what they will be. It worked out that if I collect at age 62 it would take 20 years and 4 months to break even and I would be 82 years old! The other scenario if I wait 48 months and collect at age 66 it would take 15 years 4 months to equal what I would have collected by taking early SS 48 months early. I would be 81 years old at that point. Who knows how much longer you will live after 81 or 82 years old! I am taking mine early at age 62 next year! Here is an interesting article too on taking early SS and building your savings. This is a very GOOD strategy!

    http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2014/07/05/social-security-how-taking-benefits-early-can-incr.aspx

    by Louise — July 6, 2014

  28. Louise, I like your optimistic view BUT “who knows how much longer you will live after the next few seconds”. Pessimistic? No, fact of Life/Death!

    You know how to make God Laugh? tell Him ur plans.

    BTW – it won’t be long now before the government will be coming to tax 401 plans! Wanna bet? Oops – I don’t gamble and that is why I took Socialist Security at 62!!

    by Robert — July 6, 2014

  29. I am also curious if anyone knows some of the ins and outs of spousal social security. I have done internet research and mostly they refer to collecting spousal SS when one of the spouses is 66 years of age. My hub will be 63 years of age next year when he retires. Could I collect at age 62 on HIS SS if he is not full retirement age of 66? I also am entitled to my own SS which is almost as much as his but if I could grow my SS till 66 by taking spousal SS I would consider that too. Anyone have any insight on this? There is so much mumbo jumbo on this issue and I cannot find any good examples of husband and wife being 63 and 62 years of age. 😡

    by Louise — July 6, 2014

  30. It’s best to get the FACTS about your individual SS directly from your local SS office. Call or visit them like I did. They can explain it to you without opinion or spreadsheets.

    by John H — July 6, 2014

  31. Good point John. I am a bit premature with my planning, plotting and wondering what is the best thing to do. How far away from retirement were you when you visited the SS office?

    by Louise — July 6, 2014

  32. Robert, the government already taxes our 401(k) plans–when we withdraw the money, it is taxed as ordinary income. You can’t just let it sit there forever; when you reach 70 1/2, you must start taking minimum required distributions.

    by Linda — July 6, 2014

  33. Not something obviously that everyone can do, but I’m planning on taking widow benefits if I lose my job before age 66. My spouse took SS at 66, and passed last year. When I reach 66, I’ll switch to my own SS which will then be higher.

    Biggest concern that I have is reducing my kids’ expectations of help. As an older parent (last kid at 40– surprise!), my kids are just starting their careers. Even though they understand intellectually that I’ll be on a fixed income, they haven’t grasped what it really means. Sheesh, none of them are volunteering to even pay their own cell phone bill, never mind getting their own Netflix or other accounts. They still talk about living with me “to save money”. Yeah, and to “help out” LOL. Somehow I think that I’d be helping them out. I think the article should have another bullet for “cutting off kids” whether it’s kids in their 20s, like mine, or rebounders using parents’ as their safety net.

    by Mindy — July 6, 2014

  34. At what age to start social security distributions is a individual crap shoot. It’s like visiting Las Vegas where everyone has their own plan on how to beat the HOUSE.

    by Bubbajog — July 6, 2014

  35. Bubbajog, Amen – not many beat the house or we wouldn’t have all these plush casinos that try to make you feel good while taking ur money.Hmmmm, reminds me of my Uncle = SAM!!

    by Robert — July 7, 2014

  36. Mindy, If you wait until your kids volunteer you’ll be more than full retirement age! No seriously, if you were my personal friend I’d tell you the following: You are going to have to be the one to cut ALL financial support. Give them a warning if you must – 1 month and they pay their own way starting w/their cell phone. You need to take care of yourself now and they need to be on their own. There’s no secret bullet – just do it. It’s really what is best for them as well. When you’re not around, what will they do then?

    by beachkid — July 7, 2014

  37. I am 61 and taking SS in the fall when I turn 62. I don’t trust the govt. Since when is SS an entitlement. Working since I was 17 paid into it as well as my employer. As far as helping kids that is right. Families helped each other not the govt. Today is different with cell phones etc. but still families depended on each other when I was growing up. Politicians are the ones hurting families not your own children. When I graduated from high school my Mom said “Get up, Get dressed, Get a Job and I don’t mean at McDonalds either and don’t come home till you do” She was a proud American and a very smart woman. My husband and I plan to do the best we can in retirement and keep voting.

    by Vickie — July 8, 2014

  38. Vickie, Social Security is an entitlement because you and I and our employers paid for it. Therefore, we are entitled to receive the benefits. We earned it.

    by Linda — July 8, 2014

  39. Vickie,
    Yes, remember that YOU EARNED YOUR SOCIAL SECURITY. It is a system set up bythe Government to see that people do have something to lean on when they retire. It is not a GOVERNMENT HANDOUT, AS SOME MIGHT HAVE TOLD YOU. YOU EARNED IT AND DO DESERVE IT. Linda knows. Be happy that you will get it and be happy using it. I, too, worked from an early age and had pafrents who were very proud Geman Americans. We all are from somewhere else and here in USA, WE AE ALL ONE WITH THE WHOLE WORLD.
    :lol::lol::lol::lol::lol::lol::lol::lol::lol::lol::lol::lol::lol::lol::lol::lol:

    by Elizabeth in NY — July 8, 2014

  40. Please just ignore those lols, They were a mistake. Elizabeth~

    by ELIZABETH IN NY — July 8, 2014

  41. eliz – OK = LOL

    by Robert — July 9, 2014

  42. Yes over the years we paid into SS and we did earn and expect to rcv it whatever age one wants to “gamble” on BUT there are many rcvg SS that are scaming the “givamint” in various ways. Oh and then we have the “givamint” using the SS funds for all kinds of various programs other than what it is intended for and indicating in future years it may not be available.

    I once read (don’t know if it is true) that most or quite a bit of the SS fund goes to surviving children ????????????? The Rest of the Story is – and then we have the ones collecting welfare (some deserved – MOST NOT)

    by Robert — July 9, 2014

  43. Well, find this thread interesting. I am broke, have a job but no raises for 4 yrs, wife lost a good job and now works part time. I had to expend a lot during cancer treatments, am fine now but broke.
    I want to retire from my job and work elsewhere where I have chance of
    Being appreciated. It is hostile work environment. Our house had to be sold so now rent. As goal, I want to leave high cost of NJ.
    Maybe move to Delaware in year and rent. Any thoughts? No savings to speak of.I would only get 75% pension now. Need another couple to get 90%.

    No, this is not good but some get tested more than others?

    by Jay — July 9, 2014

  44. This is the United States of America land of opportunity. All three of my kids —–no college—-Entrepreneurs. Small business owners. I once ask my boss “don’t you want to save for your kids to go to college” his response. “I’m not sure if I want my kids in college I don’t agree with what is being taught in colleges today”. Work Hard, use your common sense, be nice, ask questions and keep moving forward. The opportunities are endless.

    by Vickie — July 9, 2014

  45. Jay – I forgot to mention be compassionate. I will pray for you. I have experienced and realize life is hard but worth it and you are absolutely right some do get tested more than others. Take care

    by Vickie — July 9, 2014

  46. Hi Jay,
    I do understand where you are coming from. The testing goes on and we need to charge on and remember life is to be loved and enjoyed and have fun. We can always be happy despite of our conditions, and then the sun will shine through.
    Best to you and yours. Blessings.
    Elizabeth in NY~

    by Elizabeth in NY — July 9, 2014

  47. Robert, are you the Robert that asked for the Realtor’s name and company in Murrells Inlet?

    by Tom — July 10, 2014

  48. Hi Tom – Yes, I be the one/lol

    by Robert — July 11, 2014

  49. Robert, well then…Realtor name is Rich Weston and he is with The Litchfield Company. Make contact with him, I’m sure he can help you out anywhere here in The Grand Strand area.

    by Tom — July 11, 2014

  50. ok, tks.

    by Robert — July 12, 2014

  51. Rebecca…
    I found a 2008 Laurel Creek park model mobile home (small, only 400 sq feet) for sale in a mobile home park in Tucson, AZ for only 11k. I flew down to check it out and bought it on the spot. Then I went home and cleared out my big house and rented it out. You wouldn’t have that issue. I dumped as much stuff as I could, loaded my stuff into a Penske truck and, towing my car, drove down. My friend drove down with me; she is a house painter. For a very modest fee and a ticket home, she painted the whole interior. As part of my purchase deal, the park manager gave me 3 months free rent and helped get the house ready. So he had pulled out all the carpet. A couple of other friends, wintering in New Orleans, drove over and helped put down my new plank vinyl floors throughout the house. They all slept on air mattresses in the house while we worked on it, and we set the carport up like our living room. We had so much fun and I wound up with a fresh, clean little house very cheaply. With all my costs for supplies, groceries, money to pay friends..,the house still came in under 13k. It’s cute, clean and solid and less than 10 years old. Not bad. My park is super clean, has a laundromat, clubhouse with game rooms and kitchen, swimming pool and spa. The rent is $3600 a year or, if you pay monthly, $330. My utilities are under $100 a month. Park Internet service is $12 a month. So…if I pay by the year my expenses to live here…rent, utilities and Internet come in at less than $5000 per year. I’m not sure you can live much more cheaply than that.

    You can also get larger mobile homes for not much more money. And, in my park there are often homes for rent. The landlord also often does rent-to-own.

    I don’t know if you have any savings or access to any money, but this area is easily a place where you could get settled into a nice mobile home, get it fixed up (maybe have a ramp built?) for 20K or under. And have very reasonable living expenses.

    I’m sure you can find similar deals in Phoenix area….I just prefer Tucson.

    Hope this helps.

    by Ginger — July 12, 2014

  52. Jay…
    Some get tested more than others, and yours doesn’t sound any worse than many others. My savings (250k) were stolen in a Ponzi scheme in 2008 (see iFFL, Gary Sorenson and Milowe Brost, Calgary), along with many others. Much of what I had left was lost in stock market crash. 3 houses all went upside down and when I couldn’t pay due to the theft, went into foreclosure. I lost two and am fighting foreclosure on the 3rd one. In short, I lost over 500k in less than 3 years. On top of that I was diagnosed as diabetic, with congestive heart disease and COPD. I had retired not long before my money was stolen but went back to work at less than half my previous salary for 3 more years. During that time I was able to save enough for my move to Arizona (see my previous post just above). I moved to AZ in April 2014. In May I took a bad fall on my already severely damaged knee. Arthritis had been destroying my knee for years and the fall capped it. Had a total knee replacement on June 10 and everything went wrong. Had a heart attack while in recovery. Then got pneumonia and kidney failure. Was in hospital a month, just released on July 4. So here I am, 64, unemployed with only ss for income although I do expect to start collecting some rent soon, on a walker and trying to get well.
    But I am optimistic! I plan, I save, I find work and do it. At least you have a spouse. I think you will find that changing your attitude might change your luck. You can handle this…you are clearly a fighter. Make a plan and work it. Yes, sh%t happens like my fall, but you just keep pushing.

    Good luck

    by Ginger — July 12, 2014

  53. Ginger your story is inspirational! I have looked at Park Model Homes and I was wondering about the rent for parking them. Yours is very reasonable. Do you like your neighbors? Your positive attitude seems to serve you well. Many people are not married on this forum and only have one income or only Social Security to rely on as they go into retirement. I will have no pension and only what I can save( plus social security)O until I retire. I do envy those with pensions, but I think I can live simply and have a great life–as you seem to.

    by Jennifer — July 12, 2014

  54. Yes, I like the neighbors I have met, and everyone has been super kind and friendly. In fact I am easily meeting people in Tucson. I walked into Starbucks and overheard some people talking about a farmers market. I approached them toask the location of the farmers market and they invited me to have coffee with them. So I did. Now I have a coffee group of about 12 people, men and women,that meets for coffee twice a week. The woman next door wants to go line dancing as soon as I recover from knee surgery. None of these things cost much. Lots of retired people down here and services for retired people. Come on down.

    by Ginger — July 13, 2014

  55. Jennifer..responded above

    by Ginger — July 13, 2014

  56. What is so great about Tucson, Ariz. Only thing I have heard about Ariz is that it’s really very very hot. appreciate some insight.

    by Robert — July 13, 2014

  57. Admin, how about having Ginger write a blog story. It covers some of the areas that you complaints about not covering: The southwest, single women, low budget, bum knees (oh wait, that’s just me) etc.

    I think it would be a great blog and she has lots of info for a full blog story.

    by Elaine — July 13, 2014

  58. Hi Ginger, good to hear about you again. And as said, your attitude is what makes this move for you so pleasant. Anyone else, having your problems, would sit down and cry, but that would not do any good. You are an inspiration. I still have not sold the house, so still waiting, but as soon as it does I am on my way. Also living on SS and a very small pension, so my pockets are not deep and will be looking for a nice, friendly place to move to. That is really my reason for a move, to find people, friends, and be busy in my “old” age with people my age.

    by svenska — July 13, 2014

  59. Robert….maybe it is only great to me, but I have met many happy retired people here. I find the scenery very beautiful. The desert here blooms with saguaro and other cacti, as well as flowering shrubs. Tucson is surrounded by mountains. Tucson has a lovely old downtown and a vibrant university district. The weather is lovely all year except for 3 to 4 months in summer, when it is hot. I found that it didnt get super hot until June and then when monsoon started on July 3, the rain cooled things down somewhat. I’ve been told it will start getting cooler in October. And, this may not appeal to all, but Tucson is the only blue city in an otherwise red state. That works for me. And, as I’ve stated, it’s very affordable for me.

    by Ginger — July 13, 2014

  60. Ginger, you are my shero.

    by Debra — July 14, 2014

  61. Debra…thank you, but really I’m no hero…I’m desperate! I was backed into a corner by the theft of my hard earned savings, and the housing crash. I have very little money, after working hard all my life, and I’m alone. What’s a girl to do? I have no family to help me. Guess I have to help myself! And, it won’t move me forward to be depressed, angry or worried. I did spend my time angry for about a year, and I just burned up a year. So I just tried to figure out a plan and implement it. Some important considerations:

    Let go of all your preconceived ideas about what you ‘must’ have and how you ‘must’ live.
    Yes, it is a comedown to live in a 400 sq foot mobile home. Not what I’m used to. But it is clean, safe and comfy. Yes, I had to get rid of a ton of stuff. Did I need the stuff? No. Am I comfortable in the house. big yes. And it is affordable.

    Recognize that fear of the unknown is just a mind trick….most of the fears will never happen. Probably all of them.
    Did I want to drive cross country with no one but a girlfriend? No, it was scary. Was I able to do it? Yes…even with a really bad knee. I drove the whole way.

    Realize that you are the only one you can really rely on, and stop waiting to be rescued.
    You can take care of yourself..,you really can. Even if you don’t have practice…you’ll learn. And it’s fun!

    Don’t hesitate to ask for, and accept, help.
    Help can come from surprising quarters. The girlfriend that drove down with me was a rather casual friend, yet she jumped to help. My park manager and neighbor have helped me. People love to help.

    Those are a few of my thoughts, but the bottom line is…you’ve got this.

    by Ginger — July 16, 2014

  62. I love the positive blogs with solutions & hope!!! I raised 3 sons, mostly alone, worked before during & after until age 57 when I was rear-ended sitting in my car in a parking lot! Have had Fibromyalgia since, later developed Rheumatoid Arthritis, Osteoarthritis & now also COPD. I cope with a lot to say the least but so far my motto of “Trust God & Do What’s In Front of You” has worked. I found out the hard way that being married 9 years was 1 year short of being able to draw diability based on my ex-husband’s amount of Soc.Sec. I had to draw on my working years only which was cut short by being disabled. Women in this country get screwed in many ways, it’s very unfair. I went to college while working full time but had to move because we were military. He got VA benefits but not me because we were divorced after 9 years of marriage. And my credits at the various colleges didn’t add up to more than a 2 year degree. So my wages were low & expenses of kids high. Anyway I ended up with less than $700 a month to live on. What saved my butt was having bought & paid off my home. And being thrifty, careful & saving a little. I draw SSI, thank goodness for that, it’s only $200 a month but somehow I manage. I have a garden & fruit trees, don’t eat much meat, don’t spend much on fun stuff. Have had a boyfriend who helped but he’s wanting to split up. I think my health issues are too much for him. That’s okay, who wants to be with a guy like that anyway. I’m planning to sell my house & relocate so reading where others in similar situations are moving & how & encouraging tales is very helpful to me. Anyone’s circumstances can change. The way I look at it is I earned every darned cent of whatever benefit is there & I deserve it. I am just so thankful those benefits are there! I vote blue because I want them to stay there for those who really need them. No one wants to be disabled or needy. Let’s all who can pay it forward, help ourselves & HELP EACH OTHER.

    by Just Do It! — July 16, 2014

  63. Ginger and Just Do It you both have great attitudes.

    by Debra — July 17, 2014

  64. Just do it….good luck to you. I outlined a very cheap lifestyle above. It sounds like you are saying you live on $200 a month…I don’t see how that is possible. Fortunately for me I was able to earn everything I have, although I do worry about social security. After working more than 45 years and paying into ss the whole time, I question whether it will be there when I really need it. Which is why I will continue to work and save.

    by Ginger — July 18, 2014

  65. Dear listers, Keep the good budget ideas coming.

    Just do it,
    You are amazing. I am so glad that at least your house is paid for and you have the nice garden. Does the $700 a month include or exclude the $200 SSI? Either way, I admire you and the other great “budget bound” folks on the list and draw great inspiration from your stories.

    by Elaine — July 19, 2014

  66. I just wanted to remind some of you, if by chance you have forgotten, many of us geezers used to buy U. S. Savings bonds through payroll deduction. Many of you may have put them in a safe deposit box or in a shoe box in your home and have forgotten about them. I ran across mine two days ago. My first ones will mature in 2018 and I will be 65, hub will be 66. Then each year for 6 more years the bonds will mature. These bonds will help us supplement our income. While not a fortune, it will be nice to cash each $100 bond for either necessities, luxuries, car repairs, etc. Unfortunately, we will have to pay taxes on them I presume.

    by Louise — July 20, 2014

  67. Louise, you presume correctly…definitely taxes on savings bonds. The are lots of helpful hints about savings bonds on the following web site. http://www.savingsbonds.com/ You can find the month to cash a particluar bond, a calculator that gives you the amount you will get, lost bonds etc. I have very few savings bonds (every little bit helps), but if you have a lot of them from a payroll purchase, this site is very useful.

    by elaine — July 20, 2014

  68. Food for thought on early retirement:

    http://www.fool.com/retirement/general/2014/05/31/social-security-why-taking-benefits-at-62-is-smart.aspx

    Editor’s Note: Thanks Louise. The article you mention has a very clear and one of the best charts we’ve seen that shows the breakeven ages for taking SS at various ages vs. delay – 62 vs. 66 and 66 vs. 70, etc. Breakeven for 62 vs. 66 is 77, breakeven for 66 vs. 70 is 82. It goes on to mention various life expectancies. However what it fails to take into account is that your life expectancy at age 62 is a lot higher than it was at birth – if we make it that far we’ve upped our odds. According to the SSA a male’s life expectancy at age 62 is just under age 82, and a female’s is about 84.5. The life expectancy’s at age 66 are higher still – almost 83 for males and just over 85 for females. Don’t forget the surviving spouse gets the deceased spouse’s full benefit. http://www.ssa.gov/oact/STATS/table4c6.html

    by Louise — July 21, 2014

  69. I’m hoping u can recommend a site or publication for fixed income retirees. I have a condo to sell and collect disability… I’m from NYC where the pricing of homes is exorbitant. I would like to live in a town or outside a city where it’s warm pretty much all yr round. My husband likes to fish and is a musician. I like to paint and swim. We r both former teachers and would love to work part-time and take classes, as well.

    Editor’s Note: We don’t know of a particular source that is just for fixed income retirees, perhaps someone else can help. We do think that Topretirements.com has a lot of resources that can help with this question. Look at the reviews of towns to see what might fit, use Advanced Search, check out articles in the “Finanacial” category of our Blog. Good luck!

    by Debra — July 26, 2014

  70. I cannot believe that you actually recommend against taking social security at 62. I have run the numbers. If you don’t need the money, you are still better off taking your SS and investing it in a dividend paying stock with a reasonable return (there are a bunch out there paying better than 5%) with automatic dividend reinvestment. With the dividend compounding, you will end up much better off.

    by John — July 27, 2014

  71. John, we plan on taking SS at 62 and selling puts on blue chip dividend stocks. I’ve been doing that in my IRA for some time with good results. If we get assigned the stock then I pick my spots to sell covered calls and collect the dividends. But it’s not for everyone. Some people are just not comfortable in stocks much less options.

    by Mike — July 28, 2014

  72. […] further reading Tax Foundation The Kids Are Through College, You’re Retiring Next Week, and You’re Dead Broke More Financial articles about retirement in our Blog (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle […]

    by » Want to Maximize Your Retirement Dollars: Move to These States - Topretirements — September 25, 2014

  73. Leonard who used to work for the SSA, I went to a retirement consultant at my credit union, and I did my own calculations, and we came up with the same numbers. If I take my SS at 66 rather than wait until 70, my break even point is 83.

    by Elaine — October 1, 2014

  74. Concerning when to take Social Security benefits, many of you are referring to a break-even point; however no one is mentioning the difference in income after that point. Is it minimal or substantial?
    I am not asking this question for myself. Unlike John and Mike i plan to wait until 66. I don’t do options (probably would lose my shirt and definitely would not sleep at night), and have enough money invested in the market thru mutual funds. The income from Social Security could be considered another egg in a very different basket than the others we are looking to for income.

    by ella — October 2, 2014

  75. Svenska, Rebecca…others who are poor. There is a cute 2007 park model home available in my mobile home park, Valley of the Sun Mobile Home park in Marana, AZ. Don’t know cost but am sure it’s affordable.

    My update…my health problems have gotten much worse. Spent almost the entire summer in hospital. Developed Atrial Fubrillation, then had a stroke. Can’t do much now. Have home health nurse and physical therapist who come to me. Still, I am determined to get better. If I can get strong enough for it, I will have gastric sleeve surgery; it will cure my diabetes and sleep apnea and be really good for my heart. I hope by next spring to be in much better shape.

    The weather is wonderful in Tucson now, and will be great for 8 months. I hope that by next summer I am well enough to travel during the summer to avoid the 4 hot months, but I lived through it this year so I can again if I need to. Now all the snowbirds are arriving for winter and park activities will start up again.

    There is no one on this thread who has had more problems and setbacks than me, guaranteed. That means any of you can change your situation if you want to. You just need to believe you can do it, and do it.

    by Ginger — October 2, 2014

  76. Ginger, I read your posts and think, now that’s one hell of a gal. I’m rooting for you. Do keep us posted on your progress.

    by Carole — October 3, 2014

  77. Ginger, I truly hope your health problems diminish. I want to let you know that I had gastric sleeve surgery in April. I am down 61 pounds so far and while it is definitely not an easy path, I am glad I made the choice to have it done. My thoughts are with you. Be strong! 🙂

    by Mary K — October 3, 2014

  78. Ginger, Yes, Yes, Yes, you are doing it! I really admire your spunky nature. I think of you as a sibling retiree and friend, and I continue to wish you Godspeed and much Love. Ditto Be Strong! Elizabeth inNY~

    by Elizabeh Sratton — October 4, 2014

  79. Ginger! I love your can do spirit. You are in my prayers. Get well soon.

    by Jennifer — October 5, 2014

  80. Is this a retirement web site or what? Sargent Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band? There are lots of other places to whine about health issues.

    by Jeff Gilfoy — October 6, 2014

  81. Takes a man to cut the compassion out of a conversation.

    by Stacey — October 6, 2014

  82. My thoughts exactly Stacey. And quite frankly, one’s total person, including health issues, is very much at the heart of retirement! Ginger has been one of the most inspiring people on this site. Since I have narrowed my choices to Tucson or Green Valley or Laughlin or Vegas, I sure hope to meet her one day if I land in the Tucson area.

    by Pat — October 7, 2014

  83. “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus”

    by Bubbajog — October 7, 2014

  84. Jeff and Bubba — Exactly.

    by Ted — October 8, 2014

  85. This blog is about “dead-broke” and health or lack-there-of is one way to get you there fast.

    Although not dead broke, I would like to hear more about place that offer less expensive alternatives for retirement…so both guys and gals offer them up.

    by Elaine — October 8, 2014

  86. Jeff, Ted and Bubbajog ……..raspberry for all of you. You can be demeaning and talk about ‘whining’ as long as you are healthy. I’m not whining; health challenges are part of aging and health care is an important aspect of retiring. If you will all pull your heads out you will see my message is that it can be done, no matter what your issues are, including financial and health. That’s why, despite having my retirement stolen and poor health, I have a rental house in NY (and rental income) and a mobile home in Tucson. My next goal is a small travel trailer and tow vehicle so I can travel 4 months a year, June through September.

    by Ginger — October 8, 2014

  87. The point was that we view the forum as being for the exchange of facts about retirement, rather than a health board — shouldn’t assume that men are healthy, just that they wouldn’t post a lot of details about their personal health conditions here. Bubba was spot on about the Mars-Venus comment, since I think this is a man-woman difference. And it’s not just this site. I’ve been on travel sites, finance sites, and even entertainment sites where women make it about themselves. My point was that I don’t get it. But I’n being guilty of going off track myself, so I’ll shut up. Ginger’s info about lower-income housing in Tucson is interesting. I’d like to hear if there are any free or low-cost senior citizen programs that can help to support ill seniors.

    by Ted — October 9, 2014

  88. Ted, Some women are from Mars, too!

    by ella — October 9, 2014

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