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Money Matters Blog

Monday, May 23, 2011

Retirement and the Accumulation of “Stuff”

A cautionary tale by Karen Alexander, 
Community Financial Education Partnership Coordinator

At a recent family get-together, a newly retired relative complained about how little he received from his pension.  He stated that he only gets a 1/3 of his income from his former employer.  The reality was sinking in - it is difficult to survive an extreme reduction in income if you have not planned for the future. 

I’ve known this person my entire life; he was constantly buying “stuff.”  He loves books, collectibles and other unique items.  He was sure that in buying these items, they would increase in value and he would be, essentially, a very wealthy man. 

Unfortunately, his plan didn’t work as he anticipated.  Most of the items he bought are worthless, and along the way, he failed to plan for his retirement.  He never saved a penny of his own money.  Now, as he contemplates getting a post-retirement job, he is bitter about having to pay taxes on what small income he will earn.  

He is not the only one who neglected to save for retirement. Research indicates people ages 55 to 64 have save a median of $100,000 in retirement accounts and those 65 or older, about $60,800(Survey of Consumer Finances, 2007). Many baby boomers are unprepared to retire and face the possibility of outliving their money.     

These are stunning statistics, but where do we go from here?  There are a few choices available to those who have not saved, or have not saved enough for retirement:

Start now:  The main reason people say they haven’t saved for retirement is they don’t know how get started. It is never too late to begin saving.   Find where you can save money monthly, and put the funds away into an account. Where you keep your retirement funds depends on your age and options so ask your tax advisor.

Work Longer:  If you have not saved enough for retirement, you may consider working longer.  You can claim Social Security at the age of 62.  But if you wait, the payouts increase by 7 to 8 percent each year you delay, up until age 70 (Brandon, Emily).  

Share Expenses:  Based on your situation, you may want to move in with family or live with a friend.  Sharing basic expenses such as utilities, food and lodging may assist in reducing your basic costs of living. 

For my priorities, I am placing my retirement savings above “stuff.  Once I have my retirement and savings goals met, I can buy all the “stuff” I want!

For further reading, please check out: 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Social Security.

Posted by: Karen Alexander, Community Financial Education Partnership Coordinator.

1 comment:

  1. That's too bad. I want to be rightly compensated during my retirement years. I also want to live in ny retirement community that cares and gives me the best. Everybody deserves to be rightly compensated after years of work.