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50's with no savings, retirement, 401, etc.

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I've debated about starting this thread, but decided the small chance of it generating some good ideas outweighs the near certainty of insults, hectoring and, my personal favorite, solutions that require a time machine.

I am in my mid 50's, my wife will soon be 60. I have a good job in the computer business. At my age, and with skills that I have neglected, I expect my next job will be listed under "unskilled." My wife works for the school district. She could probably make more working anyplace else, but it's secure, has great insurance, a retirement plan that will pay $390/month in two years and summers off.

Other than my wife's meager "pension," we have no savings, no IRA, no 401, I get no retirement or pension from work. Debts are 5K and shrinking (two CC's and an IRS payment plan). Home equity of 70 - 100K, based on comps. Monthly "nut" on house (mortgage, tax, insurance) is around $1150/month, which is less than renting a decent apartment in these parts.

Most people of similar age that we know have "planned for the future." Their advice is limited to the "time machine" variety. The others are in various degrees of worse shape than us.

While people don't talk about this stuff openly, I've read that we fall in the majority. For whatever reason, most folks just didn't plan ahead.

I'd be interested to hear from others in this position - what are your plans? Are you older and have you found a way to survive this state of affairs? We are looking at all options, from me making myself more employable in case the ax falls, to selling house (before AC, roof, electric and/or plumbing start going) and buying a double-wide on a large lot in the sticks so we at least will always have a roof over our heads.

Opine away, and thanks for sharing!!!


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Guest usctrojanalum

you are clearly in a tough spot, and it's really not your fault our country does a poor job about educating its citizens on personal finance... the most realistic option is finding a place in America where you can live comfortably on social security alone, this likely means you will have to relocate to a low cost of living state and within a rural area.

A more extreme version of that plan is moving abroad (there have been articles on this where people are living very well on SS retirement alone). 

Also, if you can, start socking away as much as you can now.  You didn't really go into if your income allows for savings now - but if you or your wife can each start putting away the max IRA contributions for the next say 8 years that can easily grow 100k, which is better than nothing.

I started saving at 25, now 31, and I wish I would have started at 18.  My father was in a similar spot as you and did not start until 54.  He is now 60 and 2017's bull market brought his IRA above 100k, but he does not nearly have enough money to retire.  He will likely be working until 72-75 or as long as his body and mind allows him to. 

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You are finding yourself right in the middle of the new normal for this country. Myself included.  The fact that wages have simply not kept up with inflation rates has made it nearly impossible for most people your age or younger to have any healthy retirement fund - especially if that person faced any type of financial adversity in the last 20 years.  The one silver lining is that most people seem to be staying more sharp and agile as they age into their 80's these days.  It is almost unrealistic to retire at 62 if most people are living into their 80s now.  If you think about it, while you may not want to, you probably have 20 good years of working left in you before age might prevent full time work.  20 years is still a good amount of time to attempt to start a 401k (if you can) and work to pay off a house and other debts to reduce your monthly need when you do retire.

It might not sound ideal to work until age 72-75, but for most of us, that is probably just going to be a necessity.

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My wife had a blood infection 10 years ago. I had to take her to a place to learn how to correctly change IV bag for home meds that were last part of her treatment. I was talking to the nurse (while he was outside smoking) and he said "the biggest joke is that people are told to not drink, not smoke, eat "right" and exercise - all to end up old and sitting in one my chairs getting Chemo. No thanks."

I have since decided to incorporate "lifestyle" into my retirement plan. I drink too much, eat a gloriously unhealthy diet and get no exercise. There is no chance I will live to be one of those sad old geezers greeting at Walmart. I'm sure it sounds horrible to many, but we have no kids - it's not like we need to hang on in adult diapers for the sake of the grandchildren.

We did more checking and see that, if my wife were to quit in two years, she'd get $1600/month between SS and her work pension. She works longer and monthly payout keeps increasing. We've found plenty of dwellings on acreage for less than 100K, so, if money from current place paid for "retirement" home, we could do pretty good if I make anything at all.

I did some more research and find that, while there is rampant ageism in places like Silicon Valley, there are opportunities for guys like me to maintain legacy systems at places no bright young Computer Science graduate would ever consider working. All in all I'm feeling better - my needs are simple: access to pizza and burgers, a good saloon with cheap beer and a dry bed near a screen with YouTube and Netflix. 

This is a good discussion that, hopefully, will prove valuable.

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