Yikes! Water! Water! My hair’s on fire! Oh, it’s not my hair! It’s my bank account! I have completely smoked it! I inadvertently incinerated it during these last 30+ years of career building. If it’s any consolation, you have loads of company in your current miserable dilemma.
Alana Semuels, in a February 22, 2018 The Atlantic article, This is What Life Without Retirement Savings Looks Like, says that “… the median savings in a 401(k) plan for people between the ages of 55 and 64 is currently just $15,000, according to the National Institute on Retirement Security, a nonprofit. Other workers did not have access to a retirement plan through their employer. They’re going from being near poor to poor.”
It’s a sobering reality to learn that, according to a January 13, 2017 report of The Social Security Administration, 21% of married couples and 43% of single seniors rely on Social Security for 90% or more of their income. According to a 2015 Gallup poll, 36% of near-retirees say they expect Social Security to be a major source of income once they retire.
How and why are too many Boomers finding themselves in this critical crossroads of many years ahead with little or no financial resources? Did you fail to establish a sound financial retirement plan early on in life? Were you too busy establishing your career and reaching your job goals? Did the euphoria of consumerism consume you and blind you to the wisdom of deferring an immediate impulsive “want” in favor of long-term “needs?” Did some unanticipated and unavoidable financial crisis arise, draining your financial resources? Did raising a family, college costs, parental sickness, a divorce, or some natural disaster sabotage your long-term financial plans?
But here you are. That was then; this is now. Your current reality presents a sober wakeup call as to what to do now. Take heart. Breathe. And let’s look at options.
First, turn to an expert to assess your current real assets. There are many free services offered to senior citizens designed to help seniors gain control of their financial affairs. For example, American Association of Retired Persons, under the heading, Finance, has an entire cadre of resources, both human and on-line. Such topics as “Get Help Choosing a Financial Advisor,” “Free Tax Preparation,” and “Money Management Resources,” – are designed to help you determine the reality of your current financial status.
Another invaluable resource for Boomers and seniors is the Federal government. A Google search, “Government Services for Seniors” yields a gold mine of sites where seniors can retrieve concrete advice, as well as material goods and services. To a great extent, Boomers are unaware of the existence of these resources or are reluctant to take advantage of them. Ironically, it is we, the people, who have, through taxation, generously contributed to the development and availability of what the government can now provide. Now is the time to dip into this abundant trough of resources that you, in fact, helped build!
Now that you realize, Dorothy, that “you’re not in Kansas anymore,” you will need to decide which path of the yellow brick road to follow to best meet your current financial needs.
How and where can you conserve by making small changes in your current lifestyle?
How and where can you put your current limited assets to work more effectively?
How and where can you augment your current income by work, either full or part time, either for yourself or someone else, either doing what you did before, or in some totally new venture.
Through smart saving, adjusted lifestyle, and creative work strategies, you can and will survive, possibly thrive, in retirement, despite limited retirement income and savings.