Elder Media: For Women Only? Dumb Ones?

Elder Income

There has been plenty of reporting on the increasing inequality of wealth distribution between the top one percent of the population and the 99 percent of the rest of us.

The disparity is breathtaking. By most measurements, the top .01 percent of the population earn an average of something like $27 million per household per year while the average of everyone else is $31,244. Whether it is measuring income, accumulated wealth or whatever, this is the kind of chart we're accustomed to seeing these days:

Income inequality in US

A zillion words have been written about why such inequality is corrosive to society. Or not, if you subscribe to the right wing philosophy of wealth, trickle-down and job creation. We are sure to hear a lot more from both sides leading up to election day in November. But I'm not here to add to the cacophony today; I'm just setting the stage a bit.

A few facts:

According to the Social Security Administration, people 65 and older in the middle level of income distribution receive about 66 percent of their income from Social Security. For those in the lowest income level, Social Security is just under 85 percent of their income.

For 22.5 percent of married beneficiaries in 2010, Social Security was 90 percent or more of income. That percent held true for 46.1 percent of non-married beneficiaries that year. So says the Social Security Administration [pdf].

The current average Social Security benefit is $1230 per month or $14,760 annually. According to the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, the U.S. ranks fifth from the bottom among 30 countries with advanced economies in generosity of benefits for average earners.

Under a new measure of poverty, the Census Bureau [pdf] reports that in 2010, 15.9 percent of elders – one-sixth (!) - lived under the poverty line.

To bring this back to the inequality of wealth distribution, I wonder how much higher average Social Security benefits would be today if, during the past 30 years, salaries had not been stagnant?

With all this, presidential candidate Mitt Romney and just about every Republican in Congress wants to cut Social Security benefits via some means and President Barack Obama has revealed that he can be wobbly on the subject.

So I'm sitting here on a Sunday afternoon curious about Time Goes By readers, wondering how well we all get by. What percentage of our incomes derive from Social Security and how difficult is it to match our money to monthly requirements.

For me, Social Security provides 86.3 percent income. Because I have no mortgage, my fixed expenses are low and although I'm not fanatical about it, I watch the outgo carefully and never spend more than I can pay cash for.

What I've noticed in the past year, however, is a dramatic increase in the cost of food. I can't swear to it, but it feels like I am spending twice as much now on groceries.

I eat almost no meat and I usually buy the least expensive fish. But produce is now astronomical so I have begun substituting less costly frozen vegetables and fruit. Because they are frozen within 24 hours of picking, they are often more nutritious than fresh.

Anyway, as always when I ask personal questions on this blog, you are welcome to reply anonymously. An email address is still required in the comment form but it is never published.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Lia Hirtz: Adelaida


I'm not collecting any Social Security benefits yet. I'm trying to hold out for a few more years so (hopefully) my benefit will be higher when (again, hopefully) I'm in my 70s and 80s.

I am 60 and am not retired and hope to work, if health allows, until at least 70. I recently received my annual SSI benefits prediction. If I were retired now SSI would provide only 44.6% of my current income. I hope to have my house paid off by the time I retire, but even if I do it will be difficult to manage on that amount of income. I may be eligible for a small pension which will help, but the pension is not guaranteed and could be lost due to political expediency.

I am very lucky to be quite comfortable. I am 60 and retired. Have a computer science degree and worked for 30 years in silicon valley. My husband and I have about a 2.6 M nest egg which we figure allows us $105K per year which includes $19K for housing per year and $7K for medical insurance per year. We moved out of California when we retired which we figure saves us 30K per year. Obviously we have no social security or Medicare right now.

We aim to live on our SS but we do not have to do so. We use supplemental income for extras-- like new tractors that SS could never buy. Living on a farm our living costs are pretty low other than now fuel for the trips to town for work, shopping, or pleasure. It helps that there are no mortgage payments on either of our properties. Also our farm gets a lower tax rate for being in farm use-- something the state could always change. The farm has been forced to now fund its own way which is not easy as small farms don't leave much margin for profit, and we often funded it ourselves as when we needed more hay than we sold livestock.

When we went onto SS, we also converted our Tucson property into a vacation rental which now covers its costs and leaves enough to make improvements on it. We though may only use it when doing upkeep on it as it limits you otherwise to two weeks for pure pleasure. When we are here, there is little time for that as once a year maintenance leaves a lot of work for the month or so we might manage down here.

What gets me with Republicans and sometimes makes me wonder who really runs them all-- They constantly name something what it is not, in fact the very opposite. Patriot Act meant taking away more of the rights our founders built into the Bill of Rights. Clean Air meant more pollution, and on it went.

Now the wealthy ones, like Romney are called job creators when reality is he built his fortune by converting better paying jobs or entrepreneurs into either overseas jobs or lower paying ones as his ilk demolished businesses to consolidate their own wealth. Job creators sounds better than what they are-- oligarchs.

One other frustration is that to get the full news of what is going on doesn't happen in much of the country. Drive through the so-called heartland and you hear no progressive radio, no alternative to right wing spiel. Down here in Tucson, to get MSNBC would cost us an extra $25 on top of $30 base. I bet a lot don't do that, and it explains why so many get Fox thinking (much much Fox) which is part of the basic package.

In relation to anon's comment above, to cut down confusion:

SSI is Supplemental Security Income paid from the federal government's general revenue fund and not from the Social Security fund. It is for low-income adults and children who are disabled and/or blind.

Some elders are, under certain conditions, dual eligibles who receive both Social Security benefits and SSI.

The benefits prediction anon received is for normal Social Security benefits and not SSI.

I receive Social Security and a state pension, which together account for 100 percent of my income, exclusive of savings.
During the last five years of employment I paid off all consumer debt, and started to save money. I pay cash for everything. My wife and I are separated and costs me nothing; my children are grown. I live comfortably in a one-bedroom apartment. I forego all of the cash-draining activities of the past, such as: Travel, dining out, theatre, concerts,and the purchase of expensive clothing and cars.
Were I to live solely on Social Security I would be homeless.

I am still working at age 68 and hope to retire at 69. My ss will be about 1700 month and my new challenge is to see if I can live on that plus about 600 a month from a small annuity. I have done an extensive budget and am going to try and pay my bills online and live on that! Housing costs are very low here in Florida but as Ronni remarked, food is crazy expensive. I am starting to go to Super Walmart since it really has the best prices.

I am 67. My income is 100% social security -- $1500/month, $18,000/year. I have ~70K in IRAs. I'll be okay if I don't live too long and can maintain better health than I have lately.

I have no mortgage since I bought my home for cash due to a boon from the stock market in 2002. Property tax is my biggest expense outside of food, fuel and home maintenance.

I drive an oldie but goodie dirt-simple 1989 pick-up which I will probably have to replace at some point. I hope for the best.

I think the conservative religious nuts are giving Jesus a bad name. May they all go to hell.

P.S. - To Rain
As we all know, George Orwell said about the future in "1984":

“War is peace.
Freedom is slavery.
Ignorance is strength.”
― George Orwell

...and that future was 28 years ago.

Ronnie, my first thought? Get thee to a Farmer's Market! Fresh produce is LOTS less expensive there than at the store. And much better quality too.

Retirement income? Yeah, it's gone down. Social Security and a small pension. Some savings. Which - no matter how invested - loses value constantly. So-called conservative "Widow & Orphan" stocks? Down. Bond yields? Down. Money market returns? Ha Ha.

Fortunately I own my home so I'm good there except for home repairs and the usual maintenance & utilities.

It's a scary world out there and you are right to raise your voice in protest.

Thank you.

I'm 66 and my 58 year old husband is still working and insured so I am not yet collecting Social Security or Medicare benefits. I'm hoping I don't have to claim Social Security benefits until I'm 70.5 when the benefit will be highest (heck, I'm hoping we still have Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid at that time!), but my husband's employer is already considering outsourcing jobs to India.

While we have no debt, we have some small pensions and savings which we hope will survive future economic downturns.

We work diligently researching health issues and keeping them at bay primarily with a low-carb diet and walking/hiking. We take no drugs. I reversed rheumatoid arthritis myself after refusing medical treatment due to the drugs side effects, and reversed my husband's psoriasis when medical treatment failed to do so.

In the 8 years I've been retired due to layoff, the cost of food has doubled even though I now buy directly from farmers whenever possible and constantly comparison shop to find the absolute lowest prices. Still, I see the cost of foods going up almost weekly.

I fear we are headed for the worst possible economic future: depression (no jobs or benefits) AND hyper-inflation. This will most certainly cause civil unrest, wars and political instability as well.

I think the future will be extremely challenging for everyone as 7 billion people explodes to 8 billion in only another ten years and exponentially faster still even as resources continue to be depleted and climate collapse makes crops more uncertain and more costly.

Forced into retirement at 61 with a layoff, I started collecting SS benefits at 62. I currently receive $1500 a month which is a little less than half of what my monthly salary was in the private sector.

I had built up a pretty good 401k so there's enough there to pay the house off if I need to but am instead taking out a stipend from this each month to make my monthly mortage payment while keeping my IRA from reducing to a level that gains nothing as the markets goes up and down.

My wife still works and until January this year I was on her health insurance but they changed policies in the school district she serves as a nurse in. It became impractical for us to pay in an extra $300 a month on the premium on a policy that required you pay a $3000 deductible before any 80-20 coverage would cover anything, including doctor visits.

Instead I have put that money away in another account and will used it for medical needs as they arrive, hoping I don't run into any major medical until I turn 65 in 2013 to sign on with Medicare.

My wife's job salary, my SS benefits, the monthly IRA stipend I draw out, along with an additional $400-500 a month I bring home working part time for a local caterer keeps us at a level we were accustomed to before I was let go.

But I fear that time will work against us as we age and our retirement revenue gets eaten up by the high costs of fuel, food and health care.

We both worked, my husband worked two jobs and thus has two pensions plus his social security. We live off his retirement income, save what I earn at my 30 hours a week job and will continue to save when I retire - that amount will be about half what I get from working. My biggest concern is the cost of health care - no matter WHAT the politicians say about preserving our current benefit level of Social Security and Medicare for those of us over 55, those programs are unsustainable unless they continue to have the younger people contributing. I give it 10 years, if that, before both programs become welfare programs and the rest of us spend almost half our income on health care.

To Alice...
Farmer's market cheaper than grocery stores? Not where I live now and not during the four years I lived in Portland, Maine.

Try broccoli at about $2 a stalk. Berries at $5 a half-pint. Etc. Etc.

I like the farmer's market - open here for only about five months of the year - and I attend every week. They have many more varieties of vegetables and fruit than we get in the regular markets. And at mine, a fabulous variety of mushrooms (at extremely dear prices) every week. Plus, of course, it is all much more fresh than the local grocery produce.

It is also much more expensive.

Would Anon who reversed her husband's psoriasis share her strategy, please?

We both receive SS and modest pensions which may or may not survive future political machinations. We olanned ahead, but are pretty amazed at the increase of food prices in all categories.

We did not anticipate that a strict low-salt diet and more fruits and vegetables and less meat would be so much more expensive, and even more with the constant price increases.

I live in a farm district in Eastern Washington and the produce at the Farmer's Market is tastier and lasts longer but is more expensive than the grocery stores. A plus for us is there is an Adventist grocery whose produce is cheaper and fresher if not so pristine looking. Bless'm! There are also places where I can u-pick apples, blueberries, etc. and that is much cheaper. Those farmers are paying premium prices to run their equipment and drive their produce to us. Regular gas here is around $4.30 as well. I don't know which will run out first my ability drive or my ability to pay for gas. I will not pay $30,000 for a car to increase my gas mileage by 25%. I just drive less and less. Because our town is so small it is possible to walk many places and our busses go by most of where you need to go. We do have "Dial-a-ride" for the less-abled but the nimrods on the city council are trying to figure out a way to get people (the disabled and the elderly) to use the regular bus. Most of the regular users cannot walk to the bus stop. That reminds me to make some phone calls and write a letter or two.

Social Security makes up 60% of my income, the rest is a small pension and my IRA distribution. I am low enough income to qualify for a property tax reduction (not deferral) here in WA. I own my home outright as I sold a large home in Seattle when I moved here buying a cheaper, smaller and more manageable home for myself. A big expense has a large impact for months on me. I learned some frugal living habits from my depression era parents who were very poor. They still work today.

I am also concerned the cost of insurance and drugs will be sink us all.

I am a retired school teacher from another state and get a small ($500) monthly pension due to the fact I taught for a long time in private schools then stayed home with kids before going back to work in public schools. I signed up for SS when I retired at age 63 and moved to AZ to remarry.My ex and I had struggled for the majority of our 26 year marriage just to pay for rent, food, insurance and clothes.When we had money, we spent it on travel and books and saved nothing. Bad enough to give Suze Orman a heart attack! My new husband's electrical contracting business basically shut down for several years right after we got married. He was not on SS yet and we would have gone down the tube if he hadn't had several rentals that kept us afloat. Now he is doing one "last" big job, is on SS, we both are on Medicare with supplements and still have the rentals so we are doing fine. Before Medicare, our medical insurance was over $1300 a month, which really came close to bankrupting us if we had not had another source of income at the time.

I'm 67; retired at 65. I am one of those lucky government employees who receives a state pension. My SS and pension are $1400/mo each giving me an annual income of $33,600. I have about $50,000 in savings (far too little). I own my condo and IF I don't take any money out of long term savings (adding to my annual taxable income) I can get a huge break on my property taxes for that year because I'm considered a low income senior.

I feel lucky and I don't feel poor but I am nervous about the future as the costs of basics like groceries and fuel increase. Like many, I considered my inflating condo value (before 2008) as part of my retirement plan. Losing half of it's value, it is no longer a backup.

I'm lucky to live in the Pacific Northwest where we have a decent health care co-op -- Group Health. The costs for care are low and so far I am healthy -- good genes not good practices. I use medical services as little as possible.

I worked part time most of my adult life because I wanted time to pursue artistic and activist interests. I'm single now but being in relationships and sharing expense a few times did boost my overall wealth. I was lucky to benefit from the housing boom in the 80's and 90's but I've also lived a frugal life.

I have a master's degree but spent 30 years driving for the city transit system because it allowed part time work at good union wages. I was seriously over qualified but that was true of many part time drivers. It isn't uncommon to find musicians, artists, lawyers, and other professionals driving city transit buses for a living here in Seattle.

The future looks bleak, especially for those under 50. I too believe that serious political unrest is in our future. We have serious problems on the horizon: climate change, water shortages, over population, pollution. Trying to deal with serious issues while losing our democracy to predator capitalism and corporate control does not bode well for anyone's future, except the rich!

We live on our social security income plus a very small pension of $230/month. We rarely, if ever, touch our savings unless absolutely necessary & those have remained stable. I'm a very frugal person & live among people who live the same way. We own our condo & 2 cars (both bought used). We're both less inclined to travel much & spend peanuts on entertainment. We have cable & the PC which I refuse to give up. Really don't deny ourselves much & just hope & pray that we stay as healthy as we've been.
And yes, I know fresh fruit & veggies are great, but I'll stick to frozen veggies because they don't need cleaning & eating soon after you buy. I eat only fresh fruit in season & always use the market for those. Dee

My only income is S.S. and so far I survive quite nicely. I had to retire early and had been a stay-at-home Mom most of my life so my S.S. would have been the lowest amount paid. I am on my late husband's S.S. and it is only a percentage of what he would have drawn. Due to that factor and having to start drawing S. S. at the age of 62 I only get $1037 a month. My townhouse is paid for or I would be destitute. I no longer drive so auto expenses are not a factor. Upkeep on the house is my biggest expense other than the normal household expenses and groceries. The cost of everything keeps going up. It isn't just groceries. My cable bill has increased 30% and utilities are going up.

I do have a small annuity that I draw from if I have to replace an appliance or have an unexpected expense.

In all honesty, I know the charts say I am low income but I don't feel that way. I have always been frugal and I manage to have my needs taken care of and have no debts so I feel wealthy.

Income is my biggest preoccupation. I am not on Medicare yet and pay my COBRA which is a godsend compared to an individual policy, which I cannot qualify for if it is underwritten. I have recently cut everything back, cable, landline, insurance deductibles. I have discovered the 99cents store near me (green and purple logo) is fabulous for food and toiletries. I also use Big Lots for some household and food items. Not sure if the these are nationwide but they beat WalMart on many items. I am not a COSTCO member. My biggest discretionary expense is my two cats. Otherwise I have almost no social life due to lack of $ to have one! My SS, which I took at 62 is minimal since I was never a big earner. Did not like taking it early, but felt I had to. My ability to work at this point is questionable due to the economy and some personal issues. I'm in a fortunate position thanks to my modest inheritance from my Dad but income and cash flow has been my constant worry for years and from the looks of things, there is no light at the end of this particular tunnel. I have no family and since I took care of my Dad for 6 years I am very familiar with the cost of aging, so I am far from "set for life"...I am still trying to figure out how to generate income and not ruin my health by taking horrible sweatshop jobs going forward.

Since my husband lost his job several years ago, I said I would work until age 70 and now that time has arrived.
We will very soon be depending on SS and savings.

I have noticed a huge increase on my grocery bill each week. My husband eats meat, but I eat no meat at all (including fish). I buy organic fruits and vegetables when possible and realize that adds to the bill.

I am one of those people who has what’s known as a “depression-era mentality” probably because of my background. I worry about money a lot and especially now when I won’t be working, even though my paycheck, as an office worker, is nothing to write home about.

Since we both have genetic disorders which require numerous meds our medical needs are high. Thank goodness we live in Canada! No insurance premiums or medical bills though we have a drug co-pay of a maximum of $25 per prescription. For a medication that otherwise would cost $600-800 for a 90 day supply we pay $25. Income? Husband's illness forced him into "retirement" at 45. He was bedfast and needed round-the-clock nursing care which I provided, meaning I could no longer work outside the home.

He received a small inheritance in 1990 which we used to eke out his $800 a month disability pension for the 15 years until he qualified for SSA.

So our pensions are very very small. His is $400 a month, mine a paltry $20.00 (yes, $20.00). Without the Canadian government's guaranteed supplement for seniors we'd be up the creek. With guaranteed income (federal and provincial) our income is $26,000 annually. Everything is more expensive here than in the US, food, clothing, manufactured goods, add 25-30%.

Our son helped us buy a small condo last year as it's less expensive than rent and we have to have an accessible home. It will act as an investment for him. But we pay the mortgage, condo fees, and insurance (together $1050). I drive a 20 year old car (my husband is blind so doesn't drive) but only to the store and back - gas was $6.00 a US gallon in March!

We neither smoke nor drink, don't go out for entertainment, and are happiest in jeans and Ts, so we manage quite comfortably. We keep track of every cent we spend, and we have a small cushion for emergencies. Maybe it's because we went for years budgeting $20 a week for food, no car, no new clothes, no used clothes! :) Just survival and terrible anxiety that one of the kids would need cough syrup or $2.00 for a school trip - that it now feels like we are wealthy.

I was born an American, my ancestors were at Jamestown *and* Plymouth, and I am ashamed to see what the GOP has done to the American soul. It has curdled like six-day-old milk. There's not a drop of compassion left there. It's all *gimme* every last cent, every last shred of dignity the average working American has left. It's heartbreaking.

I was a stay at home mom with four boys. With no job history and a three decades old degree, I have no chance of finding employment now. I don’t have enough quarters to qualify for SS on my own. So I will get one half of my husband’s SS when I am old enough. I am 57 now. My husband is 20 years older than I am. He is still working full time (loves his job) and drawing his SS. Since we can live on his income we are saving all his SS. When he retires (probably due to health reasons) we will have the SS plus his pension plus the nest egg we’re saving now. His current SS is about $1900 a month and the pension projection is approximately $3000 a month. The house is paid off and we have no other debts.

My major concern is medical costs followed closely by food and gasoline. None of these things are considered when the government figures inflation rates. I agree with Nan that we are being lied to (or intentionally misled) about Medicare. Medical rates have risen by 8% per year for the last 30 years. This cannot be sustained. “The Government” (that’s you, me, and all taxpayers) will not be able to pay for every test, drug, and end-of-life prolonging procedure that this huge bubble of baby boomers has been promised. Politicians have made promises that they cannot keep. And more and more primary care doctors are refusing new Medicare patients because they aren’t ‘profitable’ enough.

I'd like to know how anon helped her rheumatoid arthritis.

It's true that food--along with pretty much everything else I can think of--is up in cost. We have to eat. I like to eat healthy with the occasional treat, but overall I have been cutting back on portions and that has not been such a bad thing. I am way more aware of waste.

I live in Dallas, and at the Farmers Market here the produce prices are MUCH higher than at almost any grocery store. The FM is fun place to visit, and I appreciate the efforts of those who are raising local, organic, non-pesticide, no-antibiotic stuff. Whatever. It's all very expensive, and I notice the buyers are younger people. We geezers generally look, smile and walk away.

BTW, the frozen asparagus spears at Aldi's are excellent.

When I got laid off in 2008 at age 64, I tried to find a job and realized that I was competing with 30 year olds. So I collected unemployment and reached 65 for medicare and then eventually took my SS a bit early. I have IRAs but they are all I have and totals mere $90,000.

I wound up with a part-time job as a dog walker and find that the supplemental income just keeps my head above water. My SS is just over $1900 and with my dog walking services (sometimes boarding)
I can make about $800 more a month. That pays for my rent, food, gas and sometimes a movie. I recently bought a new car for under $20,000 (using some of my IRA) that should last me for many years and is better on gas mileage.

My dogs are my extra expense, but without them I would be very depressed and lonely. I worry when I lose a client and think about the future and if my health fails me what I will do. But I try to stay present and focus on what I can do to keep happy.
The great thing is that we are not alone with this problem and hopefully there is strength in numbers and we will prevail.

Social Security is 34% of our income; we are very, very lucky to have enough resources to do pretty much what we want. That said, we have low-brow tastes, no mortgage, good health, and one car.

Regarding prices at farmers' markets: I frequent two FMs. One is nearby in the Latino part of town, and the other is up in the 1-percenter's hills.

Although many of the same vendors are at both markets, the prices are dramatically lower at the Latino market, and the quality is the same.

I live in N. California. My daughter in Ohio has noticed a similar price disparity between the Mennonite (less expensive) and suburban farmers' markets.

Depressing, isn't it? I retired early at 62 and get $803/mo. I was downsized from the company where I had worked for 10 years and found it impossible to find another job in my field. I blame it on ageism -- a newly-graduated college kid was much less costly than someone (me) with decades of experience and dependability.

Anyway, at $803/mo I am not able to pay for my medications, let alone luxuries like food and clothing and shelter. Luckily my husband has just been awarded Social Security disability and so now gets $1500/mo. We have a small inheritance for back-up and my husband informs me that we can maybe live for 15 years on the money. Then we're destitute.

Of course that also depends on our health holding out. So far, my husband can pick up the slack -- the things I can no longer do, he can do -- at least for now.

I have little faith that the politicians will quit picking on Social Security and Medicare. I try to be an activist and sign petitions and make phone calls, but am physically unable to demonstrate or to volunteer for a politician.

Ronni, this is a great topic: I did not realize all the variations of ways to live for people in my demographic. This is very eye-opening for me....

Neither my husband nor I had high paying jobs. We (76,me; 82,he) have been retired 21 yrs. and live on tiaa-cref retirement, soc. sec. and my IRA, plus interest on investments. We, me especially, were born just in time -- post depression, pre baby boomer -- to benefit from the post WWII boom, and the general improvement in the economy up until 2008. We have our home paid for due to some good investing and some luck. My IRA, part of our tiaa-cref, and our annuity interest depend upon stock market performance. Sometimes I'm conflicted about this, since I feel like part of the problem and a bit hypocritical. The bookkeeping on our finances involves his, hers and ours, since we're in a second marriage and have separate investments, incomes and kids. Neither of us has long term care insurance, but I've sequestered the 200K my Mother left me into an annuity , the principal of which is meant to pay for care should I need it. I don't know how we'd manage my husband's care. He has more cash flow/mo.; I have more net worth. We do very well so far. with no debt. I feel very fortunate compared to many, but I also am benefiting from some lucky choices years ago and conservative spending. There have been no major expenses for health care yet. (Keeping fingers firmly crossed.)

This is a very interesting cross section of reader’s finances – I’ve really enjoyed reading every comment. There is a good deal of (warranted) fear for the future around this topic.
I was a single mother of four until I met my partner in 1992. Prior to 1992 my children and I lived frugally (bought clothes at Goodwill, used public transit, etc.) on my single income. I also contributed the maximum amount to my 401K plan from the day that the plan was available in the early 1980’s (this account is now earmarked for expenses in our very old age).
One or more of my children has lived with us for the past 10 years (either because of illness or unemployment) and we also raised a grandchild who recently graduated from high school.
Both my partner, age 69, and I, age 64, are retired professionals and we each have pensions which bring in a total of $7K a month net. We both draw SS which adds another $3K net to our monthly income.
While this is a substantial income we have commensurately high expenses with a mortgage of $2600. (currently upside down), utilities, insurance and household services which cost $2000. /mo. and a food bill (groceries and dining out) of $1000./mo. Supporting two older vehicles, maintaining the house and yard and taking a couple of domestic vacations each year consumes another $2000. a month. The balance of our income is used to pay out of pocket medical expenses and medical insurance. I am quite healthy but my partner has experienced one health crisis after another in the past few years.
My financial concerns are the erosion of our pensions’ purchasing power as there is no COLA provided and the unknown costs of our future medical needs. I also think a good deal about my children’s futures as they age as only one child has a pension and a couple of the children are not good savers.

At 75 I'm still working part time at the nonprofit I've been with for 37 years and will continue as long as I can--which may not be long if the Oligarchs (aka: Republicans) win in November. My husband is fully retired at 82 (he entered the workforce at 13 and exited at 76).

Like Ileen we live in WA State and receive healthcare from Group Health Co-op (GHC). We are so, SO lucky that my husband was employed by GHC for over 20 years at a time when they were still offering top-notch retiree health benefits; also, we're basically healthy and haven't needed anything major yet. We have some long-term care insurance, but not nearly enough to cover today's assisted living/nursing home costs.

We're doing O.K. now but like many other responders, I worry about what will happen if one of us has a prolonged, debilitating end-of-life illness and needs care. If/when I can no longer work, our standard of living will decline, but fortunately we don't travel, eat out a lot or buy shiny new things. Many of my clothes are "gently used" and our cars are over 12 years old. We have two much-loved spoiled cats, and they're probably our biggest "luxury" expense (in a pinch they'd get first dibs on the food). Although I probably spend somewhat more than I should on causes I believe in (like preserving S/S and Medicare), personal upkeep and our home, those are important to me at least for now.

Great learning thread of experiences.After the financial crisis,investment income has dwindled to next to nothing.Soc sec is about one-third of our operating budget,I have learnt to shop smarter and waste less.
Incidentally CBS had a good piece on how much an appendectomy costs-anywhere from 1500+to almost 185000$-this was on Mon23rd on the national news.

As I began my response I decided to post anonymously. First, I find that I am leery of putting personal information on line. And (this one surprised me) after reading the replies of those having financial problems, I was a little reluctant to admit that we are very comfortable.

Our financial planner says that is because we have no debts. In the 1990s we deliberately took second part-time jobs and paid off our house ahead of time in 1997. We have always paid cash for our cars [nothing fancy...whatever we had saved dictated the car we would buy] and kept them for at least a dozen years each.

One of our best "investments" has turned out to be the freezer we bought about twenty years ago. It saves us trips to the store, we stock up when items are on sale or have a good coupon, and when we cook soup, spaghetti sauce, chile, etc. we freeze extra servings.

There is so much going on in our area that is free or cheap, we find we are constantly busy at little or no cost. We contribute in-kind by doing writing and photo-shoots for the local symphonic orchestra, marching band, robotics team, and ecology groups. My husband handles the website for his Viet Nam veteran's group. I keep a local blog site.

My husband took SS at 62 ($1,900/month) and took a buyout from his company 7 years ago ($2,000/month). I turn 62 this year and may put off SS. We each work part-time (pays for food, gas, and a few extras) and are active in our community. Each month we add about $3000 to our investments.

My mother always said that I was the kid who still had her first nickle. [She swore that I would squeeze a nickle until the buffalo ran!]

Ultimately I feel optimistic about the future of the United States...although I keep an eye on the far-right wing.

I live on the lowest SSI & DI about $638.00 month. This is poverty. I can only pay bills and usually only have $60.00 for food. Yes, things have doubled at grocery store. This is not living it is meager existence. I have no life.

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