Women in Red, an ongoing MSN series/blog, today has a story that is my personal nightmare--pretty close to the one where I become a baglady with all my belongings in a shopping cart.
Jane is a 52 year old single mother of two (barely) adult children. She earns $1800+ per month. Her mortgage and condo fees are in excess of $1400 per month, which leaves little room for anything else, certainly not the $400 per month she pays for food. The latter figure seems high to me. For myself and my 17 year old daughter, I budget $400 per month but that's always where the wiggle-room is in my budget. If I make do with less take-out and more home-cooking (thank god, Papa Murphy's Take and Bake Pizza counts in my house as "home-cooking"), I can get by for less than that.
Jane's condo has significant equity, and she could use that to pay off all her debts, including a large one that comes due in 18 months. But it's not clear what rents are in her area or if she'd have a monthly savings by liquidating the condo.
The scariest part is that Jane has only $5000 in retirement funds. At age 52, she's a long way from where she needs to be.
There are message boards and comments at the end of the article. Those were interesting to read as well.