The Oregonian newspaper, out of Portland, Oregon, profiled 64-year-old Lillian Witherspoon. Having suffered a stroke and heart problems, along with asthma, Lillian is struggling to make do with Social Security of $750, a widow's pension of $86, and whatever she can scrounge babysitting or delivering newspapers. One small thing, like a check overdraft, can throw her into a financial tailspin.
I read once that many women (But not men. Who knows why?) harbor a deep-seated fear that they may one day become a bag lady.
I'm pretty sure that will never happen to me. But I do have fears that I could wind up like Lillian. All my current plans for retirement are based upon the assumption that I will work for another ten years, that I will have my home and my debts paid off, and that I will have saved money at an accelerated rate in my 401K during that time.
But what if I didn't? What if I had a stroke tomorrow? It's certainly possible. My father had a heart attack at age 58 and a stroke at age 68. All my mother's maternal aunts as well as her own mother died of strokes in their sixties. Or what if I'm in a car wreck and injured too severely to continue work?
I wish Lillian all the best. But I also wish she didn't scare me quite so much.