Wednesday, May 2, 2012

April Update

April was a surprisingly good month on the debt-reduction front. I managed to reduce what I owe by $1017.91.

May will probably not be as good because I have property tax payments to make, along with my sister's birthday. As longtime readers know, my baby sister (a retired East Coast banker) always comes through for me financially, so I go all out for her birthday and Christmas presents. Of course, all out for Grace is considerably less than what she spends on me!

On a more depressing front, My Retirement Blog reports that by age 55, 60% of us have saved $100,000 or less for our retirement. I guess I should be glad that I finally hit the $250,000 mark (albeit at age 63, NOT age 55) but since I feel like $400,000 is a more reasonable figure for me to feel comfortable in retirement, I'm not feeling good for myself, and I'm truly appalled for those even less prepared.


Roberta Warshaw said...

The thing is, it doesn't matter. With health care costs spiraling out of control the way they are it can all be gone in a minute.

Even the co-pays get prohibitive with enough office visits etc.....we are all very screwed.

Jane said...

I don't think there's a magic number. What's a lot for one person may not be "enough" for another. And it also depends on what your pension situation is like - some, like me, have a fairly nice defined benefits pension (it'll be less than half of what I earn now but still ample for my needs)plus I have some savings and a condo to sell. I'm ok with that.

Anonymous said...

That one of the biggest reasons I have for trying to get out of debt before 50. I am so afraid to have debt going forward....its a scary time

Tamara said...

I guess I struggle to understand why so many people seem unwilling to accept that they simply cannot live a lifestyle that is greater than their take home pay, minus savings. And if that paycheck isn't enough? Well then, how nice that we live in a country with lots of options - like going back to school, changing careers, moving somewhere more economically robust, or getting a second job. And yes, I know of what I speak - I've done all four at some point over my working lifetime.

All around me I see and read about people continuing to live beyond their means. Smart phones, iPads, shopping trips for no reason other than to shop for fun, fancy autos, late model autos, leased autos, regular nights out at restaurants and the movies, prepared foods rather than made from scratch, flat screen TV's and iReaders are not necessities.

And no, you are not entitled to these things you cannot afford just because you live in America. You are entitled to them when you can earn enough money to pay for them without carrying debt.

If as a society we can accept that we are only entitled to the lifestyle our paycheck supports, and that saving for retirement must begin with the very first paycheck, I would guess that most people would reach 65 more than financially prepared.

priskill said...

But -- Yay you!! -- by dint of great effort and sacrifice, whilst raising kids, you are so well on your way. I admire you! At 55, our finances took the hit that everyone else's took (can we even count it if everyone suffers the same loss?) and we are late to the "defined benefits" party courtesy of my teaching job -- husband is self-employed and his union is breath-takingly uninterested in his retirement. So, we always max out the IRAs and live pretty cheaply, but wonder what retirement will look like. House getting paid down and mortgage thankfully low (c. 1989 ), daughter out of college (whoot!!) so -- hoping for the best!

Without getting political, I do so hope some kind of national health gets passed -- this seems to be the sticking point for so many of us, as Roberta points out.

Anyway, congrats to you, Grace! Do try to embrace the very excellent job you are doing! And thanks for the inspiration.

Grace. said...

Be as political as you want--our lack of universal healthcare is a disgrace for a country of our wealth and stature.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on your continued efforts. Question though = why does going all out for your sister's birthday have to involve buying gifts you're indicating you may not be able to afford? I'm sure your sister wants you as financially sound as possible, and would welcome a gift of your time in lieu of you saving that money instead.

This issue, small though it may be, would seem to go to the heart of the problem your blog addresses regarding inadequate retirement savings.


Grace. said...

Good question, Mike. But time is hard to quantify when my sister lives in Manhattan, and I'm on the West Coast. Yes, she would be fine with me saving the money, but the truth is, we have always gone to some lengths to get each other special and needed gifts. At our ages, no one else is providing surprises. It's just one of those expenses I can't explain rationally, but feel I need to make.

Anonymous said...

Grace, I completely respect your right to make the financial decisions you wish to about your own life, but your reasons for wanting to do so would appear to be similar to the reasons we so often hear from people overwhelmed with debt. "I can't explain it, I just need to do it."

I would still offer that being financially sound is the best gift we can give to our families . . . and to ourselves.

All the best.


lita1857 said...

I don't know anyone else feel no matter how hard you work it still isn't enough? I work 2 jobs have since 1993 I am a nurse.Hubby works full time always has and he picks up the slack at home.We have not taken a vacation in 5 yrs, we don't have any expensive hobbies,raised 1 child,paid for college,wedding,small cape cod paid for.We have defined benefit pensions from the hospital we work at.I have 401K he has 403b.We are no where near retirement if ever.Sometimes it feels like "they" keep moving line line or changing the game rules.Any one else feel discouraged no matter how you cut back,save, live frugally it just isn't enough!

Tamara said...

Lita - I can feel your distress! But, really, you paid for college and a wedding, and your home is also paid for? Aside from being wonderful, do you realize how few American families can say same? Perhaps these are the reasons you are feeling pinched, but what an amazing investment in your child's future, and your own you've made!

Is going to school, perhaps in the evenings, to get your RN (assuming you are an LVN, and not an RN), or a Nurse Practioner, if you are already an RN, an option? I believe the salary boost for either would be considerable, and both are in high demand currently, at least in my state.

Otherwise, if you have a paid for home, a defined pension, and additional savings in 401K's and 403b's, it sounds like you are laying the groundwork for a pretty solid retirement, even if you are needing to live close to the belt in the meantime.

LC said...

Grace, I have no advice about your gift-giving. If you are cutting elsewhere to be able to afford gift-giving that gives you such satisfaction and pleasure, it seems you are doing well.

But if it really is blocking your achieving financial health, perhaps it is an opportunity to redefine extravagant.

Alas, having said that, I have little gift-giving creativity and would likely fail miserably at outrageous extravagance, whether of the fiscal or creative variety!

Boy, that was a long-winded way to say, "Sorry, I'm no help."

lita1857 said...

Dear Early Retiree Tamara what a nice post and how nice of you to highlight the positive! Thank you very much for the "boost" it was much needed and made me feel alot better.Sometimes I fresh pair of eyes and counting the blessings can really boost a girl! Luckily I am an RN and do think about if there is any merit to going on for my NP.It would not increase my salary however since I have been a nurse for 30+ years salary is by anyone's standards very generous! plus benefits like 6weeks plus in vacation,sick time etc you get the picture.Met with my financial advisor the other day and he said what you said(Hmmm maybe should have waited for your response lol).So I guess I was worrying for nothing who knew? Thank you for your kind words and picking up on my distress.

Terry said...

I would certainly like to share this trick with you and your readers. My website is at
I walked my mom through this and now she is collecting an additional $300.00 a month. In short she pulled $14,000.00 out of her traditional IRA at Vanguard and made a down payment on an already occupuied rental property in Memphis, TN and now she collects the checks. It's a $46,700.00 rehabbed property. I get a referral fee in which I pushed a portion of that to her to pay her tax bill triggered by the withdrwal. I would be happy to walk you and your readers through the same kind of deal. It's kind of funny - why wait to pull the money out later just to be nickel and dimed by Uncle Sam.... Thanks Terry