This morning it was time for me to take my car in for a major checkup. I knew it would cost between $400 and $500. I got to thinking about other solo retired people who are not lucky enough to have a steady (if fixed) monthly income.
How do you manage?
Most of us probably did not choose the single life as our first choice. Many of us had a spouse at one time and through divorce or death, found ourselves the only breadwinner. My portal to the solo life was divorce…with 2 small children. Luckily, at the time of the divorce, I had a good job that paid a good salary, but it was often lean pickings in the beginning. However, it was the hand the universe dealt me and so I had to pick up the pieces and start a single life with two small children and all the bills and heartaches and joys of living on one salary. Lots of adjustments. Find a place to live that I can afford and will be safe for the girls and I. Done. Make daily and monthly financial decisions for the three of us. Ok. Make the adjustment to a new town, and a new life for myself and the children. We waded through. My job was secure and I loved what I was doing. Slowly the girls found their way also.
At that time in my life, retirement was a long way off and not something I really thought about. Luckily, I worked for a school district that took money out of my salary and put it into a retirement account. And…I also paid into social security. Little did I know that now it would be so important. A literal life saver…now.
One hundred million singles need to plan for the future. A study by Charles Schwab shows that 85% of married Americans are saving for retirement. However, only 67% of singles are putting away anything for their later years. There is also an increasing number of never-married Americans. And they are waiting to marry after they have been single for quite a while.
Women have a longer life span. They outlive their spouses by an average of seven years.
According to Schwab being married adds a level of accountability to retirement planning that many single people do not have. Or you put off the retirement planning until after the wedding. However, financial advisors say the longer you wait, the harder it is to catch up.
Retirement savings need to come first. Have an emergency fund also, so you don’t have to borrow during a financial crisis. Do whatever it takes to stay solvent. Not easy and especially hard in these financial times. Pensions have pretty much disappeared. The stock market wiped out a lot of singles 401k’s and you may be struggling to just stay afloat.
Retirement tips for Singles:
1. Live below your means.
2. Save 10% to 25% of your income for retirement.
3. Maximize your company match (if there is one left) and IRA contributions.
4. Get long-term care insurance.
5. Create an emergency savings cushion.
6. Join AARP. This is a wonderful resource of information for your retirement, even if you are under 50. Only $12 a year.
7. Educate yourself about retirement. Just don’t attend those scam seminars that come to every town to give free information and a free lunch. Remember, there is never a free lunch.
Do whatever it takes. A second job might be a necessity. I know I took advantage of every extra way to make money I could…that was legal.
If you are healthy you may be retired for a long time. Be safe. Good luck…
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