There’s a reason why I’m so obsessed with true, negative news and events. It’s because when I unveil the negative I appreciate the positive. Case in point: my few last posts. I write about the dilemma some agers have been finding themselves in because it then sheds some positive vibes on my own life. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side. The negative always puts the positive in a more perspective light.
All my life I’ve been fascinated with other people’s lives. Why? Because I learn from their mistakes AND I learn from their good choices also! Maybe I’m like that because my mother died when I was so young, so I lost my role model. I don’t know. I just know that I mostly read true autobiographies when I’m at the library and I know I have no qualms asking people how their lives are going. And I have no shame browsing the daily news looking for articles depicting the sadness of most people’s every day challenges.
I read yet another article yesterday, in the NY Times (click here) about the newest plight many older people are facing today. There has been a substantial rise in the number of bankruptcies people over the age of 65 are now claiming. Aren’t you the least bit curious as to find out why this phenomenon is happening? I am. So, I read further.
For a rapidly growing share of older Americans, traditional ideas about life in retirement are being upended by a dismal reality: bankruptcy. The signs of potential trouble — vanishing pensions, soaring medical expenses, inadequate savings — have been building for years. Now, new research sheds light on the scope of the problem: The rate of people 65 and older filing for bankruptcy is three times what it was in 1991, the study found, and the same group accounts for a far greater share of all filers.
As you read further into the article, you find out that many of these older people are forced to claim bankruptcy in their 70’s because they failed to file for their Social Security benefits early enough! Now, that’s big news! Because most financial experts today have been advising elders to delay taking their SS Benefits until they reach 70. As it is turning out, waiting until their 70’s is “too little too late”! The elders needed that money sooner rather than later. Also, many of these elders in their 70’s have both a mortgage and debt. That’s clearly a distinct no-no in retirement. Debt and retirement just don’t go together!
Social Security for many, provides at least 90% of that person’s needed income. Health problems, however, through Medicare, eats away at most of those retirees benefits. It’s the out-of-pocket costs, some as little as $10 (ten dollars) that destroys many retirees lives, as this chart illustrates:
I use the information that I have gleaned off this article to see how I compare with the rest of my retirement community. I ask myself: Have I saved enough money? (many cited in this article barely have at least $3,200 in a savings account) Do I really need to spend that much money (fill in the blank) on a current or future project I might have? Did I do the right thing by filing for my own Social Security before my retirement date? The answer is, after reading this article: YES! Am I doing enough to make sure my own good health stays that way? I’ve been walking, swimming and eating a bit better since reading this article.
In other words, by reading, learning or concentrating on the negative, I’m forced to make positive changes which lead me to make better choices in my own retirement journey. And that’s a very good thing! DH and I were just about ready to spend $3,400 on a generator back-up system when DH recalculated and retooled to modify our own existing, paid-for generator. For only $480 he can build an automatic process on what we already have. That means we keep the $2,920 cash difference in our retirement savings account. After reading this article I realized that having cash in our old age is more important than anything else!
So, if you think I’m obsessed with nursing homes, retirement communities, medical bills or standard cost of living for older people, I’m really not. I’m just learning how best to live my own life by finding out what went wrong in others. Make provisions as you age to stay clear out of debt, make sure you have a place to live in as you age (preferably your own paid-off home), save as much money as you can during your working years, it’s OK to take your Social Security benefits early and don’t worry about delving into the negativity of things so long as your take-away is positive.
Live and learn, my friend. And don’t hesitate to make changes, if and when the time comes.