I Concentrate On The Negative So I Can Appreciate The Positive.

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:

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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.

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6 comments

  1. I think we are sisters, separated at birth. 😀 I have always been anxious about money, lost my mother before I was grown and left to live with a monster, read autobiographies to see how others cope and am fascinated with how others live their lives. I was raised in California but born in New York City. I think one of us was misplaced as a baby and brought up in a different family. 😀

    Two things: One, I have saved for retirement even when I was a struggling single parent, and have a paid off house, cars and a halfway decent cushion, but I don’t think you can out save overwhelming medical expenses. We have Medicare Advantage and are planning on dying on the same day. 😀

    The other thing is I strongly recommend the book “Motherless Daughters” by Hope Edelman. You will recognize yourself from the first page and weep all the way through. I reread it every couple of years.

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    • Hi Anne. I read that book back in the late 1990’s. I try very hard NOT to think of my mother because it throws me into such a tizzy, I can’t get out of it. I had to remove her photo from the side of my bed because I would find myself crying out for her in the middle of the night. I don’t think any of us can ever get over the early deaths of our mothers. I know if she had lived I would be a much different person today. Oh well.
      Another thing you and I have in common is that we die with our spouses at the same exact time. I do not want to face a life without him. Why does God make getting older so difficult? When we are born, there are parties, cigars and celebrations but when we die, it’s not such a nice thing.
      Let’s just keep doing our best and praying for luck in our health and old age.
      Thanks, as always, for your comment. I appreciate them so much.

      Like

  2. Wow! That is great that Nick can modify the generator that you already have.
    I too love learning from others negative and positive choices on how to improve my choices in my own life. The freedom to design your best life from all of the knowledge gain is so gratifying.
    If you do retire, I don’t agree with holding off claiming Social Security and depleting your own savings while you wait. Loving math all my life, I ran the numbers and clearly I was so much farther ahead claiming my widow pension at 60 since it was more then my expenses. This allowed my savings to continue to grow to keep pace with rising cost. Inflation is one of a retiree’s worst nightmares.
    The other reality is with a traditional IRA having to do the RMD at 70 1/2 makes more of the Social Security taxable so waiting for some there really is no added gain, and even for some it makes their Medicare premiums higher too.
    Keeping atune to changing realities is also imperative. For example, With the new 2018 tax brackets I have started doing Roth conversions to take advantage of the lower taxes. Hopefully I will pay the taxes currently owed and the future taxes at age 70, with Investment growth and dividends in this Roth IRA. These Roth distributions currently don’t increase how much Social Security is taxable. Only time will tell. Sincerely, Lara

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    • Social Security has been structured that no matter when you collect, whether at 62 or your true full retirement age (usually 66+) if you live until their expected, calculat4ed death, you will have claimed and received the same exact amount. So, unless you can beat the governments statistics, it really doesn’t matter when you collect. Better earlier than later. The govt wants people to collect at 70 because they know those people will probably die earlier than younger and the govt will win. Not the people.
      I only have ROTH IRA’s so I’m not worried about withdrawals. Thank goodness for that!

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  3. Hi Cindi what a tragic article that was. I too plan to collect my SS at 62 next June. I have seen too many friends and colleagues wait until their FRA or age 70 (even worse) trying to collect an even bigger payout, only to die or get a disabling illness shortly after.

    DH and I decided to collect as soon as possible because we need our money and want to enjoy our lives while we can. We don’t know what the future holds for us, there are many octogenarians doing amazing things and I applaud them but many people become develop serious illnesses in their 60’s and 70’s and it’s just not worth the risk.

    Having myself made the error of using up some of our funds during our first year of full retirement ( I commented on another page), I am going back to work, in my profession, per diem. I can command a pretty good salary until I begin to collect SS and will be socking it away in savings.

    Great article as usual.

    Teri

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    • Thanks Teri. When my hubby collects his SS at 62 (just a few more months now) we will be socking away $1,000 of it a month! At this time we don’t need all of it but we sure will when we get older. For us, it’s a much better solution than waiting.
      Thanks again for your comment and compliment. I truly appreciate the good words.

      Like

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