Financial Advice From A 105-Year-Old Retiree

Anyone who can remain solvent for forty years of retirement is AOK in my book. When they speak and dole out advice, I’m listening.

Meet Patricia Lyons Harrington, the feisty spirit that helped forge her own career and manage her own money at a time when most of her peers married and stayed home to raise children. Today, the former music teacher lives with her nephew and his wife in a separate apartment in their home in Essex, Mass., where former students still come to visit her.

Photograph by Leah Fasten for MONEY

In a Money Mag article, written by Elizabeth O’Brien (click here) Harrington doles out the best advice yet for fellow retirees.

  1. Start saving your money early. Harrington started out early, at age 13, by saving quarters. Today, the equivalent of that would be socking away $5 bills.
  2. Secure guaranteed income. Harrington has multiple sources of income: her teachers pension, her deceased husband’s Social Security and a deferred annuity.
  3. Nurture your passion. Harrington’s passion is music. She volunteered giving tours of Boston Symphony Hall until she was 85.

Harrington was only married for six years before her husband died. She didn’t marry till she was 67 years old, so she has no children. Harrington moved in with her nephew, George Lyons, his wife, Ann, and their three young daughters after her husband passed away. Harrington used $100,000 from her savings to contribute to the down payment on the house Lyons purchased for everyone to share. Lyons worked with a lawyer to protect his aunt’s investment in the house he bought.

The extended family remains happily together for 30 years. And counting.


  1. I read this article last week and if I live till 105 I would be retired for Sixty years! Yikes!Multiple streams of income is definitely the smart move and establishing aging in a place with close by help also wicked smart. I am not a fan of annuities doing the math it usually takes over eighteen years for you to get all of your own money back and that doesn’t include the money that money would have made in long term interest. The surrender fees if you change your mind are brutal too and it usually removes that money from your legacy to your family and to cover your health and long term care. Lara


    • I’m with you on annuities but this lady swears by them. To each his or her own. Multiple streams of income, however, really is the way to go!


  2. We have talked to our daughter and son in law. When we are ready we will sell our house and either build on or buy a new house with their family. We will have an apartment and they will have the rest of the house. We don’t want to live with them, but next to them. Perfect. Since both of them have longevity in their favor, we should be living together for many years!
    PS- love her beverage—MOXIE.


    • Hi Janette. I’m hoping my daughter comes here and takes over the home we are living in now. I like those little in-law tiny houses. I’d set one up in the backyard. At least there are options.
      Thanks for your comment.


    • Hi Anne. I’ve seen this a lot when I volunteered in an adult assisted living/nursing home. Many of the retirees over the age of 100 had outlived almost everyone, including their own children. They had to rely on nieces and nephews. So, a good note to the wise: be kind to EVERYONE in your family! Including your grandchildren’s children!
      Life is long. We need everybody!
      Thanks for your comment.


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