Every Scenario Tells Me My Retirement Planning Is On Track. So, Why Do I Still Worry?

I took two retirement quizzes this week. One from Fidelity (click here) And the other from RISE (click here). I was as honest as humanly possible. I even downplayed it a bit. In both instances I was given rewarding, flying colors that my retirement planning was successful and I was doing AOK.

And yet, I still sit up at night wondering if I have done the right thing, will everything be OK, will I run out of money. I think the latter worry is the end all to catch all. How can you not worry about running out of money in retirement when every single article you pick up to read about the retirement subject has ALL of us running out of money?

worried retirees
Stock photo. retirees worrying about paying their bills.


It’s an epidemic, I tell you. They’re out to scare us to death unless we have millions in the bank. Let me tell you a true story about my dad. He had over $8,000,000 (eight million dollars) in his investments and he used to beg my sister to go to his bank, withdraw $50,000 in cash and had her line the dining room table with all that cash. My father wanted to physically SEE his money because he just didn’t believe anything. He was as scared to death of running out of money as the next one. No worries. he died at the age of 92 with that $8million still intact. 55% of it foolishly went to government taxes. The rest was split between his children and his girlfriend. (Note: I received the least out of everyone)

What with this article (click here) from the NY Times stating Social Security is facing its first shortfall ever in decades, interest rates (which retirees rely on heavily, me included!) are dropping like cement bricks (click here), Iran is sinking American oil tankers thus causing gas prices to rise the same exact day (click here), tariffs on both China and Mexico are causing all sorts of prices to rise (click here), half of all the business economists are predicting that we will have a recession in 2020 (click here), what’s a retiree supposed to do, think, act or behave (other than hide under the covers)?

Take the quiz, that’s what. And hope for the best.

Here’s the results from my Fidelity test (click here for your choice of tests). Note: these tests do NOT take into account my home equity. They are based on actual savings and investments I have currently on file with Fidelity plus DH’s pension. Right now DH and I are living on approximately $2400 a month, borrowing $500 a month out of savings (to cover property taxes & travel). Once DH officially retires in 33 months, we will no longer need to borrow anything out of savings but I estimated we will need $3300 a month to live on. I plan on both of us living at least till 90 years of age (note: DH is 6 years younger than me). We have a 90% chance of surviving fully on the money we have already on file, but I threw in additional savings of at least $1,000 a year, which we can easily do.

fidelity screen shot.png


Here’s the results from my RISE (click here) test: I scored better than most everyone PLUS I don’t need an annuity to supplement my income. Whew!

RISE #1.png

PS: the odds of me consulting with a financial advisor is ZERO. What more could somebody else possibly do for me? Teach me how to print my own money? LOL!


Nonetheless, you’ll find me awake most nights worrying, worrying, worrying. I know there’s nothing much else I can do. What will be, will be. For sure, I have done my best. I keep ever vigilant on our finances. I am justified, however, to worry about hubby’s health. He does work 2 days per month (which is NOTHING!) but nonetheless, I worry about him. As long as we don’t become victims to lifestyle inflation or creep, as long as we keep our expenses low and maintain our course of action, we will be fine.

On paper.

What about in real life? Should I be like my father and go to the bank and withdraw $50,000 in cash and lay it all out on my dining room table just to convince myself that I really do have cash? I doubt I will be doing that. I worry because I see how my kids treat me (shabbily, I must say) as I get older. I see how my family treats me (my sister is a bust). I see how the world treats elderly people when they don’t have money or run out of it. It’s not a pretty picture. More and more seniors are running out of cash, being foreclosed on because of reverse mortgages (don’t do it! don’t do it! don’t do it!) or evicted from their homes, are living on the streets or in their cars or boasting they gave up their homes so they can roam the American earth in their RVs. Sure they do.

I’m not going to berate myself because I worry. I think it’s a very good thing that I worry. I would worry more if I didn’t worry. That’s when you become complacent and that’s probably when bad things inch up on you and happen! Better to worry and be careful and mindful of your money and your future. Also, better to keep taking quizzes and tests and checking your retirement scores to make sure you are always on track.

Live well and prosper, my friend. Live well and prosper.



  1. Dear Cindi, I did the Fidelity planning tool many times in my past before DH death and after with one of their advisors. He pointed out that small changes can totally change the results. If you switch from the $6000 withdrawals to the reality of $10000 of this year will it show success? And you mentioned a lot of possibilities of current events changing your personal inflation rate, tariffs and oil tankers bombing etc.
    I think you worry because you have cut a lot of things that have always made you happy and feeling wealthy that’s totally out of your severe budget and you want to maintain them and have the feelings of entitlement. Anger builds up and you succumb to the urge to splurge, The reality is the only way to pay for these extras is one of you have to work during the next three years-so not 100% the retirement you envision.
    You worry because the math doesn’t work in this three year period unless you take out more from your savings and you locked them in higher paying CDs that come with penalties if you need to withdrawal more. Sincerely Lara


    • Hi Lara. I no longer need to withdraw $10000. We’re back to the safe $6000. Nick has to work a minimum of 2 days a month for the next three years which he has agreed to do. Should he drop dead well that’s the price he has to pay for bad planning. There’s no other way around it. Truthfully he’s very fortunate to be semi retired and only needs to work two lousy days per month.
      We’re doing more savings now. I am so over my spending. Retirement is a serious thing. Not to be taken lightly. Nick never once gave a single thought to retirement planning. Most people are like that. I’m not.
      If all goes well we’ll be fine. If not, we’ll still be fine. I’m not going under for anybody.


      • The safe $6000 is almost all of your interest so there is no growth for inflation and you’ ve locked in your other interest to paying the dental insurance. I would think maybe one more day of work for Nick now and your side hustle efforts need to be address for the rising cost of everything after you reach the Florida vacation goal. It never hurts to have a bigger cushion for life’s unexpected curveballs! Lara


      • Lara, the only high yielding CDs I could get now pay interest twice yearly. So, using the interest to pay for the dental insurance is off the table right. Also, right now, Nick is averaging 4 to 5 working days per month, thus I’ve been saving a lot of money lately (rather than spend it due to income creep!). He’s currently working for a summer camp up in the Catskills. No stress. It’s a pleasant ride up the mountain with beautiful scenery. He’s overseeing an audio system installment for the camp. He’ll be busy with them till September. Then he goes back to his government job, also a few days per month. The camp offered us the use of a cabin on their lake, which we are going to take them up on. A free summer vacation!!!!
        Believe me, Lara, I am socking away as much money as I possibly can. I purposely locked away the next two years of $6000 each (in addition to the current liquid $6000 I have in a money market) specifically so we are forced to make it on our own without a crutch. I can’t jeopardize paying the property taxes. Period. I’m in the saving mode now and there is no use talking me out of it. I’m on the war path! LOL. Thankfully the new CDs compound, so that’s good and are growing tax free in ROTH IRAs.
        As I said to Nick, we’re all set this year for Florida (all paid for) BUT if we can’t make it next year or the year after that, what will be, will be.


  2. $3300 will be a tight ship in 10 years….let’s hope the interest rates go up (they haven’t in the last 10 years). The average income in my, very middle class, area is now $57,000 a year….
    Lara is frustrated with the urges, I get them. We decided, years ago, to give each other money for such things. Maybe the $1000 that you could easily save for your 90’s needs to go to each other. The stress of pent up urges may disappear and the worry could go with it.


    • Janette, I think the scenario took inflation into the calculation. The interest rates were doing well last year. This year not so much. The Feds plan to lower rates in July and September. That’ll be bad news for many retirees who de[end on government bonds and CDs. Oh well.
      You may be right about that $1000. Because according to Fidelity, at 90, we have $40,000 left over. Duh? Plus, the scenario didn’t take home equity into the equation. We’re living in a half a million dollar home with no mortgage. I think when DH officially retires at 65 we’re going to sell and downsize yet once again. That’ll put a nice increase in the financial bucket.
      After the rather loud fight DH and I had over those hydrangeas, I’m done! Ridiculous to even have a discussion over $12 perennial flowers!


  3. Hi Cindi,

    I’ve just completed the most comprehensive budget projection based on my life expectancy (85). I’ll be happy to live that long assuming that I stay healthy but who knows what the real end date will be until it occurs. I’m 63 now, divorced and living on my own in my house. I retired at 59 due to heart health reasons (for which I’ve had surgery) but that took a large bite out of my pension. However I truly believe that had I continued to work, I would have gone into full blown heart failure from the unending stress and long hours.

    I included as much as I could think of in my budget projection but not everything that is possible. My assets against my possible expenses could leave a deficit of almost $50,000 and that isn’t including the costs of a roof replacement or a new hot water heater or other types of household repairs. I did, however, emphasize healthcare costs (insurances, deductibles, long-term care, etc.) in my budget.

    But here’s the positive. I am aware that a deficit could occur at some point so I can begin to address it now by making changes that will have a ripple effect through my budget. I’m going to look for a part-time job and I’ve begun selling things on ebay and another site. All monies earned will go directly into my savings.

    Like you, I refuse to go under and I pray in earnest that it never happens.



    • Well Lisa that’s the point if the quiz. To make us aware of our possibilities. Only take on that second job as long as you’re healthy. Don’t over do it. I have a hankering for zero interest loans. You may want to think about them if need be.
      Somehow things always work out.
      Take care. Thanks for your comment.


  4. I’m still in the thinking for the future mode since only 53 and have a final one about to start college. The general plan though is hubs retires within 6 months of her graduation at 62, an dI follow another 4-5 years later, also at 62. We are not trusting SS, but relying on my pension, which will be smallish, cash savings, and Roth, and our 401K’s. I learn a lot reading about experiences form retirees, so appreciation all those who write and those that comment. I was confused a bit by one of your statements-I thought I had read recently that your relationship with your children as at a very positive point. I was surprised to read you said they do not treat you well. Relationships with people is something money will never buy, so I hope that improves for you.


    • Hi Sam. My children can not accept the fact that I am getting older and need more attention and assistance, of which they will not give me. They don’t believe me when I say money is tight. They can’t comprehend what a ‘fixed income’ means. Their other grandparents don’t ask ever for reimbursements (such as travel expenses). I saw my youngest last weekend to attend a recital. It cost $30 each for 2 tix=$60. $15 in gas. $5 in tolls and $35 to park the car plus I had to give HER $25 towards 3 pizzas that she ordered for all of us afterwards. It cost also $10 in subway tolls. That comes to a total of $150 and she only lives 1.5 hours away from me. It would be cheaper to fly to Alaska and stay in a hotel then visit with them in NYC, the most expensive city in the world.
      Do you think it’s fair that I had to cough up $150 for a five hour visit? I don’t. Her other grandparents have pensions, sold their homes and live in rentals. Why do I have to be compared to them? My daughters make upwards of $125,000 a year. I’m living on $30,000.
      You do the math.
      We may all be getting along but I’m going broke at it. Plus climbing all those stairs in and out of subways, plus all the driving hubs did set him and I back 3 days. Yes. It took three days to recover from the excursion. As I said, I’m getting older and can’t do these things forever.
      Hope that explains it to you (and I hope my attitude wasn’t so bitter. If so, I apologize.)
      PS: my SIL’s mother committed suicide last year. She said she couldn’t cope with life. Wonder why.


      • Wow Cindi I too am very sorry that your relationship with your daughters is not what you would like. I’m surprised that they would invite you to see the grandkids recital, and not cover the cost of the pizza, at least.

        I know the cost of these things is very expensive. I have my granddaughter taking ballet and every time we go to one of her recitals, we do pay for our own tickets. But my daughter pays for any get-togethers she may have later .

        I agree with you that they should be more mindful of the fact that you are retired, and are not earning that much money. I know the cost of living in New York City is high, but your daughters income is considered average for that area, no?

        Either way I agree with you that it’s very difficult when your adult children don’t seem to understand the costs associated with the grand kids activities.
        I too, had inferred that things were better.

        To be honest, I find that adult kids today have a sense of entitlement not seen in other generations. So far, my own two adult kids are doing OK but I have three adult step kids, and it is always a struggle with their expectations.

        They tend to get angry when DH tells them he cannot afford to be giving them money, particularly, since they all have well paying careers and earn good incomes.

        I have stayed out of it, because it is his issue to deal with but I see the estrangement, hear the comments from his kids, and see how hurt he is by their attitude.

        With my own 2 kids, things are ok so far, but I think the difference is I raised them and DH’s ex (who left him but is nonetheless bitter that he’s remade his life and she’s on her 4th divorce) has manipulated his kids and made remarks about DH in the past 25 years they’ve been divorced.

        At any rate, good luck to you, my friend, with this situation. Adult kids can break our hearts.


      • It’s amazing how they interpret things. They say that reimbursement feels like they’re paying me to see my grandkids.
        Oh well.
        Anyway older daughter has birthday party this weekend and guess what? We’re just not going. It’s in a public park. Ridiculous. No one has their own backyard. No thanks. I’ll see them in August when they come up here for the fair. That I pay for everything like admissions. Ugh.


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