The world is crazier than most people know. But I know. I was a clinical social worker for forty years. I am a witness. I retired from social work to write about the sad, the mad, and the savage; with whom I have spent most of my life. I have decided to translate these stories into fiction, because, as a co-worker once said, "You couldn't make this sh*t up. No one would believe you."

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


FROM: “The Maturity Manifesto: A Hard Look at the Golden Years”  (The Maturity Manifesto)
Question: How can one drown in good advice on retirement, and still not be able to retire?
Answer: One is broke.
If one picked the wrong job, married the wrong person, made some financial mistakes, worked for small companies that offered zilch for retirement, had a medical disaster, was divorced or widowed and now finds oneself facing “the golden years” alone…one might read the retirement advice with the angst of the outsider.
This is one who is guilty of not having kept up with the rising cost of everything enough to put aside a nest egg for retirement. This one feels ashamed. Anxious, too.
And this one….is many.

Opening words (fighting words?) from "The Maturity Manifesto.”  Okay, not everyone is poor. But not every one of us is rich, either.

Even if you were sensible and fortunate and put away a nest egg, you may be amazed at how paltry that little treasure seems today. I remember back when we thought 250K was a lot of money: twenty years ago, a friend claimed she would have “a quarter of a million” upon retirement and the rest of us were slobbering with envy. Today that friend is pushing seventy, still working, and broke after an old house and three children from a deceased ex-spouse and his last wife ate up the 250K with barely a burp.

The fact is, retirement is a dismal prospect for a bigger portion of boomers than want to admit it. Many have houses to sell….oh dear. Some would like to do a reverse mortgage on their homes….oh dear, the market is down and they don’t have the equity. Investments aren’t what they were before the market took a dive. Real estate isn’t what it was. Costs of living aren’t what they were.

In sum: you need a lot of money to get by these days.
This article, and the many to follow, is dedicated to those boomers who are pondering retirement with…wonderment.
Please tune in. And please share your comments; they are more valuable than you may think.

Scenario: you will get social security, about 1400 per month. You have about 100K in a retirement account. Transformed into an annuity, that gives you about $600  a month. So you have about 2K income. Let’s look on the bright side and say you have a piece of real estate to sell that will yield a profit of 100K. And, you own your car.
  1. You can move into a mobile home park for seniors, buying your trailer and able to make the space rent.
  2. You can try to get a reverse mortgage on your home. Got the equity? If so, you can live rent free except for taxes, insurance, and repairs. If your home is big enough, you can take in a boarder or two and maybe pay those expenses.
  3. You can liquidate. Yield: social security plus about 180K – 200K in cash. With this cash you can buy a good used motor home or a “Tiny House” and try to live on social security plus the interest on the cash. If you grow some of your own food, this may be possible. Don’t plan on doing much touring in the motor home, though; you can’t afford the gas.
  4. You can combine any of the foregoing with working part time. More and more boomers are doing this. We would like to say this is by choice, but let’s not kid ourselves. Volunteer work is by choice. Being a greeter at Walmart or working in a supermarket is by necessity.
Of course, the foregoing is based upon facing the last stage of life alone. A disturbing statistic is that 97 million people over 45 are single, but that's still not all of us. For those of us partnered up, multiply everything by 2. And guess what?....two can live more cheaply than one.

There are more options, no doubt. Can you think of some? I’d love to hear from readers with retirement ideas for the above scenario. Let’s say this is you: a house with a mortgage, 1400 in Social Security, 600 in annuity or 100K in cash, and a car that runs. What would you do?

Solo or Partnered: how many of us will be retiring alone?
Alternative Lifestyles for Boomers
Beliefs About Aging: helpful or harmful?
Housing Options: tiny homes and co-housing
Income Options: pleasant, mindless jobs and working from home
Health Options: maximizing your staying power
Looking Good: plastic surgery
Looking Good: to dye or not to dye?

Please comment and share your ideas!! The more we share, the better we fare!

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