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Retiring on Social Security... and ONLY on SS.
Old 06-29-2008, 07:41 PM   #1
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Retiring on Social Security... and ONLY on SS.

Here's one reader's story from the Dollar Stretcher website... $1490/month and she still has room to cut if necessary.

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Old 06-29-2008, 11:10 PM   #2
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It's do able in this area. He lives about 40 miles southeast from here. His expenses for one are about right for a non extravagant life style. This weekend he could have joined the150k plus people in downtown Spokane for Hoopfest 3 on 3 Basketball tournament or walked around the boardwalk in CDA looking at wooden boats. Or gone boating on any of the 150 plus lakes within 40 miles of here.
Great place to retire to if you don't mind or can leave for winter .
As we're 50 miles north of Spokane we got more than Spokane's winter snow pack of 96".
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Old 06-29-2008, 11:27 PM   #3
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I note this guy says he gets SSI. Isn't that different from regular Social Security?
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Old 06-30-2008, 06:43 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Texarkandy View Post
I note this guy says he gets SSI. Isn't that different from regular Social Security?
SSI IS different from regular SS. Just means the recipient did not qualify for regular SS based on work, but it amounts to virtually the same thing unless they have "other assets" or acquire "other assets" that would disqualify them. Based on the statement that she "worked most of my adult life" I wonder if SSI is a misspelling or error as she should have qualified on her work record and the amount, if it is SSI, seems pretty high.
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Old 06-30-2008, 09:17 AM   #5
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Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
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Old 06-30-2008, 09:43 AM   #6
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Can't be SSI, the SSI payment for an individual in 2008 is something like $667 a month.
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Old 06-30-2008, 10:48 AM   #7
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I suspect when he says "SSI" he means Social Security Income.
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Old 06-30-2008, 11:01 AM   #8
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Person could save a little more. Dump the newspaper. Get all the news you need on the internet. Dental coverage is probably a waste too. Doing this would allow for a small trip every few years or a bottle of booze every month
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Old 06-30-2008, 12:37 PM   #9
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i certainly understand this guy leaving fort lauderdale with just social security as i'll have that plus pension plus savings plus inheritance and i can hardly afford to stay here. only i can't help but wonder if he doesn't somehow feel he's banished himself to the panhandle of idaho, wherever that might be.

i think he has rationalized his good work of putting three kids through college and probably losing a bunch to a divorce and that he is trying to hold it together by being independent in some far-off mysterious land inhabited by monster potato heads. i've no delusion that i'm not projecting my own fears of elderly indigence here; but, it seems to me that it must be very difficult to not be a little bitter living in that cold.

interesting web site, nords. screennamed person saliro's post under Living on $12,000 a Year - Dollar Stretcher Community impressed me with her organization of thought, thoroughness and dignity. i hope it is not objectionable that i copy/paste her entry here:

Quote:
As a widow, this past year I've lived on a little over $13,000 a year. I've been unable to work following an auto accident, and I used most of the accident settlement to send my grandson to barber college. He's now 19, and came to live with my husband and me when he was 10. My husband passed away a little over four years ago, and my grandson was quite ill for several years with Lyme Disease. The Lyme left him with chronic fatigue syndrome, and he has occasional flare-ups. It's a dreadful disease!

But, living on a just a little can be done, and done comfortably. I receive $1132 in social security survivor's benefits, and $229 as my part of a payoff from the sale of our business. The $229, which I'll receive until 2009, goes into a money market, and is used to pay auto insurance and property taxes, as well as savings.

As for monthly expenses, groceries (this month) have been $75 at the supermarket, $26 for Angel Food Ministries. That's about average. I cook from scratch and we rarely eat out. My grandson works a second job as a fill-in dishwasher/host/whatever they need at a local restaurant. He's given meal tickets along with his hourly pay, and so he uses them to treat us. Works for me -- I can't tell the difference between a "free" meal and one I've paid for.

When my husband and I sold our big house and downsized, we put almost all that we made into the new, smaller home. Therefore, my house payment is only $228, with $40 for home insurance, and around $1000 per year property tax, for a total of about $350/mo. Although my house needs some repairs, it's still a roof over our heads. As soon as my grandson is on his own (it's taking him some time since he's been quite ill), I'll be moving to live in an apartment my youngest son has built for me as an addition to his home.

Even though we live in a hot, humid area, we "zone" our air conditioning with small, 5000 BTU a/cs in living room and bedrooms. If we aren't in a room, we turn the a/c off. Same with heating in winter. I don't have a clothes dryer and don't want one. I have four solar dryers in the back yard, and racks to use in the house in bad weather. My highest electric bill this summer has been $250, while around me, my neighbors are paying $400. We also use LOTS of fans. We're careful with our water usage, as well, and that bill is generally about $45.
We don't have a landline, and I long ago got a cell phone program that includes a "buddy" second phone for my grandson for $10/mo. Total phone bill for a month is $85.

We do our own yard work, shop at the dollar store, garage sales and thrift shops. Basically, if we don't need it, we don't buy it. Also, our vehicles are paid for, so we don't have car payments. Auto insurance is much cheaper since we don't smoke, have clean driving records, have taken driver's ed (my grandson) and carry the insurance with the same company as my home insurance.

I can't afford health insurance, so I have a $50/mo. medical discount plan. Actually, when you consider co-pays and deductibles, I've many times done better with the discount than I would have with an insurance policy. I do have quite a bit of medical debt due to some health problems, but I pay a bit on them each month, and they seem happy as larks to get it. My grandson's father carries him on his insurance policy -- thank God!

We use the library for books, movies and internet. My grandson's girlfriend is as practical and frugal as he, so they can have a lot of fun with a bit of nothing. We occasionally take in a movie using discounts (Harry Potter tomorrow -- sorry, but I can't wait), and I splurge on basic cable (less than $19/mo.) since we live too far from any city to get reception otherwise.

I have four dogs -- a rescue, a stray, a roadside find and a dumpee -- so they're included in my budget. I spend about $300-$400/yr. on shots, heartworm meds and yearly checkups. Food, treats and flea drops run about $20/mo. Fortunately, they're very healthy, and they keep me in good shape, too, since they INSIST on being walked a mile or two a day. Like people, pets who are well-maintained (exercised, fleas controlled, teeth brushed, kept out of harm's way in a house and yard) aren't terribly expensive to keep, but, according to all the studies, they'll keep me healthy and alive much longer. Also, they provide much-needed and valued security in an "iffy" neighborhood.

We live in a small town, which helps on gasoline expense. Many places we can walk or bike. Both vehicles are serviced and have the oil changed every 3000-4000 miles for an average cost of only $35-50 each. This saves a fortune in repair bills, or even having to invest in a new vehicle. As proof, my vehicle is 22 years old, and runs like a charm, thank you very much.

I haven't asked my grandson for room and board payment because I want him to be able to save enough to give him a good start when he leaves to be on his own. In return, he does a lot for me around the house, keeping up with the yard, washing the cars, house and dog sitting when I'm away, etc. And he's not expensive and he is a good saver, otherwise I wouldn't do this. He is, however, responsible for his own vehicle, gas, clothing, etc.

I have no credit card debt, and, other than core living expenses, the only things I owe are my mortgage, taxes, auto and home insurance and medical bills.
So it can be done. I budget strictly to include savings for the unexpected, and the way I see it, our bills get paid, we have a roof over our heads, more to eat than what's good for us, and the wolf just passed up our door and headed down the street.

But more importantly, we enjoy life. There's so many things to do that don't cost a fortune, many of which benefit others. Since I don't work, I'm able to serve in my church and community, visit (with my dachshund) the local nursing home, and spend much of each summer with my two smaller grandsons. These are the things I most love doing, so I consider myself blessed.

At a little over $13,000 a year.
edit: i just realized what struck me as more palatable about the quoted post than the ssi post. it is that the one guy moved to where i assume is far from family to maintain independence or at least to make a point of it, while the quoted poster does all she can to remain independent for as long as she can (& even helping a family member at the same time) while planning to maintain family ties throughout the rest of her life even if that means becoming dependent upon them for a place to live.

maybe that all derives from my inability (or dislike) of total independence (just because i can do something doesn't mean i like it) or maybe that is my attraction to family or what i feel family is for. where is dignity: in shrugging off or in allowing a helping hand?
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Old 06-30-2008, 06:35 PM   #10
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My 94-year old MIL lives on SS, pension, and allowance ($150 per month) which totals $1475 a month. Her rent at the assisted living facility in a nice suburb of Cincinnati is $1150 (increases 3% per year) which includes one meal per day. She makes her own breakfast and lunch so she spends about $30 a week at Krogers. She gets her hair done every week and a perm once a quarter and she gambles like a fool (bingo 2 or 3 nightes a week)! She only takes 3 generics a month so her 90-day co-payment is about $7 per month. For any doctor's visits or treatment she has great insurance. We pay for her cell phone ($10 add-on to our plan) and her landline ($25 per month) but otherwise she makes it on her own. She gets money at Christmas and her birthday.

Of course, we are her safety net but she seems to have everthing she wants. Her bank balance has increased by about $2000 over the last 2 years (from $1,000) although I'm not sure what she is saving for!
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Old 06-30-2008, 08:14 PM   #11
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My 96 y/o aunt retired only on SS. She didn't have much saved when she retired and received no pension. But she never married, lived a frugal life and enjoyed her life working as a florist. She didn't travel much in retirement but did enjoy working in her yard. Always happy. BTW, the meager savings she had when she retired has grown to a little over $300k. No stocks either. Not a lot by most peoples standards but does show what one can do with very little income.
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Old 06-30-2008, 08:35 PM   #12
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It's a matter of "doing what you have to do", and you're back to the basics - food, clothing, shelter. Find those as cheap as you can and enjoy the rest.

Shortly after we moved I saw a letter to the editor from a woman who said taxes made it hard for her to get by on her $600/month SS income and I had to wonder how anyone could live on that. We spend more than that at the grocery store. Now that's for two, not one, but still... Apparently it's doable because people do it.
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Old 06-30-2008, 09:24 PM   #13
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Her rent at the assisted living facility in a nice suburb of Cincinnati...
My grandfather & grandmother spent over 20 years at S.E.M. Laurels, including my grandfather's final 14 at S.E.M. Haven. From what I've heard from my father and seen for myself, it seemed to work out very well.
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Old 06-30-2008, 10:39 PM   #14
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It's a matter of "doing what you have to do", and you're back to the basics - food, clothing, shelter. Find those as cheap as you can and enjoy the rest.

Shortly after we moved I saw a letter to the editor from a woman who said taxes made it hard for her to get by on her $600/month SS income and I had to wonder how anyone could live on that. We spend more than that at the grocery store. Now that's for two, not one, but still... Apparently it's doable because people do it.
If I absolutey HAD to, I could get by on 550/mo. without health insurance. The other 50 could be saved for extra expenses. But I don't know what i'd do without cable and internet. I'm not a reader. Couldn't afford to go anywhere.

110 condo fees(includes water)
100 electric(includes heat)
40 cell phone
40 car ins.
30 gas
150 food($5/day is doable)
80 property taxes

550 total
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Old 07-01-2008, 08:46 AM   #15
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I wandered into the panhandle of northern Idaho in 1976. You would have a difficult time getting me to leave. My after taxes funds are right at $1400 per month. A tich over half goes to the mortgage. It is fairly easy to live on this amount. In fact, I am able to contribute about 20% to charity per year.

If I was spending more, I would just be pissing it away on junk or gas. This is not because northern Idaho is necessarily the cheapest place to live. Housing is quite expensive compared to some of the midwestern and southern states. It is a matter of enjoying simple things rather than adding complications to my life for the sake of distraction.

We had the worst winter in about 12 years this past year. It was not all that bad, and surprisingly enough, one can develop a social network amongst the potato heads.

I am trying to sell the house and move about 30 miles south. Even if I fail in that endeavor, by the time I am eligible for SS, this house will be paid off. At that point, my SS will probably be more than I can spend in a month without being wasteful. I just do not need or want a whole lot. My SS should be pretty close to $1400 a month.

The one thing I have that the average person living on this kind of money does not have is one heck of a cushion. That grants me great comfort. And I have health and dental insurance from my old employer.
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Old 07-01-2008, 01:54 PM   #16
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.... Dental coverage is probably a waste too. .........
I've learned my lesson about paying extra for a dental plan - or more properly termed, a "dental discount plan" - sure the plan doesn't really pay off that much, but the upside is what you pay is a negotiated discount rate - otherwise you get charged "rack rates" without a plan.

Best deal I've been able to negotiate on my own with a dentist is 5% off for cash on the barrel-head.
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Old 07-01-2008, 04:01 PM   #17
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I've learned my lesson about paying extra for a dental plan - or more properly termed, a "dental discount plan" - sure the plan doesn't really pay off that much, but the upside is what you pay is a negotiated discount rate - otherwise you get charged "rack rates" without a plan.

Best deal I've been able to negotiate on my own with a dentist is 5% off for cash on the barrel-head.

This is an excellent point......I'm always amazed (and thankful) when the medical (not dental) bills come in and you see the "rack rate", the discount for the medical plan, and then net plan rate......often the net rate for doctors is something like 35-40% of the "rack rate" and for lab work,
since Medicare kicked in, it's like 20% or so (80% discount)...so even if the
plan paid nothing, you would gain a lot just from have those negotiated discount rates.
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Old 07-01-2008, 08:49 PM   #18
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This is an excellent point......I'm always amazed (and thankful) when the medical (not dental) bills come in and you see the "rack rate", the discount for the medical plan, and then net plan rate......often the net rate for doctors is something like 35-40% of the "rack rate" and for lab work,
since Medicare kicked in, it's like 20% or so (80% discount)...so even if the
plan paid nothing, you would gain a lot just from have those negotiated discount rates.
Can one just go out and buy a private plan? I would think that adverse selection might be a big problem for any company offering this.

Ha
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Old 07-01-2008, 09:06 PM   #19
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I've learned my lesson about paying extra for a dental plan - or more properly termed, a "dental discount plan" - sure the plan doesn't really pay off that much, but the upside is what you pay is a negotiated discount rate - otherwise you get charged "rack rates" without a plan.

Best deal I've been able to negotiate on my own with a dentist is 5% off for cash on the barrel-head.
Learn something new. Thanks for the heads up.
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Old 07-01-2008, 10:34 PM   #20
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Can one just go out and buy a private plan? I would think that adverse selection might be a big problem for any company offering this.

Ha
Yes, it could be a problem w/ an individual plan. Fortunately, I have what is becoming increasingly rare these days.......a group retiree plan from a former employer and, of course, Medicare is the supersized group plan.
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