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Old 11-06-2018, 09:04 PM
3,945 posts, read 3,262,187 times
Reputation: 11315


I'm shaking my head over the fact that poverty, as a lifelong situation has been quite normal for millions of workers in America, these folks get old, they are just as broke now (in retirement) as they were when they worked the low paid jobs. It's pretty obvious that a ton of people don't really understand the depth and width of American poverty, they still advocate for low wages, no benefits, hard work, and long hours---for others...

Old 11-06-2018, 09:05 PM
Location: Silicon Valley
18,094 posts, read 22,952,534 times
Reputation: 35230
Imagine you never made much money to begin with. Your parents were poor and couldn't afford to pay for your college education. You couldn't afford to just go to college without student loans - and - work at the same time.

Then, you get divorced and you get custody of the kid. Yay! But, then your ex never pays child support, and you're working full time and trying to afford a house payment and student loan payments and your child care costs more than your house payment. And, your kid needs braces, and has allergies, on and on.

Then, you are severely injured and end up on disability.

You're really good at budgeting the money that you have. But, you definitely qualify as within the definitions of the poverty levels for assistance, etc.

Stuff happens. Why assume the people who are struggling in retirement are somehow losers, gamblers, drug addicts or whatever? Yeesh.

This is the same kind of narrow thinking of people who assume all immigrants are terrorists (even though all of our ancestors were immigrants). Really, try imagining a different scenario based on an open mind and kindness. You might surprise yourself.
Old 11-06-2018, 09:26 PM
1,647 posts, read 565,667 times
Reputation: 3109
Originally Posted by BugsyPal View Post
One thing is clear and should be kept in mind; those who are >60 now came up during a vastly different era. Entire sectors of employment that existed say in the 1940's through 1980's are now gone or have drastically changed. Many of those jobs even then didn't pay very well, so these seniors SS checks aren't going to be very huge.

Then consider many people are simply living far longer than expected and as such either have exhausted their savings and or must make what they've got last.

None of this touches all the companies that went bankrupt or whatever and stiffed retirees on pension.

Women in particular didn't earn very much money regardless of job back then; the expectation was a female would marry and thus her husband would answer for her financial future. If this didn't happen and or the couple were never "well off", then their fate as seniors won't be much different, in fact often financially worse.
I wish I could give you 10x reps for this. Especially the final paragraph.
Old 11-06-2018, 09:35 PM
Location: Silicon Valley
18,094 posts, read 22,952,534 times
Reputation: 35230
Originally Posted by BBCjunkie View Post
I wish I could give you 10x reps for this. Especially the final paragraph.
Yes. And women have to stay married to their husbands for 10 years in order to collect any of their husbands' SSA retirement money, and then just a portion of it. That's how we value women who stay home to take care of the home and kids.

So, what if he divorces her after 9 years for a younger model? Yep, she's SOL.
Old 11-06-2018, 10:05 PM
Location: Cochise county, AZ
4,972 posts, read 3,457,347 times
Reputation: 10494
I'm doing fine on social security and investments but did have two set backs. First, I was laid off at 55 when the recession hit and the company reorganized. Strangely enough those paid off were 50 and over. All I could find after that were temp jobs that paid half of what I was making.

It was not a good time to be a laid off older worker. I was overqualified for many positions and even after saying I didn't care if the salary was lower, I still couldn't find anything.

Then, I kept thinking things would change and used a lot of my savings and my pension to keep paying for my mortgage, until I finally talked to a financial advisor who told me I should let it go.

A month before the foreclosure a woman ran a red light and crashed my car into a steel barrier (sp). So now I didn't have a job, a house or a car. Thank God I had family.

Five years later, after numerous doctor visits, physical therapy and eventual back surgery, I was awarded a settlement. The lawyer got a third, the doctors and hospital got a third and I got a third, which, outside of a car and some furniture and paying back my family, I immediately put into investments. It wasn't That much after paying everything off but it keeps growing.

That, along with social security is what is saving me. I am thinking about going the nomad route as it intrigues me. I'm giving myself a year to think about it, (just renewed my lease) which will give me time to go on a few trips and see if it's really something I want to do. As I said, I'm doing okay but I think it would be rewarding to see the country, which is something I have never done.

It would also allow me to put a lot more into savings to help me when I'm older and unable to care for myself, should that day come.

Last edited by meo92953; 11-06-2018 at 10:18 PM..
Old 11-06-2018, 10:08 PM
Location: Tennessee
23,579 posts, read 17,561,360 times
Reputation: 27660
If a person is looking at the RV population, that is probably a unique subset of folks. I wouldn't try to make a writ large judgment off of a subset like that.

With that said, talking about "poor seniors," the results you get are going to be totally different dependent on where you ask the question from.

I'm from northeast TN. I'm 32 and my parents are both 61. I'd say, at worst, they made $65,000 combined on the worst of their last ten years. Now that's not a lot of money - but consider the median household income here is <$40,000. They were still doing well by local standards! Their income has since increased and I'd guess their HHI is somewhere between $85,000-$90,000 now. That's basically top 20% money locally.

Even then, I don't think $91k for a DINK here is a lot of money. The house payment is ~$700, but that's a large house with a large yard that still needs a lot of work. You have two people working two different schedules. They rarely eat at home. One paid for car, one new one. They don't have expensive tastes, but go to the mall every weekend and seem to always come back with something. $200/month cell phone bill for the two of them (they are on my plan, billed to my CC). Five cats and the attendant litter, laundry, food, vet bills for them all.

They get by. They're not scraping by. There is a bit of extra. They did a week in Myrtle Beach and a few days in Destin (before Michael sent them fleeing north) this year. Those were the first beach vacations they took since 2011.

I make $62k cash here - with the small bonus coming in this year, that's $65k. Right now, I net roughly $3,500/month in a relatively low cost area of Tennessee. It goes quickly.
Old 11-06-2018, 10:16 PM
Location: Cochise county, AZ
4,972 posts, read 3,457,347 times
Reputation: 10494
Serious, you still have quite a ways to go before you retire and your salary should rise accordingly. Make sure you put money away each paycheck, pay attention to senior advisors (I'm thinking Mathjack) and you should be fine by the time you retire.
Old 11-06-2018, 10:17 PM
Location: Wasilla, AK
7,249 posts, read 4,136,323 times
Reputation: 15658
Originally Posted by LHS79 View Post
You can never retire if you have a mortgage.

That is simply not true. We have a mortgage on one of our houses and money is still coming in faster than we can spend it.
Old 11-06-2018, 10:27 PM
6,253 posts, read 4,728,813 times
Reputation: 12833
The percentage of seniors living in poverty is actually quite low....9%.

Before looking up the stats, I had expected a much higher number. Many people put little work or ambition into their careers and often just drift through life. Alcohol and drug abuse are rampant and take a heavy toll. In addition college education was less common in the past and many poorly educated people did not have great career opportunities. In past generations fewer women worked which also meant smaller incomes. We believe in freedom of choice and a great many people just do stupid things and make poor choices. Another big factor is the abysmal lack of education in personal finance. Most Americans know or at least behave as though they know absolutely nothing about finances including use of credit, saving, investing and managing money on a daily basis.

Altogether, I am surprised the poverty rate for senior is only 9%.
Old 11-06-2018, 10:44 PM
1,190 posts, read 353,181 times
Reputation: 3723
There are many reasons why some people end up barely able to make ends meet. It can be poor decisions, unexpected medical issues, or lots of other things. One thing I have noticed are people that give their adult children money to support lifestyles better than their own; money that they should be saving. They will complain about it with one breath, then brag about all the stuff their kids buy with the next. Or, they will be paying for the college educations of grandchildren, which seems to me should be the responsibility of the kids parents.
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