43 Comments

  1. I unfortunately have a relative whose 66 and only income is social security. He does have a house but that’s it. My advice is if you’re 50, turn it around because you don’t want to go there. If it is too late investigate your options. Many states have programs to help seniors: reduced or no property tax, free transportation, etc. You just need to sign up.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Tough problem, my friend. I’m glad your relative at least has some equity. And if things get dire, he or she can sell the house and downsize. Any chance he or she can live with a son or daughter, perhaps in a studio apartment above the garage?

  2. EXCELLENT post, Mr G! Ironically, I just added a similar theme on my “To Write” list before reading yours.

    The audience for your article is HUGE, and we should all try to get it in front of the eyes of those needing to hear your message. Great post, practical, and necessary.

    The article I saw which led to me putting this on my “to write” list was this one – “From Broke To Retired In 10 Years”. Worth a read!!

    https://www.thebalance.com/from-broke-to-retired-in-10-years-how-you-can-do-it-2388366?utm_campaign=list_moneyover55&utm_content=20161201&utm_medium=email&utm_source=exp_nl&utm_term=list_moneyover55

    • Mr. Groovy

      Great minds truly think alike! Thanks for the link. Very sound advice. I especially like the suggestion to read one financial book a month. Not only a great way to nail down the how-to of advancing economically but also a great way to stay motivated. As you mentioned, the number of broke quinquagenarians is huge. I figured I’d might as well share my two cents on how to mitigate the problem. I hope others will join you in taking up the challenge. Talk to you this week, my friend. Cheers.

  3. Thanks for the shoutout, Mr. G!
    I’ll add a +1 to your statement that taking care of your health is the most important part.

    If you’re overweight, your body wears out more quickly. In addition to heart disease and diabetes, you’ll have pain in your knees, hips, and back. This will make it more difficult to exercise, to enjoy yourself, and also to work.

    We have family members who can only walk from the house to the car, so that rules out hiking (of course) and even museums, window-shopping, grocery shopping, festivals, attending grandkids’ soccer games, etc.

    I also know people who have had to turn down jobs because they couldn’t climb or descend the single flight of stairs required to get to their office.

    Without decent health, so much of the other stuff becomes out of reach too.

    • Mr. Groovy

      “If you’re overweight, your body wears out more quickly. In addition to heart disease and diabetes, you’ll have pain in your knees, hips, and back. This will make it more difficult to exercise, to enjoy yourself, and also to work.”

      How true! Two years ago I weighed 212 lbs. I then went cold-turkey on the sugary drinks and really cut down on other sources of sugar. I used to go through a bottle of barbecue sauce every week. Now a bottle of barbecue sauce will last a year. Anyway, I now weigh between 175-180 lbs and I feel great. It’s no longer uncomfortable to get off the couch or get into a car.

      Dramatically reducing my sugar intake really worked for me. I lost over 30 lbs and my LDL, HDL, and triglycerides are great. But, damn, being a recovering sugar addict is tough. I don’t miss my sugary drinks, but I do miss my Oreo cookies dipped in Nutella.

      Thanks for stopping by, Julie. I wish your family members well. Mobility is sadly something we rarely think about until it’s gone (or greatly diminished).

  4. I think you hit the nail on the head. All about having a plan and sticking to it. You have to approach it with a good attitude and not get discouraged. Sure it might not be the retirement you dream of, but it’s better than working till your drop dead.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Exactly! If you’re 55 and broke, you’re not going to have a dream retirement. But all is not lost. With a plan and some discipline you can still pull together a decent retirement. And as you so grimly pointed out, the alternative to doing nothing and maintaining the status quo is stark: “you will work till you drop dead.” Thanks for stopping by, Brian. Appreciate it.

  5. My mom is in this situation, but worse because she’s 63, with no real savings, and she started taking social security at 62. She has gotten back into art and pottery recently so she’s getting some income with that. Her new husband does the same and is a retired art teacher, so they have his teaching pension to live off of as well.

    But retirement or even emergency savings? No way…

    Trying to get her to budget or stick to a spending plan is pretty pointless as the discipline just isn’t there. A plan would change things for them immensely but they just don’t see the value in it. You can lead a horse to water… right? 🙂

    • Mr. Groovy

      Hey, Mr. SSC. It’s a tough problem. For most of my life I had neither retirement savings nor an emergency fund. But soon after marrying Mrs. G we discovered Dave Ramsey and got the emergency fund going. And it did wonders for my piece of mind. Then we got the retirement savings going. And, again, it made sleeping at night a hell of a lot easier. So I’ve lived both lifestyles. I’ve lived the debt-up-to-your-eyeballs-and-paycheck-to-paycheck lifestyle, and I’ve lived the below-your-means-robust-emergency-fund-and-retirement-account lifestyle. The latter is infinitely more enjoyable. And hardly anyone would argue differently. The trick is to just give the below-your-means lifestyle a try. But how do we get people to become FI-curious? Meh! I wish I had the answer. Thanks for stopping by, Mr. SSC. And good luck with your mom.

  6. Great post Mr Groovy and so applicable to a significant percentage of 50-plus people in just about every western country in the world I suspect.

    I’m 51, healthy, financially secure, have a sugar/salt/fat reduced diet, and have retired early, and intend to enjoy it. However, I know people who are my age who have spent most of what they’ve earned, don’t exercise, and don’t live particularly healthy lives.

    As I read your post I just kept thinking about these people and how rapidly old age is approaching and that they are heading down the path to a pretty miserable retirement, that is if they can afford to retire at all.

    I especially endorse the bit about sugar reduction. It’s a poison, no doubt about it and we can certainly live without a significant amount of what we do eat, in our diets.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Thanks, Martin. I was very fortunate. I figured out things financially in my early 40s. I also figured out things health-wise in my early 50s. So Mrs. G and I retired “early” (mid 50s), and we have a good shot at having a truly fantastic retirement. But if you haven’t figured things out by the time you’re 55, a great retirement is very unlikely. And it’s so sad. Because what you have to sacrifice to secure a great retirement isn’t much of a sacrifice. Is living in a 1500 square foot home really the personification of abject misery? Is foregoing sugary drinks really a supreme act of self-flagellation? Thanks for stopping by, Martin. I hope the people you know who are “heading down the path to retirement misery” wake up. And while I’m not an alarmist, I do agree with your assessment of sugar. It is a poison. A damn-good tasting poison, but a poison nonetheless.

  7. Thanks for the shoutout, Mr G! (and the reminder to get my butt in gear with both increasing my exercise and decreasing my sugar intake.)

    Just a quick clarification question. Did you mean $100K to take care of 10 annual bucket list/mini-emergencies or just to take care of 10?

    And someone can’t do $500 a month but can do $250? Okay, they’ll have less fun, but that still leaves them a little buffer for the unexpected. Only $150 a month? That’s tight, but anything saved is better than nothing.

    Finally, if you’re getting towards the finish line without a reserve, time to get creative. If you own a home, maybe you can have family with other income to move in to help with the basics. Maybe you need a roommate or a boarder. Do what you can to boost your household income or reduce your expenses a bit.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Ten over the course of a retirement. My bad. I should have made that more clear. And excellent point about saving $250 rather than $500. Two-fifty a month would definitely secure a few bucket-list items and provide some minor protection from life’s inevitable emergencies. So all is not lost if you can’t save $500 a month. And I like where you’re going with housing. Being creative in this area can do wonders for one’s retirement prospects. Most single-family homes have too much square footage for the people who actually dwell in them. In other words, a lot of housing isn’t used very efficiently. When Mrs. G and I moved down to Charlotte, we got a rental property. It was a 3-bedroom, 2-bath ranch with 1,100 square feet. We rented it to four adults. A couple with three kids, the husband’s brother, and the husband’s cousin. Seven people in one house. Talk about using a house efficiently! And it worked for all concerned. They paid their rent on time, took great care of the house, and saved a lot of money. Thanks for stopping by, Emily. Always a pleasure hearing from you.

  8. Thanks for the shoutout, Mr. Groovy, and for a great article that is needed by far too many.

    I can definitely attest to the importance of taking care of your health, which I’ve unfortunately learned the hard way. But it’s a lot easier to turn things around before they get too far. Some simple changes can make a profound difference.

    Living in a low-cost home in a low-cost state is probably the biggest change you can make to your expenses. Doing that alone may allow you to save up a couple hundred a month to help pad your retirement.

    Also, broke quinquagenarians may want to take a look at their income. It may not be possible to start real estate investing for passive income, but you might be able to start a side hustle from a hobby. Every little bit helps.

    • Mr. Groovy

      My pleasure, Gary. I love your site. It’s a great tool for anyone who wants to save money. And I couldn’t agree with you more about health. Just a few simple changes can make a “profound difference.” The key is to make the simple changes early enough so your body can recover. Quit smoking at 30 and you’ll do wonders for your health. Quit smoking at 80 and it’s doubtful your body will recover.

  9. I need to send this over to my dad, they are doing fine financially but I think he is addicted to Mt Dew.

    I like the idea of working bucket list items into the equation, we may do that just to have money set aside for solely that purpose later.

    Thanks for the post Mr Groovy

    • Mr. Groovy

      Mt Dew is deadly stuff. I never had one until I moved down south. A lot of the young guys in the office swore by the stuff. I thought they were nuts. But I tried it one day and had to concede. It was pretty damn good! Thankfully I stuck with Coke and Pepsi. If I switched to Mt Dew, curing my sugar addiction would have been even harder.

      And here, here to the bucket list! Everyone should have at least 10 items on their list and plan for them accordingly. You may not hit all of them. But if you don’t plan, you’ll hit none of them. Also, you got to keep in mind that father time is no friend of good health Mrs. G and I figure we can be active up to 70. So we got 15 years to hit, Ecuador, Thailand, and Australia–three critical bucket-list items.

      Thanks for stopping by, AE. I really appreciate it.

  10. Your points about sugar are so important! So many “55’s” were brought up in a time where everything was “low-fat” to be healthy. We know what that means – they replace the fat with a lot of sugar! Then the person gains weight and needs more low-fat… Thanks for giving some hope to folks who think all is lost. Some small changes and also changes in mindset can make a big difference!

    • Mr. Groovy

      Have you read Gary Taubes’s “Good Calories, Bad Calories” or “Why We Get Fat”? He’s definitely in the fat is good camp. Mrs. G is a big fan of Mr. Taubes and I thought she was nuts. But this was because I was brought up in the “everything has to be low-fat” era. But after reading his books and investigating the matter, I have to say that Mr. Taubes (and Mrs. G, of course) is absolutely right. Fat is good. Carbs and sugar are bad. For the past two years I’ve greatly reduced my sugar and carb intake, and I feel freakin’ awesome. I’ve lost over 30 lbs and my cholesterol numbers have been great. No issues. And I really haven’t sacrificed anything. Having a hamburger without a bun isn’t brutal. Nor is foregoing sugary drinks.

  11. I like what you said about it being doable. So many people just throw their hands in the air and say it’s not doable. Hopefully some of those people find this blog.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Agreed. And desperate times can be liberating in a sense. Mrs. G and I are comfortable financially. So the idea of moving into a tiny house or a van is inconceivable. But if residing in a tiny house or a van was the only thing separating us from a decent retirement, we would downsize in a heartbeat. We care much more about our financial well-being than our stupid egos.

  12. Thanks so much for the shoutout, Mr. Groovy!!!

    I LOVE that you included health and personality among the money tips for retirement. Both are so important to quality of life.

    I eliminated sugar about 6 years ago. I felt great and rarely picked up the viruses the kids would bring home. About a year ago, I started eating sugar for “special occasions”, which has since expanded to weekends as well. You’ve given me a great reminder that I’m allowing it into my diet a bit too much lately. (And I love that you mentioned Marks Daily Apple – great website!)

    • Mr. Groovy

      My pleasure, Amanda. Mrs. Groovy and I love the work you’re doing over at Centsibly Rich. Truly great stuff. And I can’t believe you’re a fan of Mark Sisson! I really love his workout philosophy. Walk a lot, sprint for short distances, and lift some heavy things every now and then. This type of a workout is something you can do well into old age. I couldn’t imagine being a crossfitter, for instance, at 55. Thanks for stopping by, Amanda. And good luck getting back on track with sugar. I’ve been slipping as well. I want to get my ice cream fix back to once a month rather than every Saturday.

  13. This is a well written, hard hitting, and most importantly, actionable post.

    One more option might be to retire abroad. SS goes way, way further in many other countries than it does here. It is a far more drastic plan, but drastic times may call for drastic measures. Maybe point folks to The Earth Awaits website?

    • Mr. Groovy

      Thank you! Thank you!! Thank you!!! You beat me to the next installment of this post. Retiring abroad is an excellent option. It’s so excellent, in fact, it deserves one or two posts of its own. Thanks for alerting me to The Earth Awaits website. It will surely come in handy. And thanks for stopping by, Mrs. Bita. You made my day.

  14. Man I probably should cut back on my gatorade. I like to have those! By the way the video you posted on the guy working out, that stuff is phenomenal. I remember watching those in college and they made me set a goal of being able to do the “human flag pole”

    It’s a shame that people are in their 50s have no savings but the tips you provided are a good way to get people on the right track!

    • Mr. Groovy

      Hey, Justin. I hear ya about the gatorade. I used to gorge myself on that stuff when I was younger, especially after a grueling workout. And from what I’ve been able to unearth, the guy in the video, Hannibal, works out in some park in Corona, Queens. If I’m ever in New York in the summer, I’d love to find the park and see if he could help me with my muscle-ups. Hey, did you ever manage to do the “human flag pole” yourself?

  15. Great advice! Although I’m not 55, I think I could still use a lot less sugar in my life.

    It’s pretty terrible how many folks are forced to retire without the resources to live with dignity. I saw a talk from a woman who heads a senior-focused non-prof organization here, and about 41% of seniors in our city are forced to choose between food and rent.

    It makes you think – how does this happen?

    • Mr. Groovy

      Hey, Katasha. It’s such a brutal problem. Forty-one percent of seniors in your city are forced to choose between food and rent! And I’m sure the seniors in your city are hardly an anomaly. I just hope young people like yourself learn from the mistakes of my generation. Time flies by. Failing to save now will ensure a dreary future. Thanks for stopping by, Katasha. It’s always a pleasure hearing from you.

  16. What a great post! And such an important topic because you’re right – there are so many people who will find themselves in this situation. You have so many excellent, pragmatic tips here. Especially… the sugar! This is the bane of my existence, figuring out how to limit the sugar. It is seriously at the root of so many of our health problems. I don’t drink sugary drinks, but I, like, eat candy! Someone needs to tell me how to stop eating sweets for dessert.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Does God have a sick sense of humor or what? How could he make something that tastes so good be so bad? Sugar is the bane of my existence too. My goal is to limit my sugar intake to Saturday night. Mrs. G asked me if I wanted ice cream last night and it took every ounce of my will power to resist. I will go on a sugar binge this Christmas, though. Good luck with your candy vice, Linda. I’m pulling for you.

  17. This is such an important post and a big eye opener for many. I am so thankful my mom turned her stuff around. She got really involved in her finances after my parents divorce. Up until that point my Dad had controlled most everything. After buying her our townhouse she joined an investment club and they would meet once a month to talk and learn. She recently retired and is all set for her coming years. I’m so proud of her!! My Dad, on the other hand, lives large and says he will never be able to retire. I’ve chosen to follow in Moms footsteps. 🙂

    • Mr. Groovy

      Your mom rocks! What an inspiring story. Divorce is never fun, but at least she used that tragedy to find her inner Dave Ramsey. Thanks for stopping by, Miss M. And thanks for following in your mom’s footsteps. The more Personal Responsibility Warriors we have in this country, the better our country will be.

  18. This is definitely a post I’m going to be coming back to. I try to instill this post’s mindset into people my age (young twenty-somethings) when I talk to them about the importance of investing and starting early.

    My dad is nearly 58 years old and only has 35K in his 401k. Luckily, his social security payout is going to be over $2,000 per month and he has a pension (what are those?! haha).

    • Mr. Groovy

      Haha! I love it. What’s a pension? It’s certainly an arrow you don’t find in too many financial quivers today. Glad your dad has one to fall back on. With his pension and Social Security, he should be fine. His 401(k) is icing on the cake.

      Interesting aside. I retired early from my government job and my pension is just under $20K a year. Had I not left early, my pension today would be around $55K a year, and I would get free health care to boot. I just don’t see how public pensions are sustainable. Meh. Things are going to get very interesting in the next 5 to 10 years.

      Thanks for stopping by, Colin. I love hearing from millennials who have gotten their financial acts together.

  19. We often see these lists and think, well yes it’s so simple and obvious. The alarming thing is that so many have zero clue and need awesome articles like this to shine the light on a much more efficient and practical way to live that will ensure life in the future is less stressful. I sure the heck don’t want to be 55 and have no savings and have put myself well ahead of the pack to ensure that. Great post !

    • Mr. Groovy

      Thanks, Chris, for your very kind words. It is indeed simple and obvious. But habit, consumerism, and ego have a way of blinding us. If only we could turn wisdom into cereal and feed to our kids.

  20. I was that guy! And I was definitely not alone. Everything said is spot on. Let me add that TV is sugar for the brain. Put down the remote and get to work on a side hustle to add income streams. Don’t settle for a job as your only income before and after retirement. Great stuff!

    • Mr. Groovy

      “…TV is sugar for the brain. Put down the remote and get to work on a side hustle to add income streams. Don’t settle for a job as your only income before and after retirement.”

      Thank you, Ian, for one of the more insightful quotes I’ve come across lately. And thank you for no longer being “that guy.”

  21. There is enormous benefit to being well-liked. So many folks overlook that. It’s incredible the free things you can be a plus-one at, if people find your company agreeable.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Hey, ZJ. Sorry for the late response. Totally agree with you. Life is only easier “if people find your company agreeable.” A lot of wisdom there. Thanks for stopping by, ZJ.

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