The Golden Years… Myth or Reality?

The “ golden years” refers to the time of life after retirement from employment when seniors are at the peak of achievement and are enjoying life to the fullest without the financial stress of having to work.  New financial challenges, coupled with a longer life span, are making the golden years more of a myth than a reality.  Issues with programs like Medicare which often fails to offset medical expenses, and worry over how long Social Security will last, cause retirees to experience great financial stress.  Seniors are worried about being in situations where they may lack enough money to pay bills and other debts related to advanced lifespan and aging.  With a strong lack of confidence in our economy due to rising taxes and inflation, they worry not only for themselves but for future generations. 

 For the vast majority of people moving toward retirement, there are things to do besides worry.  The future doesn’t have to be gloom and doom.  It is important to look toward strategies to help make your retirement financially possible.

  1. Construct a savings plan for retirement.  Seek professional advice from a tax or investment professional to discuss your specific needs.  Project ahead and look at retirement income and expenses.  Remember that your retirement savings may have to last you 25 years or longer.  You may need to stretch your money well into retirement, so plan accordingly.
  2. Decide upon your level of investment risk.  It’s important to seek the right balance when investing.  On the one hand, if the risk is too great, you may lose the very money you need for living.  On the other hand, if the risk is too little, your gain may be swallowed up in inflation.  It is best to seek the advice of a qualified professional to weigh your options.
  3. Plan to pay down debt.  It is usually wise to pay down debt before retirement.  It makes sense because as your income goes down, so does your ability to pay down debt.  Credit cards, auto loans and mortgages are things many folks work towards paying off before retirement.
  4. Adjust to a new lifestyle.  Learn to budget wisely.  Plan to shop smarter and spend less money.  Pay attention to government programs and take advantage of senior discounts whenever possible.  Plan to limit travel and expenses if necessary.
  5. Reevaluate your retirement date.  For many people, their largest investment is their home.  With the current real estate market in depression, it may be necessary for folks to wait for the market to recover to sell.  This may lead to a delay in retirement.  Others need to work longer to simply save more for retirement.  There is no shame in delaying retirement as needed and many seniors continue to enjoy working full or part time.
  6. Get politically involved.  As you’re approaching retirement, it benefits you to be active in politics.  Why?  Because many of the decisions politicians are making directly affect you.  For example, rising real estate taxes may impact your retirement savings.  Seniors need to have a voice and deserve to be heard.  Voting is one way to express how you feel.  Volunteering politically is another.  You can meet new people, share ideas, and make a difference.  Stay on top of the latest political happenings through Amac, your advocate for senior issues.
  7. Plan for long term care.  Long term care is often needed to help meet the medical and non medical needs of those requiring assistance with normal, daily tasks.  By 2020, it is estimated 12 million Americans will need long term care.  Since full time nursing care costs run an average of $80,000 to $100,000 per year and can quickly eat up one’s nest egg, it’s important to understand the risk of not having a long term care game plan.  Seek the aid of a financial professional to learn your options.


While the state of America’s economy is rather pitiable, let it teach us valuable lessons so we do not repeat the mistakes of our current government.  Let’s remember three important things our leaders forgot as we prepare for retirement; to plan intelligently, to save smartly, and to spend wisely.  By implementing these and other retirement strategies and by learning from our government’s mistakes, seniors can work toward and maintain independence in retirement.  America’s hardworking seniors deserve to live happy and healthy lifestyles, free of worry and strain.  With proper financial planning, the future of our mature Americans can be bright.  Are the golden years just a myth?  Heck, no!  With proper planning and resolve, you can achieve success and make the “golden years” the reality of your retirement.

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James Lawrence
11 years ago

I disagree that the article is Pollyanna-ish. It instructs seniors to save, budget and reassess their goals. Yes this is common sense. However, too many are lacking in common sense, moving blindly toward retirement without a game plan. For a great many, QUALIFIED financial advisors are a necessity. Employing a professional is much more cost effective than dabbling in areas outside your expertise and making mistakes that could have been avoided (lack of diversification, for one). Proposing that the govenment get MORE involved in our lives isn’t a solution either. Understand the environment in which we live and plan your financial lives accordingly. That’s the whole point of the article.

John Hesterman
11 years ago

Another thing to push for is REMOVING the limit on the amount a person on Social Security can earn in a year. Currently most can earn a maximum of $14,000 a year before the government starts chipping away at or takes away your Social Security check. That’s a travesty given the current average cost of living. They expect us to live at the poverty level while they (the politicians) live on pensions equal to their annual working income and Beverly Hills style health care. There should be NO LIMIT to how much a person can earn if they are on Social Security. Social Security money belongs to us, NOT THEM. We’ve spent our lives being forced to pay into the system and it wasn’t supposed to be raided by greedy politicians to pay for other programs. It’s time they realized that.

11 years ago

Golden years? for whom? We have pretty much lost over half of our retirement two different times having put it in the hands of the financial advisers. We have way too many important things to do than try to manage the retirement accounts. And the cost of living longer is getting to be a lot more expensive.

The Lord knows what we need, and it is a good thing! At age 70 we won’t be able to make back what we have lost and it is causing us to continue to work. Which is actually not such a bad thing,

Dennis Davis
11 years ago

Not only is this article too Pollyanna it seems like it is written to employ the professional financial advisers that take your money whether you win or lose by taking there advice. One professional I knew was proud that he had lost only 18% of the money he managed because most others had lost 22% or more. Yes, really great!
Most take a least 1.5% of your hard earned principle a year win or lose….20 years equals 30% of your Principle ! Nice deal for them, not you.
Now with the current Socialist administration in power and deficit spending like a Africa Dictatorship and also forcing normal interest down to 0.25% , robbing Senior Savers of there returns on saved money well below inflation, we have to be especially careful of what we do. Most advice out there in the market place is given to make themselves money on your principal and should not be taken at all. Think through how the world is going an buy and invest in only real things that will go up in future inflated dollars and stay away from paper and advice from people that push paper investments.

Daryl Schreiner
11 years ago

Your golden years article is too pollyanna. The reality of Seniors living beyond their ability to recive an employed income, has religated them to rely on Social Security and the non-existent interest on their savings which they were counting on to maintain the standard of living they had spent a life time working and saving for.
I recently tore up my liberal AARP card and joined AMAC….NOW IF YOU REALLY WANT TO HELP SENIORS, we need to find a way to eliminate the ridculously low interest rate perpetuated by Bernake and the FED only to buoy up the stock market and monetize the debt at the expense of senior savers.
Prudent, conservative, senior savers knew they couldn’t maintain the life style they worked hard for and were entitled to an Social Security alone. Therefore, they saved for their supposedly golden years that are now very tarnished. With near zero interest rates they are going through their principle at a rapid rate and we will soon see the socialistic agenda fullfilled by creating another poverty class to be added to other newly created destitute folks in the middle class without jobs…. How about starting with a petition by using the power of your growing memebership base ?????

To get the thought process going, here is a proposal:
Petition the Fed to require all member banks to pay 5% interest on C.D.’s and money market accounts based on the following critera: Married couples with a previous year taxable income of $50,000 or less to receive 5% on that portion of their accounts not to exceed $500,000. Single persons with a previous year taxable income of $35,000, or less, to receive 5% on that portion of their accounts not to exceed $350,000. This would still allow low interest for Real Estate loans and various commercial endeavors to assist economic recovery without devistating prudent savers.

Lynn Heath
11 years ago

Speaking to a professional about retirement isn’t always helpful and when it is helpful it often isn’t “very” helpful. It is much like going to a doctor about ordinary cuts, scrapes, runny noses and sunburns…why pay for something that is common sense? Usually it will not be possible to talk to a really terrific and insightful financial advisor. The reason for this is that as a group most of them will be “average”, just like any large group 66% will be average for the group. In a group of financial advisors the 16% or so that are above average will only have clients that have large amounts of money. If you have a million dollars or less you will not be able to attract the attention of a brilliant financial advisor. Therefore you will get an average one, and that will be much like paying for common sense, plus you won’t know if there is an ulterior motive or hidden sales pitch in the plan the financial advisor makes for you. Get a financial advisor and take their advice with a respectful amount of skepticism.

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