Millions of seniors failed to save enough to stop working, and now younger Americans are making their same mistakes
By Joe Pye for Debt.com
My grandmother used to beg my grandfather to save money so they could one day stop working. She would say to him, “please, Fred, I don’t want to eat cat food when we retire.” He never did save his money, but luckily she never had to eat cat food.
The two divorced in their 50s because she grew sick of his selfish behavior with money. It was a smart choice for her, but it was just the beginning of a difficult journey rebuilding her credit and financial life late in the game. My grandfather’s choices left her bitter and angry. Rightfully so. She was forced to continue working part-time even after 65.
“Your grandfather would tell me don’t worry about it, I got it covered,” she says. “He didn’t have anything covered. He never had anything covered. He did whatever he wanted to do and never concerned himself with the future.”
After the split, he just moved on to another woman, married her, and used her income on his own wants. He spent more time at the horse racing track than home, all on his second wife’s dime. Sadly, the man died penniless a few years ago.
My grandparents’ story isn’t unique. There are more than 4.5 million seniors living in poverty in the United States, according to nonprofit organization the Henry J. Kaiser Foundation.
And more and more working Americans aren’t putting away enough to sufficiently fund retirement. Here are the big mistakes my grandparents made, and as you’ll soon see, most people do too…
- My grandma left her finances up to her husband only
- The two didn’t believe they would need long-term care throughout their lifetimes
- She cashed out her 401(k) savings early
This is why she now is in a low-income, senior living facility funded by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. She survives off government funding for everything from housing to medical care and food.