Retirement Is Not for Sissies

Have enough money for retirement? Think again

By Maggie Moraldo

While it’s possible to be thoroughly enjoying the retirement lifestyle, it is, however, accompanied by financial fears, especially if the investments you are counting on don’t continue to grow. Or, as in past markets, they drop sharply.

As a sooner-than-expected retiree, I had concerns about my financial future.

After sharpening pencil after pencil myself, then talking to financial experts, my anxiety began to decrease. I assumed that cautious spending, early Social Security benefits and a monthly draw from my IRA would be adequate for my living expenses.

I also hoped for occasional employment for additional rainy-day costs.

Well, three years later I have learned that being frugal and cautious are not easy to practice.

Recently, for example, I felt obligated to go to an out-of-town wedding for my nephew’s stepson. The cost for the weekend was approximately $1,500.

I will be going out of town again soon for another family celebration – a new baby. I’m sure I’ll have to spend more money.

Here’s a list of some unforeseen expenses, things I neglected to include on my retirement “miscellaneous” expenses:

• Our children are buying homes. Even if we don’t assist in the down payment, we feel the need, and the desire, to help with related purchases such as furniture, decorative accessories or landscaping, for example.

• They may be moving out of town, just as many of our friends have, and this means high travel costs and the related expenses there.

“Three years later I have learned that being frugal and cautious [during retirement] are not easy to practice.”

• The grandchildren are arriving now, both ours and those of our friends and family members. This means gifts for the showers and arrivals. Also, there are still weddings taking place of our own family members or those close to us. We know how expensive this becomes when we add up the gift, nice clothing and, perhaps, transportation.

• There is more free time now in our lives and it leaves room for entertainment that has been long desired. There are lunches and dinners with previous coworkers, neglected old school chums and other old and new friends. We are buying subscriptions for season tickets for the theater or sporting events, or other venues. Here again are also the incidental expenses such as dining out, gasoline, souvenirs.

• A sad part of aging is illness and death. We are all going to be dealing with this, especially now, and I, for one, did not even think to have to include this as an incidental expense, but the related costs are heavy. They include medical and hospital visits for us or our loved ones, co-pays for doctors and prescriptions, gasoline and parking fees. The funerals have the possible cost of travel, and there are the gifts and memorials as well.

Anticipating all this new, associated costs, is near impossible. It’s probably best to pad the “miscellaneous” category in your budget a little more.

College degree notwithstanding, I’m going to take any employment I’m offered to cushion my retirement expenses. I’ve also warned my children that I may need to move in with them someday. The looks on their blood-drained faces were hilarious. You must try it.

That aging process, I mentioned, is worse than expected: dental implants, cataract surgery, replacement parts … and I am actually very healthy for my age.

Dipping into savings, remortgaging, cutting back on entertainment, are now the way of life.

My children think I’m “cheap” because of the cutbacks I employ. They should actually applaud me for not becoming their burden! Wait! I’ll do it myself.

Photo: Maggie Moraldo, 75, is a retiree who lives in Rochester. She has raised three children while working in many capacities: sales, teaching and, most recently, real estate. She holds mastership in bridge and has hosted a poker game in her home for more than 40 years.