What I’ve Learned About Money Over 60+ Years

nature reflecting

Two of my favorite things about finance blogs are real numbers and real stories. And today we’re going to share a jam packed mixture of both 🙂

This note you’re about to read was sent over by a new reader of this site who’s gone through an array of ups and downs throughout her lifetime, and was kind enough to let me publish this. She’s a Sexagenarian (person in her 60’s, ow ow!) and shares her decades long journey with money so far.

Well worth the entire read!

I’m really enjoying your blog. I thoroughly endorse your constant message to your readers to SAVE!

I’m retired now, but my husband & I started IRA accounts the first year they came out. I was fortunate enough to be employed by a large company that started a matching 401(k) plan in the 1980s. Even though the investment options offered pretty much sucked at first and the expenses were hidden (and high), the plan improved over time and I stuck with it for 23 years.

By the time I retired in 2006 the IRAs were $260,000.

I never made more than $55,000, but we watched our expenses and created a lot of wealth by buying and selling homes which was a good investment until 2008. Fortunately, we downsized in 2004 before the financial crisis so we were able to bank the proceeds.

However, after 2 very costly divorces, I would urge you to suggest to your female readers to keep at least some of their finances and wealth separate from their husband’s. I never took a married name which in the 70s really upset our insurance company and the IRS for a while, but they finally got the message. It is documented that most couples fight about money! Couples need to talk money BEFORE they tie the knot! Love can be blind, but it shouldn’t be stupid!

Oddly, in both marriages we were absolutely on the same page where budgeting, spending, and savings were concerned. I just wasn’t prepared for the first marriage ending after 27 years because my spouse realized they were transgender, and the second marriage ending after 10 years due to domestic violence. You never know what life has in store for you!

Currently, I’m in my mid-60s, very happily single, and enjoying the new life I have made for myself (and my dog). I own my own little home in Southern AZ, have no debt and am living comfortably on my S.S. and pension. I continue to let my savings grow. I don’t need to touch it yet. All this is do to the fact that I always saved whatever I could. It definitely pays off in the long term!

After the “crash” in 2008 my IRA accounts had shrunk to $186,000. However, I did not panic and sell. I started educating myself. I starting attending a local investing class that emphasized ETFs over mutual funds to lower costs. I must have watched “The Retirement Gamble” a PBS FRONTLINE program originally broadcast in April 2013 a half dozen times. I subscribe to BARRONS and read the business section of my local newspaper and the NY Times on Sunday. I watch CNBC on the net. I keep abreast of financial trends. I got out of mutual funds entirely and went to index funds, ETF sector funds and large cap individual companies that pay consistent dividends. I have some monies also in an MLP and REIT.

[Side note: My husbands & I have attended multiple financial “seminars” or “informational” meetings. We also interviewed with various “financial planners” (whatever that may mean) over the years. We never found one who didn’t want to sell us something or manage our accounts for a 1% to 2%/year fee. I’m sure there must be some honest planner out there, but I never met one! Beware!! Do not trust anyone with your money until you have thoroughly investigated them!]

After my divorce when I was 60 and really struggling, I used my low income to convert some of my traditional IRA money to my Roth IRA account with very little tax consequence. My portfolio is now $420,000. I also have a deferred annuity I bought with qualified money that I will start tapping after I’m 69-1/2. It has grown from $73,000 to $130,000 and should provide about $1,000/month income from that point on. I bought a long term health care policy when I was 55 from MetLife (who is now out of the business). It will pay $255/day for a 4 year term. Boy was that ever a good move! It only costs me $891/year.

I have NO debt. I OWN my home. I use credit cards exclusively to earn $$ back; typically about $200/year. However, I pay off my balance every month. If I can’t afford it, I don’t buy it.

I live in a delightful retirement area with many recreational, educational, and social opportunities. I am a regular volunteer at our local animal shelter and the local camera club. I have my 500 mile patch from our local hiking club.

Life is good! Everyone has struggles. I am not unique. It is how you manage the set backs in your life that matters. Because of my part-time business of dog sitting/dog walking/dog boarding I am off to the Pacific Northwest where I have rented a beach house for the month of July!

Cheers and keep spreading the news of fiscal responsibility.

********************************

What a ride so far! I’m so glad there was a happy ending to all this 🙂 Pretty bad ass too that she hasn’t even tapped her savings/investments yet and lives off Social Security and her pension. I manage all my money without regard to SS or any other accounts/funding outside of my control so I very much approve. Better to count on money that’s there vs money that may or may not be!

Here were 10 other financial nuggets I caught:

  1. Start saving now and let time work its magic
  2. You don’t need a large salary to grow a nest egg!
  3. Talk about money with your lovers!!!
  4. Educate yourself and know where your money is at all times
  5. Beware of financial seminars and people trying to sell you $hit
  6. Shoot for no debt in retirement! Not even your home!
  7. Credit cards are not the devil if used responsibly
  8. Everyone has struggles – don’t let it define you!
  9. Side hustles aren’t only for spring chickens 😉
  10. And lastly: if you can’t afford it, don’t buy it.

I hereby anoint you my favorite person of the week, new reader 😉 And we should all be so lucky to come out of this thing alive and well cared for financially!

I hope this inspires any of you just waiting to pull that trigger on something financial yourself… Gotta get those money seeds planted and growing today!