Can our Seniors Make Ends Meet

Most retirees have finished their working years and are now supposed to be enjoying retirement and a life of leisure.

Instead, many of these seniors spend their days worrying about how to make ends meet. Even with social security assistance, without the benefit of a generous pension or employer-matched 401k contributions, many seniors are finding it difficult to meet life’s basic needs.

According to the National Council on Aging, one third of senior households have no extra money and may be in debt after meeting essential monthly expenses. Furthermore, they found that 2.1 American seniors receive less than $500 a month in social security, and older women receive an average of $4,500 less annually due to time taken off for raising children.

Common to seniors are basic expenses including food, clothing, medications, a phone, transportation to the grocery store or medical appointments, and gifts for grandchildren. But what about day trips to the beach, lunches out, and vacations? Unfortunately, those are luxuries many seniors on a fixed income are rarely enjoying in their retirement years.

This hardly the retirement lifestyle that many dream about.

We could call it a lack of planning for the future, or we could recognize that many industries and careers do not encourage or contribute to robust retirement planning. And, for many living on fixed income, it was a situation not of their choosing that led to a fixed income lifestyle - a low-paying retail job with limited or no retirement benefits, or a single parent with limited lifetime earnings due to parenting duties.

Professionals report that many of the residents were never taught that additional savings would be needed in retirement. She says that they believed that Social Security would be sufficient, but it is simply not enough to cover all of their basic expenses.

These seniors’ stories should be a wake-up call for younger generations. The need to prepare for our later years in life is essential.

So, what if you want to help? For those who are in a position to help seniors in need, start by looking around your community. Do you have an older neighbor who could use an extra hand? Do you have a parent or grandparent who needs help managing their finances or accessing healthcare and community resources? Or can you donate time or finances to help a local organization serving low-income seniors?

And for those of us still on the path toward retirement, now’s a perfect time to re-evaluate our financial planning for those post-working years.