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This article, A Homeowner with No Savings, but Some Options, is about yet another person, Susanna Wilson, who had a shot at a great retirement but instead failed to save anything.  Now she is looking at options she didn’t want to have to face.

Instead of Saving for Retirement

Ms. Wilson developed a successful clothing line in the late 1970’s, but kept reinvesting all of her profits without ever saving anything for her later years of retirement.  She later became a publicist and earned up to $65,000 a year but again reinvested her income into side businesses and ignored retirement.  Now she is 70 years old, has $9000 of credit card debt, no savings, and really only has a house to her name that she inherited fully paid off from her parents.  She lives off of social security checks and $1200 a month she brings in making dresses for little girls.  It’s not always enough and she’s sure she will never have a retirement now.

What pops into my mind is “Boy is she lucky to have social security!”  Ms. Wilson never seems to blame anybody, which I think is awesome, but I can’t help think of all the wasted opportunity for retirement savings.  The point of the article was to point out that she has other options besides bankruptcy such as a reverse mortgage or even selling a tract of timberland that she and her brothers own.

So here’s my complete take…

Retirement – Should Have, Could Have, Would Have

She should have saved for retirement.  Everyone who isn’t saving for retirement needs to save.  Unless you want to tie all of your future plans up to the hopes of social security, put some money away in a retirement account!  Anybody who doesn’t die young will need some way to fund their longer life.  When I hear, “you shouldn’t bother to save for retirement since so-and-so will get it anyway (insert the government, children, lawyers, etc) or you might die tomorrow”, I just want to scream that they have no other choice!  Yes, bad things might happen, but if you don’t save anything for retirement and you end up not dying, your golden years are going to stink!

Dealing with the Now – Retirement ASAP

Having said that, Ms. Wilson has to deal with her current predicament.  I’d personally cut back on every expense I possibly could and throw my dress-making money at my debt and then retirement.

That means that I could get a roommate, share the renters insurance rates, live on as small of a grocery budget as possible, sell that tract of land, and maybe even bump up my dress sales as much as possible for a year or two.  As soon as that land sale, that extra roommate money, or that dress money pays off my $9000 of consumer debt, I’d start throwing it into a savings account for an actual retirement fund.

It’s time to stop messing around and worrying about the future.  Ms. Wilson has to step up and sacrifice since she seemed to have forgotten to do it before.  Plus, a roommate could be fun…think of the Golden Girls!  If she’s an introvert, she can simply concentrate on the extra money instead of the social aspect.  A roommate has to be a better option for retirement than bankruptcy or a reverse mortgage, right?

What do you think?  What would you do in Ms. Wilson’s shoes?