I’m 61, haven’t saved enough for retirement, and now the s— is starting to hit the spectrum.
I left my job in 2014 to take care of my elderly parents so they could live their lives in their own home and not have to go to a nursing home. I moved in with them and slept on their couch from 2014 to 2020. My dad died in early 2015 and my mom died in December 2019.
I am currently unemployed and have approximately $50,000 to my name; $30,000 of that $50,000 is invested in the stock market, the rest in my checking account.
I spent the last few years studying and investing in the stock market, and it was paying the bills. I did the work and treated it like a business, but the recent bear market has limited my stock returns. I have no debt, no car payments, and a credit score of 750. I’ll be 62 in July, so I can start collecting Social Security payments sooner, at around $1,000 a month.
I plan to look for a job to supplement my Social Security, but at 61 and out of the labor market since 2014, it will be difficult to say the least.
I don’t have health insurance, but I hope I can stay healthy until I’m 65 and qualify for Medicare.
My rent in Fort Lauderdale went from $1,800 in 2020 and 2021 to $2,400 in 2022 and $2,800 in 2023. Also, my landlord is going to start charging $50 a month for parking this year. I can’t stay in my apartment anymore because my savings of $50,000 will drop to zero by the end of the year.
I have no luck finding cheaper accommodation to rent. I don’t have a job or last year’s annual income to put on the rental application, so no one is willing to rent me.
What are my options? Guess I would have to spend that $50,000 or lose it in the market to qualify for benefits like housing assistance or SNAP payments.
If you could suggest something I’m forgetting that would be appreciated.
I feel like I’m not the only person in the US with this problem or something similar.
Desperate for a solution
Also see: “My sister is still struggling with money and drugs”: I own a house with my husband and my mother. Should my sister be excluded from the family inheritance?
Please don’t lose hope.
The labor market is still relatively competitive: there were 1.7 job openings for every unemployed person in November, well above pre-pandemic levels of 1.2. You need to find a job – even a part-time job to gain experience again – and a cheaper place to live. This may involve moving to another state or, at the very least, to another part of Florida. Fort Lauderdale’s cost of living is about 20% higher than the state average, and the city’s housing cost is about 50% higher than the national average.
You are correct about your eligibility for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) payments. According to the State of Florida, to be eligible for SNAP benefits, you must be a resident of the State of Florida and meet one of the following criteria: “You have a current bank balance (savings and checking combined) of less than 2 $001. You have a current bank balance (savings and chequing combined) of less than $3,001 and you share your household with one of the following: One or more people aged 60 and over or a person with a disability (a child, your spouse, a parent or yourself).”
You worked hard to save $50,000. This will help you when looking for accommodation and provide you with emergency savings. I applaud your willingness and awareness to invest in the stock market, but as you have discovered, the past two years have resulted in widespread losses for many investors. The decade-long bull market gave people a false sense of security, and the series of corrections since then have been a wake-up call for retail investors. Namely, investing in stocks is a long-term plan, and trying to play with the market is fraught with pitfalls.
You don’t say what happened to your parents’ house, but I assume it was either rented or sold, with the proceeds split between you and other siblings. We all need a safe and stable place to call home. Without it, your other financial worries will seem even more serious.
As for finding work to supplement your Social Security benefits, finding a job is itself a full-time job. In addition to online job sites like Employ Florida – Silver Edition, Indeed.com, ZipRecruiter, and Glassdoor, there are organizations in Fort Lauderdale like PrideStaff and the nonprofit OCI of South Florida that can help you. help find work.
If you can delay applying for Social Security benefits, you will receive a higher amount. If you apply at age 67, you will receive 108% of your monthly benefit because you delayed benefit payments by 12 months. If you wait until you are 70, you will get 132% of the monthly benefit because you delayed 48 months.
The Senior Community Service Employment Program in the United States helps low-income job seekers age 55 and older find work. According to its website, “participants work an average of 20 hours per week and are paid the highest federal, state, or local minimum wage. This training serves as a gateway to unsubsidized employment opportunities for participants. Participants must be at least 55 years old, unemployed, and have a household income not exceeding 125% of the federal poverty level. The program also helps people with professional training, resume writing, and interview skills.
I urge you to expand your network, from retail to the service sector, and make a virtue of the fact that you have taken care of your parents for the past few years. It shows dedication, humility and loyalty.
“Your story is heartbreaking,” said James Cunningham, a financial adviser with offices in California. “I can understand you being scared and stressed and not seeing any way forward.” Your social security, he says, will not meet your needs. “There are other housing options that are cheaper. One option is to move into low-income senior housing. There are also non-profit organizations that can help you with this search.
Please keep in touch and let us know how you are doing. Once you have extra income, you’ll be in a much better position to move on to other areas of your life.
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