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Silver Conversationalist

Retiring On Social Security Only

March 15, 2021

 

🙂 Please be RESPECTFUL when responding to someone's comment 🙂 Personally I think it is possible. I am doing it! I would love to hear your opinions and stories.

  • I kept my life simple for several years before retiring
  • Have continued to keep it simple
  • Live one day at a time
  • Do a lot of free activities like walking in different neighborhoods. I tend to get bored with the same route every time and over the famous nature trails filled with doggies and rude folks. Luv my doggies, but was stressing out from some of their owners who felt I had no business being on the trail/lol. So now I pick a busy spot to park like Walmart and walk the neighborhood in different locations. I now look forward to picking a spot to walk and thoroughly enjoying my exploring.
  • Living in a cute studio apartment, but actively looking for a Tiny Cottage to rent. Missing my peace and quiet. Have never been one for apartments.
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Contributor

  • Indeed, those living on ss alone, and have no backup are indeed 1 calamity away from dire straits. I have an in-law in that unfortunate position, and with failing health that requires care. She couldn't keep up her mortgage payments, as one costly incident after another kept draining her budget. Ended up selling it as a distressed sale, can't get housing assistance for 2 years as she sold her home rather than lose it to forclosure. She is now dependant on family to save her from homelessness and care. Her ss is too small to keep a roof over her head, pay for her food, utilities, and medical care. 

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Periodic Contributor

Surviving on "just" Social Security requires an emergency fund and planning. In 2019, I had to retire a few years earlier than expected and as a widow. My SS check is midway between average and maximum benefits. During the last year I worked, I researched and planned what changes I would need to make to live comfortably on my SS check. The last few years I worked, I contributed as much money as I could possibly afford to my 401k. Some things I did to make my budget balance:

1. I replaced my cable TV with an antenna and a device that will record from the antenna. It cost me the equivalent of 2 months of cable fees to buy the electronics. I pay for Disney+ and PBS passport. Youtube videos are free and there are several "free with ads" streaming services that I use. I found I could live without watching ACC basketball. Savings= $90/month. 

2. I disconnected my landline, saving $40/month. I switched my cell service to Consumer Cellular to save another $40/month. Savings= $80/month.

3. When I was working, I was spending maybe $120/month on restaurant food. The group I was meeting for breakfast on Saturday is planning to only meet twice a month, once we can meet again. Savings = $90

4. My public library provides access to online e-books and movies. I still buy 2 e-books/yr from my fave authors ongoing series. My eyesight problem precludes me from buying magazines or physical books anymore. Having that access to e-books keeps me occupied, so I don't need the cable TV.  My plan for retirement was to read as much as I want. 

5. I decreased my gift budget by half. Savings= ~$500/year

6. I decreased my charitable giving by half also. Savings= at least $400/year

7. Since I don't work, my car insurance, gasoline and car maintenance costs decreased. Not sure how much that saves me. 

8. Refinancing the house and using equity to pay off the car saved me $500/month.

9. Not working also decreased how much laundry I do by at least half and decreased my clothing purchases. Don't know how much that saves me. 

10. The Federal Government and my state don't tax my Social Security income. I don't withdraw enough money from my retirement savings to pay taxes on it. When I was working I paid about $9k in income taxes per year. Savings= ~$750/month

11. With Medicare, Medicare Supplement & Part D, I spend $50 more per month than when I worked. BUT I don't have a $3500 deductible like I did on my employer's health insurance. 

12. I have time to cook, so I spend less on groceries. When I worked I didn't cook much, but bought packaged and frozen meals. My grocery budget is down by ~$150/month.

 

These are some of the ways I've managed to live on my Social Security check. I had hoped to do a little traveling, but COVID interfered with that. Maybe in 2021 that will happen. 

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Periodic Contributor

I had everything paid off too, now if we could just get the greedy utilities to tow the line or the county assessor to not raise our taxes by subterfuge, we might be able to make it! I am almost to the point where I will have to sell off my collectibles or sit in the park and play guitar in front of an open guitar case! I don't go anywhere as I am a retired truck driver and have all ready been there! Can't afford a long vacation as it is!

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Gold Conversationalist

It’s not that bad. Especially if you dumpster dive for several meals every week.

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Regular Contributor

I think retiring on social security only means there are no fall back funds.  Most people have retirement benefits from a job.  I am a social security only person.  I moved where most of my family live.  My daughter helped me find an affordable rent apt in a 48 unit complex for people over 62.  I was told how to sign up for low income rent (took 2 yrs) .Need patience but it was worth.it. If you are only going to have social security, you are not living high off the hog.  People could live on a lot less if they needed to. I Have family near by that take me shopping and to the doctor(I don't drive)sicillian

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Newbie

I think retiring on Social Security only is very doable. My house and car are paid for. I manage my spending and budget for insurance and taxes my 2 largest bills as well as put back 200-300 per month for "unforseen' expenses. If the county I live in would stop raising my taxes I could travel twice a year with that money. And I do have some money saved for emergencies.

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Periodic Contributor

Hi, do you know if your locality offers energy assistance?  I believe most do. I use it when I need to and one year they paid a big chunk of my balance and made a payment plan with the small balance that was left over. Please check into it if you haven't already. I know how hot and humid it is in VA and air conditioning is a must 😉

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Periodic Contributor

One other thing to look for when you retirement is to have a small 'tax footprint'.   The less money you have coming in, the better you are in terms of taxes. Depending on the state you retire etc, but if I can retire solely on SS benefits, it helps to reduce my taxes. Of course my thinking is that if I have money in the bank, I can draw from it 'as needed' ....and just live off SS. Pensions, annuities etc, all might add to your tax footprint.  

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Periodic Contributor

I use a Tablo. The antenna connects to the Tablo device and then the Tablo uses an app to transmit the recording to the TV via wifi. I have an Apple TV that the Tablo sends it's signal to. I've seen recent information that Tablo has developed a device that connects directly to the TV via HDMI. Tablo also offers a $5 per month TV guide that makes it very easy to set-up recordings. It makes the process almost identical to using the DVR when I had cable.  When you switch to OTA TV, you'll find many channels that you didn't know existed. There are 50+ channels that I can get with the antenna, but I programmed the Tablo for only 33 of those. The other 20+ are either shopping, duplicates, Spanish language, or "not for me" channels. One of the benefits of using the Tablo via wifi is that I have the indoor antenna in a bedroom, because I get better reception there. It means there's less clutter in the Living Room where the big TV is. Since I was doing the whole set-up myself, I didn't want to try to install an antenna on the roof. I have a flat antenna attached to the ceiling with painter's tape near a window. 

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Honored Social Butterfly

Living on SS is a challenged. So I admire your attitutude and your way of seeing life. I am lucky that I worked and received a pension form my job but my SS was penalized because the County that I worked for a number of years did not take out SS. So at retirement time they penalize me on the grounds that I had not pay into SS for those years and reduced my owed SS  quite a good amount. After 65 I realized that i had to continue working in order to boot my SS and at least increase what they were giving me. I worked until I was 73 but really did not gain much. That action was done by Reagan in which he penalized people that received two pension and one of them was SS. Now, I will have to rely unfortunately on my  husbands' own SS eventually. which is greater than mine but I will loose what I am getting which will in effect reduce my income. I consider myself lucky because of my county pension that will help me to not to rely just on SS. . I have always wondered as to why women who for decades always worked less years than men have always had to rely on  their husbands SS and not be able to have options when statying at home reasing a family.

no name

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Honored Social Butterfly

Would you believe that I didn't question as to the repercussions until 1995 and then I already had a few years in that county and was not going to resign and look for another job but tell me how could I have protected myself/?

 

no name

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Honored Social Butterfly

I  guess I blew it.   I should have asked for advise on what to do. and I didn't. Although I worked after retiring until I was 73 I was not able to compensate for the money that I lost. Well lessons learned.

no name

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Hello everyone! I am able to live on my social security because I started working and paying taxes when I was 15 years old. I had worked consistently for most of my life, except for 7 years in the 2000 when everything went downhill for awhile. I waited until I was 70 to retire. That way I would get my maximum benefit every month. It is advisable though to live within your means and have a backup account in case of those nasty surprises, especially if you own a home.

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Newbie

That is such a sad story. I feel such cases will be on the rise due to the effect of several factors and inflation being a major one. Only yesterday I was at WalMart pharmacy counter and heard the chemists asking an elderly gentleman "Do you know how much your medications are?" He said no. She sail $137 dollars. And the guy asked, how come? These things are going to be hard to handle. I hope and pray that there is help available for people in such situation. I am sure to live off just the SS income is not going to be possible for many of us.

 

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Contributor

'split the income between married individuals (MFJ) ' - Not possible, income from an employee's W-2 cannot be 'split' on a 1040, to assign half to a spouse.  Each W-2 matches the employee and is what the IRS receives from the employer for that employee.  

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Periodic Contributor

We paid off our mortgage while still working. Keep life simple by enjoying things that are not expensive. No cable; we get movies from Netflix and our library system. No internet hook up; use our smartphones as a hotspot for internet access. Honestly, there are so many parks, shopping areas, farmers markets, etc. within a one hour drive that we are never bored. I focus more on real friends by calling or texting and now visiting than I do cyber friends. Social media is fun but not an obsession. We have funds put away for special needs, vacations or emergencies but so far have not used them. I don’t splurge on getting my nails done because I garden. There’s no point in trying to have polished nails when you’re digging in the dirt, weeding and pruning an acre of land. I have a vegetable and herb garden which I love more than nice nails. 

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Contributor

you can hook up an antenna to TIVO. but that would add 15 per month

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Periodic Contributor

We paid off our mortgage while still working. Keep life simple by enjoying things that are not expensive. No cable; we get movies from Netflix and our library system. No internet hook up; use our smartphones as a hotspot for internet access. Honestly, there are so many parks, shopping areas, farmers markets, etc. within a one hour drive that we are never bored. I focus more on real friends by calling or texting and now visiting than I do cyber friends. Social media is fun but not an obsession. We have funds put away for special needs, vacations or emergencies but so far have not used them. I don’t splurge on getting my nails done because I garden. There’s no point in trying to have polished nails when you’re digging in the dirt, weeding and pruning an acre of land. I have a vegetable and herb garden which I love more than nice nails. 

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Silver Conversationalist

CONGRATS on paying off your mortgage!!!! Lol, I am with you and the nails. I luv digging around in my garden. Thank you SO MUCH for stopping by to join our discussion 🙂 🙂 🙂

Periodic Contributor

  • Thanks Angela. It’s fun to chat with like-minded folks 😊
Silver Conversationalist

Saturday - May 15, 2021 8pm EST

 

I have also ENJOYED all of your posts @BeatriceW91311 ((hugs))

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Hello everyone! I am able to live on my social security because I started working and paying taxes when I was 15 years old. I had worked consistently for most of my life, except for 7 years in the 2000 when everything went downhill for awhile. I waited until I was 70 to retire. That way I would get my maximum benefit every month. It is advisable though to live within your means and have a backup account in case of those nasty surprises, especially if you own a home.

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Silver Conversationalist

Saturday - May 15, 2021

 

WELCOME to the AARP Community @ChristinaB813389 and so GLAD you stopped by to join our discussion 🙂 🙂 🙂 Hope you ENJOY your time with us and get a chance to check out the other forums!!!! I am here if you have any questions. Wow, started working at age 15!!!! I am impressed 😉

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Honored Social Butterfly

Living on SS is a challenged. So I admire your attitutude and your way of seeing life. I am lucky that I worked and received a pension form my job but my SS was penalized because the County that I worked for a number of years did not take out SS. So at retirement time they penalize me on the grounds that I had not pay into SS for those years and reduced my owed SS  quite a good amount. After 65 I realized that i had to continue working in order to boot my SS and at least increase what they were giving me. I worked until I was 73 but really did not gain much. That action was done by Reagan in which he penalized people that received two pension and one of them was SS. Now, I will have to rely unfortunately on my  husbands' own SS eventually. which is greater than mine but I will loose what I am getting which will in effect reduce my income. I consider myself lucky because of my county pension that will help me to not to rely just on SS. . I have always wondered as to why women who for decades always worked less years than men have always had to rely on  their husbands SS and not be able to have options when statying at home reasing a family.

no name

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Honored Social Butterfly

@Roxanna35 

I assume you did not know about the Windfall Elimination Provision - why it came into being and how you could protect yourself from it while working.  Did you not question why there were no SS payroll taxes coming out of your paycheck from that government employment?

It's Always Something . . . . Roseanna Roseannadanna
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Honored Social Butterfly

Would you believe that I didn't question as to the repercussions until 1995 and then I already had a few years in that county and was not going to resign and look for another job but tell me how could I have protected myself/?

 

no name

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Honored Social Butterfly

@Roxanna35 

To protect yourself from the Windfall Elimination Provision of Social Security:

1.  When 1st passed, many government employers joined the SS system - so at that time you and your fellow employees and/or union could have opted to be apart of the SS program and pay SS taxes.

2.  If your timing of SS earning years was substantial, you could have added to these years by working in a SS covered job or self-employment to add to the number of years that you had at least the minimum amount of wages to keep adding to your SS benefit.  The closer you get to 30 years of substantial earnings (substantial earnings as described by the SSA),  the smaller the effect of the WEP.

 

Example:  my neighbor is a Plumber.  He worked for several years with a company covered by the SS system.  Then he started working for a local school system which was not covered by the SS system but he had a pension there.

He worked for the school system long enough to get a nice pension then he retired from there and then became a self-employed plumber working at least enough to complete his 30 years of substantial earnings under the SS system.

Thus he gets both with no WEP reductions-

  • the government job pension and
  • his Social Security benefit
It's Always Something . . . . Roseanna Roseannadanna
Honored Social Butterfly

I  guess I blew it.   I should have asked for advise on what to do. and I didn't. Although I worked after retiring until I was 73 I was not able to compensate for the money that I lost. Well lessons learned.

no name

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Silver Conversationalist

Thursday - May 13, 2021

 

@Roxanna35 we ALL have made mistakes. Lol, I still do!!! Your story will help someone else. Thanks for sharing 🙂 ((hugs))

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Silver Conversationalist

Thursday - May 13, 2021

 

@Roxanna35 you did your BEST and it is NO ONE's biz whether you knew or didnot know what was going on. I no longer RESPOND to certain QUESTIONS on this board 🙂 I hope all this DRAMA does not drive you away from my discussions. Life is a CHALLENGE as it is, we do not need our BOUNDARIES violated. Again, thank you SO MUCH for sharing your story ((lots and lots of hugs coming your way))

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Silver Conversationalist

Thursday - May 13, 2021

 

Hey @GailL1    ***hmmmm, kind of inapproriate question don't you think??? If @Roxanna35 had wanted to share that info, she would have. I posted this subject for discussion ONLY 🙂 Thank you for respecting boundaries.

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Honored Social Butterfly


@AngelaRetired wrote:

Thursday - May 13, 2021

 

Hey @GailL1    ***hmmmm, kind of inapproriate question don't you think??? If @Roxanna35 had wanted to share that info, she would have. I posted this subject for discussion ONLY 🙂 Thank you for respecting boundaries.


Nope, I do not think it is an inappropriate question when discussing the particulars of Social Security benefits since she brought it up.   Many people are affected by the WEP - and for whatever reason many people don't understand what it is for and what they could have done about it way back when.  

Perhaps if all these folks who complain about being affected by the WEP had to go back and pay their fair share into the SS system (and their government employers share too), in order to get their SS benefit without any WEP, they would then have a better understanding of why it is there. 

It's Always Something . . . . Roseanna Roseannadanna
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Honored Social Butterfly


@Roxanna35 wrote:

. . I have always wondered as to why women who for decades always worked less years than men have always had to rely on  their husbands SS and not be able to have options when statying at home reasing a family.



That would be very easy to correct and without changing much except for a few spaces on the annual Married-Filing-Joint Tax Return and the SSA payroll tax reporting submitted by the employer.

Just split the income between married individuals (MFJ) - then the SSA could spit the payroll tax figure (the amount for which SS payroll tax was paid).  Isn't that what marriage is - share and share alike.  That way, both receive the same credits towards their SS benefit.  If they subsequently divorce - they carry it their own numbers with them regardless of how long they were married.

 

I see this as a win-win for each one in the married relationship regardless of who actually earns what and how much earned income.

It's Always Something . . . . Roseanna Roseannadanna
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Contributor

'split the income between married individuals (MFJ) ' - Not possible, income from an employee's W-2 cannot be 'split' on a 1040, to assign half to a spouse.  Each W-2 matches the employee and is what the IRS receives from the employer for that employee.  

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Honored Social Butterfly

@Edestiny7 

It was a suggestion only - sure beats all the Spouse divisions on the Social Security files and computations for Social Security Spousal benefits, Survivors benefits and Divorced spouse benefits.  Isn't marriage share and share alike.  Don't we want stay at home spouses who take care of their kids, parents, in-laws  or household to feel like they are actually earning something - like their own Social Security benefit.  

 

If the marriage ends, they can take their earned SS credits given to them as the result of the marriage with them and add to them whatever way they support themselves afterwards.

 

The record keeping is no big deal - that's just paperwork.

 

Here is an example of how my suggestion would help in this situation.

I know of a couple who are in their mid-40's - one of them works outside the home and the other took care of the home, kids (2) and the other spouse's mother who WAS living with them.  The stay at home spouse has never worked outside the home for as long as they have been married and very little before the marriage.

 

The stay at home spouse was gravely injured and now can no longer care for the home, kids nor the resident in law - she is completely completely and totally disabled with no hope for any change for the rest of her life.  

Their income is OK but things are tight since the working spouse has to hire somebody to do what the disabled spouse once did - the in law has moved into an assisted living facility but there is still a household and (2) kids and now some need daily living help for the disabled [injured] spouse.

 

The disabled spouse gets NO Social Security Disability because she doesn't have enough earned credits from employment to be vested in the SSDI (Social Security Disability) program and their income and asset are too high for any government aid like SSI.

 

My suggestion as to crediting each spouse with a 50% of the working credits for Social Security while married would have made her eligible for the SSDI benefit.

 

 

 

It's Always Something . . . . Roseanna Roseannadanna
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Silver Conversationalist

Saturday - May 15, 2021 6:20pm EST

 

@Edestiny7 excellent input!!! Thanks SO MUCH for stopping by to join our discussion 🙂 🙂 🙂

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Silver Conversationalist

Thursday - May 13, 2021

 

Hi @Roxanna35 thank you SO MUCH for stopping by to join our discussion 🙂 🙂 🙂 I am so sorry to hear about what happened with the county. There is so much HIDDEN stuff going on behind CLOSED doors which needs to stop!!! I had planned on working for Kroger part-time as a cashier after retiring last year July (2020) from my real job. But when the pandemic hit, my TOLERANCE for their bs ceased. Here is an EXAMPLE of hidden agendas behind closed doors. So I quit and have promised myself to NEVER shop or get gas there. Yes, my PERSONAL sratement against a TOXIC work enviroment. I now tell my only child, a Software Tester in Florida, to KEEP AN EYE AND EAR on things at her job. Sad those days of COMPANY LOYALTY has left us and with it EMPLOYEE LOYALTY. If it was not for the UNION, Kroger would have killed me physically and mentally. Lol, hated paying them but they PROTECTED me until I DECIDED to make my EXIT. Learn't over the years to exit before one is fired 🙂 The challenge in my location in VIRGINIA is my city is ALLOWING Carilion Hospital, who I use to work for, to MONOPOLIZE the area. If a doctor wants to practice here, they better sign up with Carilion. CONGRATS on making lemonade out of the lemons you were served. You go girl!!!!!

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Honored Social Butterfly

@AngelaRetired 

What do you mean by "HIDDEN" stuff going on behind CLOSED doors"?

 

It's Always Something . . . . Roseanna Roseannadanna
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Periodic Contributor

One other thing to look for when you retirement is to have a small 'tax footprint'.   The less money you have coming in, the better you are in terms of taxes. Depending on the state you retire etc, but if I can retire solely on SS benefits, it helps to reduce my taxes. Of course my thinking is that if I have money in the bank, I can draw from it 'as needed' ....and just live off SS. Pensions, annuities etc, all might add to your tax footprint.  

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Silver Conversationalist

Wednesday - May 12, 2021

 

Hi @lmans good point!!! Lol, I am told Virginia will be taxing me. I retired July 2020 and started to receive Social Security that October or November (forgot = senior moment). I did my last tax refund this year and will be missing them. So next year will be interesting. Would like to find a FUN few hours of work on MY schedule maybe next Spring when hopefully pandemic is behind us. The thing that concerns me are the continuing RUMORS/DISCUSSIONS about Social Security going away! Hmmm, never been one to sit around and WAIT for things to get worst. So looking at some OTHER ways to survive. Maybe BARTERING. Still want to move into a TINY COTTAGE but with pandemic INCREASING stuff, laying low for now. May be just a DREAM, but hey, got to keep some EXCITEMENT in my rerirement. Thanks for stopping by 🙂 🙂 🙂

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Gold Conversationalist

It’s not that bad. Especially if you dumpster dive for several meals every week.

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Periodic Contributor

Since Papa seems to have a sense of humor, I want to share a funny story. As part of my job was to make cash bank deposits, I would frequently take hundreds of dollars in quarters to the bank and feed them into the coin counter. Once done, I would take the slip to the teller and convert the amount to cash. Once converted, I would take the cash to another bank and deposit it into the City’s account. One day I approached a rather green new teller who asked me if I had won at the slot machines. I decided to have a little fun so I leaned in to him and in a whisper admitted that since my social security income doesn’t cover my expenses, a couple of friends and me go around and knock over vending machines for extra cash. Sush now, not a word of this to anyone. Well he was so convinced, wide eyed he looked at me and all he could say was “really?” I got the best laugh when I got out to my car. 

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Silver Conversationalist

LOL @BeatriceW91311 and yes,  @2Papa luvs his dumpster diving😂🤣

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Periodic Contributor

LOL!!🤣

Silver Conversationalist

April 14, 2021

 

lol @2Papa 

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Periodic Contributor

Surviving on "just" Social Security requires an emergency fund and planning. In 2019, I had to retire a few years earlier than expected and as a widow. My SS check is midway between average and maximum benefits. During the last year I worked, I researched and planned what changes I would need to make to live comfortably on my SS check. The last few years I worked, I contributed as much money as I could possibly afford to my 401k. Some things I did to make my budget balance:

1. I replaced my cable TV with an antenna and a device that will record from the antenna. It cost me the equivalent of 2 months of cable fees to buy the electronics. I pay for Disney+ and PBS passport. Youtube videos are free and there are several "free with ads" streaming services that I use. I found I could live without watching ACC basketball. Savings= $90/month. 

2. I disconnected my landline, saving $40/month. I switched my cell service to Consumer Cellular to save another $40/month. Savings= $80/month.

3. When I was working, I was spending maybe $120/month on restaurant food. The group I was meeting for breakfast on Saturday is planning to only meet twice a month, once we can meet again. Savings = $90

4. My public library provides access to online e-books and movies. I still buy 2 e-books/yr from my fave authors ongoing series. My eyesight problem precludes me from buying magazines or physical books anymore. Having that access to e-books keeps me occupied, so I don't need the cable TV.  My plan for retirement was to read as much as I want. 

5. I decreased my gift budget by half. Savings= ~$500/year

6. I decreased my charitable giving by half also. Savings= at least $400/year

7. Since I don't work, my car insurance, gasoline and car maintenance costs decreased. Not sure how much that saves me. 

8. Refinancing the house and using equity to pay off the car saved me $500/month.

9. Not working also decreased how much laundry I do by at least half and decreased my clothing purchases. Don't know how much that saves me. 

10. The Federal Government and my state don't tax my Social Security income. I don't withdraw enough money from my retirement savings to pay taxes on it. When I was working I paid about $9k in income taxes per year. Savings= ~$750/month

11. With Medicare, Medicare Supplement & Part D, I spend $50 more per month than when I worked. BUT I don't have a $3500 deductible like I did on my employer's health insurance. 

12. I have time to cook, so I spend less on groceries. When I worked I didn't cook much, but bought packaged and frozen meals. My grocery budget is down by ~$150/month.

 

These are some of the ways I've managed to live on my Social Security check. I had hoped to do a little traveling, but COVID interfered with that. Maybe in 2021 that will happen. 

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