Curious how your spending and money management stack up? In this series, we talk to real folks just like you, who’ve shared their tales of spending, saving, and searching for loose change.
Today, we hear from Patty, a 55-year-old mother of two in Oregon. Although her children are all grown up and out of the house, Patty has always been a mom first and a paralegal second. After 15 years of experience, she really knows her way around a good contract. She’s learning what it’s like to support someone close to her, while also saving for her own future. Retirement is just around the corner, and she’s ready to make the most of it — whether it’s in the mountains or the beaches of the Pacific Northwest. See how Patty plans on closing the door on her career while opening a new one in retirement.
Salary: $150,000+ (combined with partner)
Roth IRA: $100 Rollover IRA
Savings: $0 - My husband puts about $500 away every month for us, but I personally don’t.
Employer-sponsored retirement plan: $100
Housing costs: $2,400 plus $500-$600 for her mother’s expenses
Groceries and home supplies: $500
Dining out: $300
Health, dental, and vision insurance: $800
Auto, homeowner, and umbrella liability insurance: $250
Life insurance premium: $50 Utilities: $150
Internet/digital: $180 – includes a landline
Cell phone: $300
Gym membership: $0
Pet grooming: $0
Credit card debt payments: $300
How difficult is it for you to put money away for retirement? Have you had to give up anything?
I contribute a nominal amount to a rollover IRA and my employer contributes to my HSA. It is a bit difficult to contribute more since I pay for cash expenses for my mother in the amount of $500 to $600 a month. That will be ongoing for some time. I know that if I wasn’t contributing that amount it would be much easier to contribute to my retirement fund, but that’s life!
If you had to put away more money for your retirement, what would you cut out of your budget?
I would say I could probably dine out less. But at this point, it’s a luxury of convenience that I’m willing to accept until I need to tighten my expenses more. It’s always incredible to me how much more you can get at the grocery store compared to the bill that comes at the end of a meal at a restaurant. But my time commitment to cooking has a value, too. I’m sure many other people see it that way as well.
What are your retirement goals? What age do you want to retire? What do you want to do in retirement?
I dream of being able to live comfortably. I want to have a home or condo in the mountains of Oregon and a home by the ocean somewhere in the Pacific Northwest. I want to enjoy my family, volunteer, and travel. All of that considered, I anticipate retiring around age 65 to 68, which I’m excited to say is coming up rather quickly!
What does “health” mean to you?
To me, health means investing in your well-being now — at a younger age — so that when you’re able to enjoy retirement, you’re really able to enjoy it. I picture myself hiking in the mountains and walking along the beach. I know unless I put in the time and energy now, I may not be able to participate in those dreams. That’s why I eat healthily and get some exercise because that’s part of my greatest investment.
Are there luxuries you’ll always need to include in your budget? Housecleaner? Grocery shopper?
Nope, I’m sure I have luxuries that others don’t enjoy. But, for the most part, I’m living a simple life with my husband, and we take care of all of these things ourselves. In addition to saving for retirement, what are some of the big picture items you are wanting to invest in? Well, I’d really love those two houses I mentioned before, and though it seems like a stretch, I like to set my goals high in many parts of my life. However, I think if I can afford to purchase one of those homes, I’ll be more than happy. I think it’s important to keep pushing oneself, whether it’s with your wealth or with your health, to be the best version of yourself that you can be.
What intimidates you in planning for retirement or what questions do you still have?
The need for actual cash flow once I am without a salary is intimidating, but it’s because I’ve never had to experience that before. The need for security in retirement also gives me pause. But I have a supportive husband and family, and I know that together we’ll make it work and enjoy our lives no matter what. The ability to catch up to our retirement is something we’ll utilize by putting more money away now that we’re over 50.
Patty is so close to retirement, she can almost taste it. She knows that now, more than ever, it’s important for her to contribute to the future of her health. She has big goals for her days without a full-time job, and she plans to make the most of them.
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