Wealth + Health Diaries Real-Life Stories from Real-Life People - Stuart


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Curious how your spending and money management stack up? In this Wealth + Health Diary, 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 Stuart, a 71-year-old retiree in Texas. Stuart served in the military and also held a position in nonprofit development, as well as a private leadership and training development company. He loves working on classic cars, staying healthy enough to keep working on those cars, and has aspirations to contribute to his grandchildren’s education when they’re old enough. You could say he’s looking for that “#1 Grandpa” Award.



Occupation: Retired

Industry:  Military, leadership and training development, nonprofit development
Age: 71
Location: Dallas/Fort Worth, TX


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  •  Pension: $110,000. The military pays me 85% of my salary because I’m a retired colonel in the Air Force, plus Social Security.
  • Roth IRA (per month):  $0. No longer contributing
  • Savings (per month): $2,500
  • Employer-sponsored retirement plan (per month):  $0. I take distributions from a regular IRA and self-employed pension plan at $250 per month, which I deposit back into a savings account.


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  • Housing Costs: I own the property outright and pay my property taxes in a lump sum. If I divided them into monthly payments, it would equal $439 a month.
  • Groceries and household supplies: $600
  • Dining out: $700
  • Loans: None
  • Health, dental, & vision insurance: $131 for health (Medicare and Tricare), vision (Tricare), and dental
  • Auto, homeowner, and umbrella liability insurance: $350
  • Life insurance premium: $75
  • Utilities: $200
  • Internet/digital expenses: $63
  • Lawn service: $60
  • Cell phone: $110
  • Credit card debt payments: None. I pay off the balance every month, even though I pay all bills and entertainment with the credit cards.



How difficult was it for you to put money away for retirement?

Not too bad. I’m pretty thrifty. Not to be confused with being cheap — mind you — but I do love to save money and invest conservatively. I used a defined benefit plan as the primary source of my retirement, and I also factored in Social Security estimates, a paid-up mortgage, and investments.


Have you had to give up anything?

We gave up travel because of my spouse’s health condition. But to be honest, we’ve never lived lavishly. We moved every 3 to 4 years with the Air Force, and they always took care of us where we were. I’ve just been able to be conservative all my life. And even when I was saving for retirement, I never yearned for the flashiest cars or the cool new toys. My health and my family’s health is enough riches for me — and always has been.


If you had to put away more money for your retirement, what would you cut out of your budget when you were younger?

Eating out and maybe hobbies, which for me is working on classic cars. And I know I’m kind of contradicting myself here, talking about cars, but I do love classic cars and the feeling of working on something that may have been otherwise forgotten. But maybe I would’ve just done it less.


What were your retirement goals?

You’re looking at them! But seriously, I’d say at one time my goals were to have enough income to sustain a comfortable lifestyle and be able to afford a retirement community when necessary — or assisted living if needed — without being a burden to my children. Though I’m sure they didn’t like my conservative spending habits when they were younger, I bet they’re enjoying the way I saved my money now!


What age did you dream of retiring?

My goal was 75 years old, but with my spouse’s health condition, I needed to reduce my retirement age to 69 so I could help out more. I just loved to work. So even though 75 may seem pretty old, for me, it just meant I would be healthy enough to continue doing what I love. Good health allows you to partake in life’s blessings like family, hobbies, sports, and our social lives.


What do you enjoy in retirement?

Visiting with my grandchildren, pursuing hobbies, and taking adult education classes. I also just enjoy my health and being able to share that with my family. You never realize how important it is until you need it.


What does health mean to you?

Health is being able to live with vitality and energy. It is a combination of physical and mental/emotional elements. While it’s important to strive to prevent injury and disease, health is your personal sense of well-being overall.


Are there luxuries that you always need to include in your budget? Housecleaner? Grocery shopper?

Yes, a part-time home aide for my spouse. But would I consider that a luxury? Probably not. I’ve put enough away from being a good saver. So, this isn’t a burden or a luxury for us, but rather a way of life.


Have you ever worked with a financial planner?

I’ve never had a financial planner. Instead, I’ve relied on advice from my brokerage, banks, and insurance companies. Don’t financial planners cost a lot of money? I’m just kidding. Sometimes my thrifty Scotsman mentality gets the best of me.


In addition to saving for retirement, what are some of the big-picture items you always wanted to invest in?

My grandchildren’s education. I’ve raised my children well enough to know they won’t spoil the heck out of their kids — and they shouldn’t — because that’s a grandpa’s job! If I can give them the gift of a college education without the burden of student loans, then that’s what I’m going to do.


What intimidates you when planning for the rest of your retirement?

The cost of long-term care. I believe I’ve set my family up for success, but you really never know what’s going to happen. All I can do is pay attention to my health and the health of my loved ones.



Stuart is a retiree who hasn’t slowed down much in retirement — and that’s how he likes it. Preparing for his future has meant planning for his family’s future, too. He wants to know that everyone will be in good hands, and that’s what makes Wealth + Health important to him.




Neither Transamerica nor its agents or representatives may provide tax, investment or legal advice.  Anyone to whom this material is promoted, marketed, or recommended should consult with and rely on their own independent tax and legal advisors and financial professional regarding their particular situation and the concepts presented herein.




This would surely be a good series for those thinking about retirement.  However, I believe the average "pension" most Americans will have in retirement falls far below $100,000 per year.  I'm sure most of your readers would appreciate more realistic stories about people retiring on smaller pensions.  


That was the most unrealistic article on retirement for the majority of baby boomers. Most of us will not have a pension at all, we will have only what WE have been able to save in a 401k and a little splash of Social Security. 

Hearing the amount of pension money that government workers get makes the rest of us in the private sector feel very annoyed at the inequality. Just sayin...