What's a Retiree To Do?

By Evelyn (Evie) Preston

Q: How else do retirees fill gaps to stave off the “wolf at the door” in tough times?

Always continue “saving.” Squirrel away a few extra dollars, shave spending, downsize, seek part-time employment (tutoring, clerking, etc.) and even turn hobbies into small cash enterprises.

Those “tough times” have been the catalyst for unplanned entrepreneurship (a design studio, bake shop, etc.) that has surprisingly enhanced retirement in both treasure and pleasure.

Q: Any other unique ideas?

One smart, married friend advises handing total financial planning to the lady of the house. We agree that women make excellent investors and wise savers. They deal with the basics: regular meals, monthly bills, daily necessities as well as “on-growing” needs like college funds.

From bathroom tissue to ground beef, women seem to mentally register the costs of living, adjust accordingly and calculate wisely and they love sales!

There have long been stories about mom’s cookie jar cash so, it’s not called “hanging on to the purse strings” for nothing. Frankly, the shopaholic and gold-digger jokes belong to a patriarchal past. There are more women in the workforce (from caregivers to CEOs) than ever before.

Q: With problems from weather to layoffs, is there any government help?

This year, my wise former colleague and watchful planner reminded me, California’s State and Federal taxes aren’t due until mid-October—a happy break!

While many have already paid Uncle Sam and/or the State, there’s still time to fund or beef up IRAs and other retirement contributions.

If still working, try to match employer contributions up to the limit. It’s a great year to take advantage of the late autumn filing date along with lower investment costs.

Q: If current costs are a stretch, it’s hard to add to retirement. What’s a general strategy besides financial belt-tightening?

Don’t panic or sell because the market’s down. During my 50+ years of investing, I’ve weathered several steep downturns from soon after I first invested to a Black Friday, several burst bubbles, a bumpy ride of highs and lows and on to this latest free fall from the heady highs of the recent past.

Click around the internet to check on the myriad studies showing that just 10 days out of the market between lows (when many moved to cash) to the next curve toward a new high (and most miss the moment to reinvest) can greatly lower our overall return. Both pros and ordinary investors fail to find the sweet spot to jump back into the market.

Some experts predict that this buy, hold (and pray) strategy no longer fits in our go-go, techno, data-driven world. All I know is that a long-term strategy has served me well and cost less over the long haul. TIME IN the market vs. TIMING the market has yet to go out of style.

Evelyn (Evie) Preston is a financial columnist for A050 and worked as a financial advisor for over 25 years. Reach her at [email protected].

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