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Dealing with unexpected retirement expenses

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Landing another job post-retirement. For those whose plans include supplementing retirement income with another job, it might not be that easy. The entry-level job market for older workers seems to be shrinking and the jobs that do exist usually have few, if any, benefits.

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Counting on your home's value to rise. Maybe. Maybe not. A home is worth only what someone is willing to pay for it. If you've neglected to keep up with the repairs, if it's a buyer's market, if the area in which it's located starts a downhill slide, then your home's value can take a dive.

The cost of living outpaces your income. Think that won't happen? How much was your electric bill 10 years ago? What about your other utilities? Or a gallon of gasoline or milk or kitchen cleaner or ... well, you get the idea.

If you're thinking, "This won't happen to me," here's hoping your trust fund's fat enough to see you through. Struggling to make ends meet isn't exactly how most see their golden years. But the good news is a financially secure retirement's still possible if you plan ahead.

Taking control: the story of Jack and Jenny
Jack, 62, is a military retiree. His wife, Jenny, 40ish, works on an assembly line and has some symptoms of repetitive motion-related health problems. Jack holds a part-time job that he's cut back on so he can keep his income low enough to pull down Social Security. His Social Security check is less than $900 a month; he also receives military retirement of less than $2,000 each month. They have one minor child at home.

Jenny's worried about their future because Jack earns only $11 an hour for three days' work a week. They have Tricare -- military health insurance for dependents and retirees -- and took out survivor's benefits for Jenny, so she'll continue to receive Jack's military retirement check if he should die.

They're several years away from paying off their home, but Jack's already trying to convince Jenny to secure a new conventional mortgage on the house once they own it, and use the cash to travel and buy a larger home, while renting the one they now occupy. He also wants to use Jenny's 401(k) plan -- the only retirement benefit she has associated with her job -- to pay for their son's education.

Jenny thinks both ideas are off the mark. She points out she is likely to outlive Jack and doesn't want to be left with a house payment on two homes, as well as no retirement income of her own.

Next: Don't depend on the government for most of your income.
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