Retirement Blog

Finance Blogs » Retirement Blog » 5 steps when you’re 60 and broke

5 steps when you’re 60 and broke

By Jennie L. Phipps ·
Monday, October 4, 2010
Posted: 4 pm ET

In response to yesterday's retirement planning blog, I received this e-mail -- one of several notes from people with similar concerns.

"I'm two years into unemployment and the benefits are running out. I'm 63 years old and there are no job prospects in sight. Taking Social Security early reduces benefits with no provisions for an increase when you need it later. What are people like me supposed to do?"

Here are five things to do when you are 60 and broke. None of them insure that retirement will be comfortable, but they will buy you time while you figure out a better plan.

  1. Find a job. Fast food, customer service, substitute teaching and cleaning are all jobs that are available in most parts of the country, even when times are tough. They don't pay much more than minimum wage, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do just to pay the bills.
  2. Cut your housing costs. Between 2005 and 2009, more than 3.8 million people moved in with their relatives, according to the U.S. Census. Moving in with somebody else or renting out a room to split the costs is a time-honored strategy when times are tough.
  3. Reduce the cost of owning a car. Defaulting is a bad idea because even if you turn the car back voluntarily, your lender will want you to pay the difference between what the lender was able to sell the vehicle for at auction and what you owed. Try putting the vehicle up for sale yourself. Even if you have to make up the difference, you'll pay less. Replace those wheels with a used car that you pay cash for. Getting rid of that car note will help you cut your  auto insurance costs -- on an old car on which you don't owe money, you can carry cheap liability insurance only.
  4. Don't be too proud to apply for whatever help you can get. One good place to start is the government's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, which used to be known as food stamps. This program will help you with the essentials.
  5. Keep your health insurance. Under health care reform, there should already be a high-risk health insurance plan available to you -- even if you have a pre-existing condition. Find a knowledgeable insurance agent and ask for help locating an appropriate policy. You'll probably have to accept a plan with a high deductible, but  that's better than having no insurance at all.

If it's any consolation, you're not alone. A study from The Hartford Financial Services Group has found that more than 28 percent of people between the ages of 60 and 69 have "no idea" when they will be able to retire, and more than 33 percent 70 and older are in the same boat.

Bankrate wants to hear from you and encourages comments. We ask that you stay on topic, respect other people's opinions, and avoid profanity, offensive statements, and illegal content. Please keep in mind that we reserve the right to (but are not obligated to) edit or delete your comments. Please avoid posting private or confidential information, and also keep in mind that anything you post may be disclosed, published, transmitted or reused.

By submitting a post, you agree to be bound by Bankrate's terms of use. Please refer to Bankrate's privacy policy for more information regarding Bankrate's privacy practices.
November 05, 2010 at 11:07 am

Now let me see if I understand this correctly. The person is broke.If he sells his car for a loss where does the money come from to pay the difference if he sells his car for less? Where does he get the money to pay cash for a used car?

November 05, 2010 at 12:48 am

I am really tired of these websites telling me that it would be better to have a high deductable insurance instead of no insurance at all. At my current age of 63, even AFLAC or catastrophic insurance is over $500 a month. Since I'm a renter, live off my $1200 Social Security check, and have a mere $30,000 left in my IRA, it's actually a better gamble to have no insurance and take the risk of going to the county if anything serious should happen. If I end up with a major hospital bill even the bankruptcy court will let me keep my $30,000.

November 04, 2010 at 2:19 pm

you've been trying to get pregnant for almost a year?!?? If you're 63 years old and have been trying to get pregnant for over a year, then good for you. If nothing else its a great way to keep the stress down 😉

Kristy Powers
October 12, 2010 at 5:46 pm

WOW.....Im curious as to what train you got off on recently, as for sometime, in most large cities across the country and for sure, Southern CA where I am, #1 - jobs are unavailable for 63 yr old food, customer svc they are not hiring us eperienced cleaning - is down, no one is spending the $$ to clean, - the past cleaners are looking for other work! Sure would like to hear new suggestions that may help us? and #4 - other than food stamps, which is still available, there are NO other agencies - gov. or private that have any $$ to help those of us "white" - between the age of 21 and 65 unless you have children at home or pregnant.....there is no money....(that's a quote from the people in the gov. agencies! - they suggested I get pregnant!!!!)....I have been trying for almost a, if you can suggest specific programs it would be very much appreciated - but PLEASE - do more homework, and don't make it sound easy to do these 5 things......they are pretty much NOT AVAILABLE.....we are in very scary times. REALLY WANT TO WORK!