Retirement: a real life view

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A comment posted by reader John Crowley to yesterday’s blog about managing retirement income said he thought the retirement planning estimates of what it takes to live comfortably are too high, so I contacted him and in response to my email, Crowley wrote:

“I feel that many projections of what it takes to live comfortably in retirement are way off. I am a retired postal worker. I get $1,550 in Social Security and about $1,100 in a pension.  That gives me an annual income of $31,000. After paying for medical insurance, we have $25,200 to live on.

“I am 62 and I have been retired for a little less than two years. I own my home, a truck, a car and a small boat, two dogs and two cats. I owe nothing on credit accounts. I am pretty handy for repairs and heat my house with firewood that I get for free.

“My wife and I go out when we want, but we are careful how we spend money. We are in good health.

“I have about $250,000 in savings, most of it in an IRA. I dabble in the stock market and the rest of my money is in CDs. As of today, my net worth in cash is about $2,000 less than when I retired. That’s because we took a trip to Ireland that cost me about $3,500.

“As you can see, this is a far cry from the $1 million that Fidelity Investments says I need. I made about $70,000 a year when I was employed and had a mortgage, but I lived on less because I had to save and pay other expenses that I don’t have now.”

Do you think Crowley is right? Are you living in retirement on less than $50,000 per year and avoiding an all-kibble diet?


  • How much do you think it takes to retire comfortably?
  • If you see $50,000 or less as a reasonable amount today, how will you cope with inflation down the road?
  • If you live on $50,000 or less, do you own your own home and are you otherwise debt-free?
  • Are you concerned about paying for health care?
  • How do you intend to pay for long-term care if you should need it?
  • In what part of the country do you live? Does that make a difference?
  • Do you like the way you’re living?
  • What would you change if you could to make life better?
Please post your thoughts to the comments section, and I’ll compile and summarize them in upcoming blog posts. Maybe we can inspire each other.