Millions of Americans nearing retirement age with no savings
Cumberland, Rhode Island — Maryann O’Connor is juggling two jobs, sometimes working up to 11 hours per day, not what she expected to be doing at age 66.
“I would hope to be retired, playing the piano again, just enjoying my life,” O’Connor said.
With no savings or 401(k) — not even enough to cover an emergency — she sold her home and bought a smaller one with two other women.
“It’s been a matter of life and death,” she said of her current financial situation.
Millions of Americans nearing their golden years are still financially unprepared for retirement. According to U.S. Census Bureau data, 50% of women and 47% of men between the ages of 55 and 66 have no retirement savings.
O’Connor, who adopted and raised three children as a single mother, said she knew she would be in that group.
“I have a live-for-now philosophy, I guess,” O’Connor said.
For her and others without a nest egg, experts said it is not too late to make a plan. According to the AARP, that includes continuing to work, lowering your cost of living, saving when you can and delaying social security benefits until age 70 in order to get the largest monthly check possible. You should also avoid risky investments that you think will make up for the lost time.
“The higher the promised returns, the more you want to do in real research before you put your money in something like that,” said David John, a senior policy adviser for the AARP Public Policy Institute.
According to AARP, nearly 57 million Americans work for an employer that does not offer a retirement savings plan. O’Connor said her advice to young people is to start saving now.
“I wish I had started earlier,” O’Connor said. “But I guess I would now say that they need to start planning as early as they can.”
As for O’Connor, she’s continuing to work. She formed a company that plans trips for groups of women, and that allows her to see the world for herself, even if she’s working while doing it.