Saturday, September 10, 2022

Old, Broke, and...Homeless?

This topic of aging, being broke, and ending up homeless has been top of mind for a while now.  Ever since I started watching the Cheap RV Living videos on YouTube and realized that a majority of people Bob features on his channel are living in their vehicles by circumstance and not by choice, it made me wonder where me, my friends, the kids, and grandkids could end up when we get older.  Scary stuff!  

Then I saw this post over at Barbara's blog and it kind of reinforced the idea that people--all people--need a plan so they don't end up homeless in their old age.  Obviously this "have a plan" idea has a lot of limitations.  If you are already old, you really don't have time to make significant changes to suddenly give yourself a fat and fluffy retirement income.  On the other hand, if you are young, the days of robust pension plans for your old age are pretty much gone now.  Eeekkk

So where does that leave us?  In our case, we are doing fine financially now as hubby has two pensions plus social security coming in.  However (a big however!) is that all of this money will stop when he dies and if he dies before me (he is 20 years older than I am) I will be toast financially.  Not completely, but it sure is nice to have a good chunk of guaranteed monthly income for the rest of your life as we have now.

My plan so far...

  • we are working diligently to pay off the house.  Not having to pay a mortgage or rent is a huge deal if you are on a limited income.
  • we have been looking at the idea of selling our house (we have quite a bit of equity in it at this point) and moving to a state with a lower cost of living then just buying a small house with cash and banking the rest.
  • we have also considered selling the house, moving to a LCOL area, and buying a bigger house so the kids and grandkids could move in if needed as some of them are in precarious financial positions right now.  Since I don't really want to live with a bunch of people 24/7 we have also considered moving to a LCOL area and buying enough land that they could put RVs or tiny houses on it if they needed a cheap place to live then we could build a house on the same property to suit our needs.  
  • we have considered living in the Philippines where hubby is originally from but, even though it would be cheaper to live there, it would be financially disastrous because he has A LOT of relatives there and any time someone had a financial emergency he would be obliged to help them then we would end up broke.
  • we are saving money every month so at least I would have a few years of financial cushion to figure out what I would want to do if the worst happens.
  • we live frugally now and I could cut back even more if needed so I guess these are good skills to develop in case worse comes to worst.
  • my social security will kick in in about ten years (if it is still a solvent program then!).
  • I *could* live in a van or RV which is a cheaper way to live but we have had an RV before and while it is great for traveling and vacations, I wouldn't want to live in one full time.  Plus, what happens when one gets too sick or too old to drive or the vehicle needs to be replaced (have you seen the cost of vehicles these days???)?
  • I could move in with the kids, grandkids (several are adults now), family or friends (one friend decided that I WILL live with her in my old age but I like my privacy even though she is a very sweet lady).  Again, at this point I don't really want to live with roommates (once in college was enough!) but apparently many older people are doing this as a way to save money. 
  • I am trying my hand at investing, so far it is unclear how this will work out.  I've almost always worked for myself so never had the opportunity to have a pension but I would like some sort of investment income so I have put money into a mutual fund and put a bit of money into buying individual stocks.
  • I could always go back to work or start another business.  While I like doing small project contract work which I still do on occasion, I don't really like the idea of a full time job or working non-stop to get another business started.
  • I could rent out the guest rooms in our house either to roommates or through Air BnB.  Again, these can be good sources of income but I don't really want to have strangers--or anyone--in my house long term.
  • we carry no debt and our car is paid off.  And we intend to keep it that way.  Having debt payments every month on top of regular living expenses would be expensive, horrible and very stressful!
  • I watch a lot of videos on how not to be homeless or what to do if you become homeless so I guess that is a good way to have some skills if I end up in a bad situation.
  • other ways to give myself more options: improve my health (better to be healthy than be too ill to function if one is cast into a precarious financial situation.  A lot of physically and mentally ill people are just dumped onto the streets these days even if they can't really take care of themselves).  Also, maintaining and improving relationships means you will always have someone to take you in during a crisis.  I keep up with marketable job skills just in case I need them in the future.  And I am forever watching how-to videos on YouTube in case I need to build out a van or build a make-shift cabin in the woods...never know when those skills will come in handy!

On an unrelated note, you can get free museum tickets here for Museum Day next Saturday and here is $5 off on a haircut.


  1. You must still be quite young if SS doesn't kick in fully for another 10 years. I forget, do you still work outside the home? Might you start if not, or increase hours if only part time just to add savings and perhaps more life insurance? I think the downsizing is a good option.

  2. I have wondered about living in a RV, how it would be. I like to sew and cook and do things. So, I am not sure there would be enough room. Going outside and sitting on a carpet in a chair with table and things out there is just not me--too many allergies, cannot take the heat, cannot get things in and out of the RV. So, I certainly hope to have a place to live. Since I will be 76 tomorrow, I am just too old for being a nomad.

    1. I like that Cheap RV Living and many of his friends have started RV/car living videos to help older people who find themselves living in a car. In a way it looks like a lot of fun and like they get to meet wonderful people but still, I am sure there are several issues that aren't that great with that style of living!

  3. Focusing on having a paid off home will give you a lot of flexibility, as well as a large savings/investment cushion. What is your current plan, if DH passes before you? Do you have a life insurance policy for him? That would also be another way to guarantee you are financially solvent?

    1. No insurance policy (actually signing up for life insurance several years ago and him getting turned down because of health issues is what started me worrying about my financial future!). At the time he retired from the military 30+ years ago there was an option to pay for service members life insurance which we opted out of because I was very young but earning enough that I was financially stable and didn't think it would make sense to pay the high monthly cost for what I guessed would be 50+ years (hopefully more) before he passed away. There is probably a whole subset of financial planning advice for large age-gap relationships somewhere!