- Know the risks of stocks and bonds
- Crunch the numbers
- Worry less by downsizing your plans
- Control what you can including spending
The advice is laced with what are probably savvy suggestions for making the decision between stocks and bonds, calculating risk and evaluating the value of a pension, no matter how small.
As I read it, I couldn't help thinking about my 85-year-old mother-in-law, a recent widow. She and her late husband, a former draftsman, lived in retirement for 20 years – on his pension, banking most of their combined Social Security.
After her husband's funeral, my husband, a certified public accountant, sat down to help his mother unravel the complexities of changing joint accounts into single ones. He also was concerned that without some of her husband's income, his mother might have trouble making ends meet.
It was quickly clear that nobody had to worry for a New-York minute about my mother-in-law's financial well being. Her money-management skills, honed in the Great Depression, have almost guaranteed continuing financial security for as long as she needs it.
Money magazine has some good money management advice, but It's not any better than my mother-in-law's. Here are some of her tips for a long, prosperous retirement:
- Don't buy what you don't need. And if you have to buy something, get it at the thrift shop. Just because it's used doesn't mean it isn't good.
- Save on the small stuff. It adds up. Use paper towels, not napkins. Paper towels are cheaper. And hang the clothes out to dry on a line. They smell better and it's free.
- If you have savings taken out automatically, you won't miss the money.
- Pay off the house. When you're old, you can't afford a mortgage.
- Buy a small, used car, take care of it. Keep it for at least 20 years.
- Put your money in several accounts. If something happens to one, you'll always have the others.
- Buy savings bonds. They're hard to cash, so you won't do it.
- Talk to the bank. Make sure you're getting a good deal.
- Do what the doctor tells you. Being sick is expensive.
- Pay in cash. Credit cards are for rich people. If you have to have one, keep it in the drawer.
- Keep working. Otherwise, you'll just sit around, watch TV, eat and get fat.
- Don't drink. It costs money.