Dear Liz: I’m 56, make $30,000 and have no credit card debt. I rent and I have no assets except for about $350,000 to $400,000 in cash, stocks, oil and gas leases and property that I will inherit from my mom’s living trust. She is 85 years old. Are there any specific suggestions you would give me to be preparing for my retirement years?
Answer: Let’s be clear: You have no assets. Your mother does, and she may plan to give those to you, but those plans could change. She may well need her money for living expenses and long-term care, which could easily eat up that nest egg.
So you need to start saving on your own for retirement. You may think you can’t live on less than you are now, but make no mistake: You’ll be living on significantly less if you don’t save. Your Social Security benefit, if you retire at 66, will be around $1,000 a month.
If you have a workplace retirement plan such as a 401(k), start contributing to that. If you don’t, put money aside in an individual retirement account. If your adjusted gross income is under $27,750, you may qualify for a tax credit that can help you, known as the Retirement Savings Contributions Credit or Savers Credit. (You’ll use Form 8880 to figure the credit; visit http://www.irs.gov for more information.)