Seniors Squeeze By: Design a Budget that Works

Aug 20th, 2010 | By Dr Jerry D Elrod | Category: Senior Moments Blog

Projecting just how one or two will get by in the continuing downturn requires designing a disciplined course.  Among the givens in most budgeting are these:

  • Groceries, (includes eating out) 
  • Household expenses
  • Auto expenses and insurance for both
  • Health and Medical Insurance
  • Family related expenses and gifts
  • Property Tax
  • other taxes
  • Charitable contributions
  • Medical expense.  

This list is absolute bare bones and omits some, most will find difficult, if not impossible to exclude. 

The prognosticators suggest that the downturn, recession, call it what you will, will carry over into 2011, perhaps beyond.  Considering belt tightening measures now may create the possibility to practice and to learn how to live within the restricted boundaries, very likely to be realistic and necessary in the coming months. 

We have begun work on ours and are finding that expense to income ratio still is not where it will need to be by the time the calendar turns.  Many seniors are spending more than they have income to cover.  If  that is true now, imagine where fudging will  begin to rear its head advocating for things we just can’t do or live without.  That is a sure sign for trouble ahead. 

Frankly, the wise move is to install a last quarter budget right now.  Project your anticipated income and expenses over sixteen months.  See how difficult or possible it will be, starting September 1, to impose the practice of tightening absolutely every expense, of living within your budget, of eliminating any unanticipated or unnecessary expenses. 

Imagine if you were, like so many, living on unemployment, or worse, that the unemployment compensation checks have run their course.  Imagine that you have been able to find a job, but your income is at about two-thirds of what it had been.  Create a scenario in which you are faced with having to make worst case choices.  How, what would you be able to cut? 

Now design your budget.  Call in everyone in your nuclear family to consider, debate, struggle with the issues that will eventually impact everyone in the family.  Make the hard choices of selecting out those items that you have thought were critical to your ego, satisfaction, existence.  Decide collectively what is really important now.  Determine what options there are that may ease some of the pain.  Anticipate how you are going to get through the holidays this year by saying no.  Resist impulse shopping. 

Much of this is and has already been real to many persons without employment and income .  Circumstances are such that there isn’t enough income to even create a budget beyond housing, food and utilities.  Having that much now defines luxury for many.  This is the picture of many who have and will stand in lines, with little to no hope of securing a job.  This is where it is for many whose lives feel like a train wreck, in which no one knows what will happen next. 

If  “America is great because she is good,” as President Eisenhower once noted, then as he also reminded “and if America ever ceases to be good, she will also cease to be great.”    It is time for an expression of our goodness, reaching out, lifting up, “doing unto others as we would have them do unto us.”



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