What to do when you're 50 and broke

What to do when you're 50 and brokeBeing 50 and broke isn't so unusual these days. There are a lot of Boomers whose savings was devastated by the decline in the stock market; whose jobs went out from under them; and who leveraged themselves to the extent that they lost their house or even had to declare bankruptcy.

If that's you, what do you do next?

Here are six steps to solvency, some of them inspired by Investopedia:
  • Get up off your duff. Just sitting there and feeling sorry for yourself doesn't help.

  • Find work -- at least one job, maybe two. It's tough but not impossible to find a job when you are over the hill. Even if you don't live close to any of the employers listed in AARP's biennial Best Employers for Workers Over 50, just studying the kinds of companies that find life experience worth having could lead you to a new opportunity. A second job in retail or something similar will give you more money to pour into your depleted savings.
  • Spend less. When you get to be 50 and the kids are out on their own, it feels like you ought to be able to reward yourself, but in tough times, cutting back is the only way to go. Do your own lawn and home maintenance. Buy a used car – forget that expensive lease – and drive it for the next 10 or 15 years. Make stay-cations a way of life. Take advantage of twilight golf discounts. And cut out pricey restaurant meals.
  • Save more. Kiplinger says if you're smart about it, you can accumulated nearly $500,000 in savings in 10 years. That assumes that you are going to earn enough to save $22,000 a year – the maximum the government will let you put in an IRA if you're 50 or over – and that your employer is going kick in a generous amount while your money is earning better than today's interest. Even if that picture seems unrealistic, you can still squirrel away a lot of you put your mind to it and pay yourself first.
  • Delay retirement. Early retirement is over-rated anyway. According to the Book of Odds, the chances that a 50-year-old will live to be 100 are 1 in 37.34. It may sound like a long shot, but lots of horses have won big with odds way worse than that.
  • Think differently. There are lots of inexpensive retirement options, including living abroad in an inexpensive but beautiful place. Spend your time dreaming instead of spending money.

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