BH could you live off your SS benefit?

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BlueCable
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Re: BH could you live off your SS benefit?

Post by BlueCable »

Still in working years, but looking ahead to expected SS benefit at 70: yes, we could, especially if the house is paid off. LCOL plus dual high incomes.

I'm planning to use this fact to retire early once a 3.5% withdrawal rate supports our needs. SS will massively reduce our withdrawal rate at 70. Of course, we still need enough savings to support the surviving spouse if the other dies early and SS income is halved.

The "full" amount of SS would be more spending than we do now. The 70% figure that I use in my planning would be just enough to get by if we still had the mortgage.
Last edited by BlueCable on Sat Mar 02, 2019 8:31 am, edited 3 times in total.
Theseus
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Re: BH could you live off your SS benefit?

Post by Theseus »

My answer 30 years ago would have been yes. But since then our income increased dramatically and our lifestyle has creeped up quite a bit. So it will be very very difficult adjustment to live off the SS. I will probably consider moving to a cheaper country or location.
Tdubs
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Re: BH could you live off your SS benefit?

Post by Tdubs »

A lot of the answers in this thread keep trying to shove other income into the calculation. If I only include SS--no retirement savings to speak of, no pension or the dandy medical coverage that goes with it--then:

At 62, really hard to imagine but possible. We would have about $40k in SS--anyone CAN live on that to meet the essentials of life (move to Fort Meade, FL or Toledo, OH, get a double-wide, shop at Aldi, eat meat no more than three times a week), but ACA coverage would really be roll of the dice and the generosity of the state plan might determine where you have to live. Any significant medical event would create a serious cycle of debt as you cover deductibles with credit cards.

At 65, I think this is where "secure retirement" starts to fit into the sentence for the two of us. Medicare solves a lot of risk. About 20% more income, same living arrangement as a retirement at 62.

FRA, 66 and 10 months: As long as the two of us are alive, this SS-only retirement would be pretty comfortable, about $60k. I could even imagine the survivor eking it out alone in an efficiency somewhere on just my SS income. Could likely save some money. Target an inexpensive area that also provides senior transportation and flats with no stairs and handicap friendly.

SS at 70: At this point, I might not even need to move out of my home in MD. Income above $70k for the two of us. House is a ranch with a ramp in the garage. But the risk of long-term care starts to hang over everything, as well as the need to hire people to perform basic household chores. When one of us dies, might need to rely on moving in with the kids.

The common thread here is avoiding the risk of health-related costs, having two SS checks, and, except in the best case, finding a new living arrangement that is cheap, senior-friendly, and has no surprises.
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Re: BH could you live off your SS benefit?

Post by dknightd »

Probably, but it would not be easy.
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midareff
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Re: BH could you live off your SS benefit?

Post by midareff »

I do not see any way I could. .. but then again, if you have to, you have to.
Yooper16
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Re: BH could you live off your SS benefit?

Post by Yooper16 »

Not certain what spouses SS would be as he is retired CSRS postal worker. However we come pretty close to "surviving" on his pension. Will say we possibly could as we live in a LCOL area but with pretty high heating bills for the winter months.

If I double my SS it comes in a couple of thousand below his pension--we get hit with the WEP for SS survivor benefits for him.

The pension is a couple thousand higher than the median household income for the area--wouldn't be fun but a lot of people up here live on a lot less.
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TheTimeLord
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Re: BH could you live off your SS benefit?

Post by TheTimeLord »

MikeG62 wrote: Sat Mar 02, 2019 8:04 am Not a chance - certainly not the life we would want to live.

As someone else above me said, fortunately that has never been part of our plan.
The question was could you not will you. Living on SS isn't my plan either and mostly likely is almost no one's plan on this forum. That said when I take a step back and look at the benefit my wife and I are scheduled to receive and compare that to the median family income in this country it makes me stop and think what would life be like for us with our paid off mortgage and just SS. And the reality of the answer is better than most. Contrast that to threads where people say they won't feel they have enough until they have a high 7 or 8 digit portfolio and it makes me stop and consider am I being realistic about what I will need in retirement or an I caught up in just seeing my portfolio increase without it actually being meaningful to the life I plan lead.
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MnD
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Re: BH could you live off your SS benefit?

Post by MnD »

TheTimeLord wrote: Sat Mar 02, 2019 10:06 am The question was could you not will you. Living on SS isn't my plan either and mostly likely is almost no one's plan on this forum. That said when I take a step back and look at the benefit my wife and I are scheduled to receive and compare that to the median family income in this country it makes me stop and think what would life be like for us with our paid off mortgage and just SS. And the reality of the answer is better than most. Contrast that to threads where people say they won't feel they have enough until they have a high 7 or 8 digit portfolio and it makes me stop and consider am I being realistic about what I will need in retirement or an I caught up in just seeing my portfolio increase without it actually being meaningful to the life I plan lead.
IMO very little of the magnitude of assets often discussed here as being an essential requirement for retirement will ever provide any utility to the retirees. The SWR "limbo" threads are one indication of that. Likewise with actual BH retirees that post, sometimes many years into retirement, that they aren't expending anything from portfolio so SWR = 0.0. Or even negative - still saving a portion from other income sources into ever-growing portfolio. There's a fair amount of addiction to asset accumulation and growth going around disguised as prudent retirement planning.
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TheTimeLord
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Re: BH could you live off your SS benefit?

Post by TheTimeLord »

MnD wrote: Sat Mar 02, 2019 10:27 am
TheTimeLord wrote: Sat Mar 02, 2019 10:06 am The question was could you not will you. Living on SS isn't my plan either and mostly likely is almost no one's plan on this forum. That said when I take a step back and look at the benefit my wife and I are scheduled to receive and compare that to the median family income in this country it makes me stop and think what would life be like for us with our paid off mortgage and just SS. And the reality of the answer is better than most. Contrast that to threads where people say they won't feel they have enough until they have a high 7 or 8 digit portfolio and it makes me stop and consider am I being realistic about what I will need in retirement or an I caught up in just seeing my portfolio increase without it actually being meaningful to the life I plan lead.
IMO very little of the magnitude of assets often discussed here as being an essential requirement for retirement will ever provide any utility to the retirees. The SWR "limbo" threads are one indication of that. Likewise with actual BH retirees that post, sometimes many years into retirement, that they aren't expending anything from portfolio so SWR = 0.0. Or even negative - still saving a portion from other income sources into ever-growing portfolio.
Very able assisted by the current long running bull market. I would imagine a lot of the dedicated savers from this forum have reached levels they never would have expected a decade ago.
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MnD
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Re: BH could you live off your SS benefit?

Post by MnD »

TheTimeLord wrote: Sat Mar 02, 2019 10:31 am
MnD wrote: Sat Mar 02, 2019 10:27 am
TheTimeLord wrote: Sat Mar 02, 2019 10:06 am The question was could you not will you. Living on SS isn't my plan either and mostly likely is almost no one's plan on this forum. That said when I take a step back and look at the benefit my wife and I are scheduled to receive and compare that to the median family income in this country it makes me stop and think what would life be like for us with our paid off mortgage and just SS. And the reality of the answer is better than most. Contrast that to threads where people say they won't feel they have enough until they have a high 7 or 8 digit portfolio and it makes me stop and consider am I being realistic about what I will need in retirement or an I caught up in just seeing my portfolio increase without it actually being meaningful to the life I plan lead.
IMO very little of the magnitude of assets often discussed here as being an essential requirement for retirement will ever provide any utility to the retirees. The SWR "limbo" threads are one indication of that. Likewise with actual BH retirees that post, sometimes many years into retirement, that they aren't expending anything from portfolio so SWR = 0.0. Or even negative - still saving a portion from other income sources into ever-growing portfolio.
Very able assisted by the current long running bull market. I would imagine a lot of the dedicated savers from this forum have reached levels they never would have expected a decade ago.
However the still working ultra-low SWR advocates generally claim they need to accumulate this enormous portfolio with low withdrawal to avoid eating Alpo in retirement, as opposed to indicating that their portfolios size has exceeded their expectations to such an extent that SWR has simply dropped by default. The segment of actual BH retirees (with substantial portfolios) that communicate they find no need or desire to withdraw from portfolio mention safe income streams (SS, annuity, pension) meeting all their needs and wants. 0% SWR of a $1M portfolio versus a $3M portfolio is still $0.
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Stoic9
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Re: BH could you live off your SS benefit?

Post by Stoic9 »

Yes, we are debt free and MCOL area so we could pay our bills and live fairly nice lives if needed. We don't have to as we planned and are financially literate people. Most seniors I know that have trouble with living off only SS are those with extra issues (raising grand children, high debt, poor financial literacy).
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Re: BH could you live off your SS benefit?

Post by RadAudit »

TheTimeLord wrote: Sat Mar 02, 2019 10:31 am Very able assisted by the current long running bull market. I would imagine a lot of the dedicated savers from this forum have reached levels they never would have expected a decade ago.
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Re: BH could you live off your SS benefit?

Post by beyou »

Carl53 wrote: Sat Mar 02, 2019 6:42 am
beyou wrote: Sat Mar 02, 2019 6:01 am Help my 90+ MIL with her finances, and it appears her SS covers most/all her expenses. In her 70s/80s she dipped into savings for optional expenses (travel) but as she is more confined now, that cost is gone. Thanks goodness for the spousal benefit, she was mostly a SAHM.
You don't mention FIL. Assuming he is deceased, hopefully she has been changed over to survivor benefits rather than spousal benefits.
I assume so, the benefit is decent and she barely worked. Such decisions predate my involvement.
vested1
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Re: BH could you live off your SS benefit?

Post by vested1 »

Currently no, at 37k combined a year for my wife and I (her on her own benefit and me on spousal only). We have a huge advantage though in that both of our previous employers provide HRA's (Healthcare Reimbursement Accounts) which add up to $13,200 a year, with unused amounts rolled to the next year. Our OOP, including all Medicare premiums (B, D, and N), copays, and prescriptions is over $11,000 a year currently, which is all subject to reimbursement. Hopefully our previous employers will continue the HRA's, mine ($6,200) has already committed to doing so until at least 2025.

At my age 70, assuming 2% COLA for the next 3 years, our combined SS will be about 70k, and would cover all expenses and some discretionary spending. If I die after age 70 my wife would lose about 27k of that 70k. My wife's 30k 100% survivor pension and combined RMD's will be extra.

We have been implementing an accelerated mortgage payoff plan, I know, we shouldn't have a mortgage in retirement (ah the foolishness of youth), and just yesterday I paid an additional 60k toward principal, half of which was tax free from the source. I consider this simply moving money from one pocket to the other, since the only thing consumed are the taxes. If not for the payoff plan, that money would be converted to Roth. The mortgage is due to be paid off in January of 2021, reducing our expenses by 15k a year, and giving us 611k in equity at that time after commission, using current valuations. The newest revision of our plan cuts off 19.5 years of mortgage payments. We are flexible about relocating from our HCOL area in a high tax State to a nicer home in a LCOL area with lower taxes in another State, using less equity than we have today to purchase a new home with cash.
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Re: BH could you live off your SS benefit?

Post by JackoC »

TheTimeLord wrote: Fri Mar 01, 2019 10:33 am Just curious how many BH feel they could live comfortably or somewhat comfortably on SS alone in retirement.
I guess the question means 'holding other basic things constant', like where you live (and thus property tax and general local living cost). Many people live just on Social Security, even in our VHCOL area (in eg. subsidized senior housing). They might not have ideal lives (but who does? and money's not everything anyway) but at least 'somewhat comfortable'. They might also rely somewhat on support from younger generations of their families. That's an embarrassment to some degree but how much depends on cultural assumptions. Basically they are people, we are people, so no fundamental reason we couldn't live as they do if necessary.

But live in our current situation and lifestyle on SS? Not remotely close. But we're already retired based on a plan in which we never expected SS, once we start even receiving it which we haven't yet, to cover a large % of our living costs. Big enough losses in our risk assets would probably cause us to cut back here and there, but having to live just on SS is no more realistic a scenario for us than losing all our safe assets, and no SS either.
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Re: BH could you live off your SS benefit?

Post by MikeG62 »

TheTimeLord wrote: Sat Mar 02, 2019 10:06 am
MikeG62 wrote: Sat Mar 02, 2019 8:04 am Not a chance - certainly not the life we would want to live.

As someone else above me said, fortunately that has never been part of our plan.
The question was could you not will you. Living on SS isn't my plan either and mostly likely is almost no one's plan on this forum.
I think JackoC said it well, are you talking about holding other things constant (like where we live)? If so, then the answer is a hard no. If we had to survive on SS alone, we'd most certainly need to move (very likely to a LCOL area) and severely cut back on the vast majority of the things we have become accustomed to. Someone else said it earlier, if you had to then you have to.
TheTimeLord wrote: Sat Mar 02, 2019 10:06 am That said when I take a step back and look at the benefit my wife and I are scheduled to receive and compare that to the median family income in this country it makes me stop and think what would life be like for us with our paid off mortgage and just SS. And the reality of the answer is better than most.
Personally, I don't look at or care what the median family income is in the US. I don't benchmark myself against it as it has no utility/usefulness to me. I did not work as hard as I did for as long as I did to live like the median family. My goal was to work as hard as I could for as long as was necessary to get to the point where I could call it a career and then do what I want to do (which costs money).
TheTimeLord wrote: Sat Mar 02, 2019 10:06 am Contrast that to threads where people say they won't feel they have enough until they have a high 7 or 8 digit portfolio and it makes me stop and consider am I being realistic about what I will need in retirement or an I caught up in just seeing my portfolio increase without it actually being meaningful to the life I plan lead.
I don't know if you are being realistic or not. As for those who won't feel they have enough until they reach a high 7-figure or even 8-figure portfolio, if that is what they feel they need to live the lifestyle they want to live then so be it. Maybe their lifestyle choices result in their spending $300K+ per year in retirement. That is their choice to make and they may choose to live very differently in retirement than what you feel you need for it to be "meaningful to the life you plan to lead".

Now, if they intend to spend $100K per year and are targeting $10 million because they feel they should not exceed a WD rate of 1.0%, then I think they are misguided and unduly conservative. I think it incredibly likely that people who believe this will end up working many, many, many more years than was ultimately necessary, and as a result, having much less time in retirement to do things they want to do.

Honestly, if we had more we would probably spend more - even more lavish vacations than we are already taking. A second or even third home in a highly desirable vacation destination (ski home, beach home). We have not reached the point where more assets would not change the decisions we are making. There is a point where that would happen, but we are so far from it that it's not even worth thinking about.
Last edited by MikeG62 on Sat Mar 02, 2019 2:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: BH could you live off your SS benefit?

Post by JGoneRiding »

Lynette wrote: Fri Mar 01, 2019 10:56 am No, as the IRS taxes me on heavily on it and SS takes Medicare premiums and IRMAA out as well.
I don't think it's fair to blame ss for your irmaa fee. It just conveniently pays it for you, the rest of your income creates it. No way would you owe IRMaa on just ss income.
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Re: BH could you live off your SS benefit?

Post by 2015 »

retired_tom wrote: Fri Mar 01, 2019 3:24 pm
2015 wrote: Fri Mar 01, 2019 2:23 pm With just about the max SS benefit and delayed SS until 70, I could. Probably could live on less. When you live in paradise you don't need to spend to be happy. The splendor around me 24 hours a day is free, and my daily coffee treat at my bakery is a couple of bucks. I'm even going to have to force myself to travel to spend my travel budget every year because I no longer live in a place where I would want to go somewhere else.
I live very comfortably on just my SS alone. As a matter of fact, I put a little bit of my SS away every month in savings. It does help living in paradise. People ask where we're going on vacation this year. I say where would you go that we don't have here. We live in a retirement golf course community. Member of the golf club. It does help that the SO and I have never had the desire to travel. We've never had a dream of a chalet in the Swiss Alps or a vineyard in Italy. We just have a great time here. Go to the movies, go out to eat, what else is there? Meanwhile, the investments just keep growing.
Exactly! Choice of retirement location is one of those major life choices that can make all the difference in daily experience of satisfaction and fulfillment. After all, isn't the reason we've worked, saved, and invested in the first place? This morning a rainbow floated on the mountains outside my bedroom window after the morning rain. Every day is like that, something new, something unexpected and breathtaking. Why would I want to go anywhere else?

The thought of leaving this experience to hassle a discordant airport, confined plane ride, and an ever increasingly rude public does not at all appeal to me. But alas, I have a travel budget I'm committed to spending. Never having been much of a traveler myself, I'm attempting to force myself into fixing that.
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Re: BH could you live off your SS benefit?

Post by Van »

No, not even close. I feel fortunate to not have to even consider the proposition.
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Re: BH could you live off your SS benefit?

Post by GCD »

My wife and I are both retired. No way we could live our current lifestyle on SS alone. Not even close. If I lost everything I suppose I could find a way to downsize and not starve, but who wants that?
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Re: BH could you live off your SS benefit?

Post by Alan S. »

Living off your net after tax SS benefit is a lot easier if SS is your only income.

If there is other income and 85% of your SS benefit is therefore taxed, the net after tax SS benefit is much less and therefore less likely to cover your costs.
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Re: BH could you live off your SS benefit?

Post by neilpilot »

GCD wrote: Sat Mar 02, 2019 1:22 pm My wife and I are both retired. No way we could live our current lifestyle on SS alone. Not even close. If I lost everything I suppose I could find a way to downsize and not starve, but who wants that?
OP does not ask if you could maintain your current lifestyle, but only if you "could live comfortably or somewhat comfortably on SS alone in retirement".

Our current lifestyle, with our home paid for, has us spending about $100k/yr pre-tax, not including provision for a future car purchase. However, that $100k includes $40k for T&E, and a large percentage of that $40k could be eliminated. We could be reasonably comfortable on our joint SS of $70k, so long as we are both alive.
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CyclingDuo
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Re: BH could you live off your SS benefit?

Post by CyclingDuo »

TheTimeLord wrote: Fri Mar 01, 2019 10:33 amJust curious how many BH feel they could live comfortably or somewhat comfortably on SS alone in retirement. Given both my wife and I have worked at good paying jobs our entire careers and that we live in a MCOL with a paid off home I think as long as our expectations were reasonable I can say we could live somewhere between somewhat comfortably and comfortably in retirement on just FRA SS. What about you?
Could we live somewhat comfortably or comfortably on SS alone?

No.

SS was never designed to be the sole income stream in retirement, let alone designed to allow one to live somewhat comfortably or even the far rarer proposition of living comfortably on SS alone.

That being said, your question of "could one do it?" would most always lead to an end result of BH's saying something like "yes, if we absolutely had to do it, we would make major adjustments and adapt". Not a place we are consciously planning to find ourselves being in at the time due to preparations of diverse income streams in retirement (pension, SS, risk portfolio, rental income, possible part-time work if so desired).

If we are talking SS only. If we delayed and took it at age 70, it would not cover all of our expenses and taxes by itself. At FRA, it would not cover all of our expenses and taxes by itself. At 62 - FRA it would not cover all of our expenses and taxes by itself.

Our current expenses in today's dollars would and could, however, be covered by SS and pension combined if the SS was taken at age 70. If the SS was taken at FRA, combined with the pension it would just about cover all of our current expenses and taxes, but RMD's would boost that shortly thereafter. If taken between age 62 and FRA with the pension, no - we couldn't do it without some major changes to our expenses and comfort in home/autos/food.

Our plans? SS is one leg of the retirement income stool, and one leg only. The other legs are just as important to us (pension, risk portfolio, rental income, dividend income, part-time employment income) to live comfortably or somewhat comfortably.
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Re: BH could you live off your SS benefit?

Post by DetroitRick »

No. Not in any practical sense. My current benefit alone (wife will start her benefit in 4 to 8 years, depending) would keep us out of poverty. That's about it.
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Re: BH could you live off your SS benefit?

Post by lostdog »

My mother lives comfortably on $1,800 SS and $300 pension a month. She takes 1 vacation a year and has a lot of friends. She has $21,000 saved.

Welcome to the reality outside of bogleheads. She is 70.
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Re: BH could you live off your SS benefit?

Post by aspiringboglehead »

My expenses never increased as my income did, so they are still roughly what they were when I was 21. I'm easily in the top 1% (by income and accumulation) but have annual expenses that amount to about 2/3 of what the Social Security Administration estimates my benefits will be at 70. (My tally of expenses doesn't include the full cost of my health insurance, which is subsidized by my employer. If it did, my expenses would come to about 80% of the SSA's estimate.)

I sometimes think I'm missing the point of money. I can't figure out exactly what makes me different from other people, though, as I'm not consciously skimping on anything (except that I can't bring myself to buy first-class international airline tickets, except with points or miles). Maybe being single in a low-cost area is enough to explain my situation.
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Re: BH could you live off your SS benefit?

Post by GerryL »

My SS payment (which started at 70) is more than enough to live on, but my lifestyle would be different than what I currently enjoy. Of course, I was able to delay SS because I do have savings.

Back before I retired I considered the question from the opposite direction: Could I live off what I had saved if SS was reduced or disappeared?
I did some what-if planning scenarios imagining that my SS payment would be reduced by 25%, 50%, 75% and 100%. Again, I would have a different lifestyle, but I would not be suffering.
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Re: BH could you live off your SS benefit?

Post by curmudgeon »

The question of housing costs is an interesting point. I posted earlier in the thread that we could live comfortably on our FRA SS benefit, and with some to spare on age 70 benefit, but that is assuming our mortgage-free house. In effect, that's saying that we could live off our SS benefit plus $1M in real estate investment. Taxes, insurance, and maintenance for our house run about $1000/mo. If we tried to rent a similar house, it would cost more like $4000/mo, and that wouldn't be feasible on the SS benefit alone. Renting a 1-BR apartment would probably be $2000/mo here, which might be marginally doable but pretty tight.

Having a paid-off house can make a huge difference in the comfort level of living on SS alone, though some of the subsidized senior apartments can help. Of course, moving to a LCOL area would also stretch the SS benefit quite a bit further as well.
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Re: BH could you live off your SS benefit?

Post by stemikger »

I remember an interview with Jack Bogle talking to the Motley Fool and he said he waited to take social security at 70 and he could practically live off of what he gets. He also said his wife didn't want to take it at all.
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Re: BH could you live off your SS benefit?

Post by Yooper16 »

2015 wrote: Sat Mar 02, 2019 1:03 pm
retired_tom wrote: Fri Mar 01, 2019 3:24 pm
2015 wrote: Fri Mar 01, 2019 2:23 pm With just about the max SS benefit and delayed SS until 70, I could. Probably could live on less. When you live in paradise you don't need to spend to be happy. The splendor around me 24 hours a day is free, and my daily coffee treat at my bakery is a couple of bucks. I'm even going to have to force myself to travel to spend my travel budget every year because I no longer live in a place where I would want to go somewhere else.
I live very comfortably on just my SS alone. As a matter of fact, I put a little bit of my SS away every month in savings. It does help living in paradise. People ask where we're going on vacation this year. I say where would you go that we don't have here. We live in a retirement golf course community. Member of the golf club. It does help that the SO and I have never had the desire to travel. We've never had a dream of a chalet in the Swiss Alps or a vineyard in Italy. We just have a great time here. Go to the movies, go out to eat, what else is there? Meanwhile, the investments just keep growing.
Exactly! Choice of retirement location is one of those major life choices that can make all the difference in daily experience of satisfaction and fulfillment. After all, isn't the reason we've worked, saved, and invested in the first place? This morning a rainbow floated on the mountains outside my bedroom window after the morning rain. Every day is like that, something new, something unexpected and breathtaking. Why would I want to go anywhere else?

The thought of leaving this experience to hassle a discordant airport, confined plane ride, and an ever increasingly rude public does not at all appeal to me. But alas, I have a travel budget I'm committed to spending. Never having been much of a traveler myself, I'm attempting to force myself into fixing that.
That's us--living the good life in the UP of Michigan, where we have 4ft of snow on the ground and below zero nighttime temps coming up.
Just got back from a walk downtown to do a bit of shopping and then took the sheepdog for a short walk-- exhilarating and sun making the snow look like diamonds. We have no desire to travel anyplace that our feet or kayaks can't take us.
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Re: BH could you live off your SS benefit?

Post by Sandi_k »

Could we? Yes, assuming we downsized the house and moved to a LCOL area.

Do we want to? Nope.

There's a reason we've saved and invested diligently for 30 years; kept expenses pretty locked down; mainly DIY'ed on the house; and stayed at a lower-paying job because of job security and a pension.
quantAndHold
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Re: BH could you live off your SS benefit?

Post by quantAndHold »

We could pay our basic living expenses if we were both collecting at the same time. As it is, our age difference is enough that we aren’t, and probably won’t, at least not for very many years.

Dad lived, more or less, on his SS after mom died. He was living very simply in a small apartment. Once he started needing care though, the costs ratcheted up quickly.
Yes, I’m really that pedantic.
Joeko
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Re: BH could you live off your SS benefit?

Post by Joeko »

Currently we spend about 55k/yr. FRA, we should get about 45k. I think we could definitely scale back and live on Just SS. Interesting topic, may experiment this year and cut expenses to expected SS Income.
hoops777
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Re: BH could you live off your SS benefit?

Post by hoops777 »

The irony here is that people with close to max SS benefits earned more money and are also more likely to have much more in savings.
My goal was for us to be able to live with SS covering our day to day living which really eliminates all of the running out of money worries if you have decent savings.
K.I.S.S........so easy to say so difficult to do.
2015
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Re: BH could you live off your SS benefit?

Post by 2015 »

Yooper16 wrote: Sat Mar 02, 2019 3:19 pm
2015 wrote: Sat Mar 02, 2019 1:03 pm
retired_tom wrote: Fri Mar 01, 2019 3:24 pm
2015 wrote: Fri Mar 01, 2019 2:23 pm
That's us--living the good life in the UP of Michigan, where we have 4ft of snow on the ground and below zero nighttime temps coming up.
Just got back from a walk downtown to do a bit of shopping and then took the sheepdog for a short walk-- exhilarating and sun making the snow look like diamonds. We have no desire to travel anyplace that our feet or kayaks can't take us.
Thanks for that, I actually visualized that stunning picture in my mind. That's how you retire. Beats staring at a spreadsheet, graph, or chart any day.
pascalwager
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Re: BH could you live off your SS benefit?

Post by pascalwager »

No, $0.00 won't stretch very far. But I did pay into the system for a few years.
The Wizard
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Re: BH could you live off your SS benefit?

Post by The Wizard »

lostdog wrote: Sat Mar 02, 2019 2:03 pm My mother lives comfortably on $1,800 SS and $300 pension a month. She takes 1 vacation a year and has a lot of friends. She has $21,000 saved.

Welcome to the reality outside of bogleheads. She is 70.
I'm 69 and my property taxes are $9000 a year plus I travel a dozen or more weeks per year.
So yes, there's considerable variation in income and comfortable-ness...
Attempted new signature...
GCD
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Re: BH could you live off your SS benefit?

Post by GCD »

neilpilot wrote: Sat Mar 02, 2019 1:31 pm
GCD wrote: Sat Mar 02, 2019 1:22 pm My wife and I are both retired. No way we could live our current lifestyle on SS alone. Not even close. If I lost everything I suppose I could find a way to downsize and not starve, but who wants that?
OP does not ask if you could maintain your current lifestyle, but only if you "could live comfortably or somewhat comfortably on SS alone in retirement".

Our current lifestyle, with our home paid for, has us spending about $100k/yr pre-tax, not including provision for a future car purchase. However, that $100k includes $40k for T&E, and a large percentage of that $40k could be eliminated. We could be reasonably comfortable on our joint SS of $70k, so long as we are both alive.
I consider myself to be living a comfortable lifestyle.
wm631
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Re: BH could you live off your SS benefit?

Post by wm631 »

hirlaw wrote: Fri Mar 01, 2019 11:15 am It would be conceivable for us, but not very pleasant, after certain expenses:



We would need to drastically cut or eliminate:
Travel, eating out, gifts, tickets to sporting events/theater, replacement autos, gym membership/yoga classes, future Electronics Upgrades (cell Phones, IPads, computers, TV, etc.), charitable donations and some other expenses I am sure I am not thinking of off of the top of my head.

Yes, agreed on the above. The budgeting would be the catch. A whole new ballgame then. But I - and I bet almost all of us here - would be surprised what we could do without, and be reasonably content, if it came down to mainly essentials (cheaper essentials!) and access to the the Internet (!!)
wm631
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Re: BH could you live off your SS benefit?

Post by wm631 »

A story for you, from about ten years ago.

My mother spent her last years living with her sister in Va. Beach. Both widowed. A large house, about 30 years old on a beautiful, large piece of land my aunt had lived on since moving there in the late 1940's. I would check on them a few times a year, called at least once - twice every week (and her children all lived in the area.)

One early morning phone call to my aunt went like this: I asked what they planned for the day. Her answer: "Oh ... we're just sitting here eating some breakfast and watching Animal Planet ... your Mom's having cereal with toast and jam (!) and her tea ... then, we're going to get dressed and go over to the doctor's for our bi-monthly appointments (routine stuff) ... then, we'll go across the street to the Dollar Store to look around ... then, we'll go to McDonald's for lunch ... then, we'll be tired and we'll come home and take a nap..."

After I got done laughing, and teasing her a bit about all the excitement in their life, I hung up and realized they were doing exactly what we'd all like: exactly what they want. Totally content. Both were living basically on their husband's Social Securitys.
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dodecahedron
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Re: BH could you live off your SS benefit?

Post by dodecahedron »

I am fortunate that I do not need to do it. However it would be an interesting challenge for me.

I think it could be done, at least for routine household expenses and as long as I stay in good health and as long as I do not need LTC or household help for routine activities of daily living.

I will be drawing SS widowś benefits once they maximize at my FRA later this year. (Widows´ benefits do not get delayed retirement credits so no point in waiting past then.)

My real estate taxes are very high (over $10K) but I have otherwise been investing in simplifying my life in ways that reduces my other routine operating costs (e.g., energy efficient appliances, insulation, buying solar panels in a community array, removing an inground pool, landscaping that is attractive but requires less maintenance, etc.) I am also really trying to live a simpler more sustainable life environmentally and this has spillover financial benefits. I realize I already have way too much ¨stuff¨ and try to bear this thought in mind when I contemplate getting more ¨stuff.¨

I live in an area full of natural beauty, with excellent libraries, many free or low cost cultural events, lectures, concerts, etc. As a senior citizen, I am eligible to audit classes free at our fine local community college. I have learned to cook inexpensive healthy foods, but there are also some very nice local restaurants with modest prices when I want an occasional treat.

Like nisiprius and his wife, I am fond of Taza artisanal stoneground organic dark (85%) chocolate. It is a modest splurge. I think I could find room for it in an SS-only budget.

From my earliest childhood and through my grad school days, I have always believed that there is a lot of joy in simple living. It frees up more funds for meaningful charitable giving. I enjoy walking and taking inexpensive public transit when practical.

My 2007 Honda Accord has only 80,000 miles on it (and most of those were put on by my late husband. The odometer was over 60,000 when he died in 2013.) He was very fond of that car and I am reminded of him when I drive it. I take good care of it, drive it moderately, and hope it will continue to serve me well for many years to come. I hope it will last until completely self-driving cars (that can be summoned on demand as needed for a modest fee and do not need to be owned or maintained or insured or parked or garaged by me) are a reality.
Last edited by dodecahedron on Sun Mar 03, 2019 12:43 am, edited 4 times in total.
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AerialWombat
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Re: BH could you live off your SS benefit?

Post by AerialWombat »

My current benefit estimate doesn’t take into account my most recent significant income increase, so SSA pegs me at $1400/mo. In recent years, I have lived on significantly less than that, and I currently spend only a few hundred a month more, all of which is discretionary.

So, yes, I could live off my SS benefit.
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