In our February issue — featuring the finance expert and life force that is Dan Stoltz, CEO of SPIRE Credit Union — we asked you, our dear readers, to provide your favorite personal finance tips for a chance to win a model of SPIRE’s Archie truck based off a 1950s Ford.
Here’s just some of what you had to say. Congrats to our winners, including grand-prize winner, Joan Peterson, who will receive a 7-inch model truck — and our five second-place winners of mini trucks also featured here!
Joan Peterson, 67, of Minneapolis: Giving is getting because it makes you feel good and useful.
First: Donate to a nonprofit you wouldn’t want to be without, maybe public radio or TV, or the Animal Humane Society or American Cancer Society.
If you’re already a member of the nonprofit you cherish, give a membership to a neighbor or friend.
Many of us on a limited income (I’m on Social Security) can give up something (the cost of a pizza) for the greater good.
We also have too much stuff. Instead of renting storage rooms, think of truly cleaning out. Have a free or bargain garage sale and invest the proceeds in an organization that helps people.
Wayne Christiansen, 71, of Maplewood: When I was 55, I got a raise of $20 a week. I didn’t need the money, so I saved it for 10 years. It came to over $10,000, plus the interest!
Joanne Segner of Crystal: I put $50 from my retirement pension into a Christmas savings each month. When my charge card is payable in January, I use this to pay it off. As a result, Christmas is less stressful.
I use my tax return each year for a vacation. This also is less stressful as it feels like a gift from Uncle Sam.
When my checking account has extra money, I put that in a CD (certificate of deposit).
If an unforeseen expense arrives, I can use savings or look for an interest-free loan. When the CD is due, I can use that to pay off the loan.
I’m retired, but have a part-time job, which funds my monthly entertainment expenses. I recommend a job for extra money and for mingling with fellow employees and clientele.
Bill Huntzicker, 72, of Minneapolis: If you’re receiving employer-supported health care, purchase hearing aids before you retire because they’re expensive and may not be covered by Medicare. Look into other medical needs you may be putting off that you can get now with more financial support. Other examples could include CPAP.
Gary Cohen, 66, of Golden Valley: Keep your medical house in order — from regular doctor visits to the best insurance coverage you can afford, particularly once you hit Medicare age. Medical issues will cause your financial well-being to spiral down quickly as you age no matter how good a job you’ve done with your planning.
Take advantage of independent medical brokers who can assist you as needed for your health-care coverages. And, if you can, work with a reputable financial planner, rather than trying to do all the work yourself on the personal-finance side of your life.
Wayne Pederson, 71, of Colorado Springs: It was 1972. I was working as a young (modestly paid) radio announcer at KTIS at the University of Northwestern in Minneapolis. I had just graduated from seminary and we had our first child. Mr. Harold Alford was business manager at the college at the time.
One day Mr. Alford pulled me aside and suggested I begin setting aside a small amount each month for retirement.
I wondered aloud: “I’m 25 years old and on a very tight budget.”
Harold persisted: “Just start with half a percent.”
I took his advice and soon was able to increase to 1%. Then 2%. My tiny contribution triggered Northwestern’s contribution. Eventually, I was able to set aside 6% each month. That advice from Mr. Alford was the best financial advice I’ve ever received. I’ve worked for Christian colleges and nonprofit ministries all my career. I’ve never made a lot of money.
But investing a modest amount each month over a span of 45 years, together with the long term rise in the markets, has provided a way for me to comfortably retire.
We’re not wealthy, but we’re comfortably able to serve on ministry boards, to continue to do ministry work and to enjoy amazing travel experiences without worrying about money. I’m amazed that even with a lifetime of modest income, we’re able to do what we want to do, not what we have to do.
My advice to young workers: Start small, start early, be consistent. And you will enjoy deferred freedom and security decades later.
Thanks to the St. Paul-based SPIRE Credit Union for sponsoring our Archie truck contest. Pictured here are our prizes — miniature models of the credit union’s mascot, a restored 1952 Ford truck that travels around town and in parades in homage to SPIRE’s humble founder, Edgar Archer.
Thank you to all the Good Age readers who shared their wisdom for this article. Learn more about personal finance for older adults at mngoodage.com/finance.