Baby Boomer Lifeboat   

    Tips for Comfortably Retiring on a Tight Income

Baby Boomers can still retire, even on a tight income, by taking steps to stretch their dollars! 

Tips, ideas and advice for making Baby Boomer retirement income go further!


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Baby Boomers Taking Action

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One Boomer's Experience in Securing an Affordable Retirement Home


I am a single woman and a 64-year old Boomer approaching retirement. In February 2007, I bought a condo in an "over 55" community located in Arizona. I paid $119,900 for it, and I thought it was a GREAT deal and that I would retire in this home. The interest rate was 7.25% and my monthly payments were $948, with $150 HOA fees which included all utilities except electricity and telephone.


My plans at that time were to live in the condo a couple of years, then refinance at a lower mortgage rate and thereby be able to afford the payments in my retirement. The condo was formerly owned by a snowbird, who lived on the east coast. She had it for 20 years and only spent four months annually in the home. Consequently, it was like stepping back in time – everything was gently used and the home was well-taken care of. I replaced the green shag carpet, painted some of the rooms, and installed ceiling fans and updated appliances as it became necessary. I was so happy to have my very own little condo for my retirement years.


The Great Recession Changed Everything

The first year after buying the condo, the real estate market started going down dramatically, and I realized that I would be unable to gain any appreciation in the home, nor could I refinance my upside-down property to a lower interest rate. I didn’t know what I was going to do. So, for the next two years, I just maintained the property, made payments and hoped something would change and I could eventually refinance my condo. I called several mortgage companies to refinance my loan and was turned down because I currently have a generous income, my credit score is sufficiently in the higher category and my credit cards were kept current with low balances. I was a responsible citizen! The banks didn’t think I was a candidate for refinancing – I was doing fine!



This scenario went on for a year. After doing research on the availability of refinancing, I called the bank who serviced my mortgage. I explained my situation to the agent who had taken my call and told him that I intended to retire in a few years and would like to refinance my condo. Instead of a loan modification, I would be happy to merely have the interest lowered – that would dramatically lower my payments and I would be able to keep my home when I retire. I was told that I should have planned better and they would do nothing to help me. I asked what he suggested I do in this situation and he told me to walk away from my loan and let it foreclose. I was AGHAST! A bank giving me such advice. I would be homeless if I let that happen! From that point forward, I knew that I had to take drastic measures in order to be able to survive in my retirement years.


It was Time to Take Action


I have a friend who is a real estate agent and she suggested that I try to qualify for a loan while keeping my current home loan active. I was quite shocked that this was even possible, but took all the steps necessary to qualify to purchase a new home while owning my current one. Fortunately, I DID qualify to buy another home. With the market at record lows in Arizona, I started looking at short sales. I had chosen a specific area near my daughter’s family to be close to my grandchildren. The community was only four years old and there were quite a few smaller, single story homes that interested me.


The first home I made an offer was perfect for me! The price was right, so I made an offer within the price range set by the bank and never received a response. I made other offers on homes equally priced, with similar features and square footage. Same results!


I quickly learned that making multiple offers is the name of the game and eventually, perhaps, someone would accept an offer. The owners of the home have no say over what the banks would accept, so the response had to come from the banks. This was expected to take anywhere from one month to six months. Two of the homes I made offers on are still unsold to this day. I found the banks to be unresponsive during this entire process.


Eventually, I made an offer on a home that the lending bank finally accepted. It took 60 days for me to get an answer from the bank who owned the property. After the bank’s acceptance, everything moved pretty quickly, and I was able to move into the home within 90 days after my initial offer. From the time I started searching until the closing on my new home took 7˝ months.


I arranged a short sale for my condo. It has not sold yet, but it will either sell or foreclose within the next few months. I have resigned myself that this is completely out of my hands.  As I live in a non-recourse state, the lender cannot come after me for the loan shortfall.


However, it is important to continue to pay the HOA fees in Arizona, as these fees are collectible under deficiency judgment laws. The homeowner’s association can file a lawsuit against me personally, and collect any unpaid HOA fees. Once the property is sold or foreclosed and the deed is no longer in my name, only then can I stop paying the HOA fees.


The Bottom Line

I now have a much nicer home, which is only four years old, with more square footage, a beautifully landscaped yard and it is only one-half mile from my daughter’s family. It does pay to be persistent. At times, I became frustrated and was ready to give up, but I am glad that I just kept trudging along. I plan to retire in two years and will be able to afford my home now. Although I had to sacrifice my credit rating for a couple of years, it will eventually restore itself.

In conclusion, my advice is don’t be afraid to take a chance. We as Baby Boomers have to do what is necessary in order to protect ourselves in our retirement years. I found NO HELP from any of the financial  institutions and I had to take drastic measures to ensure my future survival. I am not sorry or ashamed that I did it.


About the Author


This is a true example of what Baby Boomers in their late fifties and sixties are experiencing today as they scramble to keep a roof over their head during retirement. For legal and personal reasons, the author of this heartfelt saga wishes to retain her privacy.


This article may be freely reprinted as long as the source,, is clearly indicated.


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