There are approximately 85,000 Marylanders 85 years old or older. My wife and I are two of them. I'm 88 years old. My wife, 87. We're neither well, nor well-to-do. And truth be told, although I'm glad we're alive, I'm scared to death that we'll still be hanging on for at least several more years. Why? Because we've outlived our money. Well, almost.

We never expected to live this long. My parents died when they were in their 70s. My brother was 62 when he passed away. My wife's father died while she was still a little girl. I believe her mother was in her 70s when she died. And my wife's big sister was a teen-ager when she died. And yet, my wife and I are still standing.


We did plan for our retirement. We paid off the mortgage on our 1950s rancher to guarantee that we'd have a roof over our heads no matter what. And, while I was still working in the small business I had founded, I stashed away a couple hundred thousand dollars in some relatively safe investments. I was confident that with just a six percent average return on our investments, plus our combined Social Security benefits, and memberships for both of us in Medicare and supplemental health care insurance policies, ours was a fail-safe plan. Man, was I ever wrong. Ten years and about a $100,000 dollars wrong.

Things haven't quite worked out as planned. A number of substantial reversals in the stock market, coupled with unanticipated departures of several major clients from my business proved disastrous. Less business. Less income. No fail-safe retirement. We now have no income other than our Social Security benefits. Interest paid on our severely depleted "savings" is practically non-existent.

We now have to deal with the ever-growing problem of stretching our dwindling retirement plan resources and Social Security benefits to maintain an acceptable lifestyle and standard of living. This surely won't be easy.

What to do? Sell our home? That's a non-starter as far as I'm concerned. Thanks to much-appreciated help from family members, my wife and I have been able to continue living in our home in which we have lived for over 50 years; and hopefully will be able to keep in the family for years to come. It simply makes no sense to me to sell our home and use the proceeds to pay monthly fees to a "senior citizens" retirement facility. Why sell our home to live in someone else's apartment?

My wife suffers from dementia, maybe Alzheimer's. And we've both been taking "blood thinner" medications for years, plus a "laundry list" of other prescription drugs. Along the way, I've had a heart attack and developed blood clots. We've both had clogged arteries, which necessitated bypass operations. I've had problems with my legs, knees and back, too. Failing eye sight and hearing have become the new norm, as well. And who knows what other surprises life has in store for us? Sound familiar?

And yet, even though I'm haunted by the thought of being saddled with still more expenses the longer we live, I want us to live. I want us to experience again the joie de vivre of the day we married, two carefree teen-agers who didn't have a clue about what lay ahead, including, so far, 69 years of love-filled wedded bliss. Life has been good to us, filled with moments and memories to be treasured, savored. But, my wife, my beloved wife, can no longer recall the good times. Her memories are mostly gone now. Never to return.

So hey, go for it, that cushy retirement lifestyle that so many retirement facilities promise and promote these days. But remember, you'll need money, lots of it, to make your retirement dreams come true. In my humbled opinion, it's never too soon to get yourself a retirement lockbox, virtual or literal. And it's impossible to have too much money in it.

Based on my experience, you'll be glad you acted early.

Richard T. Seymour is a retired business owner; his email is cmore1927@gmail.com.