Wealth + Health Diaries Real-Life Stories from Real-Life People – Nancy

Janice James tkc.profilePicture Written by: Janice James | Transamerica
May 27, 2019

5 Min readClock Icon

Curious how your spending and money management stacks up? In this series, we talk to real folks just like you, who’ve shared their tales of spending, saving, and searching for loose change.

Today, we hear from Nancy, a 58-year-old former teacher currently working as a dental office receptionist in Columbus, Ohio. Thanks to her teacher’s pension, her husband’s Social Security benefits, and plans to sell her house when she retires to Florida, Nancy feels pretty prepared to retire to a simple, stress-free life, even though she makes less now than when she was working as a teacher.


Occupation: dental office receptionist

Industry: health care

Age: 58

Location: Columbus, OH

Salary/income: $38,000


Housing costs: $500

Groceries and home supplies: $550

Dining out: $50 (only rarely)

Loans: $250 auto

Health, dental, and vision insurance: $575 (free dental coverage from job)

Auto, homeowner, and umbrella liability insurance: $275

Utilities: $80

Internet/digital: $75

Lawn service: $50

Cell phone: $50

Gym: $0

Clothing, misc.: $100

Credit card debt payments: $0


Roth IRA: $100

Savings: $50 a month

Employer-sponsored retirement plan: $100


How difficult is it for you to put money away for retirement? Have you had to give up anything?

Luckily, I was a school teacher for many years and will receive a pension when I retire. It has been hard saving money for retirement since I’ve worked at the dentist office because I don’t make a lot. I also paid off my house several years ago, but I took out a second mortgage to do some repairs and updates last spring.

If you had to put away more money for your retirement, what would you cut out of your budget?

At this point, I think I’d need to make more money rather than cut something out because there’s not much to cut. I’m going to be offering tutoring services during the school year and will plan on investing that extra money directly into my retirement fund.

What are your retirement goals? What age do you want to retire? What do you want to do in retirement?

I plan to retire when I turn 65. I want to enjoy life before it’s too late. I lost my husband from a heart attack 10 years ago and realized then how quickly life can change. Although I’ve lived in Columbus my whole life, I plan to move to a retirement community in Florida where my sister lives. I’m ready to say good riddance to these cold Ohio winters!

Figuring out how to make that happen has been a little confusing. When my husband passed, his retirement accounts rolled over into my name. He had a 401(k) plan through his work, a Roth IRA, and two different traditional IRA accounts that I think were created when he moved money from previous employers’ retirement plans. None of the accounts were huge, and the savings were dispersed across several different mutual funds. Along with my retirement plan from the school district, there were too many accounts to manage. Consolidating all of these into a single plan was one of my first retirement goals. Then I could get a better picture of what was possible – and when.

What does “health” mean to you?

Health means everything to me. If I’m not healthy, I can’t do what I want. If I can’t do what I want, my happiness suffers. If I don’t have happiness, my quality of life goes down. That’s why I walk every day (even in these cold Ohio winters) and have worked to lose 30 pounds over the last two years.

Are there things you want to do with your discretionary income that should be included in your budget?

Once I move to Florida, I’ll need to have a travel budget to visit my kids and grandchildren back here in Ohio.

How did you come up with a plan for retirement?

I had access to a financial professional through the retirement plan at the school district. I’ve worked with a couple different people, and they’ve been very helpful. It was especially helpful to talk through my options after my husband passed away – including the consolidation of his retirement funds into my plan. That guidance helped me put everything into a single picture that made my options much easier to understand. It was such a relief to get some expert advice instead of having to figure out everything on my own.

In addition to saving for retirement, what are some of the big picture items you want to invest in?

Well, when I move to Florida, I will sell my house in Ohio and roll that into the townhome I’m purchasing in the retirement community. That’s really it for me! I’m ready to live a simple, relaxed life while enjoying the warmer weather!

What intimidates you in planning for retirement or what questions do you still have?

As my retirement gets closer, I do have more questions about how much income I need, the best way to manage my withdrawals, and how to incorporate my husband’s retirement savings and Social Security benefits into my plans. I’ve got a few years to figure that out, but I know figuring out how to disperse retirement funds can be a challenge. I’ll need to find the right balance between having the money to enjoy my retirement while also making the money last so I don’t run out.


As a widow, a former school teacher, and current dental office receptionist, Nancy is looking to retire at age 65 and move to a Florida retirement community near her sister. She’s excited to leave the cold Ohio winters behind, but concerned about the best way to budget for her retirement years.

Neither Transamerica nor its agents or representatives may provide tax, investment, or legal advice. Anyone to whom this material is promoted, marketed, or recommended should consult with and rely on their own independent tax and legal advisors and financial professional regarding their particular situation and the concepts presented herein.


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Financial Stability Financial Planning Life Span Retirement

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