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Future looks bleak for this 55-year-old

Tuesday, October 2, 2012 - 9:26 am

Q.: I am 55 years old and single, and I am feeling the pinch of not having planned for my retirement. I clear $295 a week and have a monthly expense of $350 for my car payment. I don't own a house. My credit card bills are around $1,800. Other monthly expenses run about $250.

I am thinking about getting a zero-interest credit card and combining my credit card bills to get my monthly payment down to $100. I would also like to start investing in a 401(k). My health may take a toll if I add a part-time job. Any suggestions? – J.B., via email

A.: You have made an understatement when you say you haven't planned well. Having a car payment in excess of a week's pay is absolutely unforgivable. You should consider replacing it with a far less expensive vehicle.

I don't know where the money would come from to invest in a 401(k). Given your current situation, if your income doesn't improve, I don't see you being able to retire for the next 15 years or more. Getting the zero-interest credit card is not the answer.

I wish there was something more cheerful that I could pass on to you, but the reality is that Social Security will not provide enough for you to live on, and you have no savings. Good luck.

Send questions to or to Smart Money, PO Box 7150, Hudson, FL 34674.