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'Free' Furniture & Social Security

October 18th, 2013 at 10:55 am

MYTH: I don't need to save because Social Security will take care of me when I'm retired.

TRUTH: Social Security was never intended to be a person's sole income in retirement. The average monthly benefit for a retired worker in 2013 is $1,262.

I found that tidbit of information in our newspaper last weekend. I was reminded that the SSA no longer sends out benefit statements, which listed your employment record and expected benefits at different ages. This information is still available, but is now available at SocialSecurity.gov. You can set up an account to view your personal information. It is good to check this site once a year to make sure your earnings are being reported correctly.

My husband and I are not planning on social security in our retirement, but I was reminded that without 10 years of work experience, I'm not even eligible for my own social security. If I remember right, there is a spousal/widow's benefit that would give me some benefits. Not that I'm expecting or planning on it.

We are getting free furniture this weekend. Specifically, a sofa and loveseat. My parents are downsizing from a 4000 sq ft home with five bedrooms to 1400 sq ft apartment with just two bedrooms. They are trying to sell/give away much of their furniture. Since our living room set is about 17 years old, we figured it was a deal to take a set they have owned for five years. They are giving it to us, but we are needing to rent a trailer to hook to our truck. The rental for two days is about $60, plus an extra $10 for damage insurance. We know from past experience and inquiry that our insurance does not cover rental trailers, therefore worth the cost should a major accident occur. I won't count the cost of fuel in this purchase because we would have spent that visiting them anyway. A new to us couch and loveseat for $70 is a very good deal.

We could sell our old couch and loveseat. Right now I think we have the storage space to set it aside for awhile. It could be a really good set for an apartment. And since our oldest daughter is a Junior in high school, it isn't that far off to think she might want it in a few years. She doesn't care whether we keep it or not. She said it is up to us. So we'll see how storing it goes. If it gets in the way or takes up more space then I'm expecting then we will sell it.

So are you planning on Social Security? Do you know anyone who believes in the myth above? Was your couch purchased new or used? Do you think I should save our old set or sell it?

9 Responses to “'Free' Furniture & Social Security”

  1. Ima saver Says:

    I get ocial security while my husband is still working full time. I get $509 a month which I could never live on. So, I save it all.

  2. Petunia 100 Says:

    I do count on SS, although I count on receiving 3/4. That is what will be paid if the Trust Fund does go bankrupt. I think it is more likely that it will be "fixed" somehow, but I don't want to count on it being fixed. I do not plan to live entirely on SS benefits.

    I believe the average benefit you cited above is before the deduction for Medicare, so the actual check is smaller. I could be mistaken about that, though.

  3. Kiki Says:

    I am 39 and have worked in a field where i don't pay into social security since 2005. I did have more than 10 years working low paying jobs. I do pay into it because of my consulting/contracting job-when i get one- or through my house sitting income but that is not a lot. If i change job secrors then i would pay into it again, i am sure with 16-20 years left working that will happen at some point.

    I am not counting on getting the benefit they are telling me i would receive. Any money received would be ear marked for travel and vacations. I am not counting on it for any kind of living expenses.

  4. TashaC. Says:

    Whoa, I didn't know there was a 10 yr working minimum. That disqualifies a lot of people I know who work sporadically. I don't think they realize this. My husband does not qualify. I used your link to see how my benefits look but they were unable to confirm my identity and told me to try back in 24 hrs. I'll try again. thanks for the link!

  5. baselle Says:

    Sigh. I know too many people who believe the myth. But frankly, if one is depending solely on a pension (and depending whether that workplace paid into social security you may or may not get ss), well thinking you are safe because you have a pension, that's a myth too. Just ask any Detroit public servant. The idea was supposed to be the three legs on a stool, but ultimately the only leg you can control is your savings.

  6. MonkeyMama Says:

    Interestingly, social security has been quite a windfall in my own family. My parents start drawing in a month or two and is more than enough for them to live on (even taking it at 62). BUT, this is the catch-22. You have to be used to living on a small fraction of your income for it to be enough to live on. If you actually believe that saving "nothing" and being able to live on social security eventually - well that is some very flawed logic.

    Why the windfall? Because either enough to live off of, or was just invested. Some in my family lived to 100, so maybe invested their social security income for four decades - even if the amount was small it amounted to quite a chunk of change by the time they passed on. I think older relatives didn't rely on it because it was "new." Now we worry if it will still even be there. I actually expect it to be there (have been paying in for 20 years so I certainly expect something!) but just overall believe in a "hope for the best/plan for the worst" kind of strategy. The fears about social security are a little overblown and "the sky is falling". On one hand. On the other hand, the government can't make any decisions and hasn't done anything to tweak it - it will just get more problematic as they kick the can down the road.

    My spouse has paid into social security for 10+ years, but his spousal benefit will be far greater than any benefits he has earned on his own.

  7. FrugalTexan75 Says:

    I probably could live on $1200/month - I don't make too much more than that right now. However, I'm definitely NOT counting on it to cover all my living expenses when I retire. I like Kiki's idea of earmarking it for travel/vacation/fun money. I might also use some of it to "sponsor" kids at schools or donate to animal shelters, etc.

    The last time I checked, my benefit was at about $1,100.

  8. scfr Says:

    2013 is my 36th year of paying in to Social Security! (I know some of you haven't even been alive that long.) And my husband's 21st year, even though he spent his early working years in his native country. When I run retirement calculators, I discount our estimated SS benefits by 50%. And I use the estimates based on our individual earnings, rather than trying to figure out my spousal benefit.

    I'll answer your question about your old couch and loveseat ... If it were me, I'd lean towards selling it, because your daughter's future lifestyle is an open book. I didn't live in a place that had enough room for a couch and loveseat until I was in my 30's. My "early years" apartments were just too small, I barely had room for a loveseat. And if she does get a place that is big enough, she may have a roommate who already has something. If your daughter likes that furniture, one thing you could think about doing is set a price for the set of both pieces, with a second price (a bit less) for just the couch. That way, if someone wants to spend less and/or only wants the couch, you could get a sale and hang on to the loveseat for your daughter.

    And this is just me personally, but I'd prefer not to have to vacuum or condition something I'm not using, which would be more incentive to sell! Big Grin

  9. snafu Says:

    Don't you think the program will continue but with changes? I figure they'll increase age eligibility, increase premiums, heavily tax benefits for those over a certain threshold etc. Next federal election ask your candidate how they would handle the unfunded liability of SS.

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