Inflation, recession fears spook retirement-age Americans

We are freaking out.

A bear market, falling 401(k) plans and rising inflation have spooked Americans, especially those who are retired or approaching retirement.

“When you hear unhappiness and sadness, you feel unhappiness and sadness,” Joe Saul-Sehy, former financial adviser and co-host of “The Stacking Benjamins Podcast,” told The Post. “You go to the gas station, you go to the grocery store and you can see things go bad quickly.”

Three in five retirement-age investors believe current conditions will deflate their nest egg, according to an April study by Global Atlantic Financial Outlook.

But Saul-Sehy warned Americans not to press the panic button, even if they belong to the older demographic.

“Realize that’s the money you’re going to spend for the rest of your life,” Saul-Sehy said. “You don’t have to worry about all your nest egg, just what you’ll be spending over the next few years.”

Even if you feel “bad luck,” don’t press the panic button, said Joe Saul-Sehy, former financial adviser and co-host of “The Stacking Benjamins Podcast.”
Nathalie Jennings

His short-term advice: Look for ways to tighten your belt, reassess your portfolio, and land a part-time job to temporarily supplement your income.

“We’re probably in a recession, but it’s easier than ever to find a job,” Saul-Sehy said, adding that history repeats itself: Look, he noted, at how the economy rebounded after previous downturns in 2002 and 2007.

“I can control my budget, I can control the things I enjoy, the things I save in and the moves I’m going to make financially. I focus on those things, my panic lessens,” he said. -he adds.

The Post spoke to three people about how they were recalibrating their post-career plans.

A $100 bill stuffed into a car's gas tank, to illustrate the current economic pressures facing Americans.
The exorbitant cost of fuel is just one of many strains on the wallets and pocketbooks of Americans approaching retirement age.

Go back to work

Just before the pandemic hit, Virginia resident Terri Tychan, 58, retired from her job as the school’s administrative secretary to help care for her elderly father. Her teacher husband planned to follow her until retirement this year or next, and the couple would move to Florida.

“We had plans. All of a sudden they don’t work,” Tychan told the Post. Instead, her husband delays submitting his papers indefinitely and she returns to work.

“I’m preparing to start looking for another job again,” said Tychan, who is looking into the school system in hopes of increasing his pension and health benefits.

“If things had been like they were two years ago, it would have been fine without me working. We thought we were doing everything right,” she continued.

Tychan – whose son, daughter-in-law and three granddaughters live with her and her husband – cites rising petrol prices, inflation and rising housing prices as obstacles.

“I’m really nervous,” she added.

But, despite approaching his golden years with new uncertainty, Tychan’s grandchildren have been a silver lining: “Children really brighten up your day. It has been a blessing.

Donna Jackson of Syracuse and her son at her graduation.  Jackson retired from the Air Force and his job as a court reporter;  the economy made him rethink his plans for the future.
Retired forensic reporter Donna Jackson, 56, had sent her son to college and was preparing for the next chapter of his life – but has now had to re-enter the workforce.

Delaying Retirement Gratification

Last week Donna Jackson, 56, retired from her job as a court reporter. The mother from Syracuse, New York, who also has an Air Force pension, had recently overcome a chronic health condition and wanted to enjoy her life.

“I was a single mom since 2000. I raised my son and got him through college. I have two health care plans. I do everything right. But things look different from this than they were two years ago,” said Jackson, who also has an Air Force contract.

She had planned on becoming a snowbird, renting in a few different hot spots before deciding where to settle. She was also considering selling her main home to be near her son in Washington, D.C. Instead, she had to pivot, staying upstate while ramping up her contract work.

“I’ll see where I am in six months and see if I’m making a lot of money from subcontracting work. If I feel like I’m able to back it up, I’ll pull the pin [and go south],” she says.

To offset inflation, she’s tightening her belt — foregoing expensive facials, budgeting for groceries and considering selling one of her two cars.

“The average bear market lasts about nine to ten months, so I figure it’ll be fine,” she added.

Donna Jackson, retired Air Force, in uniform.
Donna Jackson’s Air Force pension does not protect her from worries about the current economic climate.
Photo provided by Donna Jackson

Postpone retirement

This month, Daniel, a group teacher in New York, who withheld his last name for professional reasons, was ready to end his career after 20 years in the public school system.

“I had to postpone. I’m afraid my pension won’t be enough with the rising cost of living,” he told the Post.

Daniel and his 59-year-old wife have three grown children, live in Brooklyn, own a second home in Pennsylvania, and hope to travel.

“Now my wife’s 401(k) has lost so much money,” said Daniel, from Ukraine. “We don’t know how long it will take to recover.”

Among his concerns are rising medical bills, food and gas bills.

“Every day I think about [finances]. Part of the American dream is to be able to come to this country and work,” Daniel continued. “You get the benefits of what you have built or earned. Now this dream is not secure.

After consulting with his financial adviser Vlad Shafir, Daniel decided to work for at least another year.

“I started working when I was 17. You would like to eventually live your life,” he said.


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