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How is inflation impacting Omaha seniors: 'Now, I'm not going to be able to retire'

Inflation impacts Omaha seniors
Posted at 7:15 PM, Jun 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-10 20:15:46-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — It's the worst inflation in nearly four decades with the high costs of gas, food and services up almost 9% from this time last year.

This economic news hits one group hard: seniors. One woman, 70-year-old Bonnie Gilbert, lost her husband Craig to COVID-19 last June.

"Now, what am I going to do? I know I have to keep working, so I drew my Social Security. Now, I'm not going to be able to retire. How am I going to retire with just social security?" Gilbert said.

Every day she "plugs away," working full-time in data processing. To pay the bills she stretches her paycheck wherever she can. She also organized a garage sale to earn a little extra money.

"It's hard, it's hard. Especially with Craig and now I have to take care of the house and the lawn, and I can't afford to pay anyone to do that. So, I have to do it myself, so I have to keep healthy and stay strong, so I can do it and still keep working," Gilbert said.

If prices keep increasing she might have to get a second job.

David John is the Senior Strategic Policy Advisor at the AARP Public Policy Institute. He says seniors have more to watch out for. Loans or credit card rates are likely to take a bigger bite of their budget.

"It's a matter of making do with a bit less. It's a matter of going to possibly work longer, getting another job or other some form of income in there. The other thing to think about going forward is if you have debt in retirement, the cost of that debt may go up because inflation rates usually mean interest rates go up too," John said.

He advises that if you're about to retire you might consider working longer hours to maximize your Social Security income. You might want to also delay taking your Social Security benefits since they go up every year until you turn 70. Also, watch your investments.

"Continue to save, if you've been saving at a set amount already, don't stop. One of the big mistakes some people make is when the stock market fluctuates, they move into a safer investment and that sounds like a good thing, but what you're really doing is locking in your losses," John said.

Gilbert is just holding out hope.

"Things have to start getting better somewhere, it can't get worse, the worse it gets, the worse it gets for everybody," Gilbert said.

For those on Social Security, next year's cost of living increase will likely be close to 8%. That bump will start with checks in January.

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