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Holly Palance

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Will I Outlive My Money?$?

Posted: 10/22/11 07:19 PM ET

WHO knew that Roger Daltry was still a hot Rock God at 67, or that the iconic songs at his LA concert last week would fly me back to the Fillmore of 40 years ago when life lay ahead and none of us had a care in the world?! Who knew that after the show, I would land with a thud back into the present when I bumped into a friend with a surprising tale of woe.

"How are you?" I asked her over a beer. " Um... I'm good," she said tentatively, "Well... to be honest, I'm sort of scared, if things don't turn around... I may outlive my money." Her naked response was chilling. At fifty-five, with thirty years of public relations experience; she's working part-time gigs and praying they last. Someone else paid for her ticket. I bought drinks.

I couldn't sleep. Her story kept me up thinking about my own cash flow. Because for the first time in my life, I know that if I'm not careful, I too might outlive my money. That scared the hell out of me and had me sitting outside in my little black Rock dress, wondering about " My G-G-Generation" and its financial future.

My husband and my accountant say we'll be OK, but I do the math and get anxious. Living to 85 or 90 with any lifestyle I would recognize may not be an option. We do not live an extravagant life. Comfortable? Yes. Spendthrift? No.

We both work hard on projects and business ventures to finance the next twenty-five years if the economy goes into another tailspin and takes our savings with it. But the clarion call for reinvention does not reflect the realities of the marketplace. Our children are now stalking their own careers, and our continued presence on the stage is not a lock for long.

I do not take this lightly. I recognize that we are still among the lucky ones. I count our blessings. I was never big on status, but now status can take a hike, I don't give a damn.

Pals may think I'm exaggerating, but the more I bring up the subject, the more I hear evidence that we're not alone. For boomers in their sixties, the big concern is outliving our savings.

At least a dozen friends have shocked me with stories of not having enough to get them to the finish line. I thought they were 'in the money,' I see them at events or parties and from the outside they look good. Lipstick on an empty piggy bank?

From Houston, TX, to Hazelton, PA to The City of Angels, these are people who have worked hard all their lives, did well, and thought they'd saved enough to be able to retire in their sixties, cruise on down to Rio and leave the kids or grandkids a little something. Unlike our parents' generation, it's going to be a stretch. What the heck happened?

We made it; we spent it, and swore we'd never get old. We ignored the financial pitfalls of divorce, recession, college tuitions, rising health care costs and ageism. Our generation has been hit sideways.

Sure, we can downsize, double-up or move to a less expensive town. But as one friend's accountant told her, " You can afford to live to 90 in, say, Albuquerque, but in San Francisco, (her home town) you'll be lucky to stretch your money till you're 70! " New Mexico is great, but leaving behind friends and family isn't.

Yeah, the best things in life are still free, but round-the-clock nursing isn't. Just because we can live to 100, doesn't mean we'll be able to afford to. One of my parents logged huge bills for round-the-clock private care and costs are rising.

SO, while my attitude is going to stay fun and fearless, my budget is going to have to suck it up. "Simplify, simplify" is our constant refrain. Buying what we need, not always what we want. See you later, Whole Foods, credit card debt and impulse shopping. Sayonara deluxe travel and the newest tech toys.

If we keep spending and depend on our kids to look after us, who knows how radical the younger generation may be forced to get. After they bring down Wall Street, they may look our way. Elders on ice flows?

P.S. Legend has it that English actress-beauty Lily Langtry did a whole social season in one simple black dress. In fact, she became a sensation because of it! Hmmm... maybe my black Daltry dress will become my lucky charm! Rock on!