Senior citizens in the Ozarks trying to get by amidst inflation

Published: Aug. 12, 2022 at 5:45 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - We’ve been told that if you work hard and save money, you can retire comfortably. It’s the American Dream. But that’s not the case for many right here in the Ozarks.

People on fixed incomes like seniors or people on disability feel like they have been left behind in the wake of high inflation. Marta Hines has been working, sometimes two jobs at a time, since she was 14. She saved her money to make sure she could retire comfortably. But with inflation, she’s been forced to return to work. She says it feels hopeless sometimes.

“I’ve worked more than 50 years, and you think you’ll be set and good to go if you save money on the side to supplement your income, but with inflation, at the rate it has been since COVID, that is impossible to continue to meet,” Martha said.

On top of that, since she was 30, she’s been adding to her 401K, but when she looked at her last statement, she saw that she lost $67,000 because of inflation’s impact on the stock market. The same could be said about Marcia Thomas. She lost her 401K in the 2008 crash, squashing her plans to travel the world. Now that her rent has increased over 150% over the last few years, she says her retirement plan is “definitely about survival.

Volunteers at the Polk County Senior Center are worried too.

“It scares me to death, really. I think about house payments, car payments, this house of cards is just going to implode.” Said Debbie Vastine, President of the Senior Center. “Their world keeps getting smaller and smaller. You know we all thought we were well prepared for retirement, but even those that really significantly were prepared were getting worried.”

Hines says she still hopes things will change but worries about how soon that change will come.

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