Here are a few smart tips for retirement from 107-year-old Leonard McCracken. He never made more than $10,000 a year, and he’s been retired since 1969 – over 40 years. He's living off savings, Social Security, home equity, and a lifetime annuity he bought before he retired. So, here’s his advice:

  • Tip #1: Be thrifty. McCracken owned only two new cars – the rest he bought used. He’s always shopped at thrift stores and garage sales for clothing, appliances, dishware and furniture.
  • The next retirement tip: Invest in real estate. McCracken bought and sold 35 houses in his lifetime – including five that he built himself, and usually made a good profit. He points out that real estate may be bad at the moment, but people who can buy now will make a lot of money when they sell down the road.
  • Another retirement tip from Leonard McCracken, who’s been retired for 41 years: Do debt right. In other words, save up before you buy something. Borrow only when you have to – as little as possible - and pay it back as quickly as you can. Otherwise, you’ll just be wasting your money on interest payments.
  • Also: Work even when jobs are hard to find. McCracken became unemployed after one employer went bankrupt. To make ends meet, he took a job driving a truck that paid $5 a day. His family muddled through until he got another full time job.
  • The final tip: Save and invest conservatively. McCracken put all his money in CDs and bonds. He always avoided risking his money in the stock market, even when experts advised him differently. He never earned a lot of interest, but when the economy tanked recently - unlike most people – McCracken didn’t lose any money.