Special Reports

Dawn Carpenter

Baby boomer, Dawn Carpenter, does not know when she will be able to retire.
Photo: Jayson Mellom 7-11-08
Baby boomer, Dawn Carpenter, does not know when she will be able to retire. Photo: Jayson Mellom 7-11-08 The Tribune

Like many baby boomers, Dawn Carpenter hopes to retire one day. For now, it seems like a distant dream for the paralegal at San Luis Obispo’s Andre, Morris and Buttery law firm.

Carpenter, 55, is a homeowner in Templeton and earns enough to pay her mortgage and provide for her teenage daughter. She got a late start saving and investing, however. And due to life circumstances, including a divorce, Carpenter says she isn’t where she should be financially.

“I have an IRA and 401k, and an interest in some property, and I own a home in a mobile home park community,’’ she said. “But as far as the amount that I have, I don’t have what the financial advisers project you will need to retire.’’

Carpenter worked and traveled in her younger years, and didn’t enroll in college until she was 23 years old. She started putting money into an IRA in 1993, and then invested in the 401k plan at Andre, Morris and Buttery about 10 years ago.

“I was a student for a long time,’’ she said. “I was living hand-to-mouth. I had to pay off school loans, and I didn’t really have enough to save. It wasn’t until I was into my marriage that I starting to get realistic about saving.”

Carpenter is focused on planning for the future now, although she acknowledges that she has not invested much in her 401k lately because of the economic crunch. She might also have to work well into her 60s.

Carpenter has taken few vacation trips in recent years, drives an older car, buys the necessities at the grocery store and eschews luxuries like eating out.

“I don’t particularly want to be working until I’m 70,’’ she said. “I’m not going to be able to do early retirement because I don’t have the income level, and I need the benefits that come along with it,” she said.

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