Pam Gray, Bonaventure Senior Living COO, Answers Questions About Saving for Retirement

Despite the recent U.S. economic recovery, Pam Gray, Bonaventure COO, says saving for retirement should still be a top priority for people in their 20s, 30s and beyond. Today, Pam Gray of Bonaventure Senior Living talks to us about the best ways to prepare for retirement.

Oceans 2003: Thank you for joining us today, Pam Gray. Bonaventure Senior Living has experienced so much growth in the last few years, we’re very thankful that you could take the time out of your schedule.

Pam Gray, Bonaventure COO: I am always happy to speak about my passion: seniors and retirement.

Oceans 2003: Today’s topic is saving for retirement.

Pam Gray, Bonaventure COO: That’s something I stress to everyone I meet, even younger adults. Sadly, only about half of Americans actually know how much they need to live out their golden years and even fewer are saving enough.

Oceans 2003: Is that because of limited access to employer-sponsored plans?

Pam Gray, Bonaventure COO: Not necessarily. Out of those who have access to a 401(k) or similar savings plan, only about 70 percent are currently utilizing them.

Oceans 2003: How long does the average American typically spend in retirement?

Pam Gray, Bonaventure COO: Around two decades.

Oceans 2003: So, we know we need to save. How do we get started?

Pam Gray, Bonaventure COO: There’s an old saying that goes “there’s no time like the present.” With that in mind, think of saving as a present to yourself.

Oceans 2003: How do you respond to those who claim saving money is not always feasible?

Pam Gray, Bonaventure COO: If you start small, it can be barely noticeable. I would recommend having 5 to 10 percent of your income taken out before you ever see your money. You will eventually get used to living off this amount.

Oceans 2003: What are the best investments?

Pam Gray, Bonaventure COO: That depends on the retiree’s individual goals. I suggest having a diverse portfolio encompassing all types of investments. This will help diminish risk and strengthen your saving’s rate of return.

Oceans 2003: What if you need your savings for an emergency?

Pam Gray, Bonaventure COO: Unless your family’s immediate situation is in detriment, leave your savings alone. If it is a medical emergency, you can always pay that debt off over time.

Oceans 2003: Shouldn’t we be saving for our children’s college education?

Pam Gray, Bonaventure COO: You should take care of your retirement first. While I absolutely believe that you should look out for your children’s educational future, you must be able to take care of yourself when you retire. If you don’t, you risk being a burden on your family. Plus, there’s no guarantee that your child will go to college, but there are always scholarships, grants and loans for that purpose.

Oceans 2003: What do you suggest for those who have a job but their employer doesn’t offer a plan?

Pam Gray, Bonaventure COO: Suggest that your company start an employer-sponsored plan. The worst they can do is say no and then you can look into private options.

Oceans 2003: Do businesses actually benefit from having retirement plans for their staff?

Pam Gray, Bonaventure COO: Absolutely—especially those who offer to match employee savings. These plans can reduce employee turnover, saving the company money in the long run and helping to ensure a highly skilled group of workers.

Oceans 2003: But isn’t Social Security enough?

Pam Gray, Bonaventure COO: The simple answer that question is no. Social Security only pays, at best, 40 percent of preretirement wages.

Oceans 2003: How much of retirement income is typically spent on health care?

Pam Gray, Bonaventure COO: Older adults use at least 20 percent of their income for health-related needs.

Oceans 2003: What is the biggest mistake that future retirees make when saving?

Pam Gray, Bonaventure COO: Aside from not saving enough, not accounting for future inflation. When it comes to inflation, overestimating is far better than coming up short.

Oceans 2003: What are a few small ways that you can save?

Pam Gray, Bonaventure COO: Quit dining out, drop the expensive cable television, rent movies and watch at home instead of going out, and quit making micro purchases such as a daily lottery ticket or soda.  The small savings add up over time, and most people are surprised to see just how much they actually spend on these types of purchases each month.

Oceans 2003: So, we have planned for diversified portfolios and taken inflation into account—is that it?

Pam Gray, Bonaventure COO: When it comes to retirement, there is never an end to managing your funds. You must have a strategy and you must estimate how much money you will actually use and need. The hardest part is sticking to it.

Oceans 2003: Unfortunately, that is all the time that we have today. We appreciate your speaking with us.

Pam Gray, Bonaventure COO: Thank you for having me.

Pam Gray of Bonaventure has more than 20 years of experience managing retirement living. She joined the company in 2004 and continues to promote health and wellness among active seniors. For more information on the Bonaventure Senior Living network of independent, assisted living and memory care communities, visit

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