Nobody plans to fail, but we often fail to plan. When it comes to refinement planning, it seems we all start too late. My husband and I only started a few years ago and we are in our fifties. We started way too late. The good news is that we will be okay anyway. We always planned on living off Social security. Which though difficult is possible. Those payments won't provide for lifestyles of the rich and famous. But it can be done. The most important thing is to get major expenses under control.
What I have learned over the years living in New York is that rent or housing is the biggest expense going. With housing under control, everything else was easy. When I first came to live in NYC, I was lucky enough to find a cheap apartment. It changed my life. I found that I could work part time and stay alive. My husband saw the beauty of my situation and leaned the lesson as well. Having a cheap place to live is job one.
This could mean any number of things like a tiny house or affordable housing. I live in New York which provide services to citizen taxpayers. I own my own home, so housing won't be a big problem. But since I grew up in an apartment, living in affordable housing will not be a hardship for me. In fact I derived a sense of comfort from having neighbors close by. When my husband and I were looking to buy a house, I was adamant about not living in the "woods." I had to be able to go out, meet people, shop, etc. No house in the country for me. We ended up with the best of both worlds. Farms ten minutes away, but a supermarket and public library within walking distance and even a bus to the mall. But the taxes may be too much.
Before retirement we will sell our one family house and buy a two family house. We'll have to move away, but that's okay. We live in New York and we could stand to leave the cold. A two family house will provide the income to pay all the expenses. In short we'll be living rent free. With any luck the rental property will will throw off enough cash to pay for utilities as well. Then it's just food and entertainment.