For many people, living debt-free means living worry-free. This is felt most significantly during retirement and especially for those seniors living on a fixed income. Almost half of adults in the United States— nearly 42 percent to be exact— don’t have any retirement savings and plan on living off their social security benefits alone. For many seniors, that’s less than $1,500 a month.
Living off that kind of monthly income is difficult. Here are a few money-saving tips to help you maximize your retirement finances to get the most out of your golden years.
Downsizing to a Smaller Place
While letting go of your family home may come with some bittersweet and even stressful moments, moving into a smaller space can help you save money on utilities, mortgage, and homeowner’s insurance. You can also use the income from your home sale to invest, pay monthly rent at an independent living center, or provide a down payment or full payment on a new, smaller home.
Save on Vet Bills
If you’re a pet owner, then you understand how costly vet bills can be when your pet suffers from sickness or injury. Instead of potentially spending thousands on vet visits and procedures, you can save by signing up for pet insurance. Insurers like Embrace offer policies with low premiums and a range of deductibles and cover many older pets as well.
Pruning Nonessential Expenses
Do you have a weekly subscription to The New Yorker? Season tickets to the local baseball team? Two cars at home when only one is really necessary? Financial experts suggest that nonessential expenses comprise no more than 30 percent of your monthly income. Is that number realistic to you? That depends on what encompasses the remaining 70 percent. Rethink your habits so you can properly identify what is nonessential.
Starting a Side Hustle
Social Security income has its limitations, both on what is paid out and what you can earn in addition. If you go over that earning limit, you can lose your government income. Many seniors find a balance by picking up a part-time job, contract work, or, as the millennials call it, a “side hustle.” You can bring in a bit of extra monthly income without having your Social Security check compromised.
Finding Free Fun
Are you an avid reader? Science has shown that reading is a powerful way for seniors to stave off cognitive decline or illnesses like dementia or Alzheimer’s care. How can you keep your hobby on a budget? Instead of spending money buying books on Amazon each month, take a trip to your local library! Not only can you check out books, but also DVDs, CDs, and digital copies for your e-reader. Plus the library has daily free classes, social activities, and free Wi-Fi for the public.
Make Annual Payments When Applicable
While you have to pay more upfront, you can save hundreds in the long run if you make annual payments for monthly bills like car insurance. Many companies will charge you a higher monthly fee to include interest. Paying once a year saves you those extra fees.
Travel with a Buddy
You can save on travel expenses by vacationing with a friend or another couple. Splitting the costs on gas, lodging, food, and activities can bring some of the expenses associated with travel way down. This can help make traveling more reasonable and accessible for seniors on a fixed income. Who doesn’t want to do a little exploring with the extra free time you have in your golden years!
Medical costs, living expenses, and housing issues can all make living comfortably as a senior challenging. However, if you get creative with your financial planning, you can stretch your budget even on a fixed income.
Author: Karen Weeks with ElderWellness