Almost one-third of U.S heads of households aged 55 and older have zero retirement savings. With pensions on the decline, retirees have smaller nest eggs than ever before – but there’s no need to let statistics stop you from enjoying your golden years. Here are 10 ways retirees can live comfortably with fewer funds.
1. Use Bargains and Benefits
You might not look or feel like a senior, but that’s no reason not to use your age to your advantage. There are numerous senior discounts that you can make use of every day. From discounts on groceries to cut-price movies, and lower prices on restaurant meals.
Even if you don’t see a senior discount advertised, it never hurts to ask. If you’re still a little shy about asking, check out our list of Senior Discounts.
2. Make it Fun and Generational
Budgets aren’t fun, but games sure are! Instead of a traditional budget, treat it like a game.
The challenge: find new ways to spend less on everyday purchases. By making it a game, you’ll always be on the lookout for ways to save. For maximum fun, add a points system, so you can win points for a certain amount of dollars saved.
Feel free to get your family involved – it could be the perfect opportunity to introduce your children to healthy spending habits. You can also get your younger family members to help you find coupons online – they know their way around a computer, so it can be a great help!
3. Allow Choices
Sometimes it’s hard to stick to the budget, but there’s no need to be too strict on yourself. By allowing yourself a small treat every now and then, you won’t get so frustrated and potentially blow your budget on something big or expensive.
If you’re finding it hard to cut back, use an online budget calculator to figure out how much you spend. Then, it’ll be easier to identify areas that you can cut back on. If you don’t trust yourself not to spend, withdraw a budgeted amount of cash for the day. By leaving your credit and debit cards at home, it’ll be impossible to go over budget.
4. Use Systematic Withdrawals
You can use the above technique to control your investment funds, too. Instead of giving yourself unlimited access, set up a “retirement paycheck” by structuring direct deposits from your investments to your checking account on a monthly or bi-monthly basis.
If your main income is coming from an IRA or another retirement account, make sure both your federal and state taxes are automatically withheld to avoid spending money you don’t actually have.
Taking regular payments from your fund is called a systematic withdrawal, most mutual funds, brokerage firms, and financial advisors can set this automatic service up for you.
5. Consider Housing Alternatives
Live in a big house all alone? Getting a roommate could offer a money-saving solution as well as companionship. If you are a homeowner, consider renting out a room with SilverNest – a platform that connects senior roommates.
If you’re not tech-savvy, you can search for a roommate by asking around in your local community. Get talking at your church, volunteer group, book club, etc.
Another way to cut costs is by downsizing. As you get older, it will benefit you to move to a condo or residence without stairs. You might want to consider moving to somewhere within walking distance of shopping and entertainment.
6. Use Public Transportation
Using public transport is a great way to save money. Many transport providers offer free travel or senior discounts, so it’s pennies compared to the cost of running a car. If you need a taxi, try using Uber or Lyft instead – they are much cheaper than normal taxis, though you’ll need to master using a smartphone first. Again, if you’re not tech-savvy, talk to neighbors to see if you can carpool.
7. Vacation for Less
You might think you can no longer afford to take a vacation but travel really doesn’t need to be expensive. Try senior home exchange for a creative way to vacation – you can swap homes with people from all over the world.
You can also search sites like VacationRentals or VRBO to find cheaper alternatives to hotels. You might even list your own home to make some extra cash from time to time.
8. Use Government and Non-Profit Organizations
If you need to get some help, don’t be too proud to ask. Community resources and charities are there for a reason. You can get quality low-priced food from Nutrition.gov, as well as delivered meals from Meals on Wheels. Contact your local Area Agency on Aging to find out what non-profits in your area can offer assistance.
9. Stay Healthy
A gym membership and healthy cooking lessons are some of the best investments you might ever make. By staying healthy you can save a lot of money. You can eliminate and significantly lower medical expenses and keep illness at bay. If you don’t have money to invest in a gym membership, for example, stay fitter by taking a walk every day or using a bicycle.
10. Manage Debt
Lots of people are eager to pay off their debts by the time they reach retirement, which is great, but higher net worth families might benefit from keeping a little of the right kind of debt.
If you’re already retired, a reverse mortgage could work for you. These types of mortgages got a bad reputation years ago, but since then the rules have changed. It’s worth researching the topic if you have lots of home equity but not much cash.