Most people don’t have as much money saved for retirement as they should. There are a lot of reasons why your savings might fall short of 10 times your salary, but now that you’re retired, you have to learn how to make do with what you have.
That doesn’t have to mean going without, however. Seniors can maintain a high quality of life on a limited income when they focus on saving money in the areas that make the biggest impact on household finances: housing, transportation, and healthcare. Together, these three spending categories cost retirees over $30,000 a year on average. When the average retiree household makes $48,000 annually, it’s easy to see why that’s a problem.
This advice will help you save money in meaningful ways and erase financial stress from your retirement years.
HOW TO SAVE ON HOUSING
Moving is a daunting prospect for older adults, but downsizing to a lower-cost home is the easiest way to free up hundreds of dollars every month. Even if your home is paid off, moving can reduce the amount you spend on property taxes, maintenance, and heating and cooling.
When downsizing, be sure the cost savings are enough to make the move worthwhile. $10,000 to $20,000 savings on a home will be much less after closing costs, moving expenses, and real estate commissions. However, if you can find an affordable home in a low-cost area like a pocket neighborhood, you can save big.
If your budget can’t handle major unexpected bills, consider renting instead of buying. Renting eliminates unpredictable homeownership expenses and allows you to invest home sale proceeds for future income. Renting does have downsides like the potential for rent hikes, so research the pros and cons before making your choice.
Can’t bear the thought of leaving your home? Get a roommate or rent out a spare room to take a bite out of your housing costs.
HOW TO SAVE ON TRANSPORTATION
If you need a quick infusion of cash, sell a second (or third) vehicle. Not only will you pocket the sale proceeds, you’ll also free your budget of the ongoing costs of car ownership like payments, insurance, and registration fees.
Seniors with access to adequate public transportation may be able to give up driving entirely. Many people save money by using public transportation and supplementing with rideshare services like Uber and Lyft as needed. However, if you want or need to hang onto your car, look for ways to save money like buying used cars instead of new.
You can also potentially save hundreds of dollars on auto insurance. Rather than buying the minimum required coverage and putting yourself at risk, look for insurers that provide discounts on full coverage. These discounts may be available to you if you’re a safe driver, group your policies together, have an anti-theft device in your car or drive less than 12,000 miles per year. If it’s time to renew, research and compare different policies and quotes.
HOW TO SAVE ON HEALTHCARE
There are strategies for saving money on Medicare coverage or negotiating medical bills, but if you’re committed to spending less on healthcare, the best thing you can do is take care of yourself. Your lifestyle has a big impact on your well-being, and the more you make healthy choices, the less likely you are to develop serious health conditions.
Regular exercise is one of the best things seniors can do to maintain their health. Strength training and aerobic exercise work together to keep seniors fit and fall-proof so they can live independently for longer. Seniors don’t need a gym membership to exercise either. Most of the recommended exercises for seniors are safe and easy to do at home.
It’s also important to take advantage of the no-cost preventive care services that Medicare offers. These services keep you healthy and ensure that any illnesses you develop are detected early.
Something else to consider is selling your life insurance policies. If you don’t have dependents, cashing in on your life insurance proceeds now is a great way to get use out of your benefits while you’re around to enjoy the cash. You can take a lump sum or deposit your money into an annuity to supplement your monthly intake of cash.
As you can see, saving money doesn’t have to mean sacrificing your lifestyle. In fact, when you save in these three major ways, you’ll have more money to spend on the things that give you joy. Whether that’s hobbies, travel, or just spoiling your grandkids, you’ll be glad you took the steps to make your golden years financially comfortable.
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Author – Karen Weeks