As financial guru Dave Ramsey says, “If you will live like no one else, later you can live like no one else.” In short, if you live more prudently now than other people, you can live better than others later on.
But maybe it is already “later” and you didn’t reach the savings goals you set for yourself. Or perhaps you want to leave a sizable legacy to your children and grandchildren. These are great reasons to cut expenses during retirement. Here’s how to do it.
12 Ways to Trim Costs
See how many of these suggestions you can put into practice to rein in your expenses.
1. Move to a cheaper area
Some parts of the country are more expensive than others. If you live in Orange County, Calif., for example, you could move to Phoenix, where housing is 63 percent cheaper, and save $18,000 or more per year in expenses. Investigate areas with a lower cost of living. There’s a reason why some regions of the country have larger percentages of retirees.
2. Limit yourself to one car
When you were working and had kids, two or even three cars may have been a necessity. Now, life might be simpler and slower paced and that may lend itself to your becoming a one-car family.
3. Downsize your home
As you did with your cars, consider your housing needs. With your kids out of the house, maybe you can get by with less room. If you sell, not only do you save on the costs of maintaining the house, but investing the proceeds could also create opportunities for larger growth. And by the way, if you have kids who don’t want to leave, downsizing is the perfect way to ease them out.
4. Monitor spending on the grandkids
Sure, they’re cute, but they can be a big excuse for spending. Just as you do with everything else, set a sensible budget for outlays on your grandchildren.
5. Watch for discounts
From tax breaks and free food to programs you aren’t even aware of, there are plenty of senior discounts free for the taking. The secret? You have to ask—and there are plenty of websites that show you where to go.
6. Spend non-retirement money first
Once you reach age 70½ you have to take money from some retirement accounts. That money is added to your annual income and taxed at your individual rate. Until then, spend your non-retirement money first to keep your tax bill lower.
7. Don’t ‘set it and forget it’
When you were working it was harder to take a hands-on approach to your investments, but now that you have the time you can scrutinize your performance and fees even more. Get a second opinion, learn more about investing and make sure you’re not losing money through fees and substandard investment choices.
8. Delay Social Security payments
The longer you wait to begin receiving Social Security benefits (until age 70, that is), the higher your check will be. If birth year, income and work history are equal, a retired worker who waits to take benefits at age 70 will earn up to 76 percent more than the same worker taking benefits at age 62. And that’s for life.
9. Optimize your insurance
Make sure to file for Medicare at the right time, but also don’t forget Medicare supplemental insurance (aka Medigap), long-term care insurance, prescription drug insurance, life insurance—and the list goes on. There are also some types of insurance, such as life insurance, that you might be able to cut back, especially if your family is grown and the kids are out of college. Get with an insurance agent you trust to go over what you need and what you don’t.
10. Travel off-peak
When you worked you had to travel on weekends and holidays when airfare was more expensive. As a retiree, you don’t have those restrictions. You’re likely to find great deals on weekdays. And don’t forget to watch for last minute travel bargains.
11. Cut the cable
For those who are a little tech savvy, Internet TV may be significantly less expensive than traditional cable. Or you could get a digital antenna for about $40 and lose pay TV altogether.
12. Look for free entertainment
Local classes, community events and beach days are free or cheap. There’s plenty to do without having to pull out your wallet.