Retirement often means making life simpler. Of course, we’re not just talking about simplifying your day-to-day life and tasks; we’re also talking about re-evaluating your budget. Living on a fixed income can be hard, but also completely doable! That’s why it’s so important to educate yourself on ways to save more money and help make the dollars stretch even further.
5 Financial Planning Tips for Seniors
If you’re worried about budgeting for retirement, you’re not alone. According to the 23rd Annual Transamerican Retirement Study, 49% of Americans are concerned about outliving their savings and investments. Here are some tips to ease those concerns and help you save money in retirement.
1) Speak with a Financial Planner
Money management is essential for all ages and stages of life. This is especially true for seniors living on a fixed income. Whether you’re considering delaying drawing your Social Security, taking a reverse mortgage on your home, investing or making other big changes, a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) can help you make the best decisions to help you meet your financial needs. A good place to find a CFP is www.letsmakeaplan.org, where you can check a financial advisor’s credentials and make sure they are knowledgeable and reliable.
Consider what you own, what you need, and what you can do without. Do you have an extra vehicle you don’t need? Is it time to move to a smaller home and sell items you no longer use? Downsizing is a bit like spring cleaning – it’s a great way to simplify your life and your monthly budget. And by selling items you no longer need; you can boost your savings account!
3) Negotiate Contracts with Service Providers
Costs for services like your TV, internet and phone can be negotiated and bundled to help you save a lot of money! If you’ve had the same service provider for a while, it’s important to review your monthly bill with offers from other service providers to ensure you’re receiving the best rates. If you are not in a contract, typically your price will go up. It’s always worth calling your provider to request a promotional price.
To save money on your TV bill, you can also consider removing your cable TV service and instead use a smart TV service such as Roku, Amazon Fire Stick, or Apple TV. These devices connect to your TV and are a one-time cost. Monthly service costs come from subscriptions to various streaming services.
The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) is another great resource for low-cost internet. Find out if your household is eligible by reviewing the qualifications on their website and filling out the application.
4) Evaluate your Energy Usage
According to the Consumer Price Index, energy costs rose 30.3% between April 2021 and April 2022. When you’re living on a fixed income, that’s a significant increase in your monthly expenses! Consider contacting your local energy provider to see if they offer discounts or payment options for low-income residents or seniors.
The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is a great resource that offers federally funded assistance to help reduce the cost of home energy bills, weatherization and other minor energy-related home repairs. You can find out if you qualify by visiting your state’s LIHEAP website or by calling 866-674-6327.
Here are some other tips from the Department of Energy to help reduce energy costs include:
- Install motion detectors on lights, fans or other electrical devices to ensure they’re turned off when not in use. Also replace dead lightbulbs with energy-efficient LED bulbs (they can cut your lighting’s energy use by up to 90%!)
- Install a tankless water heater: When you need to replace your water heater, tankless models are 24-34% more efficient than a tank water heater.
- Remove energy vampires: Energy vampires are devices that suck electricity even when turned off, sometimes costing an average of $100 per year! Get into the habit of unplugging devices when they’re not in use.
- Cover your windows: Homes lose about 30% of their heating energy through windows in the winter, and 76% of sunlight that falls on windows becomes heat in the summer. Window coverings will save you lots of money year-round!
- Apply for rebates and tax credits: Many states and municipalities offer incentives for things like installing solar panels and upgrading home appliances. Check your eligibility.
5) Book Low-Cost Vacations
Traveling on a fixed budget can be a challenge, but it’s definitely possible! It’s also worth asking if a business offers a senior discount – oftentimes companies will not advertise these discounted rates. There are a lot of great resources available to help you save money while traveling:
- Purchase a lifetime Senior National Park Pass for only $80!
- AARP can save you up to 30% on everything from car rentals and cruises to restaurants and gas
- Travel during non-peak times can help you save up to 50% on transportation and accommodations
- Sign up for HouseCarers.com ($50 annual fee) or MindMyHouse.com ($20 annual fee) to stay rent free in homes all over the world! NOTE: some arrangements may include pet care or light housework.
Ask for Help!
Like so many things in life, there’s no playbook for retirement. That means that there’s always an opportunity to do what makes you happy. If something isn’t working for you, or if you feel stuck, then make a change! Living on a fixed budget can be extremely challenging, which is why it’s important to take the time to advocate for yourself.
Remember, when it comes to retirement and budgeting, you’re not alone. If you need help, make sure to reach out. Enlist help from a knowledgeable friend, family member or professional to help you evaluate your options before making any changes.