Today, I have a great guest post to share from Joyce Wilson. Joyce is retired and wanted to offer her mini-guide of several tried-tested strategies on living life to the fullest during your golden years on a fixed income.
Seniors who manage to save enough for retirement are as rare as hen’s teeth. With the median retirement savings for workers pegged at just $97,000, an increasing number of seniors are working post-retirement age.
You need to save $1.04 million in 2021 to retire comfortably if you are wondering, according to Annuity.
If you have not saved enough, do not fret. There are countless seniors in the same boat as you.
Furthermore, many of them have managed to set up fulfilling, enjoyable lives for themselves, despite drawing a limited income every month.
As a matter of fact, studies suggest seniors are happier than expected.
And you can be the same way!
If you want to learn how to enjoy your golden years on a fixed income, here is a mini-guide of several tried-tested strategies from Joyce Wilson.
Know where your money is going.
It is basic but essential – you need to have a clear, big-picture view of your finances. Knowing exactly how much money you have coming in and going out prepares you mentally and emotionally for cutbacks. You will know what your necessary expenses are and what you cannot afford.
Moreover, the clarity makes it easier to plan for the future. If you do not enjoy tracking your money (who does?), you can automate the activity through a budgeting app.
Reading bank statements will also work in a pinch.
Create a budget.
You need to limit your access to spending money. Otherwise, you are going to spend too much, too quickly. Essentially, budgeting – and self-discipline – is non-optional.
Give yourself a fixed paycheck to live from each month, maybe by setting up a bi-monthly deposit to your checking account. Set aside money for necessary expenses and emergencies. Of course, do not go overboard with limits – give yourself some “flex” money for other expenses. As with all things in life, aim for a sustainable balance.
Be savvy about debt.
Debt is always a slippery slope – but especially so when you are a retiree. The interest will eat massive chunks of your spending money, making budgeting impossible and draining your retirement fund dry.
When possible, avoid debt – throw your credit cards away and save until you can afford two of whatever you are buying. If you are forced to borrow, prioritize paying the amount back quickly. Also, ask for assistance from a local agency for seniors, and consolidate the debt (for a lower interest).
Invest in your health.
Your health can be your biggest asset or greatest weakness. If you take care of your health, you won’t have to spend your money on doctor visits and hospital bills. Furthermore, good health will make you happy and make it easier for you to enjoy your life or work.
It is never too late to work on your health. Go for long walks, take up an exercise routine, eat more greens, and do away with stress through activities like meditation.
Get creative with your meals.
Your meals do not have to be a large, ongoing expense. Get creative and plan them out to save money.
First, shop for generic brands instead of premium ones – there is little to no difference, as Foodtown can confirm.
Second, shop at the right time, in the right place. Go to a discount store at the end of the day, before the food is to be thrown out, for the best deals.
Third, make a list of your needs and stick to it when you go shopping.
Fourth, have filling meals using “stretcher” ingredients like pasta and potatoes. Also, try Asian recipes – they can be delicious and affordable at the same time.
Last, but not least, when eating out, go to places offering deals and discounts.
Find part-time, low-stress work.
You may have to work to support yourself – but it does not have to be a difficult, stressful endeavor. Freelancing, for instance, is a wonderful, stress-free option. It gives you freedom and flexibility, not to mention can bring in some good money.
If you are starting up your own gig-based business, forming an LLC is a good idea.
It protects your personal assets from lawsuits and offers other advantages like tax benefits, less paperwork, and added flexibility. To save big lawyer fees, you could file the paperwork yourself or use a formation service. States have regulations around forming an LLC. Check the local rules before you continue.
Consider alternative living options like downsizing.
Depending on where you live, your living expenses will account for as much as a third (or more) of your monthly expenses. With some adjustments, you can take away from those costs. You could downsize, moving to a smaller place that requires less upkeep (and money) to maintain.
Downsizing is possible with a smaller house, condo, or even active living arrangement.
If you want to stay where you are, you could rent a room out to someone, if it is an option. Likely the best way to save is to rent a room, instead of an entire home.
Choose free or low-cost entertainment.
You do not necessarily have to spend money to entertain yourself.
There are countless free activities that are just as enjoyable as paid ones.
Some examples are reading a book, visiting a library, museum visits, community events, concerts and festivals, hobby groups, and volunteering activities. Technology – the internet, apps, and games – can be your best friend when it comes to entertainment. You can ask your grandkids for advice.
Buying second-hand is good for your wallet (and the planet in general). If you look hard enough, you can find as-good-as-new items at rock-bottom prices. This includes clothes, furniture, appliances, gadgets, and more.
You can also, of course, visit nearby flea markets, thrift stores, goodwill sites, and charity organizations.
Age offers many advantages – like hindsight, experience, and an appreciation of the smaller things. Take advantage of your age to create and recreate your life as necessary.
Money is not everything, and your imagination can be your best friend.
Last, but not least, do not hesitate to ask for help – whether it is financial advice from a planner or monetary assistance from friends and family. You deserve it!
What are your ways to live on a fixed income? Share your ideas with us in comments!
Share this article if you like it!