If you are now living on a fixed income, you’ll probably need to start spending less. However, cutting costs doesn’t mean you have to make major lifestyle changes. You can make simple changes to your habits and still live a full and satisfying life throughout your golden years.
Declutter Your House
Over the years, you’ve probably accumulated a lot of stuff that you don’t want, need, or use. Older adults should declutter their homes and part with some of their abundance of belongings. Decluttering doesn’t just free up space and make your home safer; it can also bring in some income. Look to sell items on eBay, Craigslist, or local consignment shops, as clothing, decor, furniture, and other items that you don’t want anymore can bring in a little income. The fewer items you have in your home, the less you’ll have to clean, maintain, or store. Decluttering can be a very freeing experience for many people. Once you’ve sold everything you can, then donate the rest to charity or pass items on to friends or family members.
Concentrate on Energy Savings
One way to reduce your monthly bills is to cut back on your energy usage. Combined utilities are typically the second biggest portion of your monthly bills, after your mortgage or rent payment. There are a number of easy ways to reduce utility costs.
- Go around the house and unplug items that you don’t regularly use. Appliances and electronics that are off but still plugged in will continue to use energy.
- Switch out your traditional light bulbs to more energy-efficient CFLs or LEDs.
- Install a ceiling fan to help cool your home and circulate the air.
- Replace filters regularly so your HVAC unit doesn’t have to work so hard. Vacuum the coils under your refrigerator as well.
- Use a smart thermostat to adjust the temperature when you aren’t at home. Also, lower the temperature at night when you can use blankets to stay warm.
Seek Out Discounts
Restaurants, grocery stores, retail shops, movie theaters, hotels, cell phone companies, and various other entities offer discounts for seniors. The Senior List has compiled a fairly comprehensive list of senior discounts, but you also need to check in your local area. You may be surprised which retailers will offer discounts and freebies to older adults. Also, consider signing up for loyalty programs or rewards credit cards to reap even more benefits.
Check Your Insurance
Do you have the best deal on your health, auto, and homeowner’s insurance? Take the payments off auto-renew and start researching better options. For example, a Medicare Advantage plan may be more cost-efficient to you in the long-run than traditional Medicare. When it comes to car insurance, you can save money in a variety of ways. On an older vehicle, you may not need full coverage, but it’s still a great financial safety net to have. Discounts are usually available if you are a safe driver, bundle your policies, have an anti-theft device, and drive under a certain number of miles a year, so find a company the provides competitive savings. Compare prices and get quotes from different companies before it’s time to renew. You could end up saving hundreds of dollars a year.
Refinance Your Mortgage
Refinancing your mortgage can reduce your interest or extend your term, resulting in lower monthly payments. If you need more cash immediately, you can do a cash-out refinance. With this vehicle, you get a new mortgage that is higher than your current one, but you also get the difference in cash. Refinancing doesn’t make sense for everyone because there may be closing costs or other fees involved. So, talk to your financial institution and various lenders to comparison shop and figure out if refinancing is right for you.
When you head into retirement and you are suddenly on a fixed income, it can be an adjustment. However, just because you need to change your budget doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your lifestyle. Small changes can bring in a little income or reduce your monthly costs so you can continue to do all the things you enjoy as you get older.
Contributed by Karen Weeks. Karen created Elder Wellness as a resource for seniors who wish to keep their minds, bodies, and spirits well. She currently resides in Sacramento, California where she enjoys her retirement by trying new things and learning new skills to keep busy and challenge herself.