Retired and no more paycheck? Here is how to save money
Now that you’ve traded in your regular paycheck, making your money go further is more important than ever.
Here are 12 tips to help you enjoy your golden years without breaking the bank.
1. INVEST WISELY
Resist the urge to move all your nest egg into cash and bonds. Yes, you need to preserve your money. But you should expect to draw on your accounts for as long as 30 years, so you’ll need some growth, too. That means new retirees should place at least 50% of their investments in stocks.
Consider taking a portion of what you have in bonds or cash to buy an income annuity that pays a monthly benefit for the rest of your life. The older you are at the time of purchase, the larger the payout.
2. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF DISCOUNTS
Your senior status can save you money at certain movie theaters, restaurants, hotels, car rental agencies, retailers and auto repair shops. Sometimes the discount is only on certain days of the week or on certain items, so it pays to know the rules.
And if a discount isn’t advertised, ask if they offer one. Many times they will.
3. DO A TRIAL RUN
It can be tough to know how much money you need to live on in retirement. You don’t want to get caught spending more than you can afford. So try living on your projected budget for six months to one year beforehand. Then, once you actually quit your job, monitor your spending to make sure you’re on track.
And before you plunk down your savings on a life-altering decision — such as moving to Florida or buying an RV — try it before you buy it. You don’t want to spend all that money only to find the reality didn’t match your expectations.
4. GET OUT OF THE HOUSE
For free or cheap entertainment, meals and social activities, look to your local senior center. Many senior centers offer group classes and trips, or they may negotiate cheaper rates for tickets to performances in your area.
Volunteering is another cheap way to stay socially connected in retirement. Search for opportunities at volunteernetwork.org.
5. REEVALUATE YOUR INSURANCE
When you’re retired, your insurance needs change. For instance, you aren’t commuting anymore so ask your auto insurer to recalculate your rate.
Also, you may be able to drop or reduce your disability and life insurance coverage. These plans are intended to replace your income to support dependents after your death. But you’re not drawing a salary any longer — and probably don’t have dependents, either.
6. SELL YOUR SPARE CAR
You scrapped your commute, so do you really need two — or three — cars? The average car costs $8,000 a year to own, according to AAA. (That includes gas, maintenance, insurance costs, taxes and registration.) Get rid of your spare car and pocket the savings.
7. GUARD AGAINST CROOKS
Seniors are often targets for scams. According to a 2009 report by MetLife, the annual financial loss of victims of elder financial abuse is estimated to be at least $2.6 billion.
To protect your wallet, never reveal your bank account numbers or other personal info to someone who calls you on the phone or sends you an e-mail. And never assign power of attorney to someone you don’t know very well, or don’t trust.
8. BOOK BARGAIN TRAVEL
Now that you’re free from the daily grind, your schedule allows you to travel whenever the best deals are offered. That means taking advantage of last-minute getaways and traveling in the off-season.
See our guide to saving money on travel for more tips.
9. DOWNSIZE YOUR HOME
You’ll save money on the mortgage — and may even be able to buy it free and clear when you sell your bigger house. Plus, you’ll save money on utilities, insurance, property taxes and maintenance.
Plus, if you sign a contract to buy a new home by April 30, 2010 (and close the deal by June 30), you may qualify for a $6,500 long-time resident income tax credit.
10. FIND THE BEST HEALTH COVERAGE
If you retire before Medicare kicks in, health insurance can be costly. But don’t even think about going without coverage or one major health event could derail your entire retirement-savings plan.
First, if your spouse is still working, joining his or her workplace health planis probably your cheapest option. If not, find out how much COBRA coverage will cost from your employer (COBRA covers you for up to 18 months). Check with groups, such as AARP or your alumni association, to buy into a group plan. Or shop for your own individual policy at eHealthinsurance.com. Need help? Find a health-insurance agent at NAHU.org.
11. PUT YOUR MONEY TO WORK
Although you’re not working, that’s no excuse to let your money take it easy. If you’re stashing your money in a savings account earning next-to-nothing, you’re wasting it.
Make sure you’re getting the best return on your cash. Search for the highest yields on CDs and money-market savings accounts. And consider using a free online checking account that pays interest, such as the ones offered by Everbank or ING Direct.
12. CUT THE PURSE STRINGS
If you have been helping to support adult children, now is the time to stop. Without a regular paycheck, giving money to relatives could be hard to sustain.
You need to focus on preserving your money for retirement. Besides, your kids have to grow up sometime, right?