Ah, retirement! It’s just one fancy meal and exotic trip after another, right? Well…maybe for a tiny handful of the über wealthy. For the rest of us, living in retirement means learning to compromise, improvise and economize, since there’s usually a limited amount of resources to spend on things that are purely fun.
However, the good news is that retirement doesn’t have to be a drag – not at all. There are plenty of ways for people of modest means – that is, pretty much everybody – to have a ball enjoying a rewarding retirement without draining their savings or (even worse) piling up credit card bills. As Exhibit A, we offer this creative article we just found on the USNews website, called “Five Ways to Retire on Less Money.” As the article says, “The only thing to give up is your old way of thinking.”
The article was written by author, blogger and retired baby boomer Tom Sightings. He knows whereof he speaks, having been forced into early retirement in his 50s following a layoff. Since then he has learned the lessons of living on a fixed income. “No one wants to surrender the things they enjoy,” Sightings writes – “whether it’s a sports activity, a trip to the mall or a warm home in winter – but sometimes we can achieve our objectives by going about things in a different way.” With that in mind he suggests five ideas for “retiring on less money, without feeling any pain.”
Sightings’ first recommendation for living with more freedom and less expense is one we hear a lot about: Downsize. “You might be compelled to hang onto an old suburban home because it’s familiar,” he writes, “or in case the kids want to move back in. But familiar isn’t always best, especially if the house is too much work and no longer fits your needs. And the kids might not want the house,” leaving you saddled with all that work and expense. Sometimes the decision to sell the family home requires a family conference, just to make sure everyone’s expectations are out on the table, but ultimately you as a retiree have to live your own life and choose what’s best for you. Remember, says Sightings in the USNews article, that downsizing doesn’t have to mean moving far away from your present locale. “You can always move to Florida or Arizona,” he writes. “But sometimes moving just ten miles away, to another county with fewer commuters, can save a lot in the cost of a house and the local taxes.”
The second way to live well for less involves Travel – specifically choosing when to travel and how to do it more frugally. “Travel is on the bucket list for many retirees,” says Sightings. “But if you don’t like to travel, you shouldn’t feel pressured into it by the adventure stories of friends. A lot of people would rather stay home and enjoy free local summer concerts and fall festivals or the social activities at a church or senior center.” If you really have a persistent case of wanderlust, you can still satisfy that travel bug by taking car trips instead of airplane trips and staying with friends and family. And whatever you do, be careful not to spend too much time on social media – you’ll just end up feeling envious. Just because your friends are taking trips they probably can’t afford doesn’t mean you should do the same!
Tom Sightings’ third money saving idea in retirement is to develop a Support Network. “Almost anything we do in a group costs less than doing it by ourselves – and is usually more fun,” he suggests. “Sharing expenses is one benefit of having a network of friends and family. Sharing work and responsibilities is another.” This kind of support network can be used to give each other rides, help with yardwork, take care of each other’s pets and even share a rental house for a beachfront vacation. Doing things together not only saves money – it also makes life richer and more rewarding.
Idea #4 on the USNews list: use your Community Resources. Take advantage of the local library instead of buying books and DVDs (or paying for Netflix). Use your local community college or university for free or low-cost adult education courses. Get involved in activities at the local Senior Center. And of course, find out about (and use) those senior discounts, from midweek rates at the golf course to matinee prices at the movie theater. With a little creativity and investigation you’ll find ways to have more fun spending less money than you ever thought possible.
The last idea in the USNews article might be emotionally tough for some, but here goes: it’s probably time to let go of Your Kids. “It may be hard to say no to our own children,” says Tom Sightings, “but they need to find their own apartment, cook their own food and learn to live on their own. There’s no obligation to help them buy a new car, go on vacation or help pay for after-school activities for their kids.” And don’t let anyone guilt you into spending money you can’t afford! This is the time of your life when you can say with all sincerity, “Our resources are limited, and they have to last us the rest of our lives.” It’s time to focus your planning on you!
Where are you in the journey of retirement? Are you standing on the brink of this new phase of life, or is that threshold still a few years off? No matter where you are, it’s essential that you have a comprehensive plan in place to guide you – and that does not mean simply a financial plan, but a plan that covers every significant aspect of retirement: your finances, your legal protection, your medical coverage, your housing needs and your family communication. The only plan we know of that encompasses all these facets is a LifePlan from AgingOptions. And the best way to find out more about this retirement planning breakthrough is to join Rajiv Nagaich at a free AgingOptions LifePlanning Seminar. You’ll find all the details on our Live Events page: then register online or give us a call.
As the USNews article says, you can indeed live well on less money. But whether you have a small estate, a large estate, or anywhere in between, the best way to live well is with an AgingOptions LifePlan in place. Age on!
(originally reported at https://money.usews.com)
Photo attribution: Creative Commons (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/)