If you’re a senior living off a fixed income, saving even $100 per week can make a big difference in your retirement lifestyle.
If you’re living off the average Social Security retirement benefit of $1,792, for example, saving $400 per month equates to more than 20% of your entire income. That’s significant.
The good news is that in most cases there are a number of simple tweaks you can make to cut costs that add up to at least $100 per week, which could save you over $5,000 per year. Here are some of the easiest to implement.
Adjust Your Thermostat
Heating and cooling bills are a great place to start when looking to trim costs from your monthly budget because they’re something you can control yourself. The U.S. Department of Energy recommends that you set your thermostat at 68 to 70 degrees in winter and lower it at night or when you aren’t in the house.
In summer, it recommends a setting as close to the outside temperature as possible, and typically not below 78. Using an automated thermostat can help you control your bills as well. With these settings, you can often save tens of dollars per week.
Eat Out One Less Time Per Week
Eating out is a costly way to blow your retirement budget, as it’s many times more expensive than making your own food at home. If you regularly dine out, an easy way to get your costs under control is to simply take it down a notch. For example, if you eat out three times per week, try knocking that down to just two or even one. Exchanging just one meal out per week for a meal at home could save you $30 or more, an amount that will add up quickly.
Trim Your Subscriptions
In the digital age, it’s entirely possible, perhaps even likely, that you’ve got more subscriptions than you really need. From online newspapers to streaming services to Amazon Prime to apps, you may be paying more in monthly fees than you really should.
If you subscribe to five streaming channels, for instance, you can likely drop one or two without even missing them. If you’re paying for a few online newspaper subscriptions, you might find that one premium service is enough — or even that free news sources are actually sufficient. Taking a close look at the services you really need and cutting out those that may be extraneous could save you $50 or more per month, or $10 to $15 per week.
Change Bank Accounts or Brokerage Firms
Thanks to the competitive nature of the financial services industry, it has never been easier to find both banking and brokerage accounts that won’t charge you any monthly or transaction fees. If you’re still paying $10 a month for a checking account or $8 per trade for a brokerage account, shop around. You likely can find accounts offering you the same level of service without having you pay anything at all, saving you at least a few dollars per week.
Switch Mobile Phone Plans
Mobile phone companies have a wide variety of pricing options. If you’re paying a high monthly fee for services you don’t need, such as international calling or unlimited data, you likely can save at least $10 per week simply by downgrading to a more basic plan. You also might be better off switching mobile phone companies altogether. In addition to lower rates, a new company may offer you bonuses or discounts for switching, or perhaps even a new phone.
Shop Around for Prescription Coverage
While insurance pays for most or all of the prescription coverage for some retirees, many still have expensive or non-covered medications that can eat into their budgets. In this scenario, it pays to shop around for a pharmacy — or insurer — that will charge you less. Depending on the drugs involved, this could result in savings of hundreds of dollars per month, or even per week in the case of certain pricey medications.
Pay Off Credit Card Debt
If you’re living off a fixed income, carrying credit card debt is a risky proposition. With interest rates often exceeding 20%, a large portion of your monthly payment will be essentially flushed down the drain, paid straight to your bank and not even reducing your principal.
On a $5,000 credit card debt at 20%, for example, you’re accruing interest at over $19 per week, an amount that will compound if you can’t pay it down. If you don’t have the cash lying around to knock that debt out, consider transferring your balance to a 0% credit card so you at least have more time to pay it off without additional interest accruing.
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