Ah, finally, the golden pastures of retirement! Except they may not be so golden. Many American retirees are barely getting by, struggling on quite minimal savings.
This is why saving up and doing adequate financial planning ahead of retirement is so important. But when creating a budget for retirement, it can be difficult to allocate money for fun.
Rest assured. You can still enjoy retirement without devastating your savings. Here are some ideas of how to do that.
Lower Your Bills
You may be retired, but your monthly bills aren’t. Take active steps to lower them.
“You can cut those essential expenses without sacrificing your retirement lifestyle,” said budgeting expert Andrea Woroch. “For instance, a study shows that 90% of mobile users that sign up for unlimited data plans don’t need them. You can switch to a lower plan, or consider an online-only wireless carrier which has less overhead costs and [poses] savings to users like Mint Mobile, who charges just $15 a month for talk, text and data.”
You also might be able to lower your auto and homeowner’s insurance premiums by bundling services or paying in full up front, Woroch said.
“Then, put the savings towards things you actually enjoy like dining out or traveling,” Woroch said.
Rent Out Things You No Longer Use
Perhaps you have a home office that you’ll no longer be needing in retirement. Or, perhaps you’re an empty-nester with a spare bedroom no longer being occupied. Woroch urges that you consider renting these out. She also advises renting out your car when it’s not in use via services like Turo, or even renting out your entire home through VRBO or PeerSpace for personal or corporate events.
“If you have baby items for your grandkids that they use only when they visit, consider renting those out when they’re not in use through BabyQuip,” Woroch said.
Join a Warehouse Club
Are you not yet an active member of a warehouse club like Costco or Sam’s Club? Now is the time to get on the ball with that.
“Retired couples without kids might not see a value in having a membership to a warehouse club,” Woroch said. “But they [offer] far greater discounts beyond just groceries. For instance, you can find big savings on vacation packages, hotels and discounts on activities. This would be a great way to save on any travel you want to do during your retirement years to get the most bang for your buck.”
Get a Cash-Back Credit Card
Unless you’re mired in credit card debt, there’s little reason not to have a cash-back credit card.
“The cash rewards you earn could go towards things like dining out or your travel savings,” Worock said. “I also suggest using cash-back apps like Fetch, which gives you cash back for your grocery purchases by simply taking pictures of your receipts.”
Volunteer in Your Community
A great, potentially no-cost way to spend time in retirement is to volunteer with local organizations.
“Volunteering is a perfect way to stay social without spending money,” said Rebecca Awram, mortgage advisor at Seniors Lending Centre in British Columbia, Canada. “Many organizations are looking for volunteers available during regular working hours, which often lines up perfectly for retirees who are no longer committed to 9-5 jobs.
“There are a ton of diverse organizations working in different sectors, so whether you are interested in working with children or animals, joining a political party, helping low-income people in your community or even joining a homeowners association, you can likely find a gig that is both stimulating and enjoyable, without having to commit the same time and energy you would to a full-time job.”
Refresh Your Education
Another excellent and often low-cost (and sometimes free) way to enjoy your retirement is by signing up for educational programs.
“It is truly never too late to pick up the books again, and now in retirement, you likely have the time,” Awram said. “Whether you want to deepen your knowledge of a particular topic or even pivot and learn about a new topic you have always been interested in, there are many options to further your education qualifications. Online courses are a great way to start learning right away. However, many post-secondary institutions will also offer continuing education courses in-person to older adults — sometimes even for free.”
Look Into Low-Cost Travel
For many Americans, retirement isn’t just a time to stay at home and enjoy their hobbies; it’s also a time to travel the world and see new places. But this can get real pricey, real fast. Unless you’re smart about it. For instance, consider the train instead of the plane.
“A more accessible and cost-friendly way to travel locally is by train,” Awram said. “Large national trains such as Via Rail and Amtrak can take you to major destinations across North America, where you see more at a fraction of the cost. The accommodations on board are comfortable for long-term travelers, and the drawn-out routes make it so that you see more of the country instead of just arriving at your destination. Train travel is one of the best ways to see the country. You can sit back, relax and take in the views.”
Take Advantage of Senior Discounts
Many businesses will give you senior discounts. All you have to do is show your ID. Additionally, some grocery stores, drugstores and movie theaters offer discounts on select days of the week, Woroch noted.
Make Your Savings Make Money
If you have a hunk of cash in the bank, don’t let it sit idly in a low-yield checking or savings account. If you’re comfortable with digital banking, opt for an online savings account that offers higher yield savings.
“For instance, Bread Savings offers at 4.65% APY,” Woroch said.
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