Retired But Struggling? Here’s How to Cut Your Retirement Budget

retirement label on jar filled with coins

Retirement savings | iStock.com

Retirement can be scary: Many Americans have nothing or far too little saved, yet health care costs can be expensive in retirement, and we have no way to know what the future holds for Social Security. Even if you saved what you thought was enough, you might be finding that retirement is much more difficult financially than you ever imagined. So many retirement costs are hard to anticipate; perhaps you didn’t expect that you would face a health crisis, or maybe your real estate taxes went up or now you need more money for housing and maintenance than you anticipated.

It’s impossible to guess exactly what the future holds, and although retirement can be relaxing in so many ways, the financial aspect of retirement can be quite difficult. Here are a few ways to cut your retirement budget if you need to save money or spend less.

1. Stick to the necessities

Retirement should be fun, so the idea of sticking to the necessities might not be music to your ears. However, if you are able to focus on what you need instead of what you want, even for a short time, you might be able to save money and then rethink your priorities. For example, if you choose to walk with friends instead of paying for a gym membership or personal trainer, use streaming television instead of paying for cable, start buying in bulk and making less trips to the grocery store, and ditch your cell phone for a VoIP home phone, then you may be able to save hundreds of dollars each month. Then once you update your budget, if you have extra money you can determine what to spend it on and possibly add something back to your expense list.

2. Have a serious talk with your family members

budget, family members

Family members | iStock.com

Now is the time to take care of yourself. If you have been financially supporting your children, grandchildren, or other family members, you may need to cut them off. If your family member is truly in a difficult situation and you would rather cut other things in your budget instead of cutting them off, then you can make that choice. However, if you have been paying for things for so long that it’s become a habit, and your family member can and should pay for their own car, insurance, school, or whatever else, then you should ask them to do so.

According to the AARP, if you need to discuss money with family members, it can help to get the timing right and make the discussion a conversation instead of a criticism.

3. Get a job

Retirement is all about quitting the workforce, right? According to an AARP survey, 37% of Americans ages 50-64 plan to keep working for a paycheck after retiring from their current career, and 73% hope to work part-time. If you are currently retired and you are having a difficult time meeting your monthly bills, then now might be a great time to get a part-time job. There are several part-time jobs that are ideal for retirees and pay well. In addition to helping you pay your bills, taking on a part-time job might even cut your expenses and help you lower your monthly spending budget. If you find that you often spend money on activities, or you make purchases simply because you are bored, then working might be a great way to have something to do during your free time.

4. Manage your health

a doctor holding a tablet

Doctor holding a tablet | iStock.com

Hopefully, you have taken care of your health for years, but if you haven’t, don’t assume that retirement is too late to start. You can always start eating better, exercising, spending time outside, and cutting dangerous habits like smoking cigarettes. You won’t be able to erase decades of effects, but you can still start to feel better by choosing to change your lifestyle now. Also, take preventative steps like attending well-checks at your doctor’s office. Health-related costs can be astronomical during retirement, so prioritizing your health is a must.

Also be sure to take care of your mental and emotional health. Make time for reading, interacting with other people in a meaningful and thought-provoking way, and be sure to spend time with friends and family so that your emotional needs are met as well. According to USA Today, getting a Medicare supplement plan, enrolling in Medicare Part D, saving money on prescriptions, and planning for end-of-life care can help.

If you are still struggling financially after implementing some of these ideas, you can consider downsizing your home and moving to a cheaper area or moving in with a family member. Remember that these changes don’t have to be permanent.

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