Saving for retirement takes a two-pronged approach: living frugally and increasing your income as much as possible. If you embrace those goals – and form a consistent saving habit – you’ll probably leave the workforce with a respectable nest egg.
But once you hit retirement, earning more money isn’t really an option. The only way to make your retirement fund last is to live within your means. That can be much harder than it sounds, especially when you run into unexpected medical or long-term care expenses.
If you want to make sure your nest egg goes the distance, here are ten ways to cut your expenses in retirement.
1. Make Use of Home Equity
Moving to a smaller home or apartment can be one of the biggest cost savers in retirement. This will free up a substantial portion of your existing home equity. Alternatively, getting a reverse mortgage could allow you to age in place at your current abode while still accessing your home equity. You can use the money from your home equity to pad your IRA, save for medical expenses or invest in a long-term care policy.
2. Volunteer for Events
Attending events and filling your social calendar is one of the best ways to enjoy your retirement, but those activities can get pricey. Volunteering lets you enjoy plays, festivals and other attractions for free while also meeting new people and being a part of your community.
3. Check out Your Local Community Center
Your city’s parks and recreation department offers affordable classes, often geared toward seniors trying to have fun on a budget. Learn a new skill or, if you’re so inclined, sign up to teach a class.
4. Pick One Car
If you and your spouse have two vehicles, consider selling one of them. You’ll save on gas, insurance, and maintenance when you’re using just one vehicle.
5. Research Senior Discounts
If you’re a recent senior, you might not be aware of all the discounts companies provide to those 55 and older. Before changing your cell phone plan or buying theater tickets, ask about a senior discount.
6. Use Medicare Advantage Plans
Healthcare costs are a major concern for most retirees, but seniors can save money with Medicare Advantage coverage. These plans are less expensive than a traditional Medicare plan, but have some limitations on physicians and hospital networks.
7. Start a Garden
Eating healthy can reduce medical costs, but buying fresh fruit and vegetables can be expensive. Start your own garden or join a community garden to get your healthy fix for less.
8. Save at the Gym
Many gyms have income-based memberships. Some even offer extra deals for seniors. Staying active can stave off many health problems and help to fill your time in a relatively inexpensive way, so exercise is a frugal choice all around.
9. Drop Your Life Insurance Policy
If your mortgage is paid off and your spouse is also retired, consider dropping your life insurance policy. The only time you need life insurance is if someone else relies on your income, which isn’t true in retirement.
10. Research Deals Before You Buy
Almost anything you buy at full price can be found for sale somewhere else. Shopping for a new TV? Wait till Black Friday to snag the best price. Use your free time to research the best deals and shop around at a few different stores.
Zina Kumok is a freelance writer and owner of www.consciouscoins.com.