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5 Ways to Stretch Your Retirement Income

Posted by David Ghiorso, CPA, December 5, 2016

If you’ve already retired, we hope you’re enjoying some of the best years of your life! You’re finally free to live life on your terms, but retirement poses unique new challenges. One of those challenges is your budget. While you’re happy to be free of your daily commute and office politics, now you’re living on a fixed income.

If you’re looking for ways to free up some room in your budget, try these five tips to stretch your retirement income just a bit farther.

Consider your new lifestyle needs. After practicing certain financial habits for years, sometimes you just need to look at your budget with a fresh set of eyes. Many of your expenses originated from your working lifestyle, such as those associated with commuting. Do you really need two cars now, or can you and your spouse share a vehicle? Do you need a house phone when you both carry a cell phone? Now that you don’t need to live close to the office, is it possible to sell your home and move to an area with a lower cost of living? Your newfound freedom equals freedom to make more affordable lifestyle decisions.

Delay claiming your Social Security benefits. For each year that you delay your claim, your monthly Social Security checks will increase by about 8 percent. For many retirees, it’s better to access other forms of retirement income first, so that you can put off filing for Social Security for as long as possible.

Always ask for a discount. Many businesses offer discounts to seniors, but these price breaks are rarely advertised. Ask about them everywhere you go, and you might be surprised. It also wouldn’t hurt to make a note of these discounts somewhere. That way, in the future, you can consult a handy list of retiree-friendly businesses before making a purchasing decision.

Consider part-time work. Working part time is a terrific way to stay active and social, and retirement is the perfect time to experience a new and fulfilling type of work. You could put your previous experience to work by consulting or picking up freelance jobs, or venture into a completely new field that has always interested you.

Address your healthcare costs. After housing, healthcare is usually the largest expense that retirees face. If your previous employer offers retiree benefits, use them even if you already have Medicare. Those benefits can help you keep your out-of-pocket expenses low.

Also, talk to your physician about alternate medications that might be more affordable than the ones you currently use. When you can, plan ahead for medical procedures. Coverage might be different from one Medicare plan to another, so it makes sense to investigate your options when selecting a plan each year.

Finally, remember that community health centers often offer free health screenings to seniors, and can often help to offset out-of-pocket expenses by offering lower prices for their services.

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