Senior Living: Tips for Living on a Fixed Income

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Retirement. The glorious day we dream of when we can get out of the day-to-day grind, spend more time with family and get to know those neighbors with a boat better (here is your first tip, don’t buy a boat, make friends with someone who bought a boat). However, retirement can quickly become stressful if you don’t make changes in your financial life as well. If you are one a fixed income or close to being on one, here are five essential tips to help keep you financially healthy and able to fully enjoy those days on the water.

Create a solid spending plan

Warning, if you read many of my blogs, you are sick of hearing this but the key to making a fixed income work for you is to have a solid spending plan (aka budget). Use this template from Apprisen or any other of your choosing. First, do one for how you are currently spending (track expenses for a month beforehand).

  • If you are in the red, identify areas to cut. Three key areas to hone in on are your miscellaneous, entertainment and food. Then create a new one with your spending goals. Review each month to see how you are doing!
  • If you have money left over, identify the best places for that money to go. Do you have an emergency savings? Travel fund? Christmas account? Align that extra money with your financial goals.

Cut Car Costs

This is a part of creating your spending plan but can make such a huge impact on your fixed income budget that it gets its own category. The average US household has two vehicles. How many do have? Now that you aren’t working, it may be time to reconsider whether you actually need that number of cars. By downsizing, you will save on car payments, insurance, taxes and gasoline. That frees up money in your budget to travel and socialize more.

Avoid Scams

One easy way to get into a stressful financial situation is to be a victim of a financial scam. Over 1.1 million people in the US report being the victim of fraud last year. Scammers are super savvy these days and specifically target seniors. Here are some of the main scams to look out for:

  • Imposter scam: scammer pretends to be a loved one in trouble, government official, bank representative, etc and asks for money. The “Grandparent Scam” is a common one, where the scammer calls and says “Hi, Grandpa/Grandma, do you know who this is?” When the grandparent says the name of their grandchild who sounds the most like the caller, they confirm and ask for money for an emergency.
  • Fake vacation listings: scammers post photos of properties they don’t own/rent in order to get your credit card information.
  • IRS scam: scammers pose as fake agents and demand money. They threaten to arrest you if you don’t comply. Note: The IRS never calls or leaves urgent messages asking you to call them back.

Utilize Discounts/Resources

Getting older can have downsides (like why are anti-aging lotions so expensive?), but one serous perk are those discounts! You can get discounts at grocery stores, hotels, retailers, restaurants, okay seriously, everywhere! Check out this recent list to get you excited. As a matter of habit, you should ask anytime you are booking travel arrangements and do your research ahead of time to ensure you shop on the right days to take advantage of those discounts.

Get a Side Gig

Reengage with an old hobby that can make you money or find a part-time job doing something you enjoy to bring in extra cash. Side gigs can be a fun way to spend time, stay connected to the community and make a little money to supplement your primary income! Retirees I know have done jewelry-making, hosted exchange students, worked part-time at garden shops, and driven Uber.

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