10 Money Saving Tips for Seniors

10 Money Saving Tips for Seniors

Life as a senior brings all sorts of new challenges – good and bad.  It can be a wonderful time, if you stay positive and healthy, enjoying new and old friends and doing the things you’ve always wanted to do.  The key challenges one faces at this age are staying healthy and not blowing retirement resources carefully accumulated for this period.  As studies show that Americans and living longer and more fruitful lives in retirement, you want to be sure that you have the maximum resources to take advantage of it.

Below, are my top ten tips for staying smart and financially comfortable as you age.

1. Move to savings and CDs

The stock market has been appreciating for a long time.  We know for a fact – based on our experiences from 2000 to 2002 and through in 2008 and 2009 – that markets do not only go up.  They also go down.   If you participated in the market and made money, count yourself lucky.  If you didn’t, the last thing you should do is get in heavily now.  As an absolute rule, retirement is not a time to play the market; we seniors do not have the time to recover from the serious falls in the market that inevitably come and come frequently.  The smart and only thing you should do is keep most of your assets out of the market and to invest in savings and CDs, up to the federally insured limit of $250,000 per bank.  Succumbing to market temptation is the kiss of death for seniors.

2. Downsize.

As you organize your financial life going forward, you should consider downsizing your home and property.  There is a weight taken off when you no longer pay a mortgage, large property tax bills, and outsized utility bills.  And, I promise, you will feel light footed knowing you are no longer, nor will your heirs be, shackled with the heavy burdens of large homes and related property.  And, you will also pocket the difference and that will almost certainly will put an extra step in your stride.

3. Consider moving to a lower tax state.

While you are getting rid of your old homestead, be extra smart and relocated to a warm climate and a tax-free state. There are some really good ones now where climate and costs will both be welcomed changes in your years ahead.

4. Question your purchases.

It is always easy to buy new things and to give in to the temptation of the moment.  But, as we get older, we also get wiser.  Giving in to temptations of the moment are things we do less and less as we age.  We have been there too many times – buying something expensive that catches the eye only to get it home and wonder why we bought it in the first place.  So, my recommendation is to get even more serious about momentary urges to buy and to establish a program whereby you wait at least a couple of days before making any purchase, especially large purchases.  Use those days to ask yourself several times whether that particular purchase makes sense. 

5. Budget.

I personally hate the idea and have never been good at it, but friends tell me that making and sticking to a monthly budget saves a whole lot of money.  What they do, and I seem unable to do, is set a hard line on how much they are both able and willing to spend for each month (obviously based on their projections of expected income and desired savings).  They then literally stop spending money when they reach their limits – actually slowing down and holding expenditures to a necessary minimum as they get to the end of the month.  While, as I said, I cannot do it, the logic makes all the sense in the world and holding to a budget you have set for yourself will undoubtedly serve you well.

6.  Be Careful with your gifting.

One thing we are always tempted to do, and it’s a good thing in moderation, is to offer financial assistance to our children and grandchildren. It’s great for them, sometimes even necessary for them, but it is also a slippery slope.  Many friends of mine have found themselves dangerously short of resources in their later years because they were too generous to their children.  Often those very same children are so mired in their own expenses that they cannot return the generosity and help their parents later down the road.  The obvious lesson here is to gift what you can while living, especially if your kids really need it, but to be always tough with and for yourself by making certain that you don’t leave yourself in jeopardy in your last years.

7.  Travel, but do it wisely.

Travel is often a defining set of experiences in retirement that contribute to making life at this stage so rich.  It can be done near home or as far around the globe as you desire.  But doing it is great for your mind and body and allows you to grow and learn while feasting on rich and new experiences.  All that said, however, the travel industry is just waiting for you, and usually not in a good sense.  Cruise and travel packages abound designed to capture your imagination and to separate you from your money.  It makes all the sense in the world to take advantage of the time you have and travel, but it is equally true that you can travel much more frugally by making your own plans and reservations and staying clear of the slick and far too expensive offerings of those who prey on older folks.

8.  Hang up on con artists.

Among the best pieces of advice I can offer those of us who are retired is not to answer your phone.  Nine out of ten times, there is someone on the other end who has bought a list of retired people from a third party and who is trying to sell you one or another useless, expensive and, most often, fake product or service.  You know better; just hang up.

9.   Be creative.

Few people believe that older, retired people have much of anything to offer the larger population.  The truth couldn’t be further from reality.  Older people have been around and if they have done stuff of interest, there is no reason they couldn’t continue as consultants or new business owners.  My point here is that many older people have well honed skills and, even more important, insights and creativity that could allow them to continue, albeit not necessarily 9 to 5, to engage in new activities, even ones for handsome remuneration.  In other words, don’t count yourself out because others think you are old.  Instead, prove that you can be as good as if not better than others and that you can continue to make money from your own efforts and imagination.

10. Exercise often.

And, finally, the best thing you can do for yourself, and at very low cost, is the exercise often and regularly.  Keeping in good shape and good health will save you more money than anything else, especially as it will free you of ever more expensive medical and hospital bills.  And, equally, staying healthy keeps mind and body in shape to enjoy and take advantage of the rich array of experiences that only those of us in retirement can enjoy.

Image: Courtesy: Pexels

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