by Hazel Bridges,

When you reach your retirement, it’s natural to want to live it up a little. However, if you’re on a fixed income, it’s important to watch your pennies. Read on for strategies to help you enjoy yourself while you make those pennies go as far as possible throughout your golden years.

Start with Structure

Many people think that budgeting is something only businesses need to do, but it’s important to have a realistic budget, especially when you’re retired. By establishing a structure for your routine spending, you can tend your essentials and still do fun things.

To create a budget, begin by calculating your income from all sources. Then list fixed costs, such as your mortgage and car payment. Next, list your optional obligated costs. These include things you are billed for routinely, but don’t need, like magazine subscriptions and cable tv. After that, list your variable costs—things that are flexible but you spend money on routinely, like going to theaters, traveling, or eating out. Lastly, total your costs, and deduct them from your income.

When you finish calculations, your goal is to achieve a zero balance. If you have money left over, it can be socked away, used to pay a debt, or slipped into a particular category, like travel. If you’re short, you need to make cuts until you achieve a zero result.

Stretching Pennies

If you discovered you need to make spending cuts, you aren’t alone. In fact, many retirees spend more in their first two years after leaving the workplace than they did while employed. Thankfully, there are several ways seniors can save money, including making changes to their health care, transportation, and spending. Read on for more details: 

Rethink Healthcare

Medicare can help with important things, but for many seniors, it falls short. It’s important to examine your personal health concerns, including your prescriptions, and ensure you’re getting the most bang for your buck. USA Today explains it could be in your best interest to find alternative coverage. Medicare Advantage is often less costly than Medicare, although it might limit what doctors you see. If you need to change plans, the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period runs from October 15th to December 7th.

Transform Your Transportation

Cars can be expensive to own and maintain, and gas can certainly add up. While doing without a car might not be plausible, there are things you can do to cut how much you spend on transportation. For instance, one suggestion is to compare insurance rates and move to a more affordable option. It’s easy to find top-rated providers who have competitive rates that could help you save money.

Another idea is to check into your local community for low-cost transportation services. Oftentimes buses and shuttles are discounted or free to seniors, and sometimes there are volunteer groups that help seniors get to appointments and run errands. Relying on others, even occasionally, can save money in the long run. Your Area Agency on Aging can fill you in on what’s available where you live.

Thrift for Fun

Have you ever gone thrifting? It can be a bit like searching for hidden treasure since you never know what you’ll find. Thrift shops have a little of everything, and most have certain staples, like clothing of all shapes and sizes, books, knickknacks, and furniture. Going to a local thrift shop can be big fun, and it’s a great way to stretch your budget.

Dig into Discounts

One of the best things about becoming a senior citizen is the many, many discounts available to you. With that in mind, Senior Discounts Club compiled a list of all sorts of nationwide establishments that give seniors a break, from retail stores to restaurants. And don’t hesitate to ask about discounts when you visit places, not on the list – it can’t hurt!

Being on a fixed income doesn’t need to end your fun. Establish a budget that will preserve your lifestyle, and find fun ways to make it work. By making the most of every penny, your golden years will sparkle!

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