Are you dreading retirement and no longer receiving a paycheck? Sure, you planned and knew this was coming, but it can still keep you up at night. How do you live within your means without this paycheck?
If you are struggling to live within your budget there are a few suggestions that might help bring your retirement expenses in line with a more modest retirement income.
The most important thing you can do is to economize on legacy goods and services. Get rid of the things you're paying for that you don't really care about anymore. For example, maybe you're still paying for a membership to a swim-and-tennis club that your kids used to use, or a gym membership that you intended to use but never did. Or, if you have remarried, you can consolidate a lot of bills -- like insurance, phone, AAA membership -- to help your monthly budget.
It’s also a good idea to skip out on the warehouse stores like Costco or Sam’s club now that the kids are grown and purchase only what you can eat each week or every other week.
Sure, this may only save a few dollars here and there but add them all up and you might be saving real money each month to help balance the lack of paycheck coming in.
If you downsize, you can sell some of the things you no longer use. You can think ahead and join in on some of the neighborhood tag sales or even hold a yard sale of your own.
You may even have bigger ticket items that you no longer use or need. What about that old boat you bought when your kids were teenagers? Is there an extra car that's rusting away in the driveway, or a vacation condo or timeshare you hardly ever use? Even if your unwanted items have greatly depreciated, it's still better to have the money now rather than the headache of getting rid of it later on.
Additionally, as you enter retirement you should be paying down debt not taking out more loans. There will be no more salary increases to cover those additional monthly payments and getting rid of those payments could free up a lot more monthly money. The credit card is the worst with high-interest rates high and penalties, so try to clear those as soon as possible. If you are running a balance, don't hesitate to call your credit company to try to negotiate a better rate.
However, the mortgage can be and should be the last debt to pay off. While there is no better security than having a safe home to live in free of debt, this is a normal payment to have as you enter retirement.
What about your grownup kids? Are you still footing their cell phone bills, car payments, rent? It’s understandable to want to help the ones we love or even shower them with gifts. But it’s time they understand that your monthly income is changing and that you can no longer add their monthly bills to your expenses.
Bottom line: you will be bringing in less money per month and it’s time to downsize in any way you can. This should be a freeing time with less worry and less hassle, not a time for fear. It is very possible to live within your means and have a fulfilling life, even in retirement.