By: James Fleming
Unless you’re very lucky, you pretty much never reach an age where you stop worrying about money. In fact, retirement can often be a time when seniors worry about money the most. Because of this, about twenty percent of seniors are actually putting off retirement because they’re concerned that they don’t have enough money saved.
Whether you’re getting ready to retire or are already living on a fixed income and want to make the most of your savings, keep reading.
Listed below are six simple money management tips that will help you stay on top of your funds and feel confident that you’re covered no matter what comes your way.
1.Crated (and Stick to) a Budget
If you’ve never had a budget, now’s the time to start. It’s important to understand how much money you’re bringing in and how much you’re actually spending. This can be daunting at first, but it’s necessary if you want to really get a handle on your finances.
One of the easiest ways to establish a budget is to follow these guidelines:
- Write down and put your values in order
- Set financial goals for yourself
- Figure out your monthly income
- Figure out your monthly expenses
- Allocate portions of your monthly funds to meet those expenses, starting with essentials like a house payment, car payment, and groceries
- Make sure you’re setting aside money each month in a savings account — do this first so you’re not tempted to spend the extra cash on something else
2. Pay Down Your Current Debt and Avoid New Debt
If you have existing debt, paying it down should be at the top of your priority list. Make room in your budget to pay at least the minimum payment and make sure you’re making these payments on time.
It’s also important to avoid taking on new debt after you’ve retired. There are lots of companies that try to appeal to retirees and encourage them to borrow money or opt for something like a reverse mortgage or home equity loan. Resist these offers, no matter how appealing they may sound initially.
Taking on new debt when you’re already in a bind financially isn’t going to do you any favors.
If, after writing down your expenses and taking of stock of your income, you realize that you’re spending more than your making (or don’t have as much to put in savings as you’d like), you may want to consider downsizing.
If you have an empty nest, maybe you can sell your home and move to one that’s smaller and easier to maintain? Do you have an extra car that’s always sitting in the driveway? Consider selling it.
You can also save a lot of money by canceling or downgrading your cable and cell phone packages and getting rid of unnecessary memberships and service fees.
4. Take Advantage of Senior Discounts
In general, when you’re trying to save money, it’s important to limit your shopping and eating out as much as possible. But, sometimes, you just need to take a break and do something fun.
The great thing about being a retiree is that it’s rare for you to have to pay full price when shopping or going out to eat. There are tons of senior benefits to take advantage of!
Before you plan a night out, search online or in the newspaper for coupons. You can also call restaurants and stores ahead of time to ask if they offer a senior discount. Utilize these offers whenever possible so you can still enjoy an occasional treat without it eating into your budget.
5. Take Steps to Save on Health Care
Depending on your current financial situation, you may qualify for Medicaid in addition to Medicare. This will help cut down on monthly deductibles and other health care costs that Medicare does not cover.
You can also ask your doctor to prescribe generic medications or cheaper equivalents to help you save on prescription drugs at the pharmacy.
6. Get Comfortable with Saying No
Finally, remember that there are probably going to be times when you have to tell your friends and family no when they come to your help with money.
While there are definitely emergency situations in which it’s fine to help out, remember that your financial health needs to remain a priority. If you truly can’t afford to give someone a loan, just say no.
Money management can be stressful, especially if you haven’t made a habit of keeping up with your finances as well as you should. You’re not destined to struggle with money, though.
By applying these tips, you can significantly improve your ability to manage money and make sure you’re taken care of when a ready day comes along.