Many seniors live on fixed incomes – Social Security, a pension, maybe some savings, and money can be tight. Are you living on a fixed income, or know someone who is? Here are some tips to help you cut costs and still enjoy life to the fullest.
1. Make a budget. Before you can develop a spending plan, you need to know your net income, your fixed costs like rent and insurance, and variable costs like food and entertainment. If numbers aren’t your strong suit, have a trusted relative put together a list of monthly expenses and then review where your money is going, with an eye toward cutting costs you don’t need to pay.
2. Talk to your bank about a home equity credit line. You may be “real estate rich” and “cash poor.” You’ve built a lot of equity in your home, but you can’t use equity to buy a loaf of bread. Or, can you? Ask your banker about a home equity credit line, which lets you borrow against the equity in your home to help bridge the gap between your income and your monthly expenses.1
3. Medicare costs may be adjusted based on your limited income. There are four different Medicare Savings Programs, each with different income and asset limits and coverage limits. Log on to the Medicare website (or have a friend help) and read up on Medicare Savings Plans to help stretch your fixed income a little further each month, and still enjoy good health care.
4. Use free stuff. You may be able to save a bundle by using the free services offered by your community. The town library has DVDs, audio books, the daily newspaper, the hottest bestseller, and free book downloads. Some towns open the high school swimming pool or exercise rooms for community use – FREE. Free plays at local schools. Free sports. Ask around. You’ll find all kinds of freebies offered by communities that can improve the quality of your life. Even on a fixed income, you can have free fun.
5. Use those senior discounts. Some seniors are a little sensitive about asking for, or using, senior discounts. Why? These discounts are designed to help you buy something you need at a better price. So ask.
Talk to your bank about lowering or eliminating certain bank fees for seniors.2 Banks like seniors because they’re reliable, and active consumers of lots of bank services, so many banks reduce fees for seniors.
Movie theaters, gyms, restaurants, banks, hotels, cruise companies, airlines – all kinds of businesses cut fees and expenses for those living on fixed incomes. You’ve earned a break. Take advantage of every senior discount you can.
6. Skip Dinner. Go out to lunch. One of the best things about being retired is that you’re on your own schedule. So enjoy brunch or lunch at your favorite restaurant and save dinners for those special occasions. Restaurants often offer the same meals at lunch that they offer at dinner, for much less. You enjoy some time out, some great food, meet some friends for a fun time, and save the leftovers for dinner that night.
7. If you don’t use it, lose it. Review each monthly bill you receive to see what fees you’re paying. Make a few calls to see about saving some cash on stuff you don’t use – or need. You know that high-priced cable package you thought you’d use, but don’t? Downgrade to the cable tier that suits your viewing habits.
You know the high-priced smart phone you never use, and that expensive monthly plan for texting and data transfer? You pay for that even if you’ve never texted in your life, and you don’t transfer data. Go with a basic cell phone – one that makes and receives calls, with “pay-as-you-go” minutes to avoid long contracts.
8. Buy it used. Books, DVDs, clothes, fitness equipment, hobby tools – if you can’t find it used in the local paper, go online to find a used version of what you’re looking for. Avoid buying used electronics and other gizmos that could end up as doorstops, but if you stick to simple items, you can get some good deals by buying them used.
Planning, understanding where the money goes, and cutting unnecessary expenses may save you a lot of money, while making life a little easier and a lot better. Start living smarter today and stretch your fixed income far enough to include fun.
- For information about a Home Equity Credit Line from Nevada State Bank, come into any branch, call 800-727-4743, or visit: www.nsbank.com/personal/borrow/home_equity_credit_line.jsp
- For information about a Silver Advantage Checking Account from Nevada State Bank, come into any branch, call 800-727-4743, or visit: https://www.nsbank.com/personal/checking_accounts/silver_advantage_checking.jsp
The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice.
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