A safe and comfortable retirement is a goal for most retirees, but living on a fixed income can make it seem impossible. Since there is no safety of a steady paycheck, many are left feeling overwhelmed, looking for options to accommodate their growing needs. So how do you make sure that you spend your retirement doing everything you love, without draining your retirement funds?
Well, there are subtle things you can do that will help you boost your savings and stretch your nest egg for years to come. You don’t have to downgrade your lifestyle to live a fulfilling retired life. Though, you do have to focus on some key areas that are known to be the biggest financial worries among retirees and tackle those first. With some pre- planned financial groundwork and strategic planning, you can enjoy a smooth transition to the retired life.
Here are 6 smart ways to save money so you can enjoy your “dream” retirement:
1. Find the Best Health Coverage
One of the primary expenses retirees worry about is health insurance coverage, especially if you plan on retiring before the age of 65, in which case you won’t qualify for Medicare.
If you aren’t eligible for Medicare, you can still get insured through the Health Insurance Marketplace. While comparing individual plans, make sure to consider factors such as premiums, co-pays, and deductibles. Start your search by signing up at Healthcare.gov; if your income after retirement falls below a specific cap, you might qualify for subsidized coverage.
But while comparing premiums, look beyond the dollar amount to see if the package is right for you. If you visit the doctor a lot, look for a plan with lower out-of-pocket costs, but if you don’t visit the doctor often then a plan with a higher co-pay may be good, since it will give you a lower premium. Also, check to see if your current doctor is in-network since you might be more comfortable sticking with your current doctor than change to another. Your current prescription medications are another thing you should see if your plan covers. Before you decide on a plan, examine your drug coverage and see how much you will be responsible for paying out of pocket.
In many families, one person retires while their spouse still works. If that’s you, then continuing your coverage through your spouse’s insurance can help you save a lot. A pre-Medicare retiree with a working spouse can continue coverage through their employer’s health insurance, provided they request enrollment within 60 days of losing their health insurance.
Or, consider establishing a health savings account. You can contribute $6,750 max if you have family HDHP coverage and the money used for qualified medical expenses is tax-free.
Another option would be to apply for COBRA, which is a federal law that lets you continue your insurance through your employer for at least 18 months. However, this might be an expensive option, since you will be paying the full premium, including the amount that your employer paid while you were employed. Some insurers add on an extra 2% as an administrative fee
2. Take Advantage of Discounts
One of the major perks of being a senior are discounts! There are thousands of deals available exclusively for older adults. From retail, restaurants, travel to activities, there are many incredible savings that you can take advantage of. One way to get access to these senior discounts is by becoming a member of AARP. For just $16 a year, you can get exclusive access to a myriad of discounts through AARP. These include discounts on car rentals, cruise trips, vacation packages, hotel discounts and more.
Two alternatives to AARP that are a popular discount destination for retirees are Association of Mature American Citizen (AMAC) and American Seniors Association (ASA). For memberships costing $16 and $15 per year, respectively, you will have access to many great discounts, helping you recoup that membership amount and then some. But if you are mobile savvy, there is a whole world of discounts that you can discover using the power of apps.
Forget Googling for deals. Apps like Senior Discounts can help you discover amazing savings for eating, traveling and shopping through your iPhone or iPad. Flipp is another great app that helps you discover best deals from popular retailers like Target, Kroger, Walgreens, Walmart and more. It offers discount savings between 20-70% on items.
3. Review Your Expenses and Your Savings
Prioritizing expenses and keeping account of where the money goes is a major step to avoid depleting retirement funds. Downsizing doesn’t always have to mean downgrading. There are many ways to cut expenses to save money such as avoiding impulse purchases, buying in bulk, finding cost-efficient ways for your daily commute, replacing that expensive cable bill with a much cheaper Netflix subscription; are all money saving habits you can embrace.
If you live in a place with a high cost of living, and since you are no longer tied to a job, relocation to a much more affordable city can be an option worth considering. You can then use the saved dollars to pay other huge expenses like health insurance.
4. Save on Auto-Insurance
With middle age, auto insurance rates typically drop because of your years of driving experience. But, senior drivers, even with a clean driving record, and the same driving habits might be faced with a higher insurance rate, because, as a group, they are considered to be more prone to accidents. Many states require insurance companies to give drivers, 55 and over, discounts for keeping a clean driving record and for taking certain driving courses, like defensive driving. You can access these classes through AARP and AAA for a much lower price.
Not all auto insurance companies increase the premium for older drivers at the same age. Some might increase it at your 60’s, and some might wait till you are 70. You should shop around and see what company is offering the lowest rates. If you are not planning to drive as much, you might be qualified to receive a low-mileage or usage-based discounts that offer breaks in premiums for drivers whose annual mileage falls under a certain mileage cap, which is usually between 7,500 and 15,000 miles per year.
With a usage-based, or pay-as-you-go program, you can get a personalized auto insurance quote based on your driving habits, and other patterns like the average speed you drive, braking habits, average number of miles, and time you drive. All these factors are monitored by a small telematic device that you would be asked to install in your car. Based on the results, you will be able to get a customized premium rate that might be lower than what you are currently paying. Sometimes you can get a discount just for installing that device
5. Take a Part-Time Job During Your Retirement
By having a steady flow of income, you won’t have to exhaust your retirement savings to fund your hobbies. A part-time job will also keep you physically and mentally active. It isn’t just about the paycheck, staying in the workforce, albeit part time, can give you a sense of purpose especially if you don’t know how to spend your retirement. A fatter nest egg is a nice little side effect.
There are several routes you can take after retirement. Starting your own business is a good option for those wanting to work at their hours and pace. If you have a hobby or passion, you can look for ways to start a business around it. For example, for retired teachers, starting a tutoring business can be a good source of income, or if you were a salesperson, you could look into affiliate marketing, where you make affiliate commissions selling things you love. Amazon has a popular affiliate program you can join for no starting fee.
One advantage of being retired after so many years in the workforce is the wealth of knowledge you acquire. You can put that to good use by becoming a consultant. Becoming a tour guide, working part time at your favorite golf course, teaching English abroad, working as a librarian assistant or a bookkeeper are all professional options that let you keep that income coming while allowing you to have ample time for your friends.
6. Consider a Reverse Mortgage Loan
A reverse mortgage loan can enable you to delay accessing Social Security payments till later in life, bringing about a bigger monthly payment through social security if you wait. By drawing on your reverse mortgage loan to cover your expenses, you also get to let your investment assets grow. If your investment portfolio assets are not doing well, a reverse mortgage loan can cover you till the market conditions improve again.
It’s a way to make ends meet, but it’s definitely not free money. It’s a loan that will eventually need to be paid back, with interest, when you move out, upon your death, or if you fail to comply with any terms of the loan. Also, you only get a percentage of your home value, not the full amount. What you may qualify for depends upon several factors including age, home value and interest rates, and the amount received will be affected by any amounts owed on an existing mortgage. A reverse mortgage loan allows you to convert a portion of your equity to cash without having to sell your house. You must continue to pay property taxes, homeowner’s insurance, and maintain your home as well as comply with loan terms in order to avoid foreclosure. While processing the loan, your lender will usually charge an origination fee, appraisal fees, closing costs and other fees that are similar to what you paid while you bought your house.
Retirement can be everything you ever wanted it to be if you plan and lay a good financial foundation that keeps your future secure. Thoroughly researching and comparing health and auto insurance plans can help you save hundreds of dollars, while still giving you the satisfaction of staying covered for difficult times. Taking advantage of discounts while shopping for everyday items is a fantastic way to aggregate savings that can add up to a substantial amount over time. Budgeting and taking note of money coming in and going out can help you stay in control of your finances. But if you still need help to cover costs on a rainy day, you can always look into getting a reverse mortgage loan.
*If you qualify and your loan is approved, a HECM Reverse Mortgage must pay off your existing mortgage(s). With a HECM/Reverse Mortgage, no monthly mortgage payment is required. Borrowers must continue to pay property taxes, homeowner’s insurance, and home maintenance as well as comply with loan terms in order to avoid foreclosure. **Consult your financial advisor. © 2017