As a senior in assisted living, you likely have very few expenses since your housing and meals are covered. However, the expenses you do incur can be challenging. Clothing, recreation, and travel are often at the top of this list. Fortunately, there are many ways to save on these and other retirement lifestyle necessities. Keep reading to find out how.
Start with the budget
When you’re in a senior care community, your monthly mortgage, as well as your utilities, are already taken care of. What’s more, choosing a community through Avista Senior Living means you enjoy added perks, like a chef, entertainment, comfortable and personalized rooms, and other luxurious touches.
Still, most seniors experience added expenses. You may have a cell phone plan or clothing expenses. And, if you plan to travel, you are responsible for those costs as well. Because of this, it makes sense to start your money-saving endeavors by calculating your monthly budget.
If you’re not great with numbers, keep things as simple as possible. First, look at your incoming money. This should include Social Security, annuities, and the average amount you pull out of savings each month. Next, calculate how much you spend on assisted living and other expenses, such as clothing and medical bills. Subtract your outgoing money from your total income to see how much you have left at the end of each month for discretionary spending. Mint offers several free budget templates you can use to get started.
The Senior Advantage
Being a senior citizen has its advantages when it comes to saving money. Many stores and service providers recognize that you’re on a limited income. As such, they often have senior discounts available to encourage you to continue to use their products and services. The AARP lists Kohls, Ross, and some automotive services providers among these. Discounts are typically anywhere from 10% to 20%, which can help you shave a significant chunk off of many of your shopping trips.
In addition to senior-specific savings, you can use sites like Rakuten for access to coupons and other money-saving discounts. You may be able to find additional perks, too, such as free shipping or cash back on purchases you plan to make anyway. If you don’t mind planning ahead, you may even snag some in-store savings that you can stack with coupons and your senior discount.
Unfortunately, you may not always be able to rely on percent-off deals, but there are other ways to save on things like clothing, furniture, and even recreational equipment. Shopping at thrift stores is perhaps one of the best. Thrift stores, especially in high-end areas, often carry brand name clothing, shoes, and accessories. U.S. News & World Report cautions, however, that you want to be diligent and ensure that anything you buy is in good working order and free of stains and loose threading.
You also should not be afraid to buy used furniture, vehicles, and other pricier items. Sites like Amazon and Best Buy even offer renewed electronics. If you need a new television, for example, buying one that has been inspected and certified will give you the same viewing experience as a brand-new model.
Speaking of television, streaming services make it easy to save cash while enjoying your favorite shows. When you combine a subscription to Netflix or Hulu with a basic television package, you’ll have access to your local news as well as thousands of hours of TV and movies on your demand and at your convenience.
One place retirees often want to spend their retirement money is recreation. This often comes in the form of travel (more on that in a moment) but you don’t have to stray far from home to enjoy your time away from the working world.
There are many hobbies that won’t cost you a dime, and some of these may even help you earn a part-time income if you find that your budget falls short. Wikibuy by Capital One suggests things like writing, learning a new language, and volunteering. If you are more of a social butterfly, you may enjoy working part-time as a museum guide, door greeter, or substitute teacher.
Traveling, which is something you absolutely should do during retirement where possible, also does not have to drain your bank account. Most National Parks are free or reduced for seniors, and you can save money on flights by booking on an off-peak day, such as Tuesday instead of Friday. Talk to your bank as well, since many lending institutes have special travel-friendly accounts that waive ATM fees when you are on the road or abroad. You can also save money by booking a private rental instead of a hotel, which has space for you to bring a companion and also cook your own meals.
Even if you have Medicare, there are still lots of ways to cut costs on your healthcare expenses. The simplest but often most overlooked is to simply use your benefits. Some Medicare plans offer discounted gym memberships, for example, or cover dietary counseling.
You’ll also find that you are out-of-pocket less money overall if you pay attention to what you eat and how much you exercise. Maintaining a healthy diet and staying active is the best way to stave off issues like diabetes and heart disease. And don’t forget about any existing health savings accounts. Although you can only contribute to these up to your 65th birthday, many seniors forget they have this money already waiting.
When you enter your retirement years, the last thing you want to have to worry about is money. Your assisted living center likely covers most of your expenses, but you still have other costs that you should not overlook. From using coupons for smart shopping to traveling on off days and paying attention to your health, there are lots of ways to trim down your expenses without sacrificing the retirement lifestyle you worked hard for.