Live Big, Spend Small, and Have Fun in the Process

If you’re nearing retirement but can’t bear the thought of letting go of an income, you’re not alone. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly a quarter of the US workforce is in the 55-and-up crowd. While maintaining a cash flow may be necessary, it is possible to enjoy your golden years on a bronze budget. Here are a few ways to do just that.

Plan for the Future, But Live for the Present

The average life expectancy in the US isn’t far off from the 80-year mark. Even if you retire at age 65, you still have an estimated 15 years to either sit around and do nothing or grab life by the horns and enjoy each and every day. Look for ways to trim the fat from your budget. For example, while many seniors opt to invest in life insurance policies, they’re not always necessary, especially if your children are already grown up and autonomous, so think about whether this is something you and your family can go without. If you already have a policy that you don’t want to keep paying into, you can either let it lapse (in other words, stop paying its premiums), trade it for another financial product, or sell it for a cash payout (so long as you’re 65 or older). If you’re living in a 2,000-square-foot home, you could also save money by moving into a senior-friendly condominium, which will save you cash and eliminate much of the cost of home maintenance. If you have lived in your home for many years, you can use the equity to do the things you love today while setting money aside in case you outlive your expectations.

Go for Quality Over Quantity

Admittedly, this is a big cliché, but it’s worth noting. A long weekend spent relaxing with friends and family beats a hectic week-long vacation at the beach any day. Look for little ways to save so you can put your money toward things you enjoy. For instance, if you eat out often, start brown-bagging your lunch, and plan on enjoying a nice dinner once a week instead.

Spend When It’s Right

While you might not like to watch your dollars fly out the window, it may be prudent to outsource tasks that could put you in danger -- things like cleaning the gutters, mowing the lawn, and general home maintenance projects, especially if you’re not handy around the house. You might also consider investing in a personal shopper to take care of the groceries so that you can focus on things that make your heart sing.

Plan Your Shopping

Some people find better deals at the farmers market than the grocery store and find higher quality, less expensive merchandise through local artisans instead of the big box stores. On the other hand, coupons and senior day at major grocery chains can make it easier to save. Being retired means you have time to plan out what to buy where when it comes to shopping. It might take a few extra trips, but it’s worth it if it saves you $20.

Travel at the Right TimeYou no longer have to worry about children’s school schedules, so your vacations are not limited to summer break. Travel+Leisure explains that timing is everything. For example, a trip to Los Angeles in January will be 33 percent cheaper than the rest of the year. Plan for a Valentine’s Day trip to Honolulu, when hotel prices are slashed nearly in half. If you insist on a summer sojourn, consider Boston, Beijing, or Berlin. No matter what month you plan to travel, if you want to save big on flights, leave on a Tuesday or Wednesday.

Embrace the Freebies

One of the greatest benefits of age is that you suddenly become eligible for discounts on everything from groceries to movie tickets. Don’t be afraid to flash your AARP card or, better yet, take advantage of no-cost cultural events, such as outdoor concerts and street fairs. You can even snag free museum tickets at least once per year. Don’t forget about national parks. While seniors are eligible for an $80 lifetime pass, the National Park Service only charges admission for 118 out of 417 sites.

Saving money for the future is certainly a priority. However, there comes a time when you must learn to balance financial stability and quality of life.

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