For most of us, retiring means more free time but, sadly, less money to enjoy it. If we want to enjoy our new free time (and who doesn't?), we need to figure out ways to reduce expenses in retirement.
There are lots of steps you can take to reduce your expenses, and many of them will cause you no pain. Others may call for lifestyle changes, but some of those changes can be a good thing.
One of the most significant steps you can take to reduce expenses in retirement is to downsize your living quarters. That could mean moving from the big family house in the suburbs into a smaller house closer to downtown or moving to a condo or apartment. If you like walkable neighborhoods and proximity to stores, restaurants and culture, a downtown condo might be a wonderful way to enjoy your retirement and save money, too.
If you're worried about fitting all those items that are made to keep and pass down in your new place, you can rent a self-storage unit to store them until your children or other family members and friends decide which of those items they'd like to keep. Or, you can store items you still need to sort through and bring home a few boxes at a time to sort at your leisure.
Downsizing your home isn't the only way to reduce expenses, of course. Here are nine more ways to reduce expenses in retirement.
2. Ask for a better deal.
We often keep the same cellphone, cable, satellite radio, and insurance services for years, paying more as prices rise. Yet, new customers are often offered significantly better deals. Call your cable company, cellphone provider and insurance agent and ask what they can do to reduce your bills. Maybe you're paying for service you're not using. Or, maybe your providers have added cheaper tiers of service you don't know about. Sometimes a cable company will offer you an "introductory" deal that will last for a year or two. When it ends, call back and ask for another deal.
3. Celebrate happy hour.
Going out to eat with friends is enjoyable. But restaurant meals can get expensive. Look for what used to be called "early bird specials," as well as mid-week deals and happy hour specials. If you're willing to eat early or make a meal of appetizers, you can save a substantial amount of money and still have a good time.
4. Set limits on help and gifts to children and grandchildren.
We all want our children to have the best, and when they're young, they often can't afford it. That's no reason to step in and buy things for them. Going without (as long as we're not talking about food and shelter) is good for young people and helps them learn to create their own financial strategy. Encourage your children to take responsibility for their own lives and their own bills. As for grandchildren, the best gift you can give them is your time.
5. Sell things you don't need.
During your lifetime, you've undoubtedly acquired all kinds of decorative items, small appliances, books, clothing, jewelry, collectibles and appliances that you no longer use. While the collectibles market is not what it once was, people will pay for some of your items. Check Poshmark and similar sites for selling clothing, Amazon for selling books, and eBay, Facebook Marketplace and OfferUP for furniture, appliances and decorative items.
6. Rethink your subscriptions.
You may be paying monthly fees for satellite radio, several TV streaming services, magazines, newspapers, software services and more. Look at whether you're really using all those services. You can probably eliminate several. Check your public library to see what free options could replace the media you're buying.
7. Cook more.
When you were working, how many times did you say that you would cook more, and make more interesting meals if you had more time? Now you have more time. Cooking at home saves an enormous amount of money over takeout and dining out, and it doesn't have to be complicated.
8. Live with just one car.
Cars and car insurance are expensive. If there are two people in the household, how often do both of them need a car at the same time? A retired couple can easily get by on one car, especially if neither has to go to a specific location every day. On the rare occasions when both of you need cars at the same time, use a ride-sharing service or rent a vehicle.
9. Travel in the offseason.
Travel is always less expensive at less busy times. Plan your trips for spring and fall instead of summer and school holidays. Airline tickets may be cheaper mid-week. Some hotels are less expensive during the week and others on the weekend. If your timing is flexible, you can realize maximum savings.
10. Ask for a senior discount.
Restaurants, movie theaters, stores – even thrift stores – offer a discount to customers over a certain age, which is usually between 50 and 65. Even if a senior discount is not advertised, it never hurts to ask.
What are some ways you've found to help you save money in retirement? We'd love to hear from you in the comments!