Guest Blogger: Karen Weeks of Elderwellness.net
Photo Credit: Pixabay
Are you trying to make ends meet and still make the most of your retirement? If so, you’re not alone. Recent statistics show that up to 40 percent of retired seniors are living on a fixed income, with many at or below poverty levels. This is a serious epidemic that requires serious changes to remedy. But if you are just looking to boost your retirement income and have more left over for the activities you enjoy, there are much simpler steps you can take.
Making Sure You Have the Right Medicare Coverage
Do you know what causes the most financial stress for retired seniors? If you guessed home expenses, taxes, or entertainment, you’re close, but not quite correct. The rising costs of healthcare are what place the most strain on the income and savings of older Americans, even with the benefits of Medicare. Senior couples typically spend $400,000 or more on their combined medical needs over the course of retirement, but those staggering expenses can be offset by selecting the right Medicare coverage. For example, you can trim your long-term health costs by investing in a more comprehensive Medicare Advantage plan. In fact, the plans like those offered by Anthem provide additional coverage for prescription medications, dental, and vision exams, and preventative care, all of which can improve your health and savings. Another step you can take to improve your Medicare costs is to combine your benefits with Medicaid. If you are dual-eligible for Medicare and Medicaid benefits, you can get help with the out-of-pocket medical expenses that can drain your retirement income, so be sure to research your options.
Taking Steps to Lower Your Major Living Expenses
While medical expenses far outrank other financial stressors for seniors, housing costs are a close second. Many seniors find it difficult to pay for their mortgage, taxes or other expenses related to their homes, and many of those struggling seniors are getting creative to solve their financial woes. One such solution involves finding a roommate to help share those monthly living expenses. With a roommate, whether he/she is the same age or younger, you can cut down on the cost of your mortgage and also get some financial assistance with utilities and bills.
Another benefit of sharing your home with a roommate is that you are less likely to experience feelings of depression related to social isolation. Taking on a roommate at an older age is not for everyone, so you may need to look for more traditional means for reducing your cost of living. If you’re also stressed out about maintaining your home, downsizing may help reduce that stress while also reducing the monthly costs associated with a larger home. You can also look into senior assistance programs that can help out with utilities and other expenses.
Find Low-Cost Ways to Have Fun During Your Retirement
Budgeting for a limited retirement income can take some work, but you also need to leave a little room for fun. After all, these are your golden years, and you deserve to spend these years relaxing and enjoying your life. Thankfully, you don’t need to splurge in order to make the most of your retirement. You could always take up a budget-friendly hobby, like writing, sewing, scrapbooking, or gardening. Growing a garden can be an especially budget-savvy choice for seniors on a fixed income since edible gardens can help lower grocery costs as well.
Another easy way to have fun during retirement without spending too much is to look for the saving opportunities provided by senior citizen discounts. Many retailers, restaurants, and travel companies advertise discounts that can help seniors save, but if you don’t see a discount posted online or in-store, it never hurts to ask and score a deal on travel, food and more.
Stressing out over your income and finances is no way to spend your senior years. So, use the tips above to balance your retirement budget, and make cutting those big retirement costs easier. That way, you can stop stressing and get back to making the most of your golden years.