Most people are aware their income level will decrease somewhat after they retire, though they probably don't know by how much. The conventional wisdom dictates that retirees will need approximately 80% of their pre-retirement income to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle.
That benchmark may be a little too optimistic, however. Using U.S. Census data for 2012, the AARP notes that the dip in household income for those over the age of 65 is much steeper than that for persons aged 45 to 64. In states like Massachusetts, income drops by an astounding 52% percent, and retirees in Washington, D.C. take in only 72% of their former annual income.
For boomers approaching retirement, pruning expenses early on can help make that reduced income go farther, without sacrificing comfort. Here are a handful of ways you can start cutting costs now in preparation for the big day – and creating a little extra cash every month right now to put toward your future.
1. Get tough with your cable company
A recent article in Consumer Reports noted that cable bills have surged in the past 15 years, outpacing inflation. But there is a way to avoid handing over outrageous sums to your cable company every month: just ask.
The magazine gives ample evidence that negotiating with cable companies nets results, with 46% of survey respondents saying they received a substantial reduction on their bills. Many more were able to procure extended introductory rates, or score free equipment.
2. Reconsider your transportation needs
For couples, retirement may mean being able to reduce the family fleet to one vehicle – a great savings when insurance and fees are factored in. If this is your plan, consider buying a new car and financing the purchase so that it is paid off when you retire. Time your purchase to get the best deal; for example, shop in late summer, when many automakers offer special pricing or financing terms in order to move leftover vehicles in time for the new models to arrive.
3. Plan to cut auto insurance costs
When you retire, that new car won't be quite so new anymore, and the loan will be paid off. Prior to retirement, take a second look at the insurance policy, and decide if you will still need things like collision insurance. In addition, check with your insurer to ask about discounts for low mileage, since, once you're retired, you won't be commuting to work every day.
4. Don't scoff at bagged lunches and early bird specials
Going out to eat can get expensive, and you can drop a lot of money each week on pricey cappuccinos and buying your lunch every day. Bringing coffee and lunch from home can be a real savings.
If you like dining out on the weekends, try breakfast or lunch – both of which are usually much cheaper than dinner. If you do eat supper out, don't forget about those early bird specials.
There are undoubtedly many more ways to start saving early, depending upon your particular lifestyle. With a little planning and creativity, you should be able to bridge the income gap, and glide into retirement without even feeling the pinch.