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5 Easy Ways to Lower Your Household Spending in Retirement

By Maurie Backman - Updated Jul 14, 2019 at 2:07PM

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Need to free up cash during your senior years? Here's how.

Retirement can be a challenging period from a financial perspective. The absence of an ongoing paycheck will effectively force you over to a fixed income, and once that happens, you may need to get on a stricter household budget. Here are a few things you can do to lower your spending during your golden years -- and ensure that you don't wind up with money problems on your hands.

1. Downsize your living space

Maintaining a larger home costs money. There's more space to heat, more rooms to cool, and, generally speaking, higher property taxes to pay. If you no longer need the same amount of space you once did (say, because your children have grown up and moved out), then downsizing your home could really shave a nice amount of money off your monthly expenses. This especially holds true if you're still paying a mortgage on that home, or if you're renting in an expensive area where added square footage comes at a premium.

Older woman putting her arms around older man


2. Limit yourself to a single car

If you and your spouse once held down jobs that could only be reached by car, then there was obviously a point in your life when you needed to be a multi-vehicle household. But once you both retire, there's no reason you can't share a single automobile and save some serious money in the process. It costs $8,849 a year, on average, to own a car, according to AAA, so if you're able to unload one vehicle, you stand to save something in that ballpark.

3. Cook more meals at home

Early bird specials are popular among retirees, and while they may be cheaper than regular restaurant meals, they're still far more expensive than cooking at home. If you're eager to reduce your spending in retirement, preparing food in your own kitchen is a good way to do so. And in the absence of a job, you'll actually have the time for it.

4. Explore free entertainment

It costs money to stay busy during retirement, but it's an important thing to do, because the more bored your grow, the more your depression risk increases. But that doesn't mean you have to spend a fortune to stay occupied, either. If you look around, you're likely to stumble upon plenty of sources of free entertainment, whether it's local parks, no-cost programs at area museums, or events at nearby community centers. Another way to stay busy for free? Volunteer. You'll get to do something meaningful and feel good about yourself after the fact.

5. Ditch the gym

When you're stuck working a day job, getting outdoors to exercise isn't always easy, especially during periods of limited daylight. But when you're retired, your days are yours to dictate, which means you can get outside to exercise whenever your heart desires. As such, there's no need to keep paying a costly gym membership fee if you could use that money for more important purposes.

There are different steps you can take to lower your household spending in retirement, some of which are clearly more extreme than others. The key is to strike the ideal balance between enjoying your golden years without putting your finances at risk.

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