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3 Ways to Slash Your Living Expenses When Your Retirement Nest Egg is Too Small

By Christy Bieber - Mar 21, 2020 at 9:06AM

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They could help you save your retirement.

Although retirement should be a time to enjoy the fruits of your labor, many Americans reach their 60s with too little money and too many worries about how they'll support themselves after leaving work. If you're nearing the time and your retirement investment account balance is too low to maintain your quality of life, you need to take action.

You don't want to spend the limited savings you have to maintain a standard of living that's beyond your means. Instead, you should do what you can to preserve your savings. In particular, there are three big moves that could drastically cut your expenses and help you achieve some measure of financial security, even without much in the bank. 

Old man holding piggy bank back from grasping hands.

Image source: Getty Images.

1. Move somewhere cheaper

For millions of Americans, the bulk of their wealth is in their homes. If you have an expensive house with lots of equity, downsizing could be the key to saving your retirement. A move to a less expensive abode would free up money to invest. You could also slash your property taxes, utilities, and maintenance costs by switching to a smaller and more practical house.

Relocating could also mean changing your city or state too. The cost of living varies dramatically across the country. If you live in an expensive place, a change in address could save you thousands.

2. Get rid of or downsize a car

Owning a car doesn't come cheap. Unless you own it outright, you probably have a monthly loan payment to make. And loan payments on new cars climbed to an average of $550 per month in 2019. You'll also have insurance, registration and inspection fees, and maintenance costs to consider. 

If you're a two-car household, opting to share a car with your spouse could provide significant savings. And now that you're not working, it may be practical. Even seniors with only one car may find it's more economical to get rid of it if they live in a walkable area or a place with good public transportation -- even if they occasionally need to rent a car or use a ride-sharing service. 

If you can't get rid of your vehicle entirely, opting for a cheaper used car makes sense. Payments are much lower on them, coming in at an average of $392 a month. While that's still a lot, it's almost $2,000 a year less than a new vehicle loan. 

3. Pick a more tax-friendly state

A minority of states tax Social Security benefits. Some states also tax pensions or retirement account distributions, while others don't.

Taxes can substantially reduce the amount of money you get to use to support yourself. While you can't escape federal taxes, you can pick a state that treats retirees favorably in its tax code.

And it's not just income taxes to consider. If sales taxes or property taxes are high, this reduces spending power too. It's worth researching low-tax locales to look for a place where you'd be happy and where less of your money would go to the government. 

Drastic lifestyle changes can make all the difference when you have too little saved for retirement 

Making a move and changing your transportation situation could be the key to preserving your savings when your nest egg is too small.

While these lifestyle changes may not seem fun, it's much better to cut your living expenses voluntarily to make your money last than to be left broke and forced to struggle in your later years. Take action ASAP to find a solution that works for you so you can be happy as a retiree while still making your money last. 

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