Many people worry about covering their expenses in retirement, and the truth is, even if you save well for that milestone, you might still find yourself in a cash crunch if your bills come in higher than expected. The good news, however, is that a few smart decisions on your part could make retirement a less costly endeavor. Here are four moves to consider.
1. Downsize your home
Ideally, your mortgage will already be paid off by the time you retire (or if not fully gone, then mostly gone). But generally speaking, it costs more to live in and maintain a larger home than it does a smaller one, so if you'd rather conserve funds, consider downsizing. Property taxes, for example, are often calculated based on how much square footage and land you have, so if you cut those numbers in half, you may not see your property tax bill shrink by 50%, but it should drop substantially.
2. Tackle home maintenance yourself
When you're working full-time, your free time is limited, and so it's common practice to outsource home maintenance -- especially things like lawn care, which needs to be done on a regular basis. But once you're retired, you're apt to have a lot more free time on your hands, which means as long as you're physically capable of maintaining your home, doing so could constitute a big money saver. Also, maintaining your home could help you stay active and busy during retirement -- and that's a good thing, because it could mean spending less on entertainment.
3. Move someplace inexpensive
Some areas of the country cost more to live in than others -- they charge higher state income taxes and homes are more expensive to own or rent. If you're eager to stretch your retirement income, do some research to see whether relocating makes sense. Furthermore, if you live in one state and your adult children and grandchildren live in another, you may find that moving closer saves you a ton of money on traveling back and forth.
4. Rely on public transportation
It costs an average of $9,282 to own a vehicle, according to AAA. If you live someplace in retirement with access to public transportation, and you're willing to rely on buses and trains to get around town, then that could result in serious savings -- especially since you may be eligible for a reduced fare. Of course, this solution only works if you're in good enough physical shape to travel this way, but if you are, then unloading a car makes sense. A big part of owning a vehicle is paying for auto insurance -- but if you're no longer commuting to a job daily, why pay that large sum for a car you may not need all that often?
Padding your retirement savings is a good way to help ensure that you don't end up cash-strapped as a senior. But it's just as important to make an effort to live as frugally as possible. The above tips may not work for everyone, but if some or all of them work for you, you may get to enjoy your senior years more by virtue of having fewer financial worries.