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Living on Social Security Alone? 15 Important Moves to Make

By Maurie Backman - Aug 29, 2022 at 7:00AM
Social Security cards and money.

Living on Social Security Alone? 15 Important Moves to Make

When you have only a monthly benefit to live on

You'll often hear that it's important to save aggressively for retirement because Social Security generally won't pay enough to maintain the lifestyle you're used to. But some people struggle to save during their careers and wind up with Social Security as their sole retirement income source. If that's the boat you've landed in, here are some essential moves to make.

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1. Delay your filing as long as possible

You may not have savings to fall back on for retirement. But if you delay your Social Security filing until age 70, you'll at least snag a higher monthly benefit in the process. You may have to work longer to make a late filing happening, but it's worth it for the extra monthly income.

ALSO READ: Why I Hope to Claim Social Security at 70

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Smiling person takes notes in front of laptop at home.

2. Set up a budget

If you'll be limited to a Social Security check in retirement, you'll need to make sure you have a very accurate sense of where your money will go. That's why it's so important to set up a retirement budget from the start. That budget should account for every expense you have -- and every dollar you spend.

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Labeled moving boxes, house plants, and coffee mugs in a den.

3. Downsize your home

You may not be able to afford a larger home once you're limited to a Social Security paycheck. That's why it could pay to downsize ahead of retirement. A smaller home could mean a much more affordable mortgage -- and lower-cost insurance premiums and property taxes, too.

ALSO READ: How to Know When It's Time to Downsize Your Home

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A car parked in a driveway.

4. Get rid of a car

If you're a two-vehicle household, it pays to get rid of one car if you're looking at living on just Social Security. Even if you own your vehicles outright, there's still maintenance to consider. And if you're retired and don't have a daily commute, you may find that one vehicle suffices.

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Two people stand in a kitchen while drinking coffee.

5. Pledge to cook most meals at home

Restaurants charge a huge markup for the meals they serve. That may be something you're willing to pay for when money isn't tight. But if you're limited to Social Security alone, you'll need to get on board with the idea of eating the bulk of your meals at home and not at restaurants -- unless, of course, someone else is picking up the tab.

I Can't Believe This $17,166 Social Security Bonus Was So Easy Uncover a handful of little-known "Social Security secrets"... including a simple process that removes the guesswork and makes it easy to earn as much as $17,166 in additional benefits every year. Click here to get access to information on how you can uncover this lucrative strategy and even more insider information you won't want to miss.

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Person on phone looking at books and receipts in front of laptop.

6. Dump unnecessary expenses

You might enjoy having access to a local health club or another membership or subscription. But if money is tight due to only having access to Social Security, then it's time to pick and choose. Go through your nonessential expenses and figure out which you can most painlessly dump.

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Medicare enrollment form.

7. Choose the right Medicare plan

Having the right Medicare coverage could make your healthcare costs much easier to manage if all you have is a Social Security check to cover them. Take your time selecting a Part D drug plan or Medicare Advantage plan. And then review your plan options every year during open enrollment.

ALSO READ: 5 Things to Know About Medicare Open Enrollment

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Two people on a bike ride.

8. Take good care of your health

Taking good care of your health could mean spending less on doctor visits and medications. That could mean exercising regularly (provided a doctor says it's safe to do so) and eating nutritious meals. It could also mean going out of your way to avoid stress, which is known to be detrimental on so many levels.

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A pile of pills in plastic.

9. Be strategic when ordering prescriptions

Many seniors take medications on a regular basis. Ordering yours strategically could cut down your costs. That could mean opting for generics instead of name-brand drugs, or ordering bulk supplies at a discount.

ALSO READ: Investing in Pharmaceutical Stocks

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Doctor speaking with patient.

10. Take advantage of any free healthcare services you're entitled to

If you're enrolled in Medicare, you're automatically entitled to a host of free preventive health services. Be sure to schedule those appointments every year. They could help you get ahead of other health issues that are costlier to address.

I Can't Believe This $17,166 Social Security Bonus Was So Easy Uncover a handful of little-known "Social Security secrets"... including a simple process that removes the guesswork and makes it easy to earn as much as $17,166 in additional benefits every year. Click here to get access to information on how you can uncover this lucrative strategy and even more insider information you won't want to miss.

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Adult and child gardening together.

11. Seek out free entertainment

If you have only a Social Security check at your disposal, you may not have a ton of wiggle room when it comes to paying for entertainment. But it's important to stay busy in retirement, especially if you want to stave off mental health issues. That's why seeking out free entertainment is essential, whether it's events at your community center or nature programs at your local park.

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Shocked person taking off glasses and looking at laptop.

12. Keep tabs on Social Security raises

Social Security benefits are eligible for an annual raise known as a cost-of-living adjustment. It's important to follow the news and keep track of those raises so you know what sort of boost to expect. Keep in mind that those raises aren't guaranteed, as they're pegged to inflation. But when living costs rise, Social Security increases tend to follow suit.

ALSO READ: Why October Is a Crucial Month for Seniors on Social Security

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Person mowing lawn.

13. Do your own home maintenance

Home-related upkeep can get very expensive if you're not willing to do the work yourself. If you're capable of maintaining your own home, do it. Not spending money on outside professionals could help stretch your Social Security benefits.

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Person repairing a heater.

14. Ask family members for help with home or car repairs

You may not be able to tackle home or vehicle repairs yourself. But if you have a child who's an HVAC contractor or a nephew who's a mechanic, now's the time to call in some favors. You can't afford to be paying top dollar for repairs when your only source of income is a monthly Social Security payment.

ALSO READ: Tired of Raiding Your Savings for Home Repairs? Try This Instead

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Two people sitting at kitchen table and looking at papers in front of laptop.

15. Be realistic about your finances

Living on Social Security alone is not easy, and it's important to be aware of that fact going into retirement. You may have to make some serious lifestyle cutbacks to manage on your monthly benefits without other income at your disposal. The sooner you get on board with that, the easier that transition will be.

I Can't Believe This $17,166 Social Security Bonus Was So Easy Uncover a handful of little-known "Social Security secrets"... including a simple process that removes the guesswork and makes it easy to earn as much as $17,166 in additional benefits every year. Click here to get access to information on how you can uncover this lucrative strategy and even more insider information you won't want to miss.

Previous

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Two people sitting on a bench.

Make the most of your benefits

You may not be thrilled with the idea of having to retire on just Social Security. But if that's your reality, embrace it and work with it. These moves could help you stretch your income and make the most of your benefits so you're still able to enjoy retirement, even if money isn't abundant.

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