How to Save Money Every Month
by Tina Boomerina (Christina Gregoire)
Single Boomers and married retirees can save money by moving to smaller houses, turning off appliances, refinancing, changing phones, and more.
All Baby Boomers who are retired, or approaching retirement, must find ways to cut expenses. Obviously, Baby Boomers’ incomes will drop when they stop working, but their nest eggs will not throw off income, as they should.
If you are an older, divorced woman, you may be dealing with finances for the first time in your life, so pay attention.
Baby Boomers and Retirement
If you have done the right thing and saved for your retirement, you can no longer count on interest income, like your parents did. Just a few years ago, a 5% return on certificates of deposit (CDs) or bonds was common. Now, you get about one percent. However, instead of going into risky investments, try cutting expenses. Here are some strategies, ranked from biggest savings to lowest, which can help you save significant money.
Savings for Retirees
If you need ways to drastically cut your overhead, here are some options. If you are looking for specific help and you are in the middle of a divorce or you are considering divorce, you should talk to a divorce financial analyst before making any major decisions.
1. If You Can Sell Your Home
Your kids are gone and you do not need all of that square footage anymore. This may result in enough cash, after the sale, to pay for a smaller home, outright. Probable outcome:
- You can retire your mortgage payment or reduce it significantly.
- You will save on lower taxes, lower homeowner's insurance, and lower utility bills.
- Note: Some condominiums will not bring you savings because condo fees are ongoing and monthly fees usually increase over time. You may also be assessed for your share of a new roof or other improvements outside of your control.
2. Move to Another State
Consider moving to a state with no income tax, such as Texas or Arizona, but be cautious and thorough in your investigation. Some areas without income tax make up for this with high property taxes.
3. Over 55 Communities
Reduce your monthly costs by avoiding residential communities with a large community dues structure. Many over-55 communities have monthly dues of $200 or more. You can live without the big clubhouse by using free, or nearly free, community senior centers. (The city community center may not be as nice.)Rent a House or Apartment
Some people just want to get out from under mortgage payments and property taxes. If you are thinking about selling your house, you should talk to a financial planner. Sometimes it isn't that much cheaper to rent than to stay where you are. However, if you do sell, use this time to try out a new area before making a permanent move. Arizona may be too hot. Florida may be too crowded. Most people should rent before making a decision.
Small Ways to Save Money on Bills
Even if you are still working, you can save on monthly expenses and put that money aside for later. I know that you may have lost much of your IRA money when the market crashed, but that should make you determined, not discouraged.
4. Cut Your Phone Bill: Dump your big cell-phone bill and home-phone bill by getting a prepaid phone. $100 a year Verizon prepaid cell is a great deal because any call to another Verizon user is free. There are, also, no long distance fees within the US. Two cell phones will cost you $200, which is much lower than $960 a year for two cell phones and $480 a year or more for a landline.
5. Homeowner’s Insurance: Your homeowner’s insurance may be too high for the current value of your house. Check with your agent and consider increasing your deductible to $1000 or more.
6. Auto Insurance: If your car is older, you might want to consider dropping comprehensive coverage. Another good strategy, if you live with a partner, is to sell your second car. This reduces costs significantly.
7. Garbage Bills: Waste removal cost can be cut by almost 50% by reducing the size of your garbage can from a large 64-gallon size to a 32-gallon size. This should be no problem if you are diligent about recycling.
8. Cable TV: Do you really need 300 channels, plus HBO? Switching to basic cable can reduce your bill by over 50%, depending on your current cable package. If your cable company wants to raise your monthly payment, you can call them and say, “I need help; I can’t afford this and I’ll have to drop my service.” They are usually helpful and they might put you on a new-customer plan.
9. Grocery Bills: Shop smart. Plan your meals and put together a shopping list. Stick to it. On a per-ounce basis, Costco is often 40% cheaper than the local food chain. Cleaning products, not bought in bulk, are 20% - 25% cheaper at Target or Wallymart versus the local food chains.
10. Prescription Bills: Prescriptions can be reduced by up to 80% if you switch to generic drugs. Check with your doctor to see if he or she recommends this.
11. Lower Electric Bills: Unplug your appliances when not in use. You can save money, even when you are at home, by unplugging appliances, such as:
- second TV
- note: Do not turn off your refrigerator or freezer.
- turn down your heat when you’re gone or get a programmable thermostat.
Some of these cost-cutting solutions are simple. Other budget cuts involve major life-style changes. This is a good time to consider what is important in your life, and to prioritize.
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