Simplifying Your Finances for Retirement
You’ve saved for this for years—make the most of every retirement dollar for the years to come
Have you recently retired and shifted to life on a fixed income? All those years leading up until now you spent contributing to your retirement fund—you want to make the most of your effort and stretch those dollars where you can. You’ll likely find you have fewer expenses in some areas of life, but more in others. Because it’s not uncommon for your retirement income to be less than what you’re used to, you’ll want to take a look at your new annual income and your new fixed expenses—your mortgage, utilities, medical costs, and so on.
Now’s a good time to refocus, realign, and rework your budget.
Simplify your accounts
You want to enjoy your retirement—not spend time managing your money. Streamline your finances by consolidating multiple accounts. Close accounts or store cards you’re using less and stick to charging to one card with good rewards, or one checking account. If you have investments allocated across different funds and accounts, simplify them so your portfolio is diversified with fewer (and lower) fees.
Prioritize paying off your debts
Paying off debts can feel like a weight off your shoulders, and can increase cash flow and reduce the amount of interest you’re paying. For debts such as mortgages, see about upping your monthly payment amounts to reduce the number of years left on them. When debts are paid off, you can also rest assured your estate—and all you’ve worked hard to accumulate over the years—is safe.
Be a smart shopper
Take advantage of senior citizen discounts where you can. There are benefits offered on everything from retail shopping and restaurants to movie theaters and museums. Inquire about a discount if you don’t see one advertised.
Shop for sales and compare prices both online and in stores. Clip coupons. Spend less by traveling when rates are lowest. Sites like seniordiscounts.com highlight great discounts around the web, sorted by category and location.
Reduce your insurance costs
What type of health insurance plan do you need? Whether you had children on your plan or your needs have changed, you might not need all the bells and whistles you once did. Also, changes in Medicare can improve prescription drug benefits. Visit www.medicare.gov for the latest information.
Consider trimming homeowner’s and auto insurance costs by choosing a higher deductible (the amount of money you have to pay toward any repairs before your insurance will cover the rest). Talk to your insurance agent about other ways to lower rates—they may offer better rates if you lump policies together under one roof.
Get started banking online
If you’re not already banking online—a majority of adults over 60 are not—now’s a good time to make the move to digital. It’s convenient, there’s less paper, and it will help you manage your money better. An educational tool like Capital One’s Ready, Set, Bank can help you get up and running with online banking quickly and easily. Once you’re set, you’ll be able to enjoy benefits like email alerts, bill reminders, fraud protection, and you’ll get a centralized view of your accounts in one place, anytime you want.
Stay savvy and avoid phishing scams
Hackers and email scammers get smarter every day, which means you need to stay sharp and always use caution when sharing any personal information online—even if it looks like it’s from a trusted source. Even if an email from your bank or creditor looks legitimate, be wary. It only takes a minute to call the source or go online to verify if it’s real.
Stay skeptical, and stay safe. Never give out your credit card, Social Security number or other personal information over email. Even if your bank offers fraud protection, it’s important to keep a close eye on your checking and savings accounts and report any suspicious withdrawals. For more tips on how to protect yourself, check out this Senior’s Guide to Online Safety from ConnectSafely.org.
Tip: To help plan for the unexpected, make sure someone—a trusted friend, family member, financial advisor or lawyer—knows where you keep your important papers.
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