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Oct 19, 2023

10 Ways to Stretch Your Dollars

Senior at Bank

The risk of running out of retirement savings – or not having enough to begin with – is a real threat for many older adults. According to the National Retirement Risk Index  published by the Boston College Center for Retirement Research, the percentage of retirees today who are at risk of not having enough money to maintain their pre-retirement standard of living in retirement is about 50 percent.

If you’re short on funds, or worried about the financial health of a senior loved one, there are plenty of ways to make the most of your retirement dollars. Check out these 10 ideas:

  1. Seek the services of an objective financial planner. A financial planner can help the aging adult in your life make the most of their dollars as they plan for the future. Planning ahead will not only give your family member a better chance at the lifestyle they’d like as they age, but will help them anticipate health care and long-term care expenses. Learn more about How to Find a Financial Planner. Also consider completing the 40-70 Rule Action Plan for Successful Aging, which includes a section on Financial Choices.
  2. Look for help to find affordable staples. Contact your local Area Agency on Aging if someone you love is having trouble paying for food and gas. For more information or to find an office near you, visit the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging at Seniors can receive free or low-cost meals and other food delivered to them from Meals on Wheels. Top priority is given to the homebound, which generally will be seniors who are unable to get food on their own and who can't prepare their own meals.
  3. Grow your own vegetables. The over 55 crowd traditionally has been among the most avid gardeners, but growing your own food makes good budget sense as well. Visit How to Grow Fresh Delicious Vegetables No Matter Where You Live. And for adaptive gardening ideas, check out this online guide Gardening with Older Adults for Health and Nutrition. Avoid convenience foods, which are more expensive. Watch for sales on fresh or canned fruits, vegetables and meats, which will be less expensive than convenience foods and better for you as well as the senior in your life.
  4. Look for deals on generic medications. Contact your pharmacist about ways to save money on medications. Many drugs come in generic brands that are more affordable.
  5. Lower health care costs by staying active. Physical activity plays a big role in preventing and managing chronic diseases and lowers your risk of developing dementia, according to the S. Department of Health and Human Services. That could lead to lower health care costs as well.
  6. Team up with friends for savings. There can be economy in numbers. For example, you could save money by organizing a carpool. Or, if you’re no longer driving, go in with friends to purchase a driving service.
  7. Cut down on utilities costs. Look for ways to cut heating and cooling costs. For example, keep drapes drawn during the heat of the day, and minimize opening and closing doors in the cold of the winter. Close off parts of the house not in use to cut down on utility costs.
  8. Look for affordable ways to treat yourself and your loved one. If you or the older adult in your life is accustomed to eating out with friends, why not do it at home? Ask everyone to bring their favorite dish, put out the nice tablecloth and add some fresh flowers. The pleasure will be in the company!
  9. Sell what you don’t need. Have hobbies from years past gone by the wayside? If so, consider selling the trinkets and toys you may no longer need, advises Money Talks News. Clean out the closet and the storeroom to let go of those treasures that someone else can now enjoy. Garage sales, Craigslist classifieds and sites like Decluttr (which buys your old tech tools and devices) are all places to sell your excess for cash.
  10. Reassess where you call home. Consider downsizing. Or, to mitigate costs, think about renting out extra space to visitors through an online marketplace such as Airbnb. To discover the best place to call home, check out the resources of Home Your Own Way.

To learn other ways to plan for a happy and worry-free future, visit and complete the Action Plan for Successful Aging.

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