It’s no secret that life can get pretty expensive as we age. Between rising costs for groceries, clothing, transportation and other necessities, it can feel like there’s never enough money to go around. However, there are ways to keep the cost of aging on a budget without sacrificing your quality of life. In this blog post, we’ll explore some practical tips for aging gracefully on a budget – whether that means keeping expenses low or planning so you don’t fall into debt when you retire.
These 5 tips will help you stretch your dollars in all the right ways.
1) Eat Well on a Budget
Money doesn’t always buy happiness, but it can buy nutritious food. Even if you don’t earn a salary, you can always find ways to save on healthy groceries. First, look for sales and coupons. Next, stock up on staples, like canned vegetables and beans, instead of fresh produce that tends to spoil quickly.
To save on protein foods, like meat, eggs and dairy products, try making meals at home with canned protein. You can also buy cheaper cuts of meat, like ground beef and chicken breast, which are often cheaper than other cuts and are generally just as nutritious.
To save on beverages, choose water over soft drinks and sweetened juices. If you want to drink something other than water, try investing in a reusable bottle like a water bottle or coffee thermos. Finally, if you aren’t careful, eating well can quickly add up.
Make sure to account for all your nutritional needs with nutritious foods, don’t skip meals, and make sure you’re eating enough to maintain your weight. If you find yourself short on money, consider cutting corners on these essentials to save some cash.
2) Be Smart with Your Money
It can be tempting to let your expenses run wild once you’re financially independent. However, that’s an incredibly bad idea – even if you have a lot of money to spare. Instead, be smart with your money when you have it. If you have a high-interest credit card, for example, pay it off right away and make extra payments throughout the month.
Credit cards are notorious for escalating interest, making them costly and difficult to pay off quickly. Similarly, don’t overspend on expensive items like fancy restaurants and gadgets when you have the money to buy them. Instead, use your extra cash to make payments on high-interest credit cards or pay off high-interest loans.
When you have a low-interest loan or line of credit, make sure to keep it as low as possible. This way you can avoid paying high-interest charges. Just be sure not to make any unnecessary payments.
3) Exercise and Stay Healthy
Exercise is proven to reduce stress, alleviate anxiety and combat depression. It can also improve your health, helping you stay strong and healthy as you age. Exercise can help you maintain a healthy weight and reduce the risk of certain diseases, like heart disease and diabetes. It can also improve your mood, making you less likely to suffer from depression.
If you’re unable to work out regularly because of a disability or physical limitation, you can still reap these benefits from regular exercise. For example, before you go to bed, make sure to move around a bit. This way you’re getting exercise even when you’re not actively trying to stay fit. You can also get exercise in other ways, like walking around in circles or repeatedly doing jumping jacks.
To stay healthy, make sure to eat a varied, nutritious diet. Focus on fruits, vegetables and whole grains, since these are the most nutritious foods. Avoid sugary drinks, fatty and salty foods and trans fats, which can cause serious health problems as you age.
4) Protect Your Assets
Protecting your assets is critical at any age – but especially so as you age on a budget. That way, you can reduce the amount of money you’ll need to live on as you retire, should something happen to you. That means putting more money into your 401(k) or IRA, maxing out your health insurance, or making sure you have enough money set aside for taxes and other expenses.
If you have a high-interest credit card, make sure to pay it off as soon as possible. This way, you can avoid paying hefty interest charges and make sure that you don’t get into any more debt. Make sure to keep your mortgage or home equity loan as low as possible.
This way, you can avoid paying out large amounts of interest and potentially paying off your mortgage much sooner than planned. When it comes to property taxes, you may be eligible for a tax exemption or tax deferral. This can lower your annual tax payment and let you save money for other goals, like a vacation or home improvement project.
5) Consolidate Debt or Avoid It in the First Place
When you have a lot of debt, it can be difficult to stay on a budget. That’s why it’s critical to take action before you get into too much debt. That way, you can start making budgeting a priority and find ways to reduce expenses while still paying your bills.
That means avoiding debt in the first place. If you have money set aside for a big expense like a home purchase, retirement or a child’s education, you’re less likely to be tempted by unnecessary spending. Similarly, if you have a high-interest credit card or loan, make sure to pay it off as soon as possible.
This way, you can avoid paying excessive interest and make sure that you keep your debt to a minimum.