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Retirement on a Budget

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Whether you’re newly retired or decades away from it, these strategies and tips will help you save in the long term and short term. You’ll also learn how to prioritize your current spending and investments, as well as how to choose a location to retire. All of these require accurate knowledge on how much you’ll need to retire, so start there with our first calculator. If you’re already retired, use these tips to keep up your income while lowering your expenses.

Saving and Investing for Retirement

Retirement Calculator: Use this calculator to determine how much you should aim to have at the start of retirement.

What to Do If You Haven’t Saved Enough: One in four Baby Boomers have nothing saved for retirement. Luckily, it’s not too late to turn things around.

Have a Good Retirement on a Budget: This article helps set realistic goals based on inflation, typical investment returns, and lingering debt.

10 Ways to Save More for Retirement: No matter how close or far you are from retiring, these tips will help you organize a plan to reach your goals.

Retirement Catch-Up: Even if you’re in your 50s, it’s never too late to start saving for retirement. These tips help late-starters get up to speed.

Investing During Retirement: These tips from Wells Fargo help focus you on a diversified portfolio, consolidating accounts and other helpful investment moves to make once you’ve retired.

Finding a Financial Advisor: You don’t need to have a lot of money to get help, but you do want to make sure your retirement planner has the right credentials.

Ways to Save

7 Tips for Retiring on a Budget: These daily spending and saving tips help you get the most out of your budget.

Save Money in Retirement: Use these tips to save by continuing to invest, taking advantage of senior discounts, and trying out your budget before it’s too late.

101 Ways to Save Money Every Day: Save money by cutting out extraneous hidden expenses and making a few smarter choices every day.

Five Saving Strategies: These long-term strategies help set you up for a comfortable retirement. Make efforts now to pay off debt and start small savings pots.

Making a Budget

How to Make a Retirement Budget: These financial tips for organizing a budget are geared toward soon-to-be retirees, especially those expecting to live on a fixed income.

Retirement Planning Tools: These calculators help you input information to build up your budget. Start by finding out your risk tolerance, evaluating your current spending habits, and more.

Free Printable Budget: Use these paper-and-pencil spreadsheets to officially set up your budget, both for today and for retirement. This blog includes all the instructions you need.

How to Retire on Social Security Alone: Plan for the worst case scenario with a budget and tips designed for living only on Social Security benefits.

Where to Retire

13 Factors to Consider: Keep these things in mind when choosing where to retire based on how you want to spend your time, availability of senior-oriented activities, local laws and taxes, etc.

5 Best Places to Retire: From a low cost of living to special tax exemptions, these American cities rank high among affordable places to retire.

Retire for Under $500 a Month: For the more adventurous, it is worth looking into retiring overseas. Here are several countries where cost of living and quality medical care are both very affordable.

Best Places to Retire: This U.S. News & World Report database helps you narrow down areas to retire by budget, weather, scenery, hobbies, and more.

Retire Here, Not There: Search for the best cities to retire in by state. 

Tips and Tricks for Retirement on a Budget

The Sooner, The Better

Start making changes today. Whether you’re in your 20s or already retired, it’s not too late to make the most of what you have.

Find a financial advisor to help you set up long-term strategies, and make sure you’re taking advantage of all employer benefits.

Next, address your short-term strategies by setting up a monthly and yearly budget. The more you save now, the more you’ll have later. Each dollar helps, especially if you invest it wisely.

Finding a Financial Advisor

Don’t do it alone. Financial advisors often work on a sliding scale, making their services affordable for everyone. The first thing you’ll work on is how much you can expect to need for a comfortable retirement.

To make sure you get a qualified, experienced advisor, look for the following:

  • Check for a CFP credential. A Certified Financial Planner must pass an exam and participate in continuing education.
  • Search the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA). This organization’s standards meet or exceed those of CFPs. These advisors charge a simple flat fee with no commission on any packages they sell.
  • Make sure they are a fiduciary. A fiduciary planner is required to help you make the best decisions for your situation. A planner who is not a fiduciary is only required to find a plan that’s merely adequate or “suitable” for your needs.
  • Find out how they charge. Some charge per hour, some a flat fee for set services, and some an annual percentage of accounts they manage.
  • Ask around for recommendations. Try to ask people who have similar circumstances both in age, family size, income, etc., who they use for their planning.
  • Find out what your potential advisor specializes in. Similar to the above point, you want someone who is experienced with planning for your personal situation, perhaps as a single mom or self-employed entrepreneur.
  • If you have simple questions or just need short-term guidance, check out Garrett Planning Network. These advisors charge per hour, which may be cheaper if you do not have a complex case.
  • If you want someone to personally manage your accounts, you need someone who is an RIA (a registered investment advisor).
  • Consider how you want to engage in stocks. You may want to go with a stock broker who specializes in retirement planning that is geared toward long-term investment strategies.

Using these guidelines, you should be able to pick a financial advisor that best suits your needs and who can help you maximize your savings for retirement. An advisor may also be able to help you develop your budget once you’re retired so you can make the most of your savings.

Have Several Backup Plans

While you’ll likely establish a realistic goal with the help of a financial advisor, it’s still important to plan for worst case scenarios.

Probably the biggest decision you’ll make about retirement is where to retire. You may also have plans on big expenses like a summer home, vacations, a boat or other hobby equipment. These can reasonably fit in your budget, but you want at least one backup plan in case medical expenses or other emergencies arise.

Some backup plans might include living with family, taking on roommates, working part-time, or moving to an active adult community.

On the positive side, you may also want to plan for any windfalls. Extra money can be dedicated to grandchildren, a dream car, home renovations, etc.

Talk It Over with Your Spouse

Before you make any financial plans, it’s important to make sure your spouse is on the same page. Both of your goals must be in the same ballpark in order to be met, and you don’t want to find out at the last minute that you have completely different ideas of where to retire. The earlier you have these discussions, the better.

Use Programs and Apps to Help

If you’re interested in tracking and charting your spending, use the website Mint. You can see where your overspending is and set monthly budgets by category.

For more in-depth planning for correcting future spending, try You Need a Budget.

To get started in investing, LearnVest is a great tool. It offers financial planning help and is strongly oriented to educating you rather than simply tracking your spending.

Personal Capital is another program that takes investing even deeper. There are special tools for retirement planning, as well.

The Acorns app rounds up all of your credit and debit card transactions to the nearest dollar. This not only keeps your accounting easier with even dollar amounts, but it also takes all this “pocket change” and puts it away in savings automatically.

Saving on Daily and Monthly Expenses

Start good financial habits now. Both in saving for and during living in retirement, you’ll want to keep your monthly expenses as low as you can so you have more for emergencies, paying down debt and – of course – for fun.

The highest monthly expenses are usually housing, food, and electricity. You may not be able to change your housing situation, but food and electricity can usually be reduced. Other expenses you may want to address are ways to reduce transportation costs (possibly by coordinating errands more efficiently), reduce the cost of medications (using free discount cards), couponing whenever possible, etc.

Try a Cash System

Swiping plastic cards can make it easier to overspend. Have envelopes with set monthly amounts of cash to help you better visualize your spending in a tangible way.

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