So you have retired and now find yourself in a position where your retirement savings plans have not entirely lived up to your expectations. Worse perhaps you really have no retirement savings worth speaking about because you never took advantage of either a 401k or a Roth IRA. Well, what is to become of you now?
While its obvious in hindsight that you should have been saving aggressively over the years to ward off this very situation but life happens and we all know that. So how will you survive to enjoy your golden years if you don’t have access to the windfall of retirement cash?
Well, honestly there are no easy answers here.
First, if you can still work then you will simply have to continue working even if that’s part-time. Obviously, this will not be fun but let’s face it. Millions of Americans are actually doing just that as we speak right now. The economy over the last decade or so has been damn unforgiving to many Americans financially speaking. So going back to work even in a lesser capacity might just be what you have to do.
But there are other things you can look into taking advantage of that should ease the financial burden of your retirement years. So let’s explore some of these now.
First thing is to reduce your housing expense. This is not the time to hold on to dreams of your former years in regards to your living arrangements. It’s obvious you won’t be able to afford a large mortgage like you might have in your earlier years so sell your house and downsize immediately. Whatever form this takes, get it done right now. So if that means moving from a 5 bedroom home down to a 2 bedroom apartment or condo then so be it.
Also, remember there is the option of availing yourself of the government-sponsored section 8 housing program. Obviously, you would need to look into this for your own situation but at least its something that’s available to you. So if you can, protect your 401k in case you’ll die before you can enjoy your retirement years.
If your State happens to offer assistance programs for paying your utilities during the winter months then look into that also. See also: traditional vs. rollover IRAs.
Start taking full advantage of all applicable senior discounts. This can save you so much money that it would be foolish to let pride stand in your way here. Seniors get discounts for everything from food to going to the movies and many times these can be as high as 50% off. So right there is an easy way to reduce your monthly expenses.
This leads right into cutting back on your grocery expenses. Look at this stage of the game do you really need to eat like a king? I’m guessing not. So reorganize your diet to include cheaper but healthier staples that will allow you to stretch the money you spend on monthly groceries. Think of it this way the healthier you eat the more you can increase your health and that might be enough to help save you some cash on your medical needs also.
Also right up the food alley is taking advantage of food stamps if you can. Again at this stage, you will need to put aside your pride and take the assistance if you indeed can.
Right in line with the above two pointers is taking advantage of sales as they come your way. So learn to plan your shopping around sales as much as possible but avoid some common mistakes when it comes to your 401k plan!
Start learning to save big by taking advantage of generic drugs as much as possible. So make sure your doctor gives you the generic option to every drug you might be on. Obviously, you will need to go over this with your physician but trust me the savings afforded you by opting for generic drugs can be huge. See also this post about how to make use of your 401k plan if you’re still in the position to build up a real estate portfolio.
For vacations start choosing more localized excursions. Or simply look for budget trips that are still enjoyable but cost up to 70% off more luxurious trips. And this goes for local activities too by the way. You would be surprised just how many things there are for you to do right around your area right now that won’t cost you an arm and a leg. Local wine tasting events and community socials are just some examples. Going to your local community or college theaters for awesome shows can be both fun and cheap.
Obviously, on the medical front, you will need to take full advantage of the Medicare program to help offset your medical expenses during your retirement years. So you should have been very careful when making early 401k plan withdrawals.
Taking full advantage of all the tips above will allow you to still enjoy some semblance of a great retirement even though you might be living on a pauper’s budget. The key thing is to assess where you stand and if you are able to take advantage of each of these options and more start doing so. At least this way can still enjoy your retirement years.