Well, there is some good news to ease your mind: there are many day-to-day costs that retirees typically don’t face, such as commuting to their job, buying a business wardrobe. Other expenses, though, will stay the same, and the Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants (PICPA) offers advice that can help you make some smart choices to live well on a fixed retirement budget.
Time to Save More
Many people dream of retirement because it promises fewer time commitments and undemanding days. They may not have considered the associated cost benefits. With more time on their hands, retirees can spend more time shopping for bargains on big-ticket purchases such as appliances or electronics, as well as on everyday items such as food and household products. They can also cut down on restaurant and takeout charges by spending their evenings cooking. Home cooking also can cut out some of the fats and calories present in many restaurant or takeout meals, so you may find your medical costs dropping too. Those with travel plans can take advantage of lower midweek airfares or offseason hotel bargains unavailable to people who work weekdays or who have to consider children’s school schedules. Finally, retirement allows you the time to make needed repairs or simple renovations and save on paying someone else to do them. The greater flexibility can help you keep more money in your pocket.
Living on a fixed income may place limitations on your spending, but it can also open new possibilities. If you don’t already live near family or good friends, consider moving closer so you can spend time with them rather than spending money on travel and entertainment. Your life skills can also be highly valuable to a wide variety of charitable organizations, so research your choices and see where you can make a difference. You may find that your most enjoyable experiences are free for the taking.
Retirement offers many options for making significant cuts in your housing costs. The first step for many people is to downsize their home when space is no longer needed for children. If you decide to move, spend some time researching real estate and state taxes in new locations so you can cut those costs as well as your mortgage bill. Also consider “accessibility issues” in your next move, such as the number of stairs you will need to climb. Such concerns can be a real problem as you age.
Given the high gas prices in recent years, retirement relocation may also offer the chance to unload one or all of your cars, freeing yourself from fuel, repair, and maintenance costs. Consider moving to an area with good public transportation that has a bustling downtown with the stores you need so you can live without a car. It may make it easier to stay active in retirement while holding down your costs.
The CPA profession’s 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy website offers information and tools that you can use to understand and tackle a number of financial challenges, including those associated with retirement. The site’s retirement pension planning calculator, for example, can help you understand whether you’re saving enough to finance the retirement of your dreams. In addition, the CPA profession’s Total Tax Insights Calculator gives you a clearer picture of the types of taxes you pay—including many you may not even know exist—and their estimated amounts to help you plan for the future and make changes to your lifestyle. Planning ahead allows you to make the needed changes in your savings and spending so that your nest egg is sufficient later.
Your CPA Can Help
CPAs work with many individual clients facing financial concerns much like your own. Be sure to turn to your local CPA for help with all your financial questions. To find a CPA in Pennsylvania by location or area of expertise, visit www.ineedacpa.org.
The CommonWealth Tips columns are a joint effort of the AICPA and the Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants (PICPA), as part of the profession’s nationwide 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy program.
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