After years of hard work, dedication and saving, you have finally made it! Retirement is now in sight. As you prepare to retire, you need to remember basic financial principles to make your retirement funds last as long as possible.

New retirees may be tempted to go on exotic vacations or spoil their children and grandchildren with purchases, but lavish spending can cause a person's retirement savings to quickly dwindle.

You should continue budgeting your retirement income much like you did when you had a full-time job. Start planning your monthly budget a few years before retirement begins. Know your anticipated monthly retirement income. Track your monthly expenses to get a good idea of the amount you spend each month on necessities like groceries, utilities and car and home insurance. Remember to include the unique budget items that come along with retirement. For example, your health insurance plan may change or have different coverage levels or copay amounts in retirement. Familiarize yourself with your plan and make sure you include your anticipated monthly out-of-pocket medical expenses in your budget. Set aside money each month for an emergency fund to cover any unexpected expenses. Include additional income in your budget for entertainment like eating out, movies, leisure activities and trips because, after all, retirement is about doing what you have always wanted to do.

If you find you are having trouble making ends meet, getting a part-time job is a common way for people to make their retirement nest egg last longer. In addition to supplementing your income, a part-time job can also provide you with social interaction and a daily routine. If you do get a part-time job, make sure your income does not exceed the Social Security earnings limit if you are between age 62 and your full retirement age and receiving Social Security benefits. In 2019, the limit is $17,640. For every $2 you earn over this limit, you lose $1 in Social Security benefits and may be hit with additional income tax penalties.

Another way to stretch your retirement savings is to downsize your home. Moving to a smaller home can save not only on your mortgage payment but can cut down on your utility, maintenance and insurance costs as well. Consider moving to a neighborhood where housing costs are lower, especially if you no longer need to worry about school district or work commute time.

Many people plan on traveling in retirement. The good news is you can do it on a fixed budget. Now that you have more schedule flexibility, consider going during your destination's off-peak times. Often, hotels, airlines and other hospitality and tourism businesses will offer discounts for vacationing during a less busy time of the year.

Whether traveling or staying close to home, be sure to take advantage of all the senior discounts you can. These can help you stretch your monthly income.

(Source: Kelly May, senior extension associate)

Educational programs of the Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of economic or social status and will not discriminate on the basis of race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, creed, religion, political belief, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expressions, pregnancy, marital status, genetic information, age, veteran status, or physical or mental disability.

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