How do you pack for a race to the South Pole? Though you must prepare for harsh conditions, you can’t bring along every tool imaginable. You need to be nimble enough to make good time and traverse Antarctica’s cold, uneven terrain. Therefore, you must be meticulous in your planning, with thoughts on the challenges you may face and the ways you’ll adapt your plan to overcome them.
In the race to become the first man to reach the South Pole in 1911, poor planning by Captain Robert Falcon Scott doomed his Terra Nova expedition before even setting sail to Earth’s most inhospitable environment. Among his many mistakes: choosing horses for transportation instead of sled dogs; never training his crew how to ski; bringing unproven motorized sledges, but not the engineer who knew how to repair them; enlisting more men than the exhibition originally planned for; and underestimating the number of calories they would consume.
So, when things turned dire, there was little they could do to survive. The entire expedition (yes, including the horses and the few dogs they did bring) perished.
The trick to any great challenge is to prepare well enough so that it becomes almost boring, even when things don’t go according to plan. In other words, don’t go seeking adventure. As Scott’s competitor Roald Amundsen, who won the race, said: “Adventure meant that things were going wrong.”
A long journey with limited resources sounds quite a bit like retirement, right? Albeit, less death-defying. Still, it comes with similar potential for the unexpected. Case in point: spending.
According to a study by Global Atlantic Financial Group, 39% of retirees say they spend more money in retirement than expected. With proper planning, surprises should be few and far between; especially, when it comes to managing your cash flow.
However, your priorities can change in retirement. You might travel more or try new activities you’ve never thought of before. Plus, with all that newfound free time, it’s easy to find more ways to spend money.
Should that happen, you probably need to make some adjustments to stay within your retirement budget. But that doesn’t mean having to change your life around. Instead, here are some painless lifestyle moves to help you adapt and free up income in retirement.
Clean out your living space
Tidiness is all the rage these days, and it could help your retirement, too. Look around your house. Chances are you’ll find items you no longer use or care about. Perhaps, you have an elegant dining table, but it’s been years since you last hosted a big dinner party. Or, your kids have long moved out, yet your basement is stacked with boxes of their old stuff. Selling what you don’t need can bring in some extra cash while cleaning out your home could save you time and money on the upkeep.
Downsize your home
Granted, most people have a deep affinity for their homes. Therefore, moving may not exactly sound painless. But, if your priority is to live out your retirement dreams, then downsizing could be a comfortable sacrifice.
Your home is often your most valuable asset. Selling your home and moving to a smaller one could lead to a sizable profit and a lower cost of living. Further, it may allow you to move closer to the people you want to spend time with and the activities you enjoy. It could also help you save money in the long run. If your current home is large with lots of stairs, it may need to undergo expensive remodeling projects to meet your physical needs as you age.
Traveling is on everyone’s bucket list. And, that shouldn’t have to change. What you can change is the way you travel. There are a multitude of ways to stretch your travel dollars. For one, always use travel apps to compare prices. When possible, consider driving instead of flying. And, visit destinations during their low seasons to get the best deals.
Become a mindful shopper
When every dollar counts, every dollar should be well spent. You don’t have to stop buying the things you like or stop doing the things you like to do. Just make sure you’re getting the best price. For example, enroll in the loyalty program of your favorite grocery store. Enjoy going to the movies? Go to the matinee show times for cheaper rates. And, always, always take advantage of those senior discounts.
Partake in meaningful activities – they’re free
Volunteering costs nothing but your time. In return, it provides several benefits. Two-thirds of retirees say they’ve found retirement to be the best time in life to give back, according to an Age Wave/Merrill Lynch study. Retirees were three times more likely to say “helping people in need” brings them happiness in retirement than “spending money on themselves.” Further, those who donate money or volunteer: feel a stronger sense of purpose (59% to 43%) and self-esteem (57% to 51%) and are happier (66% to 52%) and healthier (50% to 43%).
Cut out unnecessary expenses
Just before or early in retirement, track your spending and note all the things you spend money on that no longer support your lifestyle. Then, eliminate or reduce those expenses. Cancel subscriptions to magazines or newspapers you don’t read. Let any gym or club memberships lapse, if you don’t use them. Sign up for cheaper cable and cellphone plans, if you’re spending less time watching TV or on the phone. Chances are you and your spouse each own a car. Try living with just one, since you no longer have those daily drives to the office.
Use your free time to reduce costs
In the hustle and bustle of working life, you may have outsourced certain chores. Maybe you paid someone to mow your lawn and frequently ordered carryout during the week. With the newfound free time of retirement, consider using it as an opportunity to handle those tasks yourself. You’ll stay active, likely learn some new skills and, most importantly, reduce or eliminate the costs of your previously hired services.
Prioritize time with what you value most: people and experiences, not things
After 30-plus years of helping people retire and beyond, we’ve learned the most important thing about retirement is accumulating memories. Time spent with the people you love and doing the things you love will provide more enjoyment than the things you buy (this is true during your working years, too!). Placing more value in people and experiences than material things will lead to a more fulfilling – and less financially wasteful – retirement.