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How Older Adults Can Live More Fully on a Fixed Income.

Updated: Sep 1, 2023

Living on a fixed income can be a big stress for older adults. However, with a little tweaking, you might be surprised at how far those dollars can stretch! If you feel like things are just a little too tight, here’s how to get your finances back on track.

Dig Into the Details

When was the last time you sat down and configured a budget? A personal budget can be pivotal in developing financial security. Start by sitting down and calculating your total monthly income, and then add up all of your monthly bills. You will subtract your bills from your income, and ideally, this will equal zero.

If you have bills that are only due occasionally, be sure to include them in your calculations. As State Farm explains, this isn’t too hard. If the bill is due once annually, for instance, divide it by twelve and plug that number in as the amount you would set aside for it every month. If it’s due quarterly, divide it by four and use that number. Remember odds and ends like clothing and car repairs in your calculations. Also be sure to include things you’re saving toward, like a vacation, and your entertainment expenses, like eating out and going to movies.

You might not get a zero balance on your first try. Money left over can go toward monthly savings or to pay down debts. If you’re in the red, however, you need to do some tweaking. Fixing your budget might sound tough at first, since you either need more money, or you need to cut expenses. Luckily, there are many ways to do this.

Boost Your Income

Plenty of older adults have turned to side-jobs to help boost their budget. It’s a great opportunity to pad your bank account and do something productive. Think about what skills you have and how you can put them to work, and think of something you’ll look forward to doing. For instance, if you love driving, you might enjoy becoming a rideshare driver.

Many older adults opt to dust off their old careers and talents. You can easily find freelance work through job boards, which as a bonus is a work-from-home option these days. And for an extra job perk, you can keep your mind sharp and boost your mood. There are opportunities for architects, attorneys, engineers, customer service reps, and almost anything else you can imagine.

Another option seniors should consider is selling things. You can sell handmade goods online, or used or vintage items. Perhaps you have some old collections you’d like to declutter, which could get you off to a good start. Or you could scour thrift stores and yard sales for valuable goods at cut-rate prices, then turn around and sell them on the appropriate websites.

Cut Your Expenses

Cutting monthly expenses might sound tougher than boosting income, but there are some things you can cut that you probably won’t even miss. One of the easiest is your cable bill, since these days, you can stream your entertainment. Similarly, if you’re still paying for a landline phone and you’re comfortable with a smartphone, time to snip the hardwired version. Thrift shopping for clothing and household items can also save a pretty penny, and you can stretch your grocery budget by hitting the clearance aisle and using coupons.

Another idea is to refinance your home to cut down on your monthly mortgage payments. With interest rates at historical lows, this can be a terrific option if you plan on residing in your home long-term.

Is it time to tighten your belt? You might be thinking you aren’t really living that high on the hog, but fixing your finances is practical and easier than you think. Configure a budget, and if you need a little more income, look at what jobs might be fun for you, or trim away at your expenses here and there. You’ll see that even with a fixed income, there are surprisingly comfortable ways to fix your finances.

The California Council on Gerontology and Geriatrics works to support the statewide senior population through educational programs, networking opportunities, and public policy initiatives.

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