Retirement should be long and vibrant, filled with happy times shared with friends and family. After working their entire adult years, seniors deserve the opportunity to travel, learn new hobbies, pursue existing interests, indulge in their leisure, and relax however they see fit. Unfortunately, this isn’t the reality many retirees get to enjoy.
Instead, they struggle to make ends meet and, living on a limited income, restrict spending in retirement. Without a strict budget in place, affording day-to-day expenses—let alone costly medical bills—can seem like a challenge if not downright impossible.
The fact is that many working adults do not save enough to retire comfortably; the contributions made into retirement plans aren’t large enough to complement Social Security benefits while maintaining the same quality of living on earned wages.
If this sounds like your situation or that of a close family member, you’re probably aware of the impact this sort of financial strain can have on mental health: stress, anxiety, desperation, boredom, lack of purpose, loneliness, isolation. But beyond these negative emotions, if finances become too dire, nutritional deficiencies and lack of medical attention can lead to severe health consequences.
Don’t let it get that far. Help you or your loved one live those golden years to the fullest by addressing financial strain in one (or more) of the following 3 ways.
- Take advantage of senior discounts
The good news is that you can still dine out, attend the movies, and take vacations—you just need to find senior discounts that can make these expenses within reach. There are all sorts of restaurants (Applebee’s, Dunkin’ Donuts, and Wendy’s are just a few popular examples) that offer perks to their elderly diners. Whenever you’re shopping, whether you’re at a clothing retailer or grocery store, inquire to ask about senior discounts; you may be shocked to receive a percentage off the sales price simply due to your age.
Note: Some of these benefits are limited to AARP members, so if you haven’t signed up already, it might be in your interest to do so. You’ll receive member-only offers in addition to access to travel tools and health resources that can improve your quality of living.
- Research government-sponsored programs
If you find that groceries are too expensive to afford without cutting into your savings account, then you should know that there are a number of government resources designed to help provide low-income seniors with essential nutrition.
The Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP) and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as the Food Stamp Program) are available to eligible retirees, in addition to the 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, Meals on Wheels, that provides seniors with a meal and safety check at every friendly visit.
Note: You can also receive government assistance for medical bills through the Medicare and Medicaid programs if you need to cover mounting health costs.
- Tap into home equity
If public and private resources aren’t enough to alleviate your financial strain, you can explore alternative ways to add cashflow to your retirement income. One popular method used by seniors is a home equity conversion mortgage (HECM), also known as a reverse mortgage. There’s a lot of confusion that exists around this financial product, so if you’re one of the people wondering “How does a reverse mortgage work?”, you’re not alone.
Essentially, a HECM enables qualifying seniors to free up their wealth by tapping into a portion of their home equity and converting it into loan proceeds that can be used as disposable cash in retirement. Mortgagors continue to live on the property where they can age in place more comfortably, and repayment of the loan—insured by the U.S. Federal Housing Administration—is not required until a maturity event occurs.
- Downsize property
In some cases, retirees may find themselves in a home that’s excessively large for their needs. Rather than obtaining an HECM and keeping up with property maintenance, it might be wiser to sell the home, downsize into a smaller property, and use the remaining proceeds from the sale to fund retirement expenses.
- Pick up a part-time job
Finally, retirees in good health should know that there are many employment opportunities for seniors they can pursue to increase their stream of income in retirement. Many of these roles are fun and enjoyable, offering a meaningful way to fill time while making more money.
Stop stressing over financial strain and consider the ways you can improve your situation to live the retirement of your dreams.