5 Lifestyle Changes to Consider if Money Is Tight in Retirement

Many seniors wind up cash-strapped despite their best efforts to avoid that scenario. Part of the problem is that a large number of retirees get the bulk of their income from Social Security, which only pays the average recipient $17,532 a year. If you're finding that money is uncomfortably tight in retirement, a few key lifestyle changes might help you stretch your income and ease some financial stress. Here are a few to consider.

1. Downsize your home

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Housing is often retirees' single greatest expense, so lowering it is a good way to free up cash during your golden years. Downsizing your home in retirement can lower your rent payments or make owning a home far more affordable, since it generally costs less money to heat, cool, and maintain a smaller space than a larger one. In fact, 42% of Americans plan to downsize in retirement, according to TD Ameritrade.

2. Give up a car

Transportation costs the average senior $6,814 a year, and it's the typical retiree's second-largest ongoing expense. If you're a two-car household, giving up one of those vehicles could save you a bundle on auto maintenance and insurance alone. Furthermore, if you're already down to one car but live in a walkable neighborhood or have access to reliable public transportation, it pays to run the numbers to see how much you could save by not having a vehicle at all. Even if you spring for a rideshare a few times a week, you might still come out ahead financially when you consider the many expenses automobile owners incur.

3. Relocate to a less expensive area of the country

It costs more to live in some parts of the country than in others. If money is an issue, it pays to consider packing up and moving someplace more affordable for the rest of your golden years -- someplace where housing is cheaper, common goods and groceries cost less, and state income taxes aren't an undue burden. You can check out this list of retiree-friendly states as a starting point, but definitely do your research before making your move official. Remember, too, that moving itself costs money, so it may take a little time to recoup that outlay.

4. Volunteer more

Being retired means having a lot of free time on your hands, and it can cost money to fill your hours day in and day out. Even seemingly low-cost means of entertainment, like early-bird dinner specials and discounted museum fees, can add up over time. On the other hand, if you find an organization you enjoy volunteering for, you'll have a fulfilling means of occupying your days without actually spending money. You might sign up to work with animals, help plant a community garden, or give out meals at a soup kitchen.

5. Get a part-time job

The great thing about working is that it's a fairly cheap activity. All you really need to do is get there, and you're all set. If you could use more money in retirement, it may be time to look into getting a part-time job. You might sign up to work at a local retailer, take on an administrative role, or, better yet, find a job you can do from the comfort of home. Another option? Take a hobby you enjoy and turn it into a business, whether it's selling homemade crafts, baked goods, or plants.

If you're experiencing your share of money issues in retirement, a few key changes could help free up cash and alleviate the financial concerns you've been grappling with. And who knows? You may even wind up enjoying your new lifestyle more than your old one.

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