Retirement: Are You Financially Ready?

Stop what you’re doing and take a moment to think about how much money you bring home in a year (as in what gets direct deposited into your bank account).  Now think about how much of that you have left over in savings or checking.  With these numbers in mind, you can determine with a fair amount of accuracy how much money you’re spending in a year.  Finally, take a look at what you have saved up for retirement.  When you begin to look closely, you’re probably going to realize that some drastic cuts are in order if you want to make ends meet with your meager retirement funds.  After all, people are living a lot longer these days than they did even fifty years ago, and unless you want to work through your golden years, you’re going to have to find ways to make every dollar count.

The trick is to break down what you’re spending and find ways to make it fit a limited income, which is exactly what you’ll have once you retire.  Of course, the fact that you’re not working will automatically cut out a portion of expenses like gas for commuting and dining out for lunch every day of the week.  You also won’t have to spend on office attire, gifts for coworkers, and other nebulous costs.  Unfortunately, you’ll lose your salary in the process.

So start looking at what you spend on the home front.  First there are your regular bills; utilities, food, and so on.  If you purchased a home years ago, you may not have a mortgage to contend with, but home ownership comes with other attendant costs that usually occur annually, such as property tax and various insurance policies.  This may be a hard time in your life to consider giving up your housekeeping and landscaping services, but these are extras that you simply may not be able to afford once you retire.  Luckily, you’ll have plenty of free time to scrub toilets and trim the azaleas.  Of course, there is an alternative that will likely cut your costs significantly, and that is selling your house.

Nobody wants to think about giving up their home upon retirement, but with the kids gone, the extra space is just going to suck up your money.  By selling, you can get a bump to your savings, some of which can be rolled over into a living situation that is more fitting to your station in life.  There are a couple of options.  One is a retirement community, which is meant for active seniors who wish to live in a community of their peers and receive limited services as part of the bargain.  You’ll likely buy a smaller house that costs less and then sign up for any services you may need that are provided for the community (probably at a discounted rate).

Another option is retirement homes, where you can eschew the difficulties of lawns, taxes, insurance, and even cooking.  You’ll rent or buy an apartment within the home or complex, and you’ll be able to take full advantage of services provided by the home, such as housekeeping, a cafeteria, grounds, and generally, on-site medical services, such as a clinic or staff nurse.  Although you may not be as financially prepared to retire as you hoped, you can easily make changes to your lifestyle and living situation that will allow you to remain comfortable and stick to a reduced budget for years to come.

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