With retirement accounts and real estate values still recovering from the recession, and living costs on the rise, many retired seniors are struggling to pay their bills. According to the National Council on Aging, 20 million Americans, 60 years of age or older, are economically insecure. But experts say that with the right tools and planning, you can avoid money woes.
“The first step is to get a handle on your finances,” advises Aaron Forth, vice president and general manager of Intuit Personal Finance Group. “Knowing more about your current financial situation means you can more effectively stick to a budget.”
Luckily, new tools are helping seniors on a fixed income to do just that. There are many things you can do to help make ends meet in an uncertain economy:
Work From Home: If inflation is causing your living expenses to rise, but you’re on a fixed-income, you may want to consider taking on some part-time work to supplement your funds. Working from home is becoming an increasingly easy option for seniors who may be less mobile than during their younger days. Many companies hire part-time freelancers to complete work remotely. From tutoring to transcription services, you can earn extra dollars without getting off the couch.
Budget Online: If you’re still squinting over your checkbook ledger, it’s time to try something new. “Let software do the heavy lifting for you,” advises Forth, “It’s easy to make costly mistakes like missing bill payments when you’re doing it all by hand.” Take advantage of free services on the Internet like Mint.com. For those who prefer managing money on the desktop, purchase financial software like Quicken to help you manage your finances, create a budget, and meet financial goals.
Cut Expenses: You may be familiar with traditional coupon clipping, but online sites like LivingSocial and Groupon can help you find helpful local deals on the things you need, such as medical exams and food, or the things you want, like birthday presents for your grandchildren. Just be careful to not get carried away on purchases. The best way to do this is to stick to goods and services that you would have bought at full cost anyway.
And, of course, trim back on unnecessary expenditures. For example, many television programs are available for free online, making your cable bill a redundant expense. Likewise, if you use a mobile phone, consider eliminating your landline. Even if you’re living on a fixed income, there’s no need to go into debt.
By tracking your sources of income and your expenditures, you can achieve your financial goals and avoid debt.