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How Can I Live a Budget-Friendly Retirement?

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Retirement is often referred to as a person’s “golden years,” and for many, it’s an opportunity to do some of the things they’ve always dreamed of doing — whether that’s traveling, spending more time with family or focusing on other passions. However, your golden years can also be a time of financial concern. While you deserve to pursue your passions after years of hard work, it’s equally important to carefully budget (and stick to your budget) during retirement to avoid outlasting your savings.

Here are six creative ways you can enjoy your retirement without breaking the bank.

1. Take advantage of senior discounts

There are a number of discounts out there for retirees. The problem is many of them aren’t advertised. It’s up to you to ask about senior discounts wherever you go. Whether you’re going out to the movies, trying a new restaurant or shopping for groceries, clothes or other retail items, it’s worth looking into the discounts available in your area. You’ve earned it!

2. Visit the library

Your local library is a great source of free entertainment and activities. Many libraries offer computer classes, book clubs, dance clubs and even exercise groups. You can also check out DVDs at no charge (not to mention all the books you want, of course). Additionally, as technology has developed, many local libraries have adapted to offer new features to patrons, including ebooks and audiobooks that you can rent from any smart device at home.

3. Reduce automobile costs

If your household still has two cars but you’re finding you drive less than you once did, you may be able to downsize. You’ll make money on the sale of a car, while lowering your car insurance costs because you won’t have to pay premiums on multiple vehicles.

4. Travel on a budget

For many retirees, travel is a huge part of the retirement picture, but don’t let the costs obliterate your budget. Try to plan your trips in advance, at least 90 days out, to take advantage of the best airline and lodging rates.

Instead of booking a traditional hotel, you might look into renting an apartment or home using sites such as Airbnb or HomeAway. If you find accommodations with a kitchen, you can save even more by buying groceries and cooking instead of going to restaurants.

Traveling locally? Visit a daily deals website such as Groupon or LivingSocial, enter the zip code of your destination and get vouchers for deals on restaurants and other entertainment activities. These vouchers can often save you more than half off the regular price.

5. Volunteer your time

If you’re looking for something to occupy your time that won’t cost much, try volunteering. Local museums, hospitals and zoos typically need people to help out with a number of services including greeting visitors and assisting with events. There are many more community service organizations out there than you might think. Check out VolunteerMatch.org to find an opportunity that aligns with your interests.

6. Start a backyard garden

Got a green thumb? Buy some seeds or some plants from a garden center and start a backyard garden. A flower garden can make for hours of entertainment as you plant, maintain and watch it all grow. Planting a vegetable garden can also help keep you occupied, and it may cut your grocery costs as well.

Get your soil tested at your local extension office so you know what you can grow, follow all instructions on the seed packets, and set aside enough time for maintenance.

What to know when you withdraw retirement funds

No matter how closely you stick to your budget, the time will come when you’ll need to start dipping into your retirement funds. After all, this is why you saved all that money in the first place. Experts have varying opinions on how much to withdraw from your accounts and when. However, it’s generally advised that retirees draw income from their savings at a rate of 4 percent of the portfolio’s value during the first year of retirement.

Some experts, however, are predicting long-term low returns on investments and advise that retirees not withdraw more than 3 percent of their portfolio’s value each year. That means if you’ve saved $500,000, you’ll be living on $15,000 a year before Social Security benefits and any other sources of income. If you’ve saved $1 million, that annual amount goes up to $30,000.

Live somewhat frugally, withdraw only what you need and always look for a good deal. Those are some of the secrets to a budget-friendly retirement.

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