According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), one in three Americans over the age of 65 is in financial distress and unable to cover basic necessities like food, housing, and healthcare costs. That number is expected to grow as the Baby Boomer generation reaches retirement age. Regardless of your financial situation, it pays to know some basic money management tips.
1. Create a budget — Though it may be the most basic suggestion for anyone interested in personal finance, it’s also the most frequently ignored. To live on a fixed retirement income successfully, Woman’s Day magazine says creating a budget will help you see where your money is going each month and allow you to quickly change course if needed.
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2. Stay healthy — According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease are the primary drivers for high healthcare costs. Get plenty of exercise, manage your stress, eat well, and follow your physician’s advice to reduce excessive office visit co-pays, prescription drug costs, and unplanned and costly trips to an urgent care or emergency care facility.
3. Manage debt — If at all possible, eliminate all major debt before you head into retirement. Woman’s Day magazine also cautions seniors to avoid taking on any new debt such as dipping into your home’s equity.
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4. Research benefits — Despite the uncertainty of the future of some programs for seniors, there are still countless public and private benefits for seniors that can help you pay for basic needs. Many seniors miss out simply because they are not aware the programs exist, says the NCOA. Their "You Gave, Now Save" program is meant to educate seniors about available financial help.
5. Slow decision making — On AARP’s website, financial adviser Allan Roth discusses slow, deliberate, and logical thinking as a way to make smarter major financial decisions. Don’t fall prey to shady offers that are only good for one day. Always sleep on major decisions, create a thoughtful list of pros and cons, discuss the decision with others you trust, and gather plenty of hard data.
6. Learn to say no — Even if you’ve been able to help friends and family by loaning or gifting money in the past, Woman’s Day says now is the time to focus solely on your personal financial health.
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