Money is one of life’s biggest concerns. People of all ages struggle to stretch their dollars to meet their needs and wants. Many seniors live on a fixed income and are presented with more challenges in making ends meet. Creating a budget can help seniors plan how to use the money they have to pay their bills and to save for the unexpected.
First, write down all income sources from retirement to social security. Next, make a list of all bills and expenses. After you have a list of bills and expenses, prioritize those from what is necessary to those that can be lived without. Now it is time to make a plan. There are many budget planning worksheets, websites, and apps that can help with this part. An example can be found on the AARP website, Budgeting Worksheet. Then begin inputting the information for your income and expenses into the correct places. More than likely, the budget will not balance on the first try and adjustments will be needed.
Balancing Your Budget
- Shop Smart –Advertisements can be a great way to find lower prices on items. Another great way to save when shopping is to use coupons and discounts offered through many stores via e-mail. Many companies offer senior discounts. Do your research and use these discounts to shop and save money.
- Sell Your Car –If you are no longer able to drive or if other forms of public transportation are available, selling your car may be a way to cut expenses in the budget. Even if the car is paid off, there are still maintenance and fuel expenses.
- Rent or Downsize –Some may want to rent instead of owning their home. This is helpful if home maintenance is too much and is too great a drain on the budget. When renting, maintenance is taken care of by the owner of the property. Downsizing is also a great way to save money. It can cut housing costs, as well as utility costs.
- Cut Unnecessary Spending –This is a pitfall of many people who attempt to live on a budget. Look at every purchase decision and decide if it is necessary. If the answer is no, then avoid spending money on the purchase until you have excess money.
- Get Help –Help is always available. If you would like help, a trusted family member is a good resource. There are also many financial advisers out there that can help create a budget that works for you.
Budgeting also helps when figuring out how to save money. Unexpected events always occur and it is important to be ready when they do. It is often recommended to have an emergency fund. This should be somewhere around $1000, depending on what your monthly expenses are.
Be careful of scams. There are many scammers that use phone calls, emails, letters, or show up on your doorstep to try to take your money. They love to prey on seniors. Be aware of who you are giving your money to. Use internet resources or check with someone you trust to help figure out whether companies or opportunities are legitimate. Don’t give money to people who don’t want to give you time to check things out on your own. Use your instincts. If it doesn’t feel right, trust yourself.
Budgeting can seem like a daunting task, but taking one step at a time can make it manageable. It can take away the stress that money can create. Instead of letting your money control you, it is time to control your money.
Contact our Tuscaloosa office at (205) 764-1262 or our Montgomery office at 334-239-3625 if you have questions or would like assistance in planning for your future.