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Downsizing Your Life and Lifestyle as You Approach Retirement

Downsizing Your Life and Lifestyle as You Approach Retirement
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It’s not just about selling the big house.  It’s about a lot of other changes that can make your life simpler and more cost-effective.

There are a lot of factors that affect our expenses and lifestyle. The biggest is the monthly expenses that tap our income, savings and cash flow.  Some of us may be unemployed or underemployed and the monthly expenses don’t subside nor decrease.  The only alternative is to reduce costs to make ends meet, but that’s not as easy as it sounds.

Let’s do a small list

  • One car versus two
  • Vacation and travel management
  • Downsize
  • Home improvements versus home repair
  • Living simply and sustainably

One car versus two

It’s hard for many of us to consider the idea of one car, but if were not committed to full-time work or a regular work schedule we could think about a single car rather than two. Besides the insurance payments there are maintenance costs and gas.

The good news is that gas prices are approaching historical lows, but maintenance and repairs can take a toll and who knows how long gas prices will remain low. If you’re not sure, try driving with just one car for a month and see if your lifestyle can handle the change.

Vacation and travel management 

Travel has a great appeal as we migrate towards retirement, but it can be expensive. Maybe it’s time to consider lower cost alternatives that focus more on travel to visit family or more localized options rather than a month in Tuscany.

Many national and state parks offer discounts to seniors including lodging.  Better yet, they can be easily accessible with your “one” car.


Maybe it’s time to cancel the home milk-delivery, cancel the water bottle service and buy a home water filter, mow your own lawn, and shop for discounts on hair cuts, and simply shop for savings.

Downsizing is about looking for alternatives to some of the services we’ve become accustomed to. It’s not about sacrificing the product or service but finding an alternative that’s more cost-effective without significant compromise.

Of course if you’re incapacitated and can’t mow your own lawn or are dependent on a product or service you need to continue with that behavior, but it’s a choice driven by need rather a luxury motivated by “want.”

Home improvement versus home repair

A kitchen update may sound like a good idea, but it’s one of the most expensive home improvement options.  The same is true for many other renovations.  It may be time to consider repairing appliances and simple upgrades to our homes rather than full-scale renovations.

This could include reupholstering furniture, refinishing furniture like we used to do when we were just starting out, and learning to simply appreciate what we have rather than upgrading to furniture and appliances we can’t afford or that may compromise savings or emergency repairs to a furnace or water heater in the future.

This is not to imply that maintenance or repairs should be ignored or delayed, but the more we can preserve what we have, the better our financial condition in the long-term. The telegram is simple.  If it’s broke, fix it.  Don’t replace it.

Living simply

In the grand scheme of things there are things we should continue to enjoy. Good food certainly falls in that category, but do we really need to go to an expensive  restaurant every week?  Cooking at home with friends and family can make a difference and we could always save that restaurant trip for a special treat or occasion.

Living simply is also about living sustainably. Plant a garden, consider wood heat if you have access to a wood supply as an addition or alternative to gas or oil,  shop for sales and buy in bulk.

Anticipate what’s coming

What’s unfortunate is that we often wait until we have to make some of these decisions. The key is to anticipate them so we have the cash flow and cash reserves to manage events and future finances.

Go slow but plan and manage the changes to your lifestyle and spending style. As we move towards a fixed income dependent on our savings and retirement funds, luxuries can become dear and a drain on our financial stability.  Anticipate the possibilities and manage your spending before it becomes a necessity.








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