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Smart ways to cut costs - not fun - in retirement.

You’ve worked hard and saved diligently to enjoy retirement. But the transition to living on a fixed income can be a challenge as you balance your budget and your lifestyle. Your income may not be as fixed as you think it is, though. By reducing your monthly expenses, you can increase your retirement income and give yourself more to work with. The following tips can help you cut back on both essential and discretionary spending to make your money go further.

Take advantage of age-related discounts.
Discounts and benefits for retirees are plentiful and easy to find. With some research, you can find savings on everything from dining out, shopping and travel to discounts on entertainment at places like movie theaters and museums. Start by checking out the offers available to AARP members. Then make it a habit to ask for senior discounts before you make a purchase.

Downsize your home.
There are several factors to consider when deciding where to retire. Moving to a smaller home not only reduces your monthly housing payment, but also decreases utility and home maintenance costs. And if you no longer have kids living at home, chances are you don’t need extra rooms and a big yard. The money you save by downsizing can be used to generate more retirement income or allow you to pursue hobbies like traveling.

Reduce your cost of living.
Relocating to a less expensive area can help lower your cost of living, including how much you pay for food, taxes and other local services. You can get more for your money with a lower cost of living – allowing you to do more with your free time.

Lower transportation costs.
Transportation costs can take up a large chunk of your budget. Consider if your new retirement lifestyle might allow you to go without a vehicle, reducing the amount you spend on insurance, gas, maintenance and repairs.

Comparison shop.
Auto and homeowner's insurance companies, as well as media providers (like phone, internet and cable) may compete on price, depending on where you live. Take the time to shop around for lower cost options that provide similar services. Another tip: keep more money in your pocket by dropping features you no longer or rarely use.

Get creative.
More free time means more opportunity to travel, eat out and enjoy your favorite activities. To keep spending under control without cutting out the fun, find cost-effective ways to enjoy your favorite things. For instance, travel at off-peak times, take advantage of free days at museums and other cultural attractions, make use of the library for books and DVDs, or stream movies at home through services such as Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime.

Work to eliminate debt.
Gaining control of your debt can set you up for a better retirement experience. Paying down high-interest debt as quickly as possible will free up money for unexpected expenses, like a car repair or medical bill, and stretch your retirement budget even more. Once you’ve paid off a balance, put the extra funds in an emergency savings fund or toward your retirement income.

Trimming monthly expenses in categories like the ones above can help stretch your retirement savings and give you more control over your budget — while still allowing for fun. If you have questions about planning and budgeting in retirement, contact a financial advisor who can offer additional solutions to help you keep your retirement goals on track.

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