10 easy ways to spend less in retirement

You may not need quite as big a nest egg as you think. Some expenses will go down all by themselves, and others are well within your control.

By MSN Money Partner Jun 5, 2013 3:35PM

This post comes from Tom Sightings at U.S. News & World Report.

MSN Money PartnerFor many pre-retirees, the prospect of life without a paycheck is scary. There are no more biweekly checks, raises, bonuses or promotions.

Couple paying bills © CorbisThen experts from financial firms come along and stoke our anxiety with their sometimes unrealistic recommendations about how much money we need to have in our retirement plans (which they will be happy to manage, for a fee) to guarantee a comfortable retirement lifestyle. Some say we need $1 million; others recommend 20 times our last annual salary.

The financial experts are right, in principle. We do need a lot of money to retire, generally in the form of Social Security, plus pensions, 401k plans and IRA balances, as well as the value of the help we get from family and friends. But maybe we don't need quite as much as the experts would have us believe.

Why? Because after we retire, our expenses go down automatically. And there are plenty of pain-free ways to push them even lower. Here are 10 ways we save money in retirement, without adversely affecting our lifestyle:

1. Clothes. You will no longer need expensive business suits, or uniforms that you have to pay for yourself. And there’s no more need to buy and inventory a closet full of shoes for every occasion.

2. Commuting costs. We no longer have to buy a ticket for the train, or pay bus fare or parking fees. If you drive 20 miles to work every day, you'll save almost 10,000 miles a year, which at the Internal Revenue Service mileage allowance of 56.5 cents a mile, equals more than $5,000 a year.

3. Lose a car. If you're no longer commuting, maybe you can sell off one of your two or three cars, because you don't really need it anymore.

4. Less insurance. If you get rid of a car, you're not paying insurance on it. Maybe there are also other insurance policies you don't need. For example, if your kids are grown, maybe you no longer need life insurance.

5. Move. You're no longer tethered to your place of work. So you may have the option to sell your house and move to a less-expensive neighborhood. You don't necessarily have to relocate to Florida or Texas, either. Sometimes moving 20 miles farther from your business hub can save a huge amount of money, mostly in the price of the house and the real-estate taxes you pay.

6. No more kids. You spend a lot less after your kids have finished school and moved out on their own, an event that often coincides with retirement. There’s no more college tuition draining your savings account, no extra car in the driveway -- and you won't believe how much you'll save on your grocery bill.

7. Travel. Of course, you can always spend boatloads of money if you go first class to all the hot spots. But the beauty of retirement is that you can travel midweek, when airfares are cheaper, or go during the shoulder season, when rates are lower. Your flexibility means you can take advantage of websites offering alternative accommodations, such as Airbnb or CyberRentals. And don't forget, you can always go visit the kids.

8. Entertainment. Don't be embarrassed to use a senior discount at the movies or a state park or the America the Beautiful senior pass for national parks. Many state and local governments also offer discounts to senior homeowners. Take advantage of the flexibility you enjoy by not having to be at the office from 9 to 5 every day. Go out to lunch, instead of dinner. You often get the same food at a much lower cost. Play golf weekday afternoons instead of weekend mornings, at a lower rate. And check out your community offerings, from free lectures at the library to free exercise classes at the senior center.

9. Now you're the boss. You used to pay for the premium cable package, because the kids insisted on it. Maybe you don't need that anymore. Downgrade your cellphone service if you don’t use the minutes. Cancel your membership to the swim club, if you're not using it. Look through your credit card bill. What are you paying for that you no longer use? Now is the time to cancel the charges that are there for your kids, and pare down to activities important to you.

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10. Save on saving. You no longer get a paycheck, so you don't have to tithe to Social Security anymore. You're now on the receiving end of the program. And, remember, now that you're retired, you no longer have to put aside 5% or 10% of your income to save for retirement.

More from U.S. News & World Report:


Jun 6, 2013 11:49AM
Step #11.  Open numerous accounts using your grandchildrens SS numbers, use them to obtain loans and buy houses, then abscond to South America. 

(get a grip, money manglers...its just a joke)

Jun 9, 2013 8:42PM
Jun 6, 2013 12:51PM
Nice piece, thank you, there were a couple of things I hadn't thought of.
Jun 6, 2013 11:47AM

Revert back to 3rd world standards with families pooling their resources and incomes buying a family compound and communal living and child raising arrangements.  It has become too expensive in the US because of declining wages to be independant families each owning their own homes and raising their own families without extended family support.

The elderly will watch the children as the adult workers go to earn wages and the children are monitored by adult supervision.  The elderly are taken care of in their old age and their burden shared by the younger family members as they get older and given more responsibility.  Young adults will marry and live with their spouses in the family compound and inherit it from their parents.

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