5 ways to cut your retirement costs

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It’s the number soon-to-be-retirees hear over and over again: 1 million. That’s the amount many financial advisors suggest you have in your nest egg before you even think about giving up the nine-to-five grind. But it is possible to retire sooner, or with less in the bank, if you are willing to whittle your expenses. That doesn't mean returning to your college days of eating ramen noodles, but it might mean rethinking where you live or which car you drive.

Here are five ways you can cut costs to help yourself get to your retirement goal—that is, being retired—sooner:

  1. Don’t just downsize, consider moving: Moving to a state that is more retiree-friendly could benefit your bottom line. For example, Pennsylvania does not tax retirement income, as long as you retired after a certain age. “If moving to another state is too extreme, sometimes you can move to an adjacent county with significantly lower property taxes,” suggests Terry Seaton, a CPA and financial planner with Seaton Financial Advisors, LLC, in St. Augustine, Fla.*
  2. Evaluate your insurance: Leonard Wright, a CPA in San Diego, recommends reviewing your current homeowner’s and car insurance policies to see if they offer the right amount of coverage. “Far too many people over-insure and overspend.” Wright also suggests considering higher deductibles, which can lower your premium. 
  3. Rethink car ownership: Does your two-car family still need both vehicles? Consider downsizing to one, says Armando G. Roman, CPA, a wealth manager with Axiom Financial Advisory Group, LLC, in Scottsdale, Ariz. “A retired two-car couple can sell one car and keep the car that costs less to operate and maintain,” he says. “Having only one car may take some adjusting to, but the additional cost savings are often worth it.” 
  4. Get a part-time job with freebie benefits: When Michael Sipe retired in 2012 as the athletic director at an Indianapolis high school, he knew he wanted to play golf in his free time, but he didn’t want to have to join an expensive club. So he took a five-hour-a-week job at a nearby golf course, which normally costs $3,000 per year to join. In exchange for bringing carts back to the clubhouse, filling water coolers on the course, and retrieving balls on the driving range, Sipe is allowed to golf as often as he likes for free. He receives similar benefits from a part-time job he took as a greeter at Indiana Pacers basketball games. Each shift, which ends after the first quarter, comes with a free ticket to the game.
  5. Travel during the off-season: The low and shoulder seasons—when warm-weather destinations are not in high demand—are significantly cheaper than high season (think the Caribbean in late spring through fall). Hotels offer big discounts, airfare is less expensive, and you’ll get the added bonus of fewer crowds. If you do travel to a destination during high season (New England beaches in the summer, for example) consider renting a home rather than staying in a hotel as another way to save. Regardless of where you decide to go, always buy trip insurance, suggests Susan J. Bruno, a CPA with Beacon Wealth Consulting, LLC, in Stamford, Conn. It will likely not only provide coverage for delays and cancellations but may also offer extra protection for medical emergencies.

*Any information regarding taxation contained herein is based on our understanding of current tax law. The tax and legislative information may be subject to change and different interpretations. We recommend that you seek professional legal advice for applicability to your personal situation.