5 Cost-Cutting Tips to Stretch Your Retirement Budget

Here’s how to painlessly rein in your monthly spending.

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Today’s retirees must live within carefully defined budgets to make ends meet. A little cost cutting can free up cash for other needs. Here are five quick ways to have more money in your account at the end of the month.

[See The 10 Best Places to Retire in 2012.]

1. Ditch cable TV. We all enjoy watching a good movie or sitcom on occasion, but you may not be getting a level of enjoyment equal to your monthly cable bill. Switching to other options such as DirectTV will often get you a teaser rate for your first six months, but then the bill will increase significantly.

What about an old-fashioned TV antenna? A basic antenna should give us first-rate coverage of the major stations. The website antennaeweb.org can recommend an antenna that fits the requirements of your location. In our case, the cost for the correct antenna was $40. And this was a one-time cost, not a bill we will have to pay every month.

2. Review your insurance plans. Many of us have our insurance needs handled by one company to take advantage of special pricing for bundling our car, home, and earthquake (if you live in California) insurance needs. If you have not recently done so, it makes sense to compare prices and see what else may be available. We had been with a major insurance company for many years and thought our prices were competitive. Out of curiosity we checked another well-known company and found that for the same coverage we could save almost 30 percent. Call to request a quote or go online to see what various companies charge for coverage. Be sure to specify exactly what your current plan provides including deductibles, coverage amounts, replacement value, and exclusions to get an accurate comparison.

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3. Get to know your local grocery store. I make a habit of visiting my local Safeway on a weekly basis. Over the years I have come to recognize when items on sale are truly a good deal. Carefully buying when prices are at their lowest saves money. For example, I always look for good and great prices for my favorite wines. By keeping an eye on sale prices, I know when to stock up to maximize my savings. The same applies for basics like meat, fruit, and paper goods.

4. Use coupons and Groupons. You can still find valuable coupons in the daily newspaper or monthly magazines. But it is also easy to subscribe to coupon companies that send you a daily notice of specials in your area. Not everything is what you are looking for, in which case you can hit the delete button and wait to see what tomorrow brings. Some interesting options include Groupon, Living Social, Coupons.com, and Valpak.

[See Retirement Planning in a Volatile Economy.]

5. Carry your own water. Not only is bottled water bad for our environment due to the plastic packaging, but it is also expensive. A 20-ounce bottle purchased for one dollar in a vending machine breaks down to five cents per ounce, while most municipal water costs less than one cent per gallon. Running your tap water through an affordable pitcher with a charcoal filter will remove common impurities and any chlorine taste to make your tap water healthier and better-tasting. Pitchers with water filters like Brita are typically less than $30.

Dave Bernard is not yet retired but has begun his due diligence to plan for a satisfying retirement. With a focus on the non-financial aspects of retiring, he shares his discoveries and insights on his blog Retirement–Only the Beginning.