Retirement on a restricted budget

Jan 20, 2024
Welcome to the reality of retirement in 2024, where every dollar counts, and perseverance is our middle name. Source: Getty Images.

Retirement finances are now part of our thought processes. Retiring on a restricted budget can mean we boomers need to adapt to changes in our spending habits. It is on my bucket list to ease into full-time retirement by working modestly part-time, online at home.

Mainly, I assist secondary and tertiary students with their written English, to achieve improved results in their assessments. “Nothing wrong with that !” Our noble treasurer has stated. My extra few dollars per month enable me to purchase supplies for my home office and bring a mutual feel good. To paraphrase a famous song, “My helpful bone is connected to my busy brain”, without making a welter of things.

Working online at home during the past lockdowns led us all to appreciate lower fuel consumption and wear and tear on our vehicles, by not driving to work. In addition, home workers do not have to spend heaps on clothes to look professional in a work environment. Hidden fringe benefits.

Sometimes, I have some extra dollars left over, to contribute to the rising costs of the normal bills for utilities. For realistic goals in my budget, I do not eat takeaway junk food, nor do I dine in restaurants, nor do I smoke or drink alcohol. That way, I can still afford to drink coffee, my addiction. Those other things are not my habits.

On the flip side, I know some boomers who are still drinking. They are aiming to reach the massive 100, to gain a certificate from the reigning king. They have pickled every one of their organs as if they are drinking formalin. There is a medical condition classified as Early Alcohol-induced Alzheimer’s in boomer males. Not so you’d notice in these folk. Sharp as tacks, they know exactly where the bottle shops are. At our age, we are aiming to nurture our wellbeing one way or the other, for our body and soul.

For this aim, single retirees may need a slightly higher budget, than a couple of seniors. A couple can share household expenses. Some single retirees may factor in accepting a housemate, seeking a quiet co-resident of similar age.  This would also provide both companionship and a presence for any catastrophic health condition.

Some retirees do have to live frugally. They have few assets, and boomer women are regarded as having less access to superannuation and housing than males their own age. Even if retirees own their own home, houses and garden maintenance costs can compound as people approach the frail elderly status. That can happen from here on in, and any major health issue or surgery can be very expensive.

Retiring on a restricted budget can mean shopping for specials, and adapting to lower cost plain label brands in their supermarket. More home cooking is a good idea, and using the freezer compartment of the fridge to store some meals cooked in advance, planning menus of what is affordable. It can be a good plan, if we can, to cook suitable meals at once, and have them in the freezer in case of not being able to cook some mornings, due to any virus or mobility concerns.

Some frequent occurrences can mean disaster for retirees living frugally on a retirement budget. For example, a car repair, needing a new fridge, or even a heating or power bill, can mean a constant worry. Retirees can check if concessions are available, and apply for time payments in stages, to reduce stressors on their budget.

Our Prime Minister is promising relief bundles for lower income levels as 2024 rolls along, let’s hope so. Currently, inflation is really affecting all retirees, as well as many Australians. Most of us believe we will be worse off by the end of this year, and next year. This is reality. None of us know the hour or the day, and none of us know if our finances will survive us. We all hope to leave something of value to the next generations.

Who knows if this is even still possible? Not all retirees are comfortable, many are living on a restricted budget. Here, I am sitting on my log, solo nesting in a single life. I have drawn up a monthly budget for my personal use, seeking to reduce costs, and shopping for more specials. I do appreciate small individual blessings, like basic good health, good medicine, sound family values, and kind gal pals. Perseverance should be all our middle names at our age. Retirees, here we are!

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