Monday, December 5, 2011

Retire By Making Your Dollars Last

Managing your money in retirement is often depicted as a problem of how to allocate your portfolio, how quickly to draw down your net worth, when to begin taking Social Security and whether or not to buy long term care insurance. But managing one's financial assets is only part of the picture. Consider how you spend--the less your cash outflow, the easier it is to afford retirement. And you don't necessarily need to become a connoisseur of cat food or learn the dozens of ways to prepare rice and beans.

Pay off the mortgage. One of the most surefire ways to reduce month expenses is to pay off the mortgage. Since your retirement income will probably be less than your income while working, offloading the mortgage will improve the quality of your sleep.

Take the auto mechanic off your speed dial. Buy cars that are reliable and known for longevity. With the increased computerization of cars, the cost of repairs is skyrocketing. You don't have to buy a tinny econobox. If you can afford a luxury car, choose an Acura or Lexus, not some other brands that enrich repair shops.

When it comes to appliances, spare your back. High quality in home appliances isn't, to borrow a stock market phrase, closely correlated with price. The most reliable and long lasting washing machines and dryers tend to be the traditional, modestly priced top loaders. Currently fashionable side loaders have their attributes, but at the cost of higher purchase prices and less longevity. Plus you have to bend over or kneel down to get access to them. Your back and knees may have an opinion as to whether or not that's a good idea. Cheaper, more reliable, longer lasting, and easier on the back and knees is a pretty good bargain.

Use generics whenever possible. Generic drugs can be much cheaper than name brands. Why pay for a fancy name when the medication is the same at a lower price?

Avoid credit card debt. The most expensive loans most Americans take are credit card balances carried over from month to month. If you use credit cards, only charge what you can pay off at the end of the month. That way, you earn rewards, cashback bonuses, etc., without paying any interest. Why enrich banks in your golden years?

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