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15 Ways to Thrive on Social Security Alone

15 Ways to Thrive on Social Security Alone

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Get ready to stretch those retirement dollars! While the idea of living exclusively on Social Security might make most people break out in a cold sweat, it IS possible for some with the right planning. It won’t be a life filled with private jets and caviar, but with careful budgeting and a flexible mindset, you can achieve a comfortable, fulfilling life after you clock out of the 9-5 for good.

This is all about calculated living. The average Social Security monthly payout in 2023 was around $1,827. That doesn’t leave much wiggle room for frivolous spending. This list isn’t about luxury – it’s about making those hard-earned benefits go the distance.

Think of this as less of a rigid set of rules and more of a roadmap to a different kind of retirement. It’ll require compromises and maybe even relocating to somewhere more affordable. But if done right, the payoff is a lifestyle where your basic needs are met, with some room left over for those little joys that make life worthwhile.

1. Embrace Downsizing

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It’s the number one rule of budget living: Small space equals smaller bills. A cozy apartment or even a tiny house cuts down drastically on rent/mortgage, utilities, and property taxes.

Before the move, honestly assess what you truly need and use. Host a yard sale, donate to charity, or utilize online marketplaces to turn unwanted items into cash. Less stuff reduces moving costs and makes downsizing smoother.

2. Location, Location, Location

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The cost of living varies WILDLY across the US. Big cities are budget killers. Research areas with low taxes, affordable housing, and good walkability to cut down on transportation costs.

Websites like Bankrate’s cost-of-living calculator allow you to compare expenses across different locations. Consider factors like property taxes, grocery prices, and even entertainment costs.

3. Say Goodbye to Debt

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Credit card interest, car payments, and lingering loans eat into your monthly budget like termites. Focus on aggressively eliminating debt BEFORE retirement, leaving your Social Security income untouched by creditors.

Don’t be afraid to call credit card companies and ask for lower interest rates or discuss debt consolidation options. Many are willing to work with you, especially if you have a history of on-time payments.

4. Become a Healthcare Pro

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Medicare is good, but it doesn’t always cover what you need. To minimize out-of-pocket costs, research different coverage options, take advantage of prescription assistance programs, and be proactive about preventative care.

Medicare Advantage plans (Part C) often provide additional coverage for things like vision and dental. Compare these to original Medicare paired with a supplemental Medigap policy to find the best fit for your needs. Websites like GoodRx compare medication prices at different pharmacies and offer coupons for additional savings.

5. Master the Art of the Side Hustle

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If the idea of living on social security alone is stressful but you don’t want to keep your current job, there’s another way. Part-time, gig-based work can add a surprising boost to your monthly income. Think freelance writing, pet sitting, online tutoring – things you can do from home with flexible hours.

What are you good at? What do you enjoy doing? Websites like Upwork and Fiverr connect freelancers with a wide range of potential clients. You can also turn your hobbies into income. Do you love to bake, craft, or garden? Consider selling your creations online or at local markets.

6. Become a Coupon Master

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Every dollar saved is a dollar earned. Coupons, store discounts, and loyalty programs add up to significant savings on everyday expenses like groceries and toiletries.

Websites and apps like Ibotta, Fetch Rewards, and store-specific apps help find the best deals. Shop strategically by planning your meals around sale items and stock up on non-perishables when prices are low.

7. Master the Art of DIY

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Learning basic home maintenance, repairs, and even haircuts can save hundreds each year. The internet is overflowing with tutorials for nearly every task imaginable.

Not only do you save cash, but you gain a sense of empowerment and self-sufficiency. Tackle easy projects like fixing a leaky faucet or painting a room. Build your confidence and skills gradually.

8. Embrace the Free (or Nearly Free)

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Many communities offer an amazing array of low-cost or free entertainment and resources. Think libraries, senior centers, parks, and community events.

Your social life doesn’t have to suffer on a budget! Staying active and engaged keeps you feeling connected and mentally sharp. Your town’s website, senior center, or library are goldmines of information about upcoming events and classes.

9. Rethink Transportation

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Car ownership is expensive – between gas, maintenance, and insurance, it eats a chunk out of your budget. Explore alternatives like public transport, ride-sharing, or even biking/walking for shorter distances. Many public transportation systems offer reduced fares for older adults.

Not only do you save money, but ditching the car often leads to a healthier lifestyle with more physical activity built into your day.

10. Seek Out Senior Discounts

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Don’t be shy about asking! Many businesses, restaurants, museums, and even transportation services offer discounts to older adults. It never hurts to ask – those savings add up over time.

Websites like compile lists of businesses offering discounts. Carry a senior ID if you have one, but often, simply asking if there’s a discount does the trick!

11. Nurture Your Green Thumb

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Growing your own fruits, vegetables, and herbs saves money at the grocery store AND provides fresh, nutritious food. Even a small container garden can yield a surprising harvest.

Gardening is a rewarding hobby that gets you fresh air, gentle exercise, and the satisfaction of eating what you’ve grown. Start small. If you’re a beginner, choose easy-to-grow veggies like tomatoes, peppers, or lettuce.

12. Consider a Roommate

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Sharing housing costs can slash your biggest monthly expense, whether it’s with family, a friend, or roommate. Renting out a spare room provides companionship and can significantly boost your income.

The right roommate situation reduces loneliness, offers a sense of security, and eases the financial burden of living alone. Websites like specialize in matching potential roommates and might be a good place to start your search.

13. Tap into Government Assistance Programs

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There are programs designed to assist low-income seniors with expenses like food, utilities, and housing. Don’t be afraid to explore your eligibility.

The National Council on Aging’s website helps you find programs you might qualify for. You can also contact your local Area Agency on Aging; they can provide information and may help with the application process for various assistance programs.

14. Travel Smart

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Retirement is the perfect time to see the world, but travel can be expensive. Flexibility and creative thinking are key to budget-friendly adventures.

Prices for flights and accommodations drop significantly outside of peak tourist seasons. You can also consider alternative accommodations. Hostels, vacation rentals, or house-sitting can offer unique, affordable stays.

15. Stay Fit on a Budget

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Exercise is essential for both physical and mental health at any age. But gyms can be pricey. Explore free or low-cost alternatives to stay active.

Walking, hiking, or bodyweight exercises in a park provide a great workout without any equipment needed. Utilize online resources. YouTube is full of free workout videos for all fitness levels, including senior-specific routines.

20 Things Poor People Waste Money on, According to Suze Orman

money guru Suze Orman
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If you’ve ever watched her show, you know Suze Orman pulls no punches. She’s all about calling out bad money choices, urging people to take control of their financial destinies and ditch those pesky spending habits that derail progress. While her advice can be blunt, she aims to empower folks to build wealth and protect their financial futures.

It’s important to note, Suze Orman gets flak sometimes for being too harsh. She’s not shaming people, but highlighting how certain expenses can sabotage big goals like homeownership or a comfortable retirement.

20 Things Poor People Waste Money on, According to Suze Orman

12 Purchases That Aren’t Worth Making in Retirement

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Retirement marks a major lifestyle shift. The thrill of newfound freedom after working all those years is exhilarating, but it’s vital to reconsider how you spend your hard-earned savings.

After a lifetime of work, you deserve to enjoy yourself—but not at the expense of your financial security.

12 Purchases That Aren’t Worth Making in Retirement

Warren Buffett’s 14 Best Pieces of Advice for Rich Life

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Warren Buffett, nicknamed the “Oracle of Omaha,” is one of the most successful investors in history. But he’s more than just a stock picker. Over decades, he’s shared a wealth of insights on not just investing, but business, life, and the qualities that create lasting success. His humble demeanor and emphasis on long-term thinking over get-rich-quick schemes set him apart in the often flashy world of finance.

Warren Buffett’s 14 Best Pieces of Advice for Rich Life


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