Living on a fixed income may seem difficult, but it is doable if you’re willing to make some lifestyle changes. A  large number of retirees without 401 (k)s or pensions will end up living off of social security alone, which on average, brings in a modest $1,461 a month, according to U.S. News. “The maximum possible Social Security benefit for someone who retires at full retirement age is $2,861 in 2019. However, a worker would need to earn the maximum taxable amount, currently $132,900 for 2019, over a 35-year career to get this Social Security payment.” If you’re panicking about living on a small monthly income, here are 5 tips for living a quality life while living on a meager fixed income. 

1. Think about Downsizing

If you live in a large home, it’s time to start thinking about selling it and finding something smaller. You most likely don’t need a large home any longer and you can really use the extra money and less upkeep. As you get older, a small home is safer and more fitting for your lifestyle anyway. It’s understandable to be very attached to your long-term family home. It may hold many memories and milestones, but at the end of the day, your memories will last forever and you have to do what is best for your financial situation. 

2. Get Rid of Your Car

If you no longer need your car, sell it. If possible, take public transit to get around. This will get you some extra cash in your pocket as well as save money on maintenance, repairs, insurance and so much more. Your monthly insurance cost could go toward other necessities. If a car is necessary for you, keep it and save money in other areas, but if it is sitting in the garage most of the time, sell it and never look back.

 3. Shop Smart

When it comes to grocery shopping, don’t be embarrassed to save every coupon you get in the mail and only buy things that are on sale. Try not to only buy foods you want such as junk food and candy, but instead, stick to foods you need. eliminating junk food from your grocery list can save you a large chunk of money every month and will also be extremely beneficial to your health. Consider shopping at discount stores and comparing prices. These things take time but save money.

4. Cook Your Own Meals

Going out to eat adds up quick. Cooking your own meals will save you money and will probably lead to much healthier eating as you will be more conscious about what you are putting into your body. Go online to find millions of nutritional recipes, from extremely simple and easy to complex and gourmet. Whatever your experience level is, there are recipes out there for you. If cooking is new to you, it may be a fun new hobby.

Here’s a healthy and budget-friendly meal plan from Market Watch.

  • One piece of fruit in the morning along with a boiled or poached egg and plain unsalted biscuit.
  • For lunch, turkey or chicken breast, poached fish or other lean pieces of meat accompanied by steamed vegetables such as kale and red beets, tomatoes and others that are in season. Eat fresh salads, prepared from ingredients in season. Cut down on or eliminate dressing altogether.
  • And for dinner, small lean cuts of beef or veal. By boiling or steaming your meats, fish and your vegetables, you’ll discover a brand-new world of flavors. Steamed meat is much easier to digest.
  • Stay away from fried and starchy foods such as fries, bread or cakes. Anything fried can affect your health.

Your complete monthly budget for food and bottled water should not exceed $360.

5. Exercise Weekly

Whether you like to walk around your neighborhood or swim laps in a pool, being active at least 3 days a week will be instrumental to your health. This will lead to fewer medications and doctor visits, helping you to be healthier, happier and will save you money in the long run. Take baby steps and do what works for you but try to challenge yourself to do something active at least three times a week.

These five tips will not only help you to save money but will also lead to better health habits. Living on a small monthly income may sound scary but it is certainly doable and you are not alone in it. Remember to think about the necessities and how the “extras” can be eliminated to cut costs. Start by downsizing to a smaller home and go from there. 

This content is not the product of the National Association of REALTORS®, and may not reflect NAR's viewpoint or position on these topics and NAR does not verify the accuracy of the content.