5 Ways to Save Money During Retirement

Money management during your retirement years may call for some changes to the way you are used to managing your resources. Unless you have a pension or you have decided to continue working, you may be living with a limited pool of money. Here are a few ways to make your savings last longer, without sacrificing your quality of life.

1. Create a budget. Your money is precious. You should always know where it goes. But it’s easy to become complacent when dealing with bills. Creating a budget of your monthly expenses can help you see where your money is going and if there are any unnecessary expenses you can cut.

Most people are surprised to see how much money they spend on eating out, buying groceries or entertainment every month. Look for some ways that you could help stretch your money a little further. For example, you could try cooking more meals at home to avoid expensive restaurant meals. If you do choose to eat out, consider doing so less frequently, but with an eye toward higher quality and more enjoyable meals. You will spend less in the long run, and find the experience more memorable. If you enjoy golfing or going to the movies, try going at a time in the day when the fees are cheaper and the venues are less crowded.

2. Cut some recurring bills. Reviewing recurring bills is another area where you can gain large savings in your budget. Some common examples of cutting bills include your cell phone plan, cable, gym memberships and insurance. Many people find they can replace their $80 a month cable package with a $12 a month subscription to a streaming video service, a digital antenna and the occasional rented movie. Most people can save from $50 to $75 per month by cutting cable.

Check your cellphone bill. You could be paying for extra data or minutes that you don’t use. Some cell phone providers, including AT&T and Verizon Wireless, offer plans created specifically for senior citizens. These plans include between 200 and 500 minutes and offer free mobile-to-mobile calling for less than $40 a month. You could also look into prepaid cell phone plans, which are very affordable and don’t come with long-term contracts.

Insurance is another area to find savings. Insurance is a competitive market, and many companies are willing to give discounts when you switch providers. You may also be eligible for age-based savings for certain policies.

3. Find the discounts. Many restaurants, retail stores, hotels and golf courses offer senior discounts. While many of these discounts are only around 10 to 15 percent, they will add up quickly. Whenever you are at the register checking out, ask for a senior discount. Websites like Sciddy.com can show your which of your favorite stores, restaurants and entertainment stops offer senior discounts. You can also turn saving money into a game, seeing how far you can stretch your budget while maintaining your current standard of living.

4. Downsize your home. You might have more space than you need. Many retirees are empty nesters, but continue to live in four or five-bedroom homes, with some of the rooms sitting empty or converted to storage. Consider selling the oversized house and purchasing a smaller one that fits your needs. More here. 

The word "budget" in blocks in front of a coin jar.

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Why Is Fall a Good Time to Buy a New Home?

Many buyers are finding that fall is the preferred time to buy a home.

Seasonal fluctuations often dictate real estate market activity, and the unique characteristics of fall can make it a good time to buy a new home. The onset of winter months and the return of a normal schedule for most buyers can make many people reluctant to make the big move. This can leave savvy home-shoppers with the opportunity of finding motivated sellers, and lower housing prices.

Lower Price Tag

In many areas the real estate market tends to slow down during the fall, as buyers focus on back-to-school activities and sports schedules. Typically, November and December are the slowest months for real estate activity. Because of this, you may have more buying power than usual and possibly negotiate a lower asking price. Additionally, sellers may be more eager to reduce their price after finding their home did not attract a buyer during the summer.

Home For The Holidays

Many buyers aim to close on a home before the busy holiday season. Additionally, getting settled into a new home for the holidays can heighten your holiday mood — there’s nothing like sipping hot cocoa in a new home by a warm fireplace.

Taxes

You may want to take advantage of year-end homebuyer tax breaks and choose to purchase a home during the fall. The IRS allows deductions such as mortgage interest, mortgage insurance premiums and property taxes. Also any prepaid taxes and insurance premiums paid at the closing table can be deducted as well. Buyers who purchase homes in the fall should have a good idea if these deductions will be needed in order to come out ahead at tax time.

Building a Home

If you’re thinking of building, many home builders often discount their inventory during fall and early winter. They might also offer extra incentives for buyers during this time of year to level out sales activity. This not only benefits the builder by keeping his crew busy during the colder months, but also benefits lucky buyers who can get a great deal on a brand-new home. When spring hits again, pricing most likely will rise in response to higher demand. More here.

Mortgage Rates Lowest Since April Ahead of Big Jobs Report

Mortgage rates can seemingly do no wrong this week. They fell again today–this time making it firmly into territory not seen since late April. At current levels, many lenders have moved on to quoting conventional 30yr fixed rates of 3.75% on top tier scenarios. 3.875% is nearly ubiquitous, and you’d be more likely to see 3.625% before 4.0%. In other words, we’re not merely dabbling in the upper reaches of the “high 3’s.” Rates are legitimately in the 3% range–for now.

Today’s improvements, and indeed some of the improvements earlier this week have NOT been captured by Freddie Mac’s weekly Primary Mortgage Market Survey–the industry standard for mortgage rate tracking. While the survey is highly accurate over the long haul, its methodology doesn’t allow it to capture all of the movement in any given week. In fact, the only rate sheets that inform the survey response are those that come out on Friday afternoon through Wednesday morning. Moreover, the survey responses tend to arrive more toward the beginning of the week. That means if things are moving fairly quickly over the course of the week, Freddie’s survey will be a bit behind the curve.

There’s nothing good or bad about the lag in the Freddie Mac data. It’s a valuable resource that just happens to be a bit too ‘wide-angle’ for the average borrower or originator seeking the most up-to-date information on rates. I only bring it up because almost every major news outlet relies on the Freddie report for its official weekly article on mortgage rates. Today, those articles will be saying there hasn’t been much of an improvement over last week, and it’s important you know that’s no longer the case.

This is a timely piece of information as well, because tomorrow brings the important Employment Situation report (aka “jobs report, nonfarm payrolls, or NFP”). This is the biggest piece of economic data that comes out each month and it has the greatest potential to cause movement in the bond markets that dictate mortgage rates. With rates at 5-month lows and even a 50% risk of a big bounce higher, it’s even harder to make a case against locking today. Granted, risk-takers could be rewarded if the report is exceptionally weak, but even then, we have to consider that rates can sometimes bounce higher simply because they’ve gotten tired of moving consistently lower. We’re not quite to the point where that’s an imminent risk regardless of the data, but certainly, an equivocal jobs report wouldn’t make any strong arguments for rates to continue lower.
Loan Originator Perspective

“I am very surprised we are seeing bonds improve once again this morning. With non farm payrolls due out in the morning, I think today is another great opportunity to lock in. Tomorrow’s report can have a major impact on rates. With as low as rates are today, the risk is to the upside. I think there is more to lose than to gain by floating.” -Victor Burek, Churchill Mortgage

“Rates have been rallying of late in the face of some worldwide volatility and appear to have broken through some resistance. However, with the Jobs Report looming tomorrow, the most important and potentially market moving data piece, I would be taking advantage of the gains and locking them in to protect them. This is especially true if your closing is within 30 days. If your closing is more extended some patience in locking might be beneficial but of course, it might not. Why not lock?” -Hugh W. Page, Mortgage Banker, SeacoastBank

“Mortgage Rates improved slightly, again, today, but we remain at the bottom of the range. My opinion remains the same that locking is the best course of action.” -Brent Borcherding, brentborcherding.com

Today’s Best-Execution Rates

30YR FIXED – 3.75 – 3.875
FHA/VA – 3.5 – 3.75%
15 YEAR FIXED – 3.125 – 3.25%
5 YEAR ARMS – 2.75 – 3.25% depending on the lender More here.