Finances are a big part of midlife and whether you want to admit it or not, when you’re a woman in your 50s, it’s time to think about a budget. This is the time to plan so your future is comfortable, and you don’t have to worry about finances. Maybe you’re newly single or widowed, maybe you’re suddenly an empty nester, or recently retired and starting life over. Perhaps you want to travel or even move. No matter what direction you see your life taking, this is time to be smarter than ever before about money and finances. Here are some tips on how to become budget friendly in your 50s.
How to Become Budget Friendly in Your 50s
For starters, take a deep breath and relax, because it’s not as difficult as you might think. There are a ton of different spreadsheets and apps that you can download and fancy websites you can join, but the bottom line is that no matter what method you use, the work will still need to be done by you.
1. Cost of Living. Now more than ever it’s important to know how much it will cost for you to live. It may seem intimidating, and you might have never done it before—but it’s time. You start by making a list. Be sure you include everything from your mortgage and utilities, to the cost of entertainment, to insurance costs, travel, and gas. Once you have a list of expenses, divide them by month so that you’ll have an accurate cost of living.
2. Support, Alimony, Dividends, Social Security. There is the possibility you have some fixed income every month. No matter what that fixed income is, it isn’t going to cover all your living expenses—and it’s not intended to. This is where your monthly budget comes in handy—you’ll know if you need any supplemental income and, if so, how much. Then you can start figuring out a plan to make that happen.
3. Breaking down the Budget by Month and Year. I’ve already mentioned the importance of cataloging your expenses and dividing them by month. Creating a comprehensive budget won’t only ensure that you have the funds you need to care for you and allow you to do the things you want to do, it will also serve as an important planning tool. Some months will likely require more money than others, such as those around the holidays or birthday months. By creating and adhering to a monthly budget, you’ll be able to prepare for higher costs and avoid feeling cash-strapped or stressed (because seriously, don’t we all have enough stress in our lives?).
4. Keeping Track of It and On Top of It All With a Smile. If you’re newly single or widowed and haven’t previously been in control of your finances, put on your big girl panties and get ready. It’s not all that difficult, and it’s uber critical. You’ll need to learn how to take care of your bills, set up bank accounts, apply for credit cards, and improve your credit rating, if applicable. Most bill payers now offer electronic and automatic payment options, so consider signing up for these so that payments will automatically be deducted and you won’t have to worry about late or missed payments. In no time at all, you might be surprised by not only how easy it is, but how capable you are if this is something you’re not accustomed to dealing with on your own. One of the most important tips to embrace is that your financial livelihood depends on you. No one else will monitor your bills, keep track of a budget and make sure you have the money you need to cover your expenses. It may seem overwhelming at first, but there’s also a great deal of independence and satisfaction that results from knowing you’re the one in charge of your finances and are taking care of yourself.
5. Savvy Shopping and Coupon Clipping. It’s not always fun to watch every penny that goes in and out of the bank account, but when you are on a budget, it is often necessary. Do some couponing, which can be fun and challenging once you get into it. You can find coupons online, in the newspapers, and yes, dumped in your mailboxes daily. Shop the sales. Be honest with yourself about what is going on financially, and what you need versus what you want. Denying yourself today can take you on that cruise in three months!
It’s not easy to come up with a budget and stick to it, but hang in there, the more you practice, the easier it gets. And if you can be smart, follow the above advice and ensure that your financial house is in order, life will be infinitely easier. In no time, I predict you’ll discover that learning to become budget friendly in your 50s was the smartest thing you ever did!
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