When companies face a rough period, they often look to either increase revenues or trim expenses, including reducing overhead costs.

You can do the same thing for your personal budget, where reducing expenses can give you the opportunity to increase your savings rate. Though this sometimes can seem easier said than done.

Costs have a way of appearing fixed. But that may be because you haven’t considered changing your lifestyle. It may be worth considering the way you live and whether you’re making the most of your budget. We are happy to help you conduct an objective assessment of your budget — and your retirement income strategies.

While some expenses may appear fixed, like utility bills, that may be only because of the house you live in. If you moved to a smaller house, with less square footage to heat and cool, your utility bills would likely decrease. There’s a good chance other costs would decrease as well, such as mortgage payments, homeowner’s insurance, property taxes, home maintenance and even lawn care, if your lot is smaller.

The National Council on Aging has an online calculator that can help you assess whether relocating/downsizing, and all of its related costs, could be a good move for you.

Note, too, that downsizing doesn’t necessarily mean selling your home and moving to a smaller one. You can downsize your lifestyle while staying right where you are. For example, owning a smaller and more gas-efficient car. Getting rid of a hot tub or other luxuries that are not just expensive to maintain but also may increase your home insurance premiums. Anything that breaks often and is expensive to repair may be worth eliminating or replacing.

You can sell things you don’t need or use anymore. You can learn to be content with what you have — cure that need to buy every new cell phone or gadget that hits the market. Share your tools, books, clothes and other household items with neighbors and friends so that you all support each other in this approach to downsizing expenses.

Buying and owning less not only gives you fewer things to insure, repair and maintain, but it also can provide a liberating feeling, free from material possessions. Live in the moment, for yourself and others, your income not beholden to pay for a lot of stuff.

While you’re practicing a downsized frame of mind, consider other things that you might be better without. For instance, negative or toxic friends who make you feel out-of-sorts or angry after you’ve spent time with them.

If you are in retirement or developing a retirement income strategy, consider adopting the downsizing mindset when you think about the lifestyle you want to lead — and can afford. If you want to get out and do more — such as theatre, fine dining, vacations — consider trading the family home for a condominium that doesn’t require as much upkeep. If you want to move out of the suburbs and get a place in the city, consider that you may not need a car anymore.

Another way to approach downsizing is with a Swedish philosophy: “death cleaning” or distending. Described in a book by Margareta Magnusson, “The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning,” it essentially means cleaning out your belongings so your kids don’t have to once you pass away. It’s a kindness. First, you can give them some of your things that you don’t use and which they may greatly appreciate. Second, it’s an opportunity to share stories with loved ones about treasured objects, or even your life, as you clean. Finally, what greater gift to leave your grieving family than not making them take on this large task at a difficult time. Magnusson notes that this process can take place at any point in our lives.

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.

1 National Council on Aging. Aug. 28, 2018. “Figure Out How Moving Changes Your Finances.” https://calculator.benefitscheckup.org/calculators/move-or-stay-put?_ga. Accessed Sept. 21, 2018.

2 Joshua Becker. Forbes. Aug. 28, 2018. “7 Reasons To Own Less.” https://forbes.com/sites/joshuabecker/2018/08/28/seven-reasons-to-own-less/. Accessed Sept. 21, 2018.

3 Lindsay Dodgson. BusinessInsider.com. Aug. 7, 2018. “13 signs your friendship with someone is toxic.” https://www.businessinsider.com/signs-your-friendship-is-toxic-2018-2. Accessed Sept. 21, 2018

4 William P. Barrett. Forbes. Feb. 21, 2017. “The Best Places To Retire Without A Car.” https://www.forbes.com/sites/williampbarrett/2017/02/21/the-best-places-to-retire-without-a-car/.Accessed Sept. 21, 2018.

5 Margareta Magnusson. Time. Jan. 3, 2018. “‘Death Cleaning’ Is the New Marie Kondo. Should You Try It?” http://time.com/5063275/death-cleaning/. Accessed Sept. 21, 2018.

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