Advocacy

Living on a Fixed Income

by Pam Smith

Our golden years are often thought of as the time in our lives when homes, cars and credit cards are all paid off.  A time when we get to spoil our grandchildren, take long trips, and generally indulge ourselves after years of hard work. Instead, many seniors find they are still working to make ends meet and those not working are living on a fixed income that may not support all their basic needs, such as rent, food, transportation and medications.

The reality is that if you are living on a fixed income you have to be very resourceful and diligent in managing your finances. It’s important to budget carefully and keep unnecessary expenses to a minimum. Finding creative ways to stretch your monthly income and taking advantage of government and community resources can cut expenses and help save money for other expenditures.

Following are some tips and resources to assist you.

 The Basics

Budget Carefully – When you know exactly how much money you have coming in on a monthly basis it’s important to develop a budget that allows you to make sure that the mandatory expenses are covered first. Once you have budgeted for necessities, you’ll be able to allocate any additional funds for the other items or services that you need or want. Once your budget is developed, follow it carefully.

Plan your trips –   Keep a running list of items that you need frequently or items that you need less frequently. Don’t make 1-item shopping trips! You’ll save on gas and time if you make a once per week trip for instance and go to multiple stores.

Seek out senior discounts – There are many stores that offer senior discounts on certain days, some all the time. Don’t be shy. Find out how much you can extend your dollars by being proud of your age!  Just ask! Restaurants, movie theaters, traveling, retail stores and more offer discounts.

Plan what you eat – The best way to save on food is to have a formulated plan. If you go out to eat that’s fine but don’t do it at the expense of throwing away food (or money). Come up with meal plans and then stick to them! Cook in larger portions and freeze if necessary so you will have variety and save money.

Learn for freeLook for free classes and activities that don’t cost a cent or are relatively inexpensive. Join clubs and participate in things you have always wanted to learn or do. You’ll find that there are many things you can do for free and have fun at the same time while getting to know other people.

Don’t fall prey to scammers and con artists – Beware of “guaranteed returns’’ or “limited time offers,’’ and don’t pay for “free gifts.’’ Never give your credit card, Social Security number or other personal information to a person or business you don’t know. Keep a close eye on your checking and savings accounts and report any suspicious withdrawals to the bank right away. For more tips on how to protect yourself, check out advice from the FBI at www.fbi.gov/majcases/fraud/seniorsfam.htm.

Government and community programs for which you may qualify:

 Rental Assistance for low-income seniors is available from several U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development senior programs as well as other state and local agencies. Visit HUD.gov for more details.

Low-Income Home Energy Assistance programs provide grants to help pay utility bills. To see if you qualify, contact your local utility company. http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ocs/liheap/

Prescription Drug Assistance Programs. Most pharmaceutical companies offer patient assistance programs that provide uninsured and low-income access to prescription drugs they couldn’t otherwise afford. Ask your doctor, pharmacist or health clinic for more details.

 Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program helps millions of lower-income seniors buy nutritious food each month. Visit http://www.fns.usda.gov/fns/  for qualification requirements.

Free Transportation. Some communities offer transportation programs to drive senior citizens to and from special events, doctor’s appointments and various other activities. These programs vary from city to city so you would need to check with your city website for transportation options for senior citizens.

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57 Comments on "Living on a Fixed Income"

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Steven O
4 years 10 months ago

If the Republicans have their way and privatize medicare people on a fixed income will be destroyed. I have a preexisting genetic condition that causes a few benign tumors. I am healthy but still it is currently impossible for me to buy ANY type of insurance from any company. What do you think will happen when I am 65? If the prexisting condition law is not repealed it will still be impossible for me to afford the ultra high rates private companies will charge. Why kill what I have worked a lifetime to earn? Amac does not have the best interests of seniors at heart because it is not fighting changes that are currently taking place. AARP is.

Dennis
4 years 10 months ago

We’ve all got our problems dude. Its still a free country, so if you think AARP is so great then go with them. Be warned though, their interests aren’t as pure as you may have been lead to believe.

skystew
4 years 10 months ago

Grizz..while GEICO may save you a few $$ one of the reasons many of us switched to AMAC is that GEICO & AARP are both heavy supporters of the Democratic party..do your homework.

Intresting reading, I am Travelers agent. Each applicant is different
4 years 10 months ago

I have belonged to AMSCK since you started. I have not been disappointed. Keep up good works.
Travelers is a good company, Seemed to really treat folks fair.
I am an agent for Travelers. Thanks,Sherman M Brown, Tenn.

Sharon
4 years 10 months ago
When my husband joined AARP, I tried to educate him on their liberal positions. I refuse to support political positions that are 70%+ against what I believe. He did not renew when they supported Obamacare. Thank goodness we have this option. We have had Farmers Ins for decades and appreciate that they do not count accidents that were not our fault against our driving records or points. We have accident-free rates as a result. They cover everything we own except our boat. We had to purchase Progressive to cover it. There are some insurance providers a little cheaper but we’re reluctant because our service is immediate, and we have never had our rates increase even after no fault car accidents and a home break-in with claims. We’ve never had a claim challenged even remotely and no ‘surprises’ from hidden clauses. In short, they’ve earned my trust and support.
Larry Morrow
4 years 10 months ago

I am not an AMAC member yet. I am checking into it though. We do need an alternative to AARP. I was looking at some of the statements about the insurances. I too find the cost outrageous. I too had AARP and Foremost. I will say, the cost was comparative with those I checked but, the problem is, it is hard to find a company to insure a moblie home. I have Liberety for auto, and asked them about mobile home ins. I ended up with a combo policy joining the two together and it works out real good. For those looking to change, check your auto policy or home owner policy and see if you can insure more on it. If you can’t combine, maybe they can give you a multi-ins discount for home and auto, or, life, or accident, etc. It is worth a try.

Jerry Quebedeaux
4 years 10 months ago

I would suggest that everyone get quotes for their insurance needs before renewing their policies for auto and home owners. Doing that has lowered my policy payments each year. I qet quotes about thirty days before my policies expire so I can make a decision for renewal or move to new insurer!

Barbara
4 years 10 months ago

When I turned 50 several years ago,
I received numerous requests to join the AARP, which I did NOT. I was aware of their positions on most things and knew it didn’t fit my beliefs. I was glad to find this AMAC organization on my email this morning and did join. I hope the AMAC becomes a strong voice for seniors in DC and implements similar savings. I will recommend to all my friends!!
Thank you for the ad that caught my attention. We must get and vote!!

Marilyn
4 years 10 months ago

I agree with JM Oemler. All you have to do is ask for the ‘senoir’ discount. As for retired physician wanting nothing to do with HMOs. I went with a plan that is HMOs and ALL my docs belong to it and it has part D included. Look around and see what is offered.

J.M. Oemler
4 years 10 months ago

As to complaints about AMAC discounts compared to AARP… Yes, we would all like to see our AMAC Cards recognized at all the places AARP is. However, if you pull out a AAA, American Legion, or just about any other Card, you will find you get the same or very similar discount at most hotels, etc. As for auto insurance, it’s going to vary greatly depending on your location, age, credit, driving history, etc. What’s cheapest in NY, may be the highest in LA.

Paul Hohe
4 years 10 months ago

Would like to transfer my Medicare Supplementary and Part D (Pharmacy) insurance from AARP to AMAC but on researching your offerings, it appears your plans are more “HMO-like”. As a retired physician, I want nothing to do with HMOs.

Rodger Watson
4 years 10 months ago

AMAC STATEMENT: “Under most circumstances, Medicare Advantage Plans will save you money while increasing your coverage.” On my visit to SHINE at the local SSI office in Collier CTY, Fl I was advised Advantage Plan was not recommended *Medicare Original had less problems. View medicare.gov and view the options to have more control of your own health.

David Woodel, Financial Advisor/Insurance Broker
4 years 10 months ago
Regarding Insurance may I suggest to all those who would like to find the Best insurance policy for their home and auto for the Best price to contact your local insurance Broker? Brokers normally represent many companies. As an Insurance Agent for 28 years and now a Broker for over 12 years my agency in Sacramento, Ca. offers almost two dozen companies. I shop all at one time when quoting. Rates can change in Calif. by zip code and over a dozen other rating factors. Approximately 85-90% of the time my agency can find a Better Buy for the shopper. Sometimes we simply tell folks to keep what they have after comparing benefits,price and how well the insurance company pays claims. In California Travelers, Hartford and Safeco are 3 that make most people happy and usually beat Allstate, Statefarm, Liberty Mutual and Farmers hands down. I illustrate Insurance policies as… Read more »
Rodger Watson
4 years 10 months ago

I just moved to Naples, Fl Collier County. For over 65 contact SHINE call for appointment they will assist with health ins. info. Remember NOT all counties in Florida have the same benefits you need to do your homework.
Auto insurance contact 21 Centuray. Full coverage for $400 every 6 months with good driving record.

Truman Trekell
4 years 10 months ago

Traveler’s auto insurance uses credit information to rate and determine premiums on auto insurance. Is this ridiculous or what ? What has credit scores or info. have to do with insurance ? The cheapest auto insurance I’ve found is through Hartford. They even beat USAA by more than 30%.

Bob Hodgson
4 years 10 months ago
I sincerely appreciate having ANY alternative to AARP. I hope to see AMAC gain more and more national and local clout. Because school teachers could not be represented by local and state teacher organizations without belonging to the NEA, I was an NEA member for my entire 30 year teaching career. Incidentally, I was a part-time barber throughout that same period. I do spend a week or two a year in motels and would apprecaite seeing AMAC put more pressure on some of the more affordable motel and restaurant franchises by demanding discounts comperable to those offered AARP members. Having said, there is nothing that could convince me to return to AARP membership. Before Abama-care was ever passed, I watched an AARP TV commercial promoting “this President’s” insidious power grab. I called and challenged their position. They lied and denied their support. Now they seem to be proud of their… Read more »
Barbara Mihalke
4 years 10 months ago
Ifyoucan work, do it!..I was working as a CSR for cmompny cntracting with Aetna..tried to get a biopsy at the 2 approved UnitedHealthcare dermatologists in town and constantly told they’s see me in 2 months..I was 74 and I think they did not want me because they assumed I was medicare…anyway I made a big scene at the md office and finally was seen thanks to a cancelation…well, do not put up with this …because I was diagnosed with malignant melonoma…surgery and immotherapy..for a year…was retired by company at 75…I fear we seniors are being misled….there are many, many boards being set up by Obama and Sebalius..my oncologist said that md’s don’t like to treat those 75 or over..but that I was a good candidate due to my health records and strength (due to working!)..watch out..because Dr Berwick loves the plan in England…which now only allows 1 eye cataract to… Read more »
Fred Goepfert
4 years 11 months ago

“Golden Years” is partially a luck of the draw, which is becoming less and less possible for many. My brain and my technical creative talents are quite healthy. Meaningful employment is a bad joke. There should be a way to get employed sans benefits which you do not need. For people like me, working from a home office should be possible,

Lee
4 years 11 months ago

We have had Farmers insurance for twenty years on home, horse trailer,trucks and a blanket policy for everything else I can screw up. Their rates are better than anyone else i’ve found.

Richard Higgins
4 years 11 months ago

Richard Poirier is right. AMAC is trying to get a bill passed to stop taxing Social Security income. The IRS generally will tax 50% of your Social Security once the household income is over approx $40 k per year. As far as the car insurance, AMAC told me they save one out of three people who call good money- so it sounds like it might be worth calling.

Bob Scott
4 years 11 months ago

I can’t find any Insurance co. than can beat progressive prices. We have 4 vehicles insured for the basic required ins. and it costs me 480.00 every 6 months. My scooter ins is cheapest through safeco at 89.00 per year. I’m 66 and still working full time. Invested 80,000 into sub prime lenders and lost it all

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