Turning 65 years old is a blessing in many ways, especially if you’ve been good at minding your money through the years and have had good health and good fortune.
To mark money expert Clark Howard reaching the milestone age of 65, he’s sharing some of his most important steps toward financial freedom.
Here are six “SENIOR” money tips Clark wants you to know:
6 SENIOR Tips From Clark
“Savings are key to freedom as a senior. If you don’t have sufficient savings then it typically means that you’re going to have to keep working or you’re going to have to lead a very spartan life,” Clark says.
Resources to Help You Save Money:
- How to Start Saving Money in 5 Easy Steps
- 30+ Ways to Reduce Expenses
- 22 Ways to Save Money on Groceries
“As a senior who uses electronics — from cell phones to televisions and other things we pay for — there may be special deals that you can get,” says Clark. “Some of the deals start as early as age 50 or 55. All you have to do is ask, and you may even have to change companies to get the best deal as a senior.”
Resources to Save on Electronics:
- The Best Cell Phone Plans and Deals
- The Best Time and Place to Buy a TV
- Retail Stores That Offer Senior Discounts
New or Used Vehicle
“No matter when you ask me, no matter what age, I’m going to say used vehicle instead of new, but especially when you’re new in retirement,” Clark says.
“The reason is that you’re adjusting to living on typically a fixed income and taking a huge chunk of your money — with the average new vehicle costing about $37,000 — that won’t be there for you and can’t grow for you is something that really troubles me. And so, because the average used vehicle is about $17,000, which is less than half the price of a new vehicle, without a doubt, I want you to go with a used vehicle — not new.”
Resources on Buying a Car:
- How to Buy a Used Car in 7 Steps
- 7 Rules for Buying a Cheap Car With Cash
- Should You Buy a Car Right Now?
“So you’ve got two aspects of interest: One is on savings when you’re earning interest, although it may be close to nothing. Another is if you’re paying out huge interest, especially on credit card debt,” says Clark.
“If you are looking to have independence as a senior, a huge percentage of senior citizens now are carrying credit card debt and that just eats at you. The average credit card carries an interest rate of about 17% or so. That’s not a recipe for financial comfort and security. So I’d like you to work as hard as you can to pay off any credit card you have BEFORE you retire.”
Resources on Interest and Debt:
- Best Online Banks: Free Checking and High-Interest Savings Accounts
- 6 Steps to Pay Off Debt With a Credit Card Balance Transfer
- How to Get Out of Debt in 7 Steps
Clark says: “Overdraft fees are a pure profit for the bank. They con you into signing up for overdraft, which is typically about $35. They make it seem like a benefit, but you had to give the bank permission to charge you overdraft. Get rid of it, go back into your bank branch or talk to them over the phone and tell them to discontinue their overdraft protection because it doesn’t protect you, it harms you.
“They say, ‘You never want to be inconvenienced by having your purchase declined if you don’t have sufficient funds, so we offer you this privilege of being able to overdraft your account.’
“You don’t want that ‘privilege.’ It’s better that you leave the merchandise at the register than buy the merchandise you don’t have the money for. So just say no to overdraft!”
Resources on Banking:
- Why You Should Never Sign Up for Overdraft Protection
- 7 Best Free Checking Accounts for 2020
- Why You Should Never Use a Debit Card to Pay for Anything
“A lot of people will enter retirement with a dream of what they plan to do, whether it be to play golf or whatever,” says Clark.
“I’ve found that the happiest retirees are people who maintain some level of activity — volunteering, working, doing something that gives you an area of influence or a routine that you have with your life. Because if you have no input or no routine, you will just wander around. And one of the big things that can happen if you go into retirement with no activities that are a regular part of your life, is that you’ll get bored.
“Retirement affords you a life of freedom, and freedom is not doing nothing. Freedom is spending your life doing things you enjoy.”
Resources on Retirement:
- What to Do With Your Investments if You’re Retiring This Year
- 12 Ways to Save Money in Retirement
- 7 Major Expenses in Retirement (and How to Reduce Them!)
Clark says it’s important to put yourself in the best position possible for retirement, even if it means putting it off for a couple of years.
“I feel so strongly about getting to a point where you’re financially secure in retirement that even if it means you delay retirement by a couple of years so that you can single mindedly pay off your mortgage, I think it’s worth it. So, instead of retiring at 65, it’s OK to do it at 67 just so you don’t have to worry anymore about paying for that mortgage.”