Retirement can come as a financial and emotional shock to many people. Here’s help.

Retirement is one of life’s great gear changes and for many people it also goes hand-in-hand with a somewhat reduced income.

But there are many ways to keep healthy, and to stay happy without breaking the bank. All you need is a bit of ingenuity and a sense of adventure.

Socialise at home. Going out to restaurants is expensive. Leave it for special occasions such as birthdays or family celebrations. Cook a meal for friends, and next time they’ll invite you over. That way you’ll get two meals for half of what one restaurant outing would have cost you. And socialising is always good for you.

Go for check-ups. Even if going to the doctor isn't right at the top of your list of favourite things, a regular check-up at the GP can pick up many health problems in their early stages, when they can be much easier – and also cheaper – to treat. Ignoring something won’t make it go away and it can end up costing you a fortune in medical bills.

Give structure to your week. Regular activities are great in that they provide you with framework for your week – something you might miss if you've been used to working full-time all your life. Regular dates with friends and family also takes some stress out of organising your social life. Regular social contact will also counteract depression and isolation, both of which can be a problem to retirees. Volunteer work can also be fulfilling.

Use the library. It’s free, it provides hours of entertainment and you might even come across a few like- minded souls there. Some libraries also have extensive DVD collections. Explore these. Some churches also have wonderful (and inexpensive) programmes for seniors. These might be worth exploring if this is your kind of thing.

Use pensioner discounts. These can be on certain days at your local supermarket or hardware store or carwash. Use them. Even a 10% discount can leave you with more disposable cash. And don’t forget that many movie theatres also have pensioner days. One can also get great discounts on getaways if you go during the week and not on weekends when demand is great. Your time is now your own, so use it to your advantage.

Cook fresh. Freshly cooked food is always cheaper and healthier than pre-prepared meals which are often high in fat and contain many preservatives. Take the time to chop your vegetables yourself and make sure you get enough fibre. If you’re not fond of daily cooking, cook large quantities and freeze for future use. Frozen home-cooked food will always be cheaper and healthier than takeaways or pre- prepared meals.

Drink lots of water. Water is a lot cheaper than any other drink and it also is the best thing for keeping hydrated. Remember, as you grow older, your ability to sense thirst decreases, so be mindful to drink fluids regularly and not wait until you feel thirsty, according to the Merck Manuals.

Fitness for free. Keeping fit doesn't have to cost you a penny. A daily walk around your area with a friend can fulfil all your exercise needs. You don’t have to spend a fortune on gym fees. And if you live in a harsh climate, remember the US trend of early-morning mall walkers. Shopping malls are covered and air-conditioned and safe, and if you go there before the shops open, you’ll have the place to yourself. Also investigate yoga or Pilates classes. Find a way to de-stress.

Use generics. If you’re taking chronic medication (and even something just once-off on prescription), remember to ask your pharmacist about using generics. These can come at a fraction of the cost of brand-name medication.

Use government services. The Australian Department of Human Services can give assistance and advice to older Australians about financial matters, financial assistance, medical matters and many other issues affecting older people. Make use of these.

Join societies. These are usually non-profit organisations and annual membership fees are usually low. Whether it’s the vernacular society, a bridge club, a sports club, a garden club, quiz events or theatre clubs, there are many social events and outings you can go on. It’s also a great way to meet people or to socialize with your existing friends. Socialising with people who share your interests can also be a great destressor.




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