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Check your retirement budget

By Jennie L. Phipps ·
Thursday, December 26, 2013
Posted: 3 pm ET

With the New Year only days away, take time to assess your financial situation and other aspects of retirement planning.

The National Council on Aging recently devised  the website for retirees. You gather key family or individual financial information and plug it into a calculator, which will analyze your personal situation and -- based on your zip code -- suggest sources of help with budgeting.

Find help anonymously

The process is totally anonymous. You don't have to provide your name or address. You can use the calculator to find assistance for yourself, or you can put in what you know or can guess about a family member's situation and search for possible resources for the loved one. Early testers of the calculator in 25 communities saved an average of $250 a month or $3,000 a year from their personal budgets, the council says.

While this tool is aimed at low- and middle-income people, its calculations are useful for everyone. The color graph of your financial situation available at the end of the process is a good portrait of your retirement outlook.

From a checkup to a checklist

This is also a good time to take care of these other end-of-the-year details that could have a positive impact on your retirement budget:

  • Make room in your closets. Donate gently-used clothing and household goods to a charity in time to take the deduction on this year's tax return. If you  overbought groceries for the holidays, your local food pantry will probably be happy to take the excess as long as the food items haven't been opened. These donations are usually tax deductible, too.
  • Stock up on health supplies. If you have a flexible spending account at work, the IRS changed some of the rules for 2013 to provide a grace period for those who don't spend up all the money they set aside  this year. But some employers didn't adopt the extension, so it's a good idea to spend your entire allotment. You can check health care items that are covered by an FSA on the IRS website. If an item is not covered by prescription, call your doctor's office and ask for a note verifying that your physician wants you to use this nonprescription item. That will satisfy the IRS.

Do you have any year-end money-saving tips that every retiree should consider?

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