Ways to downsize during retirement

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In a nation obsessed with everything “biggie-sized,” the thought of downsizing holds as much appeal as a root canal.

We just love big things. Texans boast about the size of their state, but Alaska has bigger bragging rights, at more than twice the size of the Lone Star state. Even our national monuments speak volumes about our size-consciousness. Think Mount Rushmore: The colossal sculptures of the four presidential busts are 60 feet tall.

So to suggest that we trade in a Cadillac Fleetwood for a Smart car or move from a five-bedroom Victorian into a two-bedroom condo (sans garage) is akin to cultural heresy.

But for many retirees, downsizing isn’t an option — it’s a necessary survival strategy that could stretch your savings to the end zone of retirement. All it takes is one or two unfortunate life events to throw one’s retirement plans into a tailspin.

Consider these tips to trim the fat from your budget and boost your bottom line.

Scale back without feeling deprived
Curb communications
Communications is an area where seniors can really cut back.

“I think the first thing most people should look at nowadays is how much they’re spending on things like cell phones, land lines, cable TV and Internet,” says Henry “Bud” Hebeler, author of “Getting Started in a Financially Secure Retirement.”

Hebeler says eliminating land lines and premium cable channels can save you a bundle over the course of a year.

Many retirees have cell phone contracts with way too many minutes, says Certified Financial Planner Kevin Reardon of Brookfield, Wis.-based Shakespeare Wealth Management.

Re-evaluate how you’re using your phone and “ask yourself if you really need 1,000 minutes per month,” says Reardon. Voice over Internet protocol, or VoIP, may be a viable alternative to your land line, he adds.

“You can get it through cable or a Vonage-type provider,” he says. And it’s usually a lot cheaper.