Everyone dreams of retiring with free time and enough money to enjoy it, but for most Canadians, it is also a time to think about needless expenses that could be cut.
After all, in 2012 the average income for families where the highest income earner was 65 or older was about $52,000, according to Statistics Canada.
What's more, retirees tend to spend more during the first years, while they are younger and healthier. It's their money, and they have earned it over a lifetime.
But they should make sure this spending won't hurt them in the future, said Angelo Mantzios, a financial adviser at Sun Life Financial.
Here are seven expenses to avoid during retirement:
1. Supporting adult children
A recent TD Canada Trust survey showed that one in five baby boomers admit they would consider putting their financial future at risk to support their adult children. More than 40 per cent of respondents said they had allowed their adult children to live at home, rent-free, at some point, while almost a third had subsidized big purchases such as a new car.
But boomers need to understand the difference between what they would like to do and what they can do, said Crystal Wong, a senior financial planner with TD Wealth in Victoria.
"Boomer parents should meet with an accredited financial planner to determine what their budget amounts are, what their expenses are, and the difference between needs and wants, so they have a good understanding of how much it's costing to financially support adult children," she said. Bring them along to that meeting, she added, "because it will give them an opportunity to speak with a third party about those expenses, and how they could also contribute."
2. Paying more than you need to
From drugstores to taxi companies, seniors are eligible for myriad discounts on goods and services. "There are some people who don't want to admit they are 65 and will pay full price," Mr. Mantzios said. "Don't be ashamed to let them know you're a senior. Take advantage of the discounts. Sixty-five is the new 35," he added, "so go ahead and tell them how old you are."
3. Paying too much tax
It may sound counterintuitive, but it can make a lot of sense to get your tax returns completed by a professional who has experience with older people. "I would put this at number one, actually," said David Trahair, a Toronto-based accountant and best-selling author of The Procrastinator's Guide to Retirement. "Pension income splitting alone could save thousands of dollars, and some seniors don't even know it exists."
"If you structure your income after retirement properly," said Mr. Mantzios, "you can really take advantage of some of the tax breaks, and also ensure that your Old Age Security does not get clawed back."
4. Paying interest
Statistics show that about a third of retired Canadians are still paying off debts. Credit card interest can be a major drain on income, but aside from paying it off as quickly as possible, retirees should also reconsider the credit card they're using.
"Its worth thinking about what kind of rewards card has been good for you until this point, because it might be a totally different card after you retire," said Mr. Trahair. "Maybe you travelled for work but now you're not. A simple cash-back card might be a better solution."
Those unable to pay off the monthly total should think about ditching the rewards card altogether and opting for something more basic that charges less interest. He suggested checking out the card selector tool on the website of the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada. "You can see them side by side and compare."
5. Keeping a house that's too big
It may hurt to say goodbye to the home where you raised your family, but do you really need such a big place? "Along with the extra space, seniors also have to consider the higher taxes, maintenance costs and utility bills," Ms. Wong said. Compare monthly costs to those of a smaller home and you may find yourself checking the real estate listings.
"It's personal and emotional," said Mr. Mantzios, "but it all comes down to your assets. Do you have enough money to pay someone to clean it? Are you happy to go up and down those stairs in your 90s? There are ways you can use that equity, whether you are in the home or not, to advance your financial future."
6. Overspending on travel
Retirement is when most people feel they can finally take that trip around the world, but doing so doesn't have to cost a lot if you stick to a budget and are flexible about the dates.
"A lot of seniors should think about adjusting the timing of their vacations," said Mr. Trahair. "The prices are significantly cheaper if you can travel off peak," in February for example instead of during March break with the kids. "And consider going last minute, because you can get some great deals if you are flexible," he said.
7. Always picking up the tab
From shopping sprees to eating out, retirees ought to think about toning down their non-essential spending. Get professional help in making a plan or budget if need be. Otherwise, they can simply get a cash-tracking app on their smartphones, suggested Mr. Trahair. "Because on a lower income," he said, "every penny counts."