A big percentage of retired seniors have only Social Security for income. The average Social Security benefit is $1409.91 per month. Taken together, those two facts can be scary, but less so if you make plans in advance.

If you know you’ll have only Social Security, there are big steps you can take now. Consider moving to a location with a lower cost of living or a warm climate. Share your home with someone, possibly another senior. Wait as long as possible before collecting Social Security.

It’s the smaller steps, however, that can make or break your efforts to live only on Social Security.

Start your planning a year in advance. Call Social Security and find out what your benefit amount is going to be. Be sure to calculate the deduction that will automatically come out for Medicare.

Practice for at least six months (a year is better) living on that smaller amount to be sure it can be done. Calculate your monthly expenses and keep track of every dime you spend to identify places you can cut back. Get on a “budget billing” plan for utilities so you’re billed the same amount each month.

Give serious consideration to having a Medicare supplement plan to take care of medical expenses that Medicare doesn’t cover.

Use your extra money to pay off all credit cards. Have car maintenance done. Pay ahead on property taxes. Consider what items you need to buy now, while you have income. If self-employed, beware your tax situation, and what you’ll owe when.

Become familiar with senior services in your area so you know where and what they are. Know where the food bank is, for example.

Think it through before you jump. Be sure it’s doable ... living on only Social Security. For many seniors, it’s the only option.

©2018 King Features Synd., Inc.

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