Minimising outgoings

When we retire, some of our outgoings – mortgage payments, university fees and commuting costs for instance – should reduce. But, over time, they'll be replaced by other expenses, ones linked to older age. So when you only have a finite amount coming in, how can you minimise your outgoings - without cutting corners on the things you really enjoy in retirement?

Where do I start?

The first thing to do is to ‘audit’ your cash flow. That means looking at how much you have coming in, and understanding where and how the money is going out. In the ideal situation, everyone’s income exceeds their outgoings – but every penny you can save will help.

Are there things I should not cut back on?

Yes. It’s sometimes much easier to start by looking at what you can’t cut back on – and make sure that you’re not missing out on any money that could be coming into your account:

1. Heating bills

Please don’t cut back on your heating bills without talking to your energy provider. Many providers run schemes to help older people, if they’re struggling to pay the bills – and you could be putting yourself at risk by keeping your house too cold.

2. Food bills

Again, it’s not a good idea to cut back on food itself.


3. Debts

If you’ve built up debts, please talk to the credit providers quickly – don’t cut back on your payments without making sure you can, or you’re covering minimum payments at least. For more information on how to deal with your debts you can contact debt charity National Debtline for free advice. 

So where can I cut back on my outgoings? How can I reduce them?

Let’s take a look at some of the things you might not realise are costing you money:


  • Are you a subscriber to TV services that you don’t use?
  • Do you have a broadband and TV package that’s more than you need?

Phone bills

  • Are you paying for extra services (like roaming) that you don’t need?
  • Can you review your price plan – do you need 100s of texts each month?


  • Does your current account have a charge on it for ‘extra services’ you don’t need?
  • Are you paying overdraft charges, when perhaps you have savings in another account?

Home Sense

  • Do you have your thermostat turned up high – could you turn it down by 1 degree?
  • Do you close all your windows carefully to keep the heat in, when you’re out?
  • Are you reviewing your household bills regularly – using a comparison website like Uswitch?
  • Do you have low energy light bulbs in your home?
  • Do you get newspapers or magazines that you don’t read?
  • Do you use your dried foods up, or are you ‘sitting on’ food you could be using?
  • Do you plan what you’re eating, and use ‘left overs’ to create new meals?
  • Are you using comparison websites  - like MySupermarket – to compare the cost of your shopping regularly?
  • Could you swap ‘own brands’ for premium brands sometimes?
  • Do you take advantage of loyalty schemes, and look for bargains?
  • And do you turn off electrical appliances when you’re not using them?

They may sound like ‘odd’ suggestions, but they do all add up. When you talk to a professional adviser, he or she is likely to recommend that you review your bank statements regularly – it’s a good place to catch ‘odd payments’ for things that mount up over time.

Do think about ways to boost your income, as well as cut back on what you’re spending. Read more about extra income in retirement, on our ‘letting a room’ and ‘renting out space’ pages – and don’t forget, as you get older, you can take advantage of schemes such as the Senior Railcard and reduced public transport costs.