By Nicole Long, MSW, LICSW,

CEO of Old Colony Elder Services

The start of a new year is an ideal time for older adults to evaluate their financial needs. 

When it comes to managing your funds, creating a budget is essential. This will show you where your money is spent each month and give you more control over it. It is important to know how much of your money goes toward rent/mortgage, utilities, food, transportation, insurance, medical, and other expenses.

Start with compiling all your income sources such as Social Security, pension, savings, and investments. Remember to factor in any adjustments to your income, such as your Social Security benefit; you should receive an annual notification with the new amount for this particular benefit. Then, plan out your expenses. Be sure to review notices alerting you of cost increases for utilities, prescription programs, supplementary health insurance, and other premiums.

There are several ways to manage on a budget during retirement, or with a fixed income. Think of it as “smart spending” rather than “penny pinching” to stay positive. Aim to reduce or maintain expenses so your savings are invested and growing for as long as possible.

Here are a few tips for stretching those dollars:

• Seek out senior discounts at restaurants, retailers, and other venues. For example, many movie theaters offer a special “senior day” with discounted ticket prices.

• Local libraries offer a variety of free or inexpensive events ranging from guest lectures and art classes to book clubs, yoga, and more. Interested in visiting a museum or zoo? Reserve a reduced-rate pass through your local library. You don’t need to visit the library to borrow many items. Many libraries offer ways to checkout, download, and stream eBooks, audiobooks, magazines, movies or music to your devices online. Your local librarian can advise and assist you.

• Community programs help seniors save on transportation and food. For example, older adults may take advantage of reduced fares when they travel via MBTA bus, commuter rail, subway, or ferry. Many councils on aging offer community dining sites where nutritionally sound and satisfying meals are provided Monday through Friday. Community dining enables older adults save money on food while providing an opportunity to socialize. For those unable to attend a community dining site, or who are unable to prepare nutritious meals at home, home-delivered meals through Meals on Wheels are available.

For older adults having difficulty managing their finances, the Money Management Program at OCES can assist. Through this free program, OCES’s trained volunteers help older adults in Plymouth County and surrounding towns reconcile bank statements, pay bills, and create budgets. Program volunteers provide confidential assistance and ensure that mortgage/rent, utilities, medical, food, and other bills are paid. 

Ultimately, budgeting enables you to keep track of your spending as you age, which will help stretch your savings over the long term. 

Older adults who would like to learn more about budget guidance and the Money Management Program at OCES are encouraged to visit or to call 508-584-1561.

About the Author:Nicole Long is the Chief Executive Officer of Old Colony Elder Services (OCES). Founded in 1974, OCES is a private, non-profit organization proudly serving greater Plymouth County and surrounding communities. OCES is designated as one of 25 Aging Services Access Points (ASAPs) in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. OCES’s mission is to support the independence and dignity of older adults and individuals with disabilities by providing essential information and services that promote healthy and safe living. The agency offers a number of programs to serve older adults, individuals with disabilities, their families and caregivers. For more information call 508-584-1561 or visit