Where to Find Savings as a New Empty Nester
It's common for parents to feel a sense of pride when their last child moves out. However, it's also normal for an empty nester, or a parent with adult children who have left home, to feel varied emotions ranging from sadness and loneliness to even hope and optimism.
Some of those positive emotions may be related to empty nesters' newfound money-saving possibilities. For example, parents often spend more than $233,610 for food, shelter, and other necessities to raise a child through age 17. However, once children are on their own, many of those expenses will decrease automatically. Empty nesters can find even more ways to save if they follow these suggestions for making proactive changes.
1. Reexamine Your Insurance Policies
As a new empty nester, you should take the time to review your insurance policies. Many auto insurance companies will offer a discount if you have college students who aren't driving while at school. If they do have a car year round, you might be able to get a discount on your premium if they're getting good grades. When it comes to life insurance, think about whether it makes sense to continue paying premiums if you have older adult children who are now supporting themselves.
2. Remove Your Kids from the Family Cell Phone Plan
It's common for both college students and adult children who are now working to stay on the family plan. However, it may be more cost-efficient if they paid for their portion of the bill. Determine a date for when they'll completely transition off of the family plan and get their own cell phone. It will save you some money and also teach your kids to be self-sufficient and pay their own bills.
3. Start Traveling During the Low Season
Having children who are high school aged or younger usually requires booking vacations according to the school calendar. But as an empty nester, these schedules no longer have to factor into when you can plan vacations. Capitalize on this new flexibility and keep an eye out for lower airfares. Visit different airlines' websites and see whether they're advertising any deals for off-peak travel.
4. Downsize Your Home
While the cost of your utilities will likely decrease simply because fewer people are living in the house, new empty nesters should also reexamine the size of their homes. Moving into a smaller space could reduce the size of both your mortgage payment and utility bill because it won't require as much power to heat or cool.
Another option includes selling your house and renting an apartment instead — which could save you money on maintenance, landscaping, and property taxes. No matter what you decide, take some time to declutter and get rid of the things you don't need anymore. Designer clothing and accessories are easy to sell online or at consignment stores, while items like furniture and musical equipment might do better on Craigslist or other resale sites.
5. Or Rent Out an Empty Bedroom
Not quite ready to downsize? Try registering a spare bedroom on Airbnb to make extra money. You'd be surprised by how much you can make by renting your college student's space during the school year or making it available year-round if they've moved out permanently.
As a new empty nester, some savings will happen automatically now that your children have moved out of the house. However, to take advantage of further savings opportunities, you'll need to make some proactive changes that involve adjusting to a new mindset and routine. But if you follow the steps above, you'll likely uncover some extra money that could be added toward your retirement accounts.