Reaching retirement is a major milestone. Finally, you don’t have to work anymore! But while your days as an earner may be behind you, you will not be exempt from concerns about your finances. Senior citizens have to budget, invest, and take care of their personal finances just like everyone else — in fact, seniors will find that these things are even more important when you don’t have a salary coming in!

Making ends meet as a senior isn’t always easy, especially if your retirement fund didn’t end up being quite as robust as you might have hoped. American seniors often struggle financially, and some even end up being unable to retire. If you’re worried about your finances, you should focus on making a smart budget, keeping your options for bringing in extra cash open, and knowing when to turn to the experts for assistance.

Mastering your retirement budget

A retirement budget is a crucial component of your retirement plan. It isn’t enough to just save up a nest egg for retirement — it is possible to spend any amount of money too fast, so there’s no secure retirement without a retirement budget.

Your retirement budget should dictate how much you allocate to essentials and on discretionary spending, just like your budget did back when you were working hard to save for retirement. And, just like your old budget, your retirement budget should keep an untouched emergency fund on tap for unexpected expenses. Unfortunately, all too many Americans would find themselves in dire financial straits if they encountered an unexpected expense of just a few hundred dollars. Don’t let this be you! Keep an emergency fund at the ready.

If you’re having trouble with your budget, take aim at discretionary spending. Are you spending too much on restaurants or at the liquor store? Can you find ways to get little savings using coupons and other classic budget-buying techniques? Hopefully, you can reign in your discretionary spending enough to keep your budget afloat.

Coming up with extra cash

Unfortunately, not all retirement budgets can be salvaged. Sometimes, no amount of trimming of discretionary spending can obscure the basic fact that you can’t afford essential spending on groceries, medical bills, and other non-negotiable expenses.

When that happens, you’ll want to look for ways to make a bit of extra cash. But how can you do that? For many seniors, the answer lies in their assets.

You’ve worked a long time to create the retirement nest egg that you have now, and along the way you’ve acquired some pretty valuable things. Those may include collectibles and antiques, motor vehicles, your home, and even your life insurance policy (which is worth money because, naturally, it will eventually pay out — no getting around that!). Seniors should look for ways to turn these assets into cash.

A great example of this is a viatical settlement. Viatical settlements are agreements under which you essentially sell your life insurance policy’s eventual payout in exchange for cash now. This is a mechanism that makes sense for seniors in specific spots — generally, it’s a good solution for those who are struggling to pay medical bills. By eliminating debt now, seniors can live more comfortably while also leaving their heirs better-off despite the loss of the life insurance payout.

Other methods for turning assets into cash include reverse mortgages and, of course, simply selling off assets like collectibles and antiques.

Getting help when you need it

Personal finance can be a bewildering thing at any age. But you don’t need to go through this alone! A financial advisor can be a powerful ally as you chart your path forward, and you may even be able to get advice for free using trusted programs available through a senior center or local library.