5 home maintenance resources in retirement

Ask retirees where they want to live, and chances are they'll say they want to age in place. In 2014, an AARP survey found 87 percent of those age 65 and older said they wanted to remain in their current home and community as they get older.

However, living at home in your golden years comes with challenges. Homeowners who used to easily climb ladders to change lightbulbs and clean gutters may not be as spry anymore. Those who try to hire out the tasks may find it difficult to locate dependable workers or determine if a worker is charging a fair price. Plus, older Americans can be common targets for unscrupulous contractors and repair providers.

[Read: 12 Annual Home Maintenance Chores to Do Now.]

"We've [heard] all these horror stories of someone knocking on the door and saying you need new windows," says Mike Lynch, vice president of strategic markets for Hartford Funds. In some cases, the windows might not be needed, and in others, the company may be charging an exorbitant price and hoping to take advantage of unsuspecting seniors. Similar scenarios may play out with people selling roofing, siding or driveway repairs.

How much you need to survive retirement in your state
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How much you need to survive retirement in your state


50. Mississippi

  • How much you need to retire: $949,110

Wondering where your retirement savings will stretch the furthest? With annual living expenses of just $37,964, you can stretch your dollars further in Mississippi than anywhere else in the nation. The biggest benefit residents enjoy is an average $11,134 annual bill for housing, which is the cheapest in the country. 

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49. Arkansas

  • How much you need to retire: $981,491

Retirees in Arkansas need just $39,260 to get through a year, which is cheaper than the cost of living in all but one other state. At $5,997, it's the only state in the union with transportation costs lower than $6,000, and housing expenses average just $12,004 a year. The $3,100 grocery bill is also low, as is the $5,025 price tag for healthcare. 

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48. Oklahoma

  • How much you need to retire: $994,891

Oklahoma is a member of a select group of just four states where residents can get by on less than $40,000 a year and retire with less than $1 million. The cheap $39,796 annual cost of living can be attributed largely to the state's $11,616 average housing costs, which is one of just six in the country under $12,000. The $3,201 grocery bill is also cheap, as is the state's $6,113 annual cost of transportation.

A separate GOBankingRates study found Oklahoma City, in particular, is one of the best places to retire where rent is under $1,000 a month

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47. Michigan

  • How much you need to retire: $999,357

Annual healthcare costs tally just $5,416 in Michigan, which is the last state on this list that boasts a sub-$40,000 cost of living — $39,974, to be exact. Utilities are an affordable $3,323, but the real bargain is housing, which costs an average of only $12,330. 

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46. Tennessee

  • How much you need to retire: $1,001,590

Residents of the Volunteer State pay an average of just $12,221 per year for housing, which is largely responsible for the state's low $40,064 annual cost of living. Tennessee, however, is the first state to join the rest of the country in requiring more than $1 million for retirees to get by.

You Can Do It: Here's What It Really Takes to Save $1M for Retirement 

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45. Georgia

  • How much you need to retire: $1,004,940

The cost of living in Georgia is a low $40,198. That can be credited to the state's status as a member of the six-state group with housing costs below $12,000 a year. Prospective retirees can expect to pay just $11,600 a year for shelter. All other categories fall below the national median as well, but far less than in the housing category.

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44. Missouri

  • How much you need to retire: $1,006,057

Utilities are a bit more expensive in Missouri than the national median, yet retirees there can stretch their dollars further than they could in all but six other states. The reason? Housing, which costs just $11,476, giving the state the title of fourth-cheapest in the country in terms of housing costs and one of just six to keep the average price under $12,000.

The total cost of living for retirees in Missouri is $40,242 a year. Springfield, Mo., in particular, is an affordable city to live in — it's one of the few places where you can live off less than $50,000 a year

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43. Texas

  • How much you need to retire: $1,009,406

At $3,035 and $12,889, the respective average grocery and housing bills paid by Texans are relatively inexpensive. Healthcare and utility costs are also cheaper compared to the national median, but not by much. All in all, the annual cost of living is $40,376 in the Lone Star state.

Thanks to lower living costs, Texas has numerous major cities where it doesn't cost much to live comfortably

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42. Alabama

  • How much you need to retire: $1,011,640

The state of Alabama makes up for its relatively high $3,968 annual utilities bill with a comparatively cheap annual $5,019 healthcare cost — the lowest in the country. The real difference maker, however, is the state's $11,460 cost of housing, which is the third-cheapest in the United States. When all is said and done, retiree residents can expect to spend $40,466 a year.

Move to Birmingham: The Cheapest Place to Retire Is in Alabama 

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41. Indiana

  • How much you need to retire: $1,011,640

Identical to their Southern counterparts in Alabama, residents of the Midwest state of Indiana also need $40,466 for total living expenses, which means they need a little more than $1.01 million to retire in the state. Also like Alabama, housing in Indiana — which costs just $12,082 per year — is largely responsible for the state's place among the 10 states where you need the least to retire.

Indiana might be an affordable state, but Indianapolis is one of the cities where the cost of living rose the most in the past year. 

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40. Idaho

  • How much you need to retire: $1,013,873

Everything is cheaper than the national median across all categories in Idaho — except yearly transportation costs, which come out to $7,161. At $12,439 a year, the low price of housing is more than enough to make up for the slightly higher cost of getting around.

Costing just $2,913 a year, being the state with the cheapest grocery bill doesn't hurt either. In all, residents need just $40,555 to cover annual living costs. 

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39. Kansas

  • How much you need to retire: $1,017,223

Retirees in Kansas can cover the total yearly cost of living with $40,689. Although everything is cheaper across all categories, the only thing that's significantly less expensive than the national median is housing, which costs just $12,191. That number gives Kansas the ninth-lowest housing costs in America. 

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38. Iowa

  • How much you need to retire: $1,030,622

With an annual price of just $12,967, Iowa is one of only 15 states with housing costs lower than $13,000 a year. In fact, with housing costs so low, $300,000 buys you quite a lot of house in Iowa.

That's not the only reason, however, that retirees there pay a fairly low $41,225 to cover the annual cost of living. Groceries are affordable at just $3,191 a year. The cost of healthcare, however, is roughly the same as the national median. Transportation costs slightly more. 

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37. Ohio

  • How much you need to retire: $1,035,088

Just one state in the entire country offers residents lower housing costs than the $11,429 annual average Ohio residents enjoy. The $6,880 annual bill for transportation is slightly higher than the national median, but everything else is less expensive than in the rest of the nation as a whole. All in all, total annual living expenses are $41,404. 

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36. Louisiana

  • How much you need to retire: $1,047,371

With an average cost of living of $41,895 a year, life costs a little less in Louisiana than in the nation as a whole — but not by much. All categories are just slightly cheaper in Louisiana, including groceries and transportation. The only dramatic savings come with housing, which costs just $13,666 per year on average — enough to keep the state among the 15 states where you need the least to retire. 

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35. Nebraska

  • How much you need to retire: $1,048,487

At $7,051, only transportation costs more in Nebraska than the national median. Both housing and utilities are pretty cheap, carrying average annual price tags of $13,743 and $3,204, respectively. If you want to retire in Nebraska, plan on spending about 41,939 to cover the cost of living. 

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34. Utah

  • How much you need to retire: $1,049,604

Utah residents enjoy a fairly low $14,240 annual housing bill as well as cheap utility bills that total just $2,946 per year — the third-cheapest in the country. In fact, everything is cheaper in Utah compared to the national median, except for groceries. But at $3,449 a year, supermarket bills aren't much higher than the median.

Looking to retire there? Plan to spend $41,984 per year on the overall cost of living. Utah is a great state to move to for other reasons, as well — like if you're unemployed and want a job

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33. North Carolina

  • How much you need to retire: $1,055,187

If you're planning on retiring in North Carolina, you can expect to spend $42,207 on the overall cost of living. At $6,147 a year, only healthcare costs more than the national median. The low cost of housing — $13,246 — is enough for the state to retain its place among the top 20 states where you need the least to retire. 

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32. Kentucky

  • How much you need to retire: $1,056,304

Kentucky residents enjoy cheap groceries and inexpensive housing, which come with price tags of $3,076 and $13,122 a year, respectively. Combine that with fairly low healthcare costs of $5,272, and residents of the state are able to get by on a total of $42,252 per year. 

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31. Wyoming

  • How much you need to retire: $1,057,420

Rounding out the 20 states where you need to save the least for retirement is Wyoming. In this Western state, retirees can cover cost-of-living expenses with $42,297 a year. Utilities are slightly pricier than the national median, but the splurging stops there. Costs are lower than the median in every other category, especially housing, which at $12,920 makes Wyoming one of just 15 states that caps housing costs under $13,000. 

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30. West Virginia

  • How much you need to retire: $1,064,120

The total cost of living in West Virginia is about $42,565 a year. The state's $5,296 average annual cost of healthcare is lower than what the rest of the nation pays, as is the $3,178 yearly utility bill. West Virginia's $3,602 average annual grocery bill, however, is a bit high. 

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29. New Mexico

  • How much you need to retire: $1,074,169

Housing, groceries and utilities are all cheaper in New Mexico than the national median, with the latter coming in at a cost of just $3,073 a year. The tradeoff is that residents of the state — and the retirees who plan to call it home — generally spend more on transportation than the average American. In total, the cost of living is about $42,967 a year.

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28. Wisconsin

  • How much you need to retire: $1,076,402

The good news for retirees with an eye on Wisconsin is that housing costs just $13,650 a year and the annual grocery bill is also lower than the national median. The $6,441 annual tab for healthcare, however, is a bit higher than the median. In all, the average cost of living is $43,056 a year. 

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27. Arizona

  • How much you need to retire: $1,078,636

With the exception of groceries, for which Arizona residents fork over $3,439 every year, everything is cheaper in the state compared to the national median, including transportation, healthcare and utilities. The average annual cost of housing is $14,613, which isn't bad, either. The total cost of living in Arizona is $43,145 per year.

If you're behind on preparing for your future, take these immediate steps to get ready for retirement

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26. Illinois

  • How much you need to retire: $1,084,219

Rounding out the cheaper half of the list is Illinois, where residents can expect to pay about $43,369 annually to get by in the state. The annual $7,270 transportation bill is hefty compared to the national median, but all the other categories are slightly cheaper, including groceries, utilities, healthcare and housing. 

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25. Montana

  • How much you need to retire: $1,094,268

Retiree residents of the massive northern state of Montana encounter annual living costs of about $43,771. The only standout category is utilities, which comes in at $2,877, the lowest in the country. Everything else, including healthcare and the annual grocery bill, is about on par with the national median, putting Montana squarely in the middle of the list. 

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24. North Dakota

  • How much you need to retire: $1,108,784

Montana's neighbor to the east, North Dakota, offers its residents inexpensive housing and utilities, which cost an average of $14,628 and $3,196 a year, respectively. Although transportation and the cost of groceries are a little pricier than the national median, the state's average $6,452 annual healthcare bill is ranked higher than any other category, at seventh-highest in the country.

Don't worry, even if you have a lower salary, you can still save $1 million (or more) for retirement in a state like North Dakota. 

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23. Minnesota

  • How much you need to retire: $1,113,250

Drive east across North Dakota and you'll eventually hit Minnesota, where retirees can expect to pay a hefty $6,447 a year for healthcare. Transportation and grocery costs are also higher than the national median. Residents get a break, however, on housing and utilities, which are lower than the median. That helps cap the annual cost of living at $44,530 a year. 

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22. South Dakota

  • How much you need to retire: $1,118,833

Joining the cluster of central northern states is South Dakota, where residents need to spend $44,753 a year to get by. Residents get a break on transportation costs, which come in at a relatively low $6,257 per year. That, however, is not enough to compensate for the state's high housing costs, which bleed retirees of $17,563 a year. 

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21. Florida

  • How much you need to retire: $1,121,066

Florida, where the annual cost of living is $44,843, is probably more closely associated with retirement than any other state. In fact, a few of the cheapest places to retire are in Florida.

At $3,602 a year, grocery bills are high, as is the cost of transportation and utilities. Residents get a break, however, on housing, which costs an average of $15,172 a year, which is slightly below the national median. Healthcare costs are also comparatively cheap. 

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20. South Carolina

  • How much you need to retire: $1,122,183

The cheapest of the 20 states where you need the most to survive retirement is South Carolina, where retirees will need to spend $44,887 a year in living expenses to get by. Utility costs are comparatively high, coming in at $4,095 a year, and the cost of healthcare and groceries are also higher than the national median — but not significantly. The good news for retirees interested in South Carolina is that both housing and transportation costs are comparatively cheap. 

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19. Colorado

  • How much you need to retire: $1,134,466

Retired residents of Colorado can get by on $45,379 per year. Both healthcare and housing costs in the state — $6,107 and $17,517, respectively — are more expensive than the national median. Utilities, however, cost just $3,059 a year — the fourth-cheapest state in the country. 

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18. Nevada

  • How much you need to retire: $1,134,466

Since the cost of living in Nevada is identical to the $45,379 Coloradans spend every year, retirees there will need the same amount to live in retirement. Also like Colorado, Nevada offers residents cheap utility bills — $3,109, to be exact. At $17,517, however, the cost of housing is high, as are costs associated with both transportation and healthcare. 

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17. Virginia

  • How much you need to retire: $1,135,582

Virginia residents enjoy expenses that are cheaper than the national median across every category — except one, that is. Housing costs a hefty $17,191 a year. The biggest savings come from the state's cheap $3,591 average annual bill for utilities. When the tally is complete, annual expenses average $45,423. 

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16. Pennsylvania

  • How much you need to retire: $1,140,049

Utility bills are high in Pennsylvania, with an average annual cost of $4,019. But with yearly costs of $5,152 and $15,187, respectively, the price of healthcare and housing are both comparatively cheap. In total, the cost of living in Pennsylvania is $45,602 a year.

If you're approaching retirement age, there are still simple ways to catch up on retirement savings

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15. Delaware

  • How much you need to retire: $1,144,515

The First State has a place among the 15 states that require the most money to retire despite its relatively low $15,281 average annual cost of housing. Transportation and healthcare costs are also lower than the national median in Delaware. Residents and retirees pay more, however, for their utilities and groceries. All expenses combine for a grand total of $45,781 a year. 

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14. Washington

  • How much you need to retire: $1,184,713

In the state of Washington, the average retired resident is required to spend about $47,389 per year to cover living costs. Although the average annual cost for utilities is a fairly low $3,334, the price of every other category is above the national median. 

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13. Maine

  • How much you need to retire: $1,284,090

Maine holds the title of two firsts on this list. It's the first state with annual living costs for retirees over $50,000 — $51,364, to be exact — and it's the first to require retirees to save more than $1.2 million if they want to be comfortable. That's because costs are higher than the national median across all categories — all but groceries, that is. Residents spend a low $3,347 a year at the supermarket. 

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12. New Hampshire

  • How much you need to retire: $1,317,588

In New Hampshire, residents spend $4,128 a year on groceries — more than all but two states. In the Granite State, utilities cost an average of $4,824 a year — also the third-most-expensive of all states. Residents of the state can expect to spend more than the national median across all categories, for a grand total of $52,704 in average annual cost-of-living expenses. 

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11. Vermont

  • How much you need to retire: $1,347,736

In Vermont, New Hampshire's New England neighbor, retirees can expect to pay much more across all categories except for healthcare, which is still higher than the national median, but not by nearly as much as the rest. Housing alone costs a steep $22,377 a year. When you add everything up, cost-of-living expenses for retirees average $53,909 per year. 

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10. New Jersey

  • How much you need to retire: $1,353,319

Garden State residents will retire in one of the most expensive states in the country, but at least New Jersey is the cheapest among the top 10. Although residents of the state pay more across all categories, including a hefty $4,207 utility bill, housing stands out as especially costly. The average annual price of shelter for retirees in New Jersey is $23,573. 

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9. Rhode Island

  • How much you need to retire: $1,375,651

The $21,942 average annual housing bill and the high $4,621 cost of utilities make tiny Rhode Island one of the most expensive states for retirees looking to stretch a dollar. In all, residents will need $55,026 to cover the cost of living. 

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8. Oregon

  • How much you need to retire: $1,421,432

Although Oregon ranks No. 8 overall on the list, only four states have a higher annual housing bill than the $27,316 needed in Oregon. The good news is the $2,903 average annual utility bill is the second-lowest in the country, although groceries are fourth-highest at an average of $3,938 a year. The overall cost to live in Oregon for a year is $56,857, but at least it's one of five states with no sales tax

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7. Connecticut

  • How much you need to retire: $1,441,531

The New England state of Connecticut requires retirees to spend $57,661 to cover annual living costs. A large part of the reason for the stiff yearly price tag is Connecticut's high $6,619 average annual healthcare costs. Just four states cost more. 

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6. Maryland

  • How much you need to retire: $1,441,531

The wealthy Mid-Atlantic state of Maryland is home to sky-high annual housing costs averaging $28,899 — just three states require residents to pay more for shelter. That, along with expensive $7,394 yearly transportation fees, contribute to overall cost-of-living expenses of $57,661 per year. In the end, Maryland residents need just as much to retire as those living in Connecticut. 

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5. Massachusetts

  • How much you need to retire: $1,444,880

Rounding out the top five states that require the most to retire is Massachusetts. A $6,844 yearly average healthcare bill is the third-highest in America, but there are still strategies to follow to keep medical bills low.

At $4,628 a year, utilities are costlier there than in all but three other states. If retirees want to live their golden years in Massachusetts, they can expect to pay $57,795 a year for the privilege. 

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4. New York

  • How much you need to retire: $1,463,863

With average annual living costs of $58,555, retired residents of the Empire State spend more each year to get by than those in all but three other states. New York holds the title of ninth most expensive in the country in the categories of both transportation and groceries. That, however, is not nearly as imposing as the $29,055 average annual cost of housing, which is the third-highest in the country.

Read Up: 6 Ways to Make Your Retirement Savings Last 

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3. Alaska

  • How much you need to retire: $1,468,329

The average annual cost of living in the northern outpost of Alaska is a high $58,733. With an average annual cost of $4,651, only Hawaiians pay more for groceries. At $21,585 a year, housing is high, but not extremely so. 

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2. California

  • How much you need to retire: $1,521,926

Sunny California is one of just two states that require residents to cough up more than $60,000 a year to cover their expenses — $60,877, to be exact. A large reason for that is the extreme cost of housing, which comes with an average annual tab of $30,514. As burdensome as that might seem, the most expensive state in the union charges its residents $16,000 more for shelter.

How to Cut Housing Costs: Retire to a Tiny House 

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1. Hawaii

  • How much you need to retire: $2,095,858

Hawaii is a paradise — if you can afford it. The $5,626 annual grocery bill is the most expensive of any state by far. The $46,478 yearly cost of housing makes even California look tame. in total, retirees in Hawaii can expend to spend almost $23,000 more per year in annual living expenses than the second-most expensive state, for a grand total of $83,834. It's the only state in the country that requires residents to enter retirement with more than $2 million.

Up Next: Best and Worst States to Retire Rich

Methodology: GOBankingRates found the annual cost of expenditures for a retired person in each state by multiplying the retiree expenditures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics by the Cost of Living for each state from the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center. To find how much money a retired person would need to save, we divided each state's annual expenditures by .04, assuming drawing down savings by 4 percent each year to pay for living expenses. 

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While hiring a service provider who is going door to door or making unsolicited phone calls is not advisable, retirees can find trustworthy home maintenance assistance through the following five sources.

Seek help from family and friends. When it comes to finding inexpensive help around the house, the best bet for retirees may be seeing whether adult children or other relatives can help. Those who belong to a church or synagogue may find assistance from such institutions as well. Many religious communities have ministries that can provide older members with the assistance they need. For instance, youth groups might volunteer to rake leaves or do yard maintenance in the spring or fall.

9 things people who retire the richest have in common
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9 things people who retire the richest have in common

They don’t get distracted 

Time, energy, and effort factor into the formula for organized action-centered goals. The equation may be set, but challenges arise when our human nature and desires come into play.

Once the course is charted, sticking to it can be hard. Life will throw all sorts of lemons your way, and that's why mental toughness and confidence in oneself and one's mission is absolutely necessary. 

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They don’t think magically 

Magical thinking is encouraged by emotions. Leave emotions at the door when you make business and money decisions. Ground your thoughts, actions, and strategies in critical thinking.

Wealth is accumulated through thinking realistically in a self-disciplined manner. Emotion clouds judgment. Stick with the left side of your brain to keep level and focused for big money moves.

Also, don't be so naïve to think that the man on the white horse is going to come riding in to save you. It's up to you and you alone. 

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They don’t seek the approval of others 

Human beings are genetically predisposed to seek approval. In the business field, preoccupation with the opinions of others can majorly impact your moves and hinder your outcomes.

Predisposition of approval seeking helps humans better fit into tribes and groups, but it can socially manipulate your instincts. Seeking the approval of others is an emotional addiction that does not aid you in the quest to retire rich. 

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They make smart decisions 

The individuals that became the richest during the gold rush were the ones selling the shovels.

Base your decisions in logic and well-planned methodologies. Don't throw money at things you have not thoroughly researched. Understand your investments at the foundational level.

Just as the sharks on the hit TV show "Shark Tank" vet every opportunity that comes their way, you must thoroughly understand the decisions you make and stay smart. 

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They don’t try to get rich quick 

Many speculators take on the mentality of a gambler. This pays off in the short-term, but often dramatically fails in the long-term. Fast money wipes out retirement funds.

Rather, keep greed at bay and become satisfied with lesser more sustainable returns. Also, remember, despite what you see on TV and in the movies, most millionaires live a modest lifestyle well below their means. 

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They get tough 

Toughness is a learned skill, and with practice one can build their mental and emotional strength. Mental discipline is a cornerstone to retiring rich.

Spending is fun, and frivolous purchases can bring great joy at the time. Get tough with your spending plan and stick to it. Use your mental strength to contain your spending.

Would you rather have the short-term satisfaction of material possessions that usually wears off quickly, or the long term safety, security, and retirement you've always dreamed of? 

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They are organized 

Organization is achieved both mentally and physically.

Financial organization begins psychologically. Hash out the details and take everything into consideration on what it will take for you to retire, including inflation and fees.

A lack of organization can lead to procrastination, which is the enemy of progression. Start thinking about how you want to live, and what you want to do when you retire. It may be many years from now, and your dreams may change, but your planning begins today.

Proper planning fosters organization. 

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They expect to retire rich 

We're taught early on not to have high expectations so we don't end up disappointed. In fact, high expectations are seen as a hindrance to achieving one's goals. This is only the case if you don't have a scaffolding framework in mind to achieve your expectations.

Use your mind as the machine it is to serve your best interests. If you believe that you deserve it, you can achieve it. Don't let mental roadblocks inhibit you from attaining your goals of retiring with accumulated wealth.

Get really excited about the retirement you want to live and expect to move closer to it each and every day. 

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They dream big with a realistic foundation

Be an optimistic pessimist. Be someone with a positive, yet realistic, attitude. Dreaming big can pay off, but you must pave a path to reach the dream. Use your brain power and critical thinking skills to craft the vision for your goals to reach.

To retire rich, be sure to keep your chin up and your eyes open. Have faith in those who educate and advise you, but be sure to check the silverware before they leave.

When it comes to retirement, most people take a minimalist approach. They envision their twilight years as being low income, reduced expenses and a frugal lifestyle.

But what if it didn't have to be this way? What if you could reimagine your retirement as a time of abundance, luxury and even excess? After all, some people do retire rich, albeit a small percentage of the population.

The point is that it's possible. A proper saving and investment strategy is the key to retirement. Before that, however, you need to have the right mindset about money, life, success and retirement. For the people who do, the sooner they are able to retire and enjoy more of life. 

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Retirees may also find it beneficial to consult with neighbors about needed repairs. Even if neighbors aren't in a position to help with maintenance needs directly, they may already use trusted providers they can recommend. What's more, if you and your neighbor have a similar need, such as gutters that must be cleaned, you may be able to negotiate a better rate by looking for a contractor together.

Look for aid from community organizations. Many areas of the country are served by nonprofit organizations that can help retirees obtain affordable or free home maintenance assistance. The New York Foundation for Senior Citizens is one example. It has been offering free home maintenance to income-eligible seniors since 1981. Today, it serves more than 4,000 people throughout New York City's five boroughs.

"We do everything possible to help people remain in their own homes," says Linda Hoffman, president of the New York Foundation for Senior Citizens. The service providers that contract with the foundation go through a rigorous application process and may complete multiple repairs for the same resident. As for the relationship between workers and the seniors they serve, "They treat them like family," Hoffman says.

10 best countries to retire
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10 best countries to retire

10: Peru

Best known as a destination for adventure-seeking tourists and the home of mountaintop Inca citadel Machu Picchu, Peru offers one of the most attractive costs of living in Latin America, International Living says.

With rents starting as low as $150 per month and three-course lunches at a local picanteria for less than $3, including a drink, a monthly budget of $1,000 to $1,200 is plenty in many parts of the country.

The country has a widespread temperate climate, so most areas require no heating or air conditioning. Fresh fruits and veggies are available year round at low cost. You can choose from sun-baked coastal cities, the spectacular Andean highlands or even the Amazon jungle. Arequipa and Cusco are two of expats’ most popular towns.

9: Spain

With beaches, mountains, fabulous cities, colorful festivals and sunshine almost everywhere, Spain remains one of the most popular European countries for those looking to retire overseas.

Day-to-day expenses can be very low, says International Living Editor Glynna Prentice. “A couple can live well in many destinations for as little as about $2,200 a month — even less if they own their home.”

In season, many high-quality fruits and vegetables sell for about 85 cents a kilo (2.2 pounds) or less. Fixed-price lunch specials with two filling courses, plus beverage and sometimes dessert, generally run about $10 to $17.50.

Costa del Sol (“Coast of the Sun”), a 100-mile stretch along Spain’s southern Mediterranean coast, is blessed with some of the best summers and beaches, but even the more northern reaches of the country, such as Catalonia and parts of the northwest coast, provide T-shirt-and-shorts weather late into the year.

8: Nicaragua

Everything is cheaper in Nicaragua, rated the best value destination in the Americas by International Living.

“I went from a ‘no retirement ever’ scenario in the U.S. to living in an ocean-view home with no financial worries just by moving here,” says Bonnie Hayman, International Living’s Nicaragua correspondent.

Many couples live comfortably on $1,200 a month; spend $2,000 and you’re living in high style, Hayman says.

She says great places to retire in the country include the historic colonial city of Granada and the picturesque seaside village of San Juan del Sur.

7: Portugal

Lying quietly in the shadow of boisterous Spain, Portugal offers a sliver of coastline and an interior that can take you back centuries, International Living says. Ancient buildings look worn and lived-in while quiet, cobbled lanes wind through seaside villages.

The low cost of living is also a big draw. A couple can easily live in a comfortable Lisbon suburb apartment, without a car but with a moderate budget for entertainment, in addition to necessities, for $1,500 a month. For example, a lunch for two at an inexpensive restaurant can run $16; a round-trip public transportation ticket, $3.25; a monthly travel pass, under $40 a month; a one-bedroom rental in town, around $690, and outside the city center, $450; utilities average about $110 a month; and internet usage, about $27 a month.

The Lisbon area, including the seaside towns of Cascais and Estoril, is a favorite with expats. Cozy Porto, with a mild, moist climate like the U.S. Pacific Northwest, attracts expats who prefer cool weather and city amenities. The Algarve, the country’s warmest and southernmost region, sports numerous golf courses and sunny beaches and attracts many British expats, so English is widely spoken.

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6: Colombia

Moving beyond its out-of-date reputation as a haven for cocaine kingpins and drug cartels, Colombia is the hottest new destination in Latin America, International Living claims.

Low living costs lure many expats to the sophisticated country where the Pacific and the Caribbean collide with the Andes and the Amazon.

“I live in Medellín for 60 percent less than I did back in Maine,” says Nancy Kiernan, International Living’s Colombia correspondent. Expect to spend at least $1,300 a month for two people if you own your property or $2,200 a month if you’re renting an apartment.

A week’s worth of locally grown fruits and vegetables runs about $10; an average taxi ride is about $4; a bus ride, 60 cents; and an above-ground Metro system ride, 80 cents.

Santa Marta, on Colombia’s Caribbean Coast, is a magnet for those wanting an outdoor, ocean-focused lifestyle where the average daytime high is 90 degrees Fahrenheit; evening lows, an average of 75 degrees.

For cooler weather, Salento, Pereira and Manizales make up Colombia’s Coffee Triangle and are nestled in the Andes mountains.

5: Malaysia

Influences from across Asia and beyond have melded together to create an extraordinary and affordable cross-cultural melting pot of customs, dress, architecture and cuisine in Malaysia, says International Magazine.

Beyond lofty skyscrapers of the hip capital, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s dramatic canvas is embroidered with tropical beaches, mountains, dense rainforest and vividly green tea plantations.

“A couple can live in Penang comfortably for $1,450 a month, including rent,” says Keith Hockton, International Living’s Malaysia correspondent. He and wife Lisa live in a $700-a-month three-bedroom, two-bathroom, 2,195-square-foot apartment in what he calls Penang’s up-market consulate suburb of Pulau Tikus.

4: Ecuador

For retirees who have weather particulars atop their wish lists, Ecuador can’t be beat, says International Living.

Facing the Pacific Ocean, lying directly on the equator in the northwestern corner of South America, and filled with mountainous terrain, Ecuador offers almost any climate you like simply by moving up or down in altitude.

Ecuador’s most popular expat havens are Cuenca, Quito, Cotacachi and Salinas.

With a monthly budget of less than $1,500 a month, International Living’s Coastal Ecuador correspondent Jim Santos and his wife, Rita, live in Salinas, a beach town.

“Living in Salinas has had a big impact on our health,” Santos says. “Here in Salinas the weather is great and there are lots of opportunity to be outdoors. We enjoy fresh, healthy foods too. My wife and I have both lost weight and feel better than we have in years.”

3: Panama

While most famous for its canal, Panama draws retirees for its ease of living, says International Living, which describes the country as modern, comfortable and tolerant.

Influenced by interactions with people from Spain, France, Israel, Lebanon, the U.S., China, India, the Antilles and elsewhere, Panamanians are accustomed to and welcoming of foreigners.

Panama offers diverse settings such as a sleepy mountain town like Santa Fe, a tropical beach filled with the calls of parrots and toucans as in Coronado, or the culture-rich capital of Panama City.

Panama’s cost of living affords you the opportunity to pamper yourself, not just subsist. A couple can live on as little as $1,000 a month, although expats in Panama City’s more upscale areas say you need at least $2,500 a month to live well, particularly if you plan to rent.

Panama’s Pensionado Program makes it easy for foreign retirees to obtain residence while granting members access to discounts of 10 to 50 percent on travel, health care, hotels, restaurants and more.

2: Mexico

Home to more North American expats than any other country in the world, Mexico offers a diverse geography, with everything from white-sand beaches to dry deserts and high-mountain colonial cities.

Low prices, an advantageous dollar-peso exchange rate, friendly people and a laid-back lifestyle are big draws, says International Living.

“Many couples live a very comfortable life for $1,500 to $2,000 a month, all inclusive,” says Don Murray, International Living’s Riviera Maya correspondent, noting that life along Mexico’s Pacific, Gulf or Caribbean coastlines costs more than life inland.

Regions vary in climate, customs, expenses, attire and food, but as a rule, Mexico is a modern country with paved roads, modern hospitals, a stable electrical grid and functioning internet.

1: Costa Rica

A safe and stable country with no army, Costa Rica has welcomed foreigners with open arms for three decades, says International Living.

Its unofficial national motto, Pura Vida — heard everywhere and loosely translated as “Life Is Good” — permeates Costa Rica’s stress-free, relaxed existence.

“For between $2,000 and $3,000 per month, a retired couple can live well and cover all expenses without scrimping,” says Jason Holland, International Living’s roving Latin America editor. For example, you can fill your fridge with fresh produce from farmers markets for about $35 a week; property taxes are just 0.25 percent of a home’s assessed value; a decent meal at a local restaurant will run you $5 per plate; and rents start at $400 a month for fully furnished condos or homes in nice areas.

Also attracting expats are excellent health care, modern telecommunications, beautiful tropical beaches on the Caribbean and Pacific coasts, rainforests, lush valleys and cool mountains as well as theaters, art galleries and fine dining.

More than 20,000 American expats live in Costa Rica, many in well-established expat communities.


To determine whether similar programs are available in your area, contact your local Area Agency on Aging. The national network of agencies was established by the federal Older Americans Act, and offices often serve as a clearinghouse for local resources to assist those age 60 and older. A local United Way office may also be able to direct you to local resources.

[See: 10 Best Places to Retire on Less Than $100 a Day.]

Get assistance from home health care providers. Some seniors already have helpers in their house in the form of home health aides or personal companions. These workers often help with tasks such as vacuuming, dusting and washing dishes, although they typically don't perform repairs or more involved maintenance. "As you can imagine, most of them are not going to get up and fix your roof," says Peter Ross, co-founder and CEO of Senior Helpers, an agency that provides seniors with in-home care.

However, don't overlook an aide's potential to identify problems and help find trustworthy contractors to address the issues. Senior Helpers, for example, does a home evaluation for every new client and makes recommendations for improving safety, such as removing throw rugs in hallways and installing grab bars in bathrooms. "We are the eyes and ears in that home," Ross says.

When maintenance or home repairs are needed, Senior Helpers can connect homeowners or their families with trusted partners to complete necessary work. Other in-home care providers, such as Homecare by Design, offer home maintenance packages that build in services such as appliance maintenance and minor electrical and plumbing work.

Turn to a trusted financial advisor. Lynch says retirees may be able to find referrals to quality home repair services in an unexpected place. He suggests retirees contact their financial advisor.

Many financial advisors have relationships with people from various walks of life and have compiled a list of trusted providers across a variety of industries. Older homeowners who aren't sure how to find someone to help with home maintenance may find their financial planner is able to vouch for a reliable worker in their area.

Beyond helping to find a service provider, an advisor can help retirees build maintenance costs into their budget. If a more expensive renovation is needed, a financial professional can assist with weighing possible payment options and help a homeowner select the right one.

Online service providers. Retirees who aren't eligible for free community programs or who can't find a personal recommendation can turn to the internet to find handymen and tradesmen for hire. Sites like Angie's List and TaskRabbit are open for any provider to submit a business listing. Consumers can search company profiles, read reviews and use that information to select the right person for the job. Other services, like Neighborly, contract out with specific service providers.

"It's not just 30,000 plumbers who happen to be available," says Dina Dwyer-Owens, brand ambassador for home services provider Neighborly, about the providers listed on the site. These workers have to meet certain qualifications, including passing a criminal background check. For peace of mind, some online services such as Neighborly provide a photograph of the repair technician so seniors can be assured that the person at the door does indeed represent the company.

Regardless of how a person finds their service provider, some steps should be taken to ensure a positive experience. Retirees can look up reviews online or contact their local homebuilders' association or Better Business Bureau to inquire about a business's reputation. They should also be sure to get a written quote outlining not only the price, but also the scope of work to avoid any sticker shock later on.

[See: 10 Tips for Finding a Great Place to Retire.]

While home maintenance tasks can become more difficult as we age, with myriad free and paid service providers there are a number of avenues you can take to find help with home repairs and improvements – without compromising on quality or overspending.

Copyright 2017 U.S. News & World Report

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