Being cheap and being frugal are two very different things. Living frugally in retirement doesn’t mean depriving yourself of the comforts that life has to offer. Frugality focuses on finding ways to reduce your expenses–but without compromising your quality of life. In a way, it sounds like being cheap, but is more about making smarter choices with your money while maintaining a comfortable lifestyle.
Living frugally in retirement is the key to maintaining financial stability, especially if your resources are limited. In this article, we will discuss some of the best tips that can help you achieve a more cost-effective lifestyle:
1. Consider downsizing
If you live alone or with your spouse, does it still make sense to keep paying for a five-bedroom house? Even if you’ve already paid off the mortgage, the bigger your property is, the higher your utility and maintenance costs can be.
Consider the idea of moving to a smaller home, which is more cost effective to buy and maintain. Moving to a smaller home also gives you the opportunity to sell furniture, appliances, and other belongings that no longer serve a purpose to you (which can also save you money in moving costs). Moreover, you have the chance to start fresh somewhere new and perhaps less expensive. For instance, if you live in a city where the cost of living is high, downsizing to a smaller house in a less expensive locale can help you save more money in the long run.
2. Consider eliminating additional vehicles
Just like houses, cars require insurance and frequent maintenance, adding a significant amount to your total expenses. If you have more than one car, consider selling those that you don’t use as often. Alternatively, you may want to consider eliminating all vehicles and buying a new one that is more fuel-efficient and less costly to maintain.
3. Stay as healthy as possible
Living a healthy lifestyle reduces your risk of getting sick. Your health insurance may not always cover every medical expense that you incur, which means that–in some instances–you may have to pay out-of-pocket for hospital bills and medication.
Eat healthy, exercise regularly, stay on top of your vaccinations, and go to the doctor for medical exams. Review your insurance policy to see what preventive services you can acquire at no out of pocket cost to you, such as colon and cervical cancer screenings, and take full advantage of what your plan can offer. Apart from that, pay attention to what your body is telling you. If something feels off and you can’t explain it, go to a doctor covered by your health insurance as soon as possible.
4. Cancel unused subscriptions and services
Review and potentially terminate any subscriptions or services that you no longer need, such as gym memberships, cable, and magazines. There are plenty of cheaper alternatives to subscription-based products and services nowadays, such as streaming apps, online magazines, and equipment-free exercise.
5. Find low-cost entertainment options
The Internet is full of ways to entertain yourself at little to no cost. Listen to podcasts, download free ebooks, and watch videos on YouTube. Offline, there are a lot of entertainment options that seniors can get for free or at a discounted rate. For example, many movie houses offer free or discounted tickets for seniors at certain showing schedules. Local senior centers may also have a social calendar with free or low-cost entertainment options, such as skill classes, museum passes, and book clubs.
6. Be on the lookout for discounts
Seniors enjoy discounts at a variety of establishments, from restaurants and cafes to hotels and flights. Always be on the lookout-most establishments will offer them automatically, but if they don’t, ask politely and see what they are willing to offer.
7. Sell excess belongings
Declutter your home and round up everything that you no longer want nor need. Then, hold a garage sale or sell your items online. Not only do you get rid of physical baggage, but you can also make a pretty penny out of the things that no longer serve purpose to your life.
8. Grow your own food
If you have the space, why not start your own garden? Plant common and relatively low-maintenance plants like tomatoes, cabbage, carrots, and potatoes. Herbs are also quite easy to grow, especially if you live in a moderate climate. By having produce growing right in your backyard, you can save quite a bit of money in groceries, as well as increase your fruit and vegetable portions.
9. Limit credit card debt
Now is not the time to take on additional debt. Limit your credit card use so that you can easily pay off the bill every time it comes. Try to pay with cash or with your debit card whenever you can.
10. Rent out extra rooms
If you have spare rooms in your home, consider renting it out to either long-term tenants or as an Airbnb. Doing so can provide extra income to help you maintain your lifestyle and increase your cash reserves. Moreover, having other people around the house can provide plenty of opportunities to socialize, which can be highly beneficial if you live alone.
11. Buy groceries in bulk
Buying groceries in bulk might be expensive upfront, but can actually save you a bit of money in the long run. Items that come in higher quantities are often cheaper by weight or volume than smaller quantities. Buying in bulk can also come with better discounts, especially at big-box retail stores like Costco.
Another benefit of buying in bulk–especially for seniors–is that you get to go to the grocery store less frequently. In turn, this means less transportation expenses spent on shopping.
12. Be smart with travel planning
That two-week trip to the Bahamas can be less expensive with smart planning. Book your flights early, choose an inexpensive yet quality hotel, look for low-cost or free activities, and pack just the right amount of stuff. Oh, and don’t forget to ask for discounts along the way. Plenty of airlines, hotels, resorts, and tour companies offer special discounts for seniors.
As you can see, you can be frugal with your money without having to sacrifice quality of life. Start applying these strategies to your lifestyle bit by bit, and you’ll see how easy it is to be more frugal in retirement.