7 Best Frugal Living Tips for Seniors
During various points in our lives frugal living is bound to have a different meaning. While we are young, or have small children, frugal living may include things like couponing or discounts on things for ourselves or our children. As we age though, frugal living tips for seniors takes on a whole new meaning.
Tip #1: Frugal Living Benefits Come with Age
Aging comes with benefits when it comes to the frugal mindset. Correspondingly, there are so many programs for seniors to take advantage of, you just have to ask about them and then do them.
To start, here are a few frugal living senior discount programs:
- Discounts: Think of AAA or AARP. You can find so many places that accept these cards and you can get automatic discounts. Don’t be afraid (or embarrassed) to ask!
- Senior Discounts: Many restaurants offer senior discounts (55+ or 60+) where you can get 10% – 20% off your meal. Many grocery stores also have a senior day where you can get a percent off of your total grocery bill on certain days. Many retail stores also offer a senior day for a percent off.
- Travel: Same applies for airline, car and hotel stays. Senior discount! See our article on frugal travel / slow travel.
- Free activities: Many city’s offer free activities such as concerts in the park and museum visits.
- Medicare Perks: Oftentimes Medicare Advantage Plans (and some supplements / Medigap Plans) have free or discounted gym benefits you can take advantage of. Two of the biggest programs are Renew Active and Silver Sneakers. You can learn more about them here.
Tip #2: Be Frugal, But Not Cheap
Frugal vs. Cheap. Where is the Line?
One of the key takeaways I got when talking to people is that in order to be frugal successfully, you cannot be cheap or stingy. Is it better to buy something more than once because it’s cheaper? Or, is it better to buy the more expensive, but quality, item that could last a lifetime? Stingy living or being cheap is different than being frugal.
When adding up the numbers, it would make sense to purchase the more expensive, but quality item. However, it may cause a little bit of sticker shock at first.
Frugal Living Tips for Seniors #3: Increase Cash Flow by Paying off Debt
To start, pay off your mortgage/debt before retiring whenever possible. In most cases, your mortgage/debt payment is your largest expense. Consequently, by having no mortgage payment you have the option to downsize. Moreover, you can use the equity to purchase something smaller with the proceeds to help fund your retirement.
Not having a mortgage payment is a huge weight lifted when it comes to retirement planning and frugal living for seniors. However, don’t forget about your property taxes and insurance! Those still need to be paid. Therefore, put them into your monthly budget so you are not shocked when bills come due.
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Tip #4: Budgeting on a Fixed Income
Next, be intentional in how you spend your money. Budgeting is a helpful tool in determining how much you can spend. There is only a finite amount of money to be spent before it is gone. Using the 4% rule for example; if you have one million dollars, you can only withdraw $40k a year in order to not run out of money.
Be intentional about how much and how often funds are pulled from retirement savings. By keeping track of every dollar you spend you should be able to forecast how much you will need later in life.
This doesn’t have to be a cumbersome activity. You could simply use pen and paper, excel or if you are savvy you can use online tools such as Mint or Personal Capital. Over time you will have a good understanding of your spending habits and will be able to better forecast the upcoming years of spending and adjust accordingly.
Related Reading: Cash Budgeting & The Envelope Method
Frugal Living Tips for Seniors #5: Embrace the DIY Mentality
Things you can do yourself, do them! YouTube has a plethora of information on how to fix literally anything. Why pay someone to do something that you can do yourself. Perhaps not the big jobs, like a kitchen remodel, but those pesky small jobs that you may hire a professional for, learn to do them yourself.
There are also plenty of people to ask if you’re not a YouTube fan. For example, going to the hardware store and simply asking the expert in the department. Who knows, you may even find that you enjoy doing odd jobs around the house.
Frugal Living Tip #6: Going Green
There are other ways to be frugal that could require money up front but will save money in the long run. Electric vehicles for example. The reality is that they usually do not cost more than a standard gas run vehicle. But, you do save on the expense of gas and much of the maintenance. To power an electric vehicle is pennies on the dollar compared to a gas powered vehicle.
As another example, solar panels and solar water heaters can save you money. While expensive to install, over time (usually a set number of years), the cost savings outweighs the cost expense. (That is, if you are in a sunny area). Also, don’t forget about the tax advantages of going electric or solar. You can receive a tax credit, in most cases, both federally and by the state you are living in.
Tip #7: Prioritize What Makes You the Happiest
Finally, and I think most importantly, you need to figure out what you enjoy doing and make that your priority. The last thing you want in retirement is the feeling of being left out because you fear you don’t have enough money to do those things that you want to do, that you enjoy. Just make sure to get the biggest bang out of your dollars. Simple things like going out for lunch rather than dinner can help.
In summary, you want to make sure that you are happy in retirement and not just counting your pennies. If you have a frugal mindset but are also doing things you enjoy, retirement will be much more enjoyable.
Want even more Frugal Fun? Click here to read our article on the number one thing you can do to save money on healthcare.