7 Tips to Save Money in Retirement

Everything these days is expensive. During our working years, our best efforts to save are constantly challenged by high prices. Children do not want to hear “too much” – they just want the latest and greatest gizmo heavily advertised on TV.  Once we retire, our budgets are even tighter and spending wisely that much more important. We want to “live” but we need to live within our retirement budget.

It is not easy, but there are some things we can do to hold onto as much of our retirement savings as possible. Here are a few tips that might fit the bill for you (no pun intended):

(1)  Cable TV evaluation – prices and packages differ by region but wherever you are, if you have cable beyond the “teaser” initial six month period, you are paying good money. Taking my situation as a case in point, we spend $100+ each month on our cable service which includes HBO, HD channels (when available), and your basic local and national broadcasts. We watch an occasional sitcom at night, rarely anything on HBO, and a few Sharks games when they are broadcast. $100 is a bit steep for that kind of use.

Doing some research, I learned that a basic antenna would give us first rate coverage of major local stations. Go to http://www.antennaweb.org and enter your zip code, then answer the question “are there any buildings, steeples, towers, or other structures taller than four stories within four blocks of your location, airports within two miles of your location, and/or many nearby trees over 30 feet tall? Then, specify whether the antenna height is single or multiple stories. Based upon this information, an antenna that fits your requirements will be recommended. In our case, the cost for the “right” antenna was $40, one time not each month. That does not cut quite as deeply into our retirement budget. You might even say we “retired” some of our debt… J

(2)  Do your own gardening – in retirement, taking care of the garden for many is therapeutic, something we do to show our pride in our home. But if we have a gardener, we take another hit to our retirement savings. In my case, we were paying $120 per month for two visits to mow the lawn plus clean up and remove leafs and debris. What if I took this over? Our lawn itself is small so I figured I could get by with a push mower. Looking on Craigslist.org, I found lots of power mowers available at good prices but I am not a mechanic and again, the lawn is small. So I went with a $139 push mower from Home Depot. Then I bought a gas powered leaf blower from Sears for $99 which includes a vacuum and leaf mulcher should I decide I need that (I have always wanted my own leaf blower so this was a win-win situation). Lastly I bought a gas powered weed eater from Home Depot for $70. I decided to go with gas instead of the electric as a matter of convenience – no cords involved. Plus, prices were comparable and as long as I was using gas for the blower, why not for the weed eater as well?

So for a total initial investment of $310, I was ready to rumble and within 2.5 months, I was running in the black. And the whole process takes me about 30 minutes start to finish.

(3)  Filtered instead of bottled water – a case of 34 bottles runs in the $5-6 range. You can filter your own water and save money plus keep another plastic bottle out of the dump. Your options here range from  filtered units that installs at your sink to charcoal filtered pitchers that you fill with tap water and five minutes later have filtered water. We use the Brita Slim filter which is about $13 on Amazon, again leaving us with more retirement dollars to spend where we want – on retirement!

(4)  Hang clothes out instead of using a dryer – a pretty basic idea but if you use less electricity, you have a smaller electricity bill. And the wonderful fresh smell of air dried clothes is an added benefit.

(5)  Minimize dinners out – this can be a big expense if seniors are not careful. Eating out is much simpler than planning and preparing an entire, balanced meal. Even if you are frugal and use senior citizen discounts and eat early bird dinners, it quickly adds up. When you do go out, there are things you can do to keep the bill tolerable. My wife and I are not big eaters so we tend to go with a hors d’oeuvre and share one main course. For wine, we generally try a glass of the house white and one of the red. We share and take notes for future reference. Dessert is not a biggie for us so we wait until we get home for a little ice cream. And we do without the after-dinner-coffee at $5 or more a cup. We enjoy going out and even more when the bill comes and does not choke us!

(6)  Cost effective plane travel – everyone wants to get to their ultimate destination ASAP. But if you can deal with one stop along the way, you will save money.  If the layover is more than 2 hours, we reconsider.

(7)  Federal tax credits for consumer energy efficiency – in “Financial check up list” the blog Money Funk explains “the tax credit for energy-efficient home improvements expires at the end of 2010. If you have heating units, hot water heaters, windows, or insulation that needs to be replaced, be sure to do it by the end of the year.” They point us to a website to get more information but we need to act quickly.

There are ways we can save a little here, pay a little less there, and positively impact our retirement savings bottom line. A lot is just paying attention and being aware of what things should cost – be an informed buyer and don’t pay more than you have to. In retirement, we do not want to do without. If we are frugal in our lifestyle and intelligent in our buying decisions, we will be able to afford and enjoy living the retired life that we have always wanted.

I have found some excellent blogs on frugal living and managing your spending including http://frugaldad.com , http://www.moneyfunk.net , and http://www.retirement-on-a-budget.com . Take a look at what they have to say as you strive to live an affordable retirement life.

Don’t forget to pick up a free copy of my Navigating the Retirement Jungle, available upon request by mailing to lovebeingretired@hotmail.com.

Free eBook – Navigating the Retirement Jungle

Email lovebeingretired@hotmail.com for your free copy

While writing LoveBeingRetired, I have discovered and shared what I believe is some very useful information to be help us better navigate the jungle that is retirement planning.

To summarize the journey so far, I have put together a short book covering the most important lessons learned.

Your free eBook will help you better understand:

* How to evaluate when you can afford to retire

* What is the real cost of building that nest egg beyond what you need

* Guidelines to living a frugal yet enjoyable retirement

* How to identify and pursue what is really important as you approach retirement

* Pointers on staying healthy so you can enjoy your retirement life

* How to identify and pursue your passion

To receive a free copy of “Navigating the Retirement Jungle”:

Send an email to lovebeingretired@hotmail.com.

In the subject line put Navigating the Retirement Jungle.

Let me know what you think – comments are encouraged.

It’s all about sharing what works to give us a little helpful guidance along the way and your input is greatly appreciated!

Enjoy the book and enjoy the journey.

Dave Bernard


How to Spare your Retirement Budget and your Sanity Christmas Shopping

We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Christmas in October? You may think that is a bit premature – after all, we haven’t even gotten through Halloween yet! But hear me out. Gathering up just the right gift for friends and family before the final Holiday bells toll can be an overwhelming task if you wait to the last-minute. The pressure to find something personal and unique for everyone can really put a damper on what should be a joyous time. Just like our retirement discussions, planning and preparation can make the whole experience more enjoyable and affordable. I am a big believer in getting it all done early – my goal is to have everything wrapped by the end of November. Once the presents are taken care of, I have time to relax and enjoy the season, avoiding the battleground of the shopping mall as the final hour of midnight December 24 approaches.
Here are my personal goals during the year as the Holidays approach:

1. Get it done early

2. Get it done under budget

Here is how to  do both.

Get it done Early

How many of you start Christmas shopping when you begin hearing the jolly jingles on TV and start seeing freshly cut Christmas trees tied down on the tops of passing cars? If so, you are too late. How can you expect to find 8-10-15 or more gifts that say you took the time to find something specifically for them if you only have 6-8 weeks? I start shopping basically on Jan 1. As my wanderings take me to stores and art festivals, as I travel, with each advertisement I see, I am keeping my radar up for that perfect gift. Those strange catalogs that come in the mail can be a treasure chest of really “different” gifts, some perfect for that uncle with the warped sense of humor or that parent who has everything and needs nothing. Suggestion made by friends and family during the year do not go unnoticed. Pay attention and you will be rewarded.

Once I buy the first gift for whomever, I start my list. Now I put down the names of everyone that I plan to buy for. Next to the names, I include possible gifts as I brainstorm a bit. And during the course of the year, as I buy the item on the list, I put an “X” next to the gift so I can quickly tell who is getting what and make sure the number of gifts is equitable. You don’t want to be opening presents and unexpectedly discover that one child has only a fraction of gifts as the other. What are they supposed to unwrap while impatiently waiting for Billy to open his pile?

As I said, my ultimate goal is to have everything purchased and wrapped by the end of November.

Get it done under budget

There are two ways to set a budget for yourself. One is to decide upon a total dollar amount that you will spend and then divide it amongst the total number of recipients. You have a little leeway here in what you spend per gift as long as you stay under your total budget. The second way to budget is to decide upon a total dollar amount per recipient and calculate your total budget based upon that. As for what is a “reasonable” amount to spend on your friends and family, that is up to you and your financial situation.

The key here is to continually tabulate your spending to be sure you remain on track. If you overspend on Aunt Suzie, cousin Chip may suffer so do your best to keep it fair (unless you like Aunt Suzie better).

I am happy with a simple list to keep track of my efforts. If you are more of a spreadsheet person, you may want to take a look at what Liz Weston shares in “Geek out with me: the holiday planning spreadsheet” .

To truly enjoy Christmas and the Holidays, get your shopping out-of-the-way early. You will earn yourself freedom from crazed mall shoppers, enjoy peace of mind and give yourself an honest chance to experience the season for what it really is before the advertisers got hold of it.

As a senior citizen, your eye is ever on your financial situation. Once you set a reasonable budget, stay within it so you are not regretting your kindness later when the bills roll in.  And with a little digging and focused attention throughout the year, you will be able to find those personal gifts – not necessarily expensive – that bring a smile to a face and help to maintain your enviable status as the “cool uncle” who always gives the best gifts.


Don’t forget to pick up a free copy of my Navigating the Retirement Jungle, available upon request by mailing to lovebeingretired@hotmail.com.