Frugal Living for Seniors

Every year the cost of living continues to increase and it becomes hard for everyone to save money. The practice of saving money is good for all to do, especially those getting closer to retirement. …

Every year the cost of living continues to increase and it becomes hard for everyone to save money. The practice of saving money is good for all to do, especially those getting closer to retirement. For some, retirement can last up to 20 years or more. Many seniors find themselves on a fixed income once they leave their working years and living frugal is the way to go. It is also good to stretch your money to cover all your expenses. Some people have trouble with staying frugal. If this is you, then consider downsizing or eliminating unnecessarily expenses to help manage your financial budget. Below are just a handful of ways that seniors can live frugal while still enjoying life by prioritizing their spending appropriately at home.

Downsize

Many seniors who retire may find themselves coming home to an “empty nest”. If you had kids, their all grown by now and you are left with a huge house to manage. This is a good time to reassess your living quarters and consider going smaller. One of the biggest trends nowadays is tiny living. Although anyone can go tiny, it makes a lot of sense for those who are living alone or older couples who don’t need the hassle of a big mortgage and a lawn to mow while entering retirement. Many tiny or small homes range from 200 to 750 sq ft. and they can be found in almost every state. Some are located off the coast, surrounded by wilderness, or high in the mountains. It just depends on what you are looking for. When you downsize, it can also significantly cut monthly costs, allowing seniors to free up some cash for enjoy other ventures or just paying down debt. 

Saving on Utilities

It is always good to contact your utility provider for new discounts or deals that may have started. Some providers offer a discount to seniors over 55 and have been a loyal customer. There are certain utility providers that will work to give seniors a cheaper rate, depending on their income. Check your local providers on how to sign up for these programs. 

Tips to help lower the electricity bill:

  • Turn off lights when you’re not in the room.
  • Consider energy-efficient light bulbs.
  • Purchase a smart thermostat and only use the heat or air conditioning at off-peak times.
  • Unplug appliances when not in use.
  • Use dryer balls when doing laundry to cut down on drying time or air dry your clothes.

Tips to save on the water bill:

  • Turn off the bathroom faucet while brushing your teeth.
  • Fill the kitchen sink, stopper it, and turn off the faucet to wash your dishes instead of leaving the water running the entire time.
  • If you have a dishwasher, use it instead of washing dishes by hand. Also, avoid running the dishwasher during peak hours in the evening to save on your electricity bill.
  • Check for leaky sinks or toilets and get them fixed.
  • Purchase low-flow showerheads and faucets.

Refinance

For seniors who want to stay in their home, it may be a good idea to refinance. It could save you quite a bit of money and help pay down your mortgage on your home faster. Talk with a local bank or mortgage specialist you trust and check for the best rates in your area.   Seniors who cut their housing costs down when they were younger will have more money during their retirement. Cutting your housing costs can also help save on gas and maintenance on your home. 

Be Financial Savvy

There are several ways to become financial savvy. One way to do this is by making payments automated, meaning allowing some bills to come out of your checking account on a set date or schedule. This could save you money, since some credit cards or bills will give you a small discount by doing so; and it can also help seniors avoid late fees. Especially if you are one to forget to pay a bill on time. Below are some other ways to cut your finances and lower your expenses. 

Cut the Cable 

Cord cutting is becoming popular these days, especially within the senior community. If you do have cable, you will spend on average $100 or more each month on your cable bill. Although you may be getting lots of channels, some seniors have only a handful of channels they watch on the boob tube. So, people can end up wasting their time and money each month on frivolous channels. In fact, most people are going with cheap streaming subscription options like Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime to watch the shows they want instead of the hefty cable bill. 

Take advantage of Credit Card Rewards

Some credit cards offers perks to those who have good or decent credit. Stay away from credit cards that have annual or monthly fees in order to use the card. However, there are some credit cards that have no annual fees; including offers on travel benefits, cashback on gas, and grocery perks. 

Prescription Discounts

Another way seniors can lower their finances is by asking for or using prescription discounts. One of these discounts is called the GoodRX discount card. All seniors have to do is show the card at checkout time and they can receive whatever discount may be available to them. Remember, every pharmacy is different, so the discounts will vary by place to place. Also, seniors can check out the company’s website for new and updated deals, since they may change throughout the week or month. Having a prescription discount card is helpful for everyone, especially those who do not have health insurance or seniors with a limited plan for medical coverage. 

Create a meal plan that saves you money

Many seniors tend to throw away a lot of food if they’re not planning out their weekly food budget correctly. When it comes to meal planning, seniors should decide ahead of time on what they want to eat for the week. This way, they can be well prepared on what ingredients they will need when going shopping. It is also good to utilize ingredients for multiple dishes, so you don’t waste too much food and avoid takeout meals, which can be expensive for seniors. It is also smart to evaluate your pantry and fridge before going food shopping. That way you can eliminate unnecessary groceries that you may already have at home. For seniors who need a little help with meal planning, they can also consider meals delivery services.  Some are inexpensive to use, or may offer discounts for seniors on a fixed budget. Many will deliver the food right to your door, such as meals on wheels. Other meal plans include Hello Flesh, Home Chef, Dinnerly, and Factor. You will need to buy a subscription for these, but many do offer meal discounts or a certain amount of boxes for free. 

Savings on Entertainment

Next let’s talk about how seniors can save on entertainment and other travel tips, where older adults can have lots of fun yet without the big price tags. 

National parks senior pass

For many seniors over 60, they may become eligible for the lifetime pass at your state’s national parks. It is often a one-time fee of $80vand can be used throughout all national parks, regardless of what state you visit. There are over 400 parks listed in the National Park system, so seniors will have plenty of parks, monuments, or historical sites t visit when they get their lifetime pass. Plus, most parks offer easy access for those with limited mobility. It is good to check the park’s website for more information on accessibility and other tour times before visiting. 

Checkout the Library

For those who are not into visiting parks, there are many other things to do for entertainment. One is spending time at the local library. Whether you are looking for something specific, like searching for a classic novel, or just want to try to learn a new language, going to the library offers many resources and can fill your time with exciting places to go without leaving the room. Seniors may find museum passes or skill courses to sign up to at the library. Some library cards are free for residents of the town, while others may charge a small annual fee. 

Best Travel times

Everyone should take advantage of off-peak times when traveling. They save you money without losing out on all the fun once you get to your destination. Many people crowd the streets at popular destinations during peak times, especially families with young children since they can only travel during summer months. However, seniors and older adults who are retired can take advantage of these off-peak, cost-effective savings times, while enjoying a quiet and serene vacation. 

Other Ways to stay frugal

Stick to a Budget

Sticking to a budget is hard for anyone. For seniors that live on government funds, this can be very difficult and takes time to adopt a more frugal way of living. According to statistical analysis from Social Security, the average elderly adult receives about $1,700 per month. However, with the cost of living and inflation increasing each year, it doesn;t leave a lot of room for emergency situations or unexpected expenses to get covered. Sticking to a monthly budget for all your needs is necessary to get everything paid on time while also avoiding overspending. 

Buy Secondhand

One of the best ways to avoid overspending is going to second hand stores, such as thrift stores or choosing online local marketplaces. Seniors can decorate a whole room or refresh their wardrobe for a fraction of the cost by buying newly used items. For example, you want to help your granddaughter buy a prom dress. Buying a prom dress at a secondhand store may cost $30, compared to a high-end boutique that will charge you over $200 for the same dress. Not only will you save some money, it can also be a fun time to spend with family while looking for some cheap treasures. 

Forgo Eating Out

With inflation on the rise, most people stay home to eat. However, there are a handful of older adults that enjoy getting out of the house for an evening out on the town. That’s all fine, just be aware of how much and how often you go out. The average adult between 65-74 spends around $2,700 a year eating out. If you are on a tight budget, it may be more budget friendly to skip the drive thru and just make a home-cooked meal for less. 

Consider Freezing Property Taxes

Most property taxes continue to rise each year, and this expense can become very expensive for seniors living on a tight budget. The good news is some states will allow seniors to freeze their current property tax rate, especially if they find it hard to pay the increase rate every year. Seniors can find if they qualify for this freeze option by contacting their local tax office. 

Keep Working

So, you hit 67. Do you need to automatically retire? Absolutely not! There is no where that states that if you are in your retirement age bracket that you must retire. It is true that many adults will start to collect social security at this time, but that doesn’t mean you have to stop working. For seniors that want to still bring in some money, consider a part time job. Or, some may choose to hold off retiring for a few extra years before hanging up the towel, sort of speak. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were approximately 10.6 million workers that were over 65 still working in a 2020 report. In fact, the number of senior workers are still growing. 

Remember, creating a budget is just the first part when saving toward retirement. Seniors need to always stick to their budget before they run out of funds for any much needed expenses become hard to cover. Older adults should consider sitting down with a trusted financial advisor to help them stay on track and prepare for their retirement.  

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