Frugal Living in Retirement
how to make it work for you
Many older adults feel satisfied with their lives and are ready to settle for a simpler lifestyle. A frugal lifestyle may be something you are considering as you approach retirement. Like with any decision, frugality may not be for everyone. Some decide to try a frugal lifestyle to stretch their savings as much as possible while others feel that frugality is in harmony with their values.
Whether you have already decided to pursue this lifestyle or just want to learn more about it, you need accurate information. Before we provide some practical tips on how to live frugally, let's debunk some myths about what being frugal means.
Frugal Living - Debunking the Myths
Frugality may sound like a ‘bad' word thought to mean living ‘cheaply.' This is a common myth - frugality is far different from being cheap. A frugal person spends less money than an average consumer but is not so extreme with saving that they are miserable. Being frugal denotes being more resourceful, less wasteful, and learning how to be happy and to live on less.
One of the keys to frugal living is balancing spending and saving. Frugal people don’t spend unnecessarily or mindlessly in an attempt to show off or to fulfil supposed wants. Instead, they know their priorities and make sure their money goes where it should. They focus on purchasing things that are important and valuable rather than mere wants.
10 Ways Retirees Can Go Frugal
Now that we understand what being frugal means let's discuss some practical steps you can take if frugality is something you are looking into.
1. Spend on things that make you happy
The most important way to balance spending and saving is to identify your values and only spend on things or activities that add value to your life. Analyze your life and everything you own to determine what items are worth it, and you haven't regretted purchasing. Then, use this knowledge to guide your future purchases.
Experiences and relationships are more likely to bring happiness than material possessions. Acknowledge that anything material you purchase will only provide temporary fulfilment. Instead, invest in your future.
2. Remember to ask for bargains
Once you reach those golden years, you have access to age-related discounts from dinners at restaurants to grocery items, so learn how to make use of them. Some seniors are embarrassed to ask for bargains so if you feel this way, think of discounts as payback for all the years you served your community. You earned this special treatment, so own it.
3. Make use of Government benefits or Non-profit Organizations
Again, this may be daunting for some, but it shouldn't be. Remember, these government agencies or non-profit organizations were established to help people like you, so you are doing them a favor by asking for help. Some benefit programs can allow you to purchase high-quality food at lower prices. Other practical services may also be offered if you need them.
Make sure you are well aware of all the help available in your community and use it.
4. Invest in your Health
Even if you are on a budget, you ought to know what investments will be beneficial in the long run. For example, enrolling in a gym or taking cooking lessons may require some investment but will have long term benefits.
Learn to invest in activities that will help you stay healthy. The healthier you are, the lower your medical expenses, and the need to use maintenance prescriptions. Sometimes, the least expensive activities, such as taking a walk or exercising your brain may have the most significant health benefits.
5. Withdraw your funds systematically
Just because you have funds sitting in your bank account doesn’t mean you have to access them indiscriminately. Learn to have a systematic way of withdrawing funds such as by setting up a “retirement paycheck” with structured deposits from your savings account to your checking account.
Such structured withdrawals will help you stick to your monthly budget and tailor your expenses appropriately. You also avoid the trap of overspending that is a risk if you have unlimited access to your funds.
6. Make budgeting a fun process
Sticking to a strict budget is a lot like sticking to a strict diet- the rebel inside us always wins. Instead of thinking of a budget as constricting, make it fun. A simple way to start this cycle is making it a game to find ways to spend money daily. Or you could make a game of finding the lowest prices on grocery items.
This strategy puts your brain on your side instead of against you. In no time, you will find yourself unconsciously looking for bargains or discounts. Once you have your mindset tuned this way, convince other family members to join your game.
7. Make use of Free Activities
There is nothing wrong with joining free activities in your community instead of spending on outings. The truth is you will still have fun without having to spend a penny! Remember-happiness is free. Be on the lookout for community activities you would like to join. There could be volunteering services available or free fitness programs that you can join.
Try and reset your mind from thinking that anything worthwhile has to be paid for. Once you do this, you will open the door to a whole new world of activities you never thought existed.
8. Go on Vacation on Off-Peak Season
Frugal living doesn't mean you can't go to those places on your bucket list. It merely means you find a resourceful, cost-effective way to go on holiday. One of the easiest ways to go on vacation without spending too much is to take advantage of off-peak deals.
From flight tickets to accommodation-traveling during the time of the year that has fewer guests can be a huge money saver. On top of saving money, you will save yourself the hassle of being in a crowded tourist spot all because you travel off-peak.
9. Try Using Public transportation
There is no denying the fact that if you have had your car for a long time (which you probably have), it will require more and more maintenance, which means more spending. If you live in a city that has a good network of public transportation, why not give it a shot? You might find that you can get anywhere you want with ease and perhaps even get a discount on the way.
Routes of public transportation services are often found online. So if you don’t have a smartphone yet, you may want to consider getting one. A smartphone can let you get rides using transportation services such as Uber and provide navigation along the so you never get lost. Learn how to choose the cellphone right for you here.
10. Freeze property Tax
If you own any properties and have to pay property tax, you get the chance to ‘freeze’ taxes once you become a senior. This way, you will only be paying the current rate no matter how the future market changes. You are thus protected from any tax increments.
Each state has different tax guidelines for seniors, so make sure you look into it and see if you are eligible. All you will need to do if you are eligible is fill up an application. If you are not yet qualified, then look into a provision called tax relief which offers lower taxes for those with lower income.
Benefits of Frugal Living
Not many people understand what frugality means, but once you get started, you will learn just how many benefits it can offer you. Here are a few:
• You are less stressed. Since frugality teaches you to live on less, you are likely to have no debts and no worries on pricing.
• You help the environment. By making fewer purchases, you do your small part in saving the environment and lowering the negative impact our investments have on Mother Nature.
• You have more time on your hands. By spending time on nurturing relationships instead of keeping up with the latest fashion or technology, you use your time wisely.
• You have more to give. By spending less, you have more to share with others, perhaps by donating to non-profit organizations and other charities.
• You may retire early. The earlier you start with a frugal lifestyle, the more you will save, and the earlier you can retire.
Frugality is not one-size-fits-all. No matter what your values are, you can tailor your lifestyle so that you embrace the core values of frugal living while still enjoying life. If saving the environment is something that appeals to you, being frugal can give you a sense of accomplishment. If saving money is your main concern, you can benefit from it too. There may be more than one reason for you to try this lifestyle, making it very versatile.
You never know what your retirement years will bring, so start thinking about your future now. Whether or not you decide to try a frugal approach depends on you, so weigh matters and make a choice.