The big question in retirement is how to make your money last through the duration. One thing that you can do to help you is to reduce your expenses. However, no one wants to live in austerity for the 20 or 30 years that retirement might last. So, how do you reduce your expenses without reducing your standard-of-living.
A lot of the things that you can do to cut expenses must happen at or before retirement. For example:
- Downsize your house to cut expenses like utilities, insurance, and maintenance.
- Move to a locations with a cheaper cost-of-living.
- Reduce the number of cars that you own (if you no longer commute).
- Cut your debt like mortgages, credit cards, etc. before you retire.
There are slew things that will reduce your ongoing expenses.
The longterm strategies keep giving over time. However, what can you do on a day-to-day or week-to-week basis to save money without reducing your quality of life? Here are some shortteerm strategies that can save you big bucks:
Senior Discounts: Don’t forget the huge number of senior discounts that are available. Many are available to you once you become 60 years old. For many people, senior discounts present a psychological barrier (or at least they were for me). Once you start tapping into these discounts you might be admitting that you are old. Don’t let your vanity get in the way of some substantial savings available to you. Go to the website, www.seniordiscouts.com to search for discounts in your local area. Here are a couple of businesses that offer discounts that I was able to find. Note that I have listed companies that are largely national, but there are locally based discounts as well:
Denny’s Alaska Airlines
Dunkin Donuts American Airlines
Outback Steakhouse Amtrak
Papa Johns Greyhound Bus Lines
Applebees Southwest Airlines
Ben & Jerry’s United Airlines
Bennigans US Airways
Chick-Fil-A CAR RENTALS
Chili’s Bar & Grill Alamo
Einstein’s Bagels Avis
Krispy Creme Budget
Mrs. Field’s Cookies Enterprise
Sonic Drive-Ins Hertz
Taco Bell Thrifty
Kentucky Fried Chicken
La Quinta PETS/PET CARE
Hampton Inn 1-800-PetMeds
Motel 6 PetSmart
Baymont Inns & Suites PHARMACY
Days Inn CVS
Marriott Rite Aid Pharmacy
Embassy Suites Target Pharmacy
Grand Hyatt/Hyatt Walmart Pharmacy
Weston Hotels Walgreens
Many more may be available in your local area.
Couponing Do’s and Don’t’s: In addition to senior discounts, coupons can help you save a bundle. While there are several websites that offer coupons, I have found one that is particularly useful. If you Google “coupons” you will be presented with a plethora of websites. However, I use couponsuzy.com. Couponsuzy typically lists 200+ products and discounts each week. You just click on the ones that interest you. After you have reviewed all of the offers and clicked on the ones that you want, you send them to your printer and bring them to the store with you. Of course, most newspapers also offer coupons on the weekends.
Coupons are a good way to save money. However, you need to be very careful how you use them. Manufacturers offer coupons to entice you to buy their products when you might not or to buy in greater quantities. They are a primary vehicle to advertise and incent purchase of new products. It is also a method to get you to buy their brand versus a competitor’s brand.
However, if you are truly trying to save money you must be judicious in how you use coupons. What I do is to construct a shopping list before I go to the store. Research has found that shoppers with a list actually spend less money than those who go to the store and wing it. Once you have a shopping list, seek out coupons for the products on your list. Avoid purchasing products that are not on your list just because you have a coupon.
If you know that you will need to purchase a product not on the list in coming weeks and you have a coupon, you may want to move up timing of that purchase – buy it now rather than wait. However, beware of the “buy more to save more” fallacy. Just because you have a coupon does not mean you should buy a product. If you do, you could easily increase your expenses and end up buying products that you don’t really need. Many manufacturers rely on a shoppers impulsiveness to sell products on coupon or on an in-store deal. Use coupons as a way reduce your expenses while still getting what you need.
Remember, the goal is to reduce your expenses while maintaining your standard-of-living – get the same, but spend less. Searching for coupons can take some time. However, if you find and bookmark your favorite sites and know what you are looking for, you can speed up the process and save a lot of cash.
– Use Coupons: Read the section above for advice on how this can reduce your grocery bill and what to watch out for.
– Purchase Store Brands: Store brands, also know as Private Label brands are those specific to a retailer. In the past, shoppers have perceived them to be lower quality than their branded equivalets. However, in recent years this quality difference has largely evaporated in many product categories. The little secret that no one will tell you is that many of these store brands are made by the same manufacturers who make the higher priced branded items. In many cases, they virtually can be the same product, just with a different label. Most of the time, store brands are much cheaper than branded items. So, if you can get equivalent quality at a reduced price why not. Try the store brands. If you are unhappy you can always switch back to a higher priced branded item. However, I think you will be pleasantly surprised.
– Shop at Discount Retailers: Since my retirement, I have begun to shop at Walmart because of their lower prices compared to competing retailers. Previously, I have had some issues with how they treat their workers and how they treat their vendors. However, retirement has a way of making you much less philosophical and much more pragmatic. So I am going for the low prices. The majority of products sold at Walmart are the same ones sold at other local retailers, so why would you pay more. The big differences I have found are that some of the meat and produce items at Walmart can be lower quality. My shopping strategy is simple: when I can find equivalent quality items at Walmart, I purchase it there. When I need higher quality such as produce or meats, I go to a local chain that can offer this or shop at one of the local farmer’s markets. This allows me to get the quality I want and still save money.
Remember, your mantra should be spend less, but maintain your current standard-of-living. It will take some effort to do this and a little mental adjustment. However, I think that the result will amaze you.