Written by McCall Robison | Last Updated December 17th, 2019McCall Robison is a Senior Content Marketing Strategist who is passionate about content marketing and SEO. She frequently writes about business, finance, and home-related topics. She currently manages a variety of BestCompany.com blogs.
Saving for retirement is no simple task; not to mention responsibly handling your savings once you retire.
Experts advise people to have at least 80 percent of their pre-retirement income if they want to sustain their lifestyle. Unfortunately, the average social security benefit for retired workers is only $1,409.91 per month as of March 2018. It is primarily up to you to build your retirement savings as well as manage that money as frugally as you can to make sure it lasts until the end of your life.
It can be tough to think of ways to be frugal with your money, especially if you are retired and want to take this time in your life to relax.
Well, don’t worry.
You don’t have to brainstorm by yourself. We reached out to retirement experts to share their best tips for practicing frugality in retirement.
The good news? The tips are all things you can begin doing right away.
By the end of this article, you’ll know how to be frugal with your money and be fully prepared to make your retirement savings last.
Grocery shop smart
Raised by a mom who survived the Great Depression, repurposing, reusing, recycling and frequently “making do” has always been a part of my DNA. As such, these ideas have served us well.
Retired from a second career six months ago, I've kicked up my frugality into high gear. With just my husband and me, I now separate large packages of meat into two, even three, separate packages depending on the size. For example, a package of six pork chops is broken into two packages of three. A chop a piece, plus a starch and vegetable is plenty. The third one serves as an after dinner snack for my husband.
Purchasing hygiene items, soap, and razors at the dollar store often saves nearly as much as a dollar on some items. Purchasing paper goods (toilet paper, tissues, paper towels) at Sam’s Club lasts us nearly three months. I purchase paper towels with a perforation. A half sheet is plenty for hands and wiping up. I use paper towels instead of paper napkins. — Carol Gee, Author
Limit eating out
In the context of frugality, spending less money does not mean there are fewer benefits. In fact, frugal people manage to find ways to spend less money and get more profit at the same time.
For instance, the advantage of making your own food at home goes beyond saving money; eating at home not only makes it cheaper, but it is healthier. Buying a smaller house costs less, but at the same time maintenance, lighting and electricity are less expensive. It also takes less time to clean and maintain, which gives you more time for other activities.
Always invest in your savings first
It is important to establish priorities from the start. For instance, before paying the mortgage, the services or any invoice, the frugal ones pay themselves first. It means investing in a savings fund or other savings accounts first, then paying other bills using the money that remains. Most people pay their bills in the first place and save the ‘spare’ money.
Investing is the most important priority for frugal people, and they take care of it. If there is not enough money to pay the bills, then they will find ways to reduce their expenses or make their accounts smaller so that they can finance their savings and investment goals. — Sophie Miles, CEO & Co-founder of CalculatorBuddy.com
Be systematic with money withdrawals
Withdraw money systematically. Regulated monthly withdrawals will stop you from missing bills and help you stay on top of your grocery shopping and other expenses, avoiding any financial surprises down the road.
One of the best ways to live frugally in retirement is by not making yourself feel like you’re missing out. Put some extra money into your budget to allow you to buy that Starbucks coffee or treat yourself to an expensive gift every once in a while.
Take care of your health
A usually overlooked way to manage your finances is by staying on top of your health. Use your money wisely. It's worth investing in workout groups, or even just walking regularly, in order to save money down the line on exorbitant medical expenses.
Do activities in moderation
You don’t have to give up your nights eating dinner out at nice restaurants, or visits to the opera. Just reduce the frequency of your outings to keep enjoying life but saving where you can. It’s all about moderation when it comes to living frugally. — Caleb Backe, Health and Wellness Expert for MapleHolistics.com
Take trips less frequently
Most people believe that when they retire, they are finally free to take all of the exotic trips and getaways they have dreamed of. Unfortunately, because of the relatively fixed spending that retirement savings allow, this may not be the case.
Instead of regular trips, consider instead going on an adventure every three or even four years. In the time between those big trips, consider doing things close to home, like retreats to nearby beaches or other less costly vacations. Make a list of must-visit spots domestically and progressively make your way around to all of them.
Use public transportation
It’s no secret that age can impair driving abilities and as people get older, the likes of night driving or long travel may seem unappealing. To save money, consider using public transportation instead of cars. For those with multiple vehicles, you can even consider selling one. This will cut gas and maintenance expenses and it is a simple way to live frugally and receive multiple benefits.
Plan out weekly meals
Taking time to search for deals is important at any stage in life but using this approach to grocery shop in retirement can be particularly beneficial. With an array of discounts and deals available in weekly circulars, take time to find markdowns on the things you are hoping to buy. It is even possible to hold off on buying certain items until they are on sale for even greater weekly savings.
Look for senior discounts
Though the age required to receive these discounts may vary from company to company, taking advantage of senior discounts is one way to cut costs. The reduction may be only 5-10% but overtime and when used on big ticket items, they can make for significant savings. Before making large purchases or even everyday ones, consider checking ahead of time to see what businesses offer discounts that can be taken advantage of. — Doug Keller, Community Manager/Personal Finance Expert
Credit Analyst, Yvette Glover, from FitSmallBusiness.com echoes Keller's thoughts that senior discounts can make a big difference. "While not all vendors will advertise them, most provide discounted prices to seniors. Therefore, retirees needn't be shy about asking for any. At the end of the day, it's essential for retirees to not treat his or her savings like a wind-fall of available cash."
Cut down on cable bills
The average person pays $105 per month for cable. Many people pay closer to $200, as promo deals expire and costs rise quickly. This can be devastating when living on a fixed income.
Rather than pay for cable, I recommend retirees cut the cord, where they can end up saving anywhere from $50-100 per month. First, an antenna can get the majority of people the major broadcast networks for free. Then a service like Sling TV will allow them to stream other channels they watch, such as CNN or FOX News, for as little as $25 a month.
If they're Amazon Prime members, they already get free access to a load of shows on demand. And there are tons of free shows on YouTube and the Roku channel, among others, that can be watched on your TV with a Roku stick or similar device. — Chris Brantner, Founder of StreamingObserver.com
Avoid impulse buying
When in retirement, you have to remember that impulse buying is not your friend. During working years, we’re all guilty of picking up what we want, but retirement has to bring on a different mindset.
Prior to retirement, think about some of the luxuries you enjoy but know you could live without, even though you truly get pleasure from them. Take magazines for example. They are very expensive in the grocery stores, however there are other ways to purchase them without paying full retail. The big box stores sell magazines for 30 percent off. Another way to receive them is through fundraisers. The kids for their band boosters are always trying to sell something and what they sell are usually items not needed for daily consumption. Magazines are always a big seller for them and the cost for you is pennies on the dollar.
Search for the cheapest gas prices
Gas prices are through the roof. Shop around, use the GasBuddy app before you fill up. The app will tell you who has the cheapest gas within miles of where you are.
This type of thinking can save you hundreds of dollars every year and allow you to still enjoy things that you did while you were working. Remember, you’re retired; you have the time. — Dawn-Marie Joseph, Founder of Estate Planning & Preservation
Think about starting an easy work-at-home job for extra income
With more than half of American households owning at least one dog, older folks throughout the country are turning to a fun, flexible service to supplement income during retirement. Rover.com, the nation's largest network of loving and trustworthy dog sitters and walkers, connects pet parents with locals that are willing to provide in-home care and walks for pups, while their owners are away or at work.
For example, Kathy & Craig Chastain, from Seattle, are using Rover.com to earn extra retirement savings. They explain:
When we first began caring for fur buddies our intention was to supplement our retirement so that neither of us would have to seek outside income to assure our comfort zone. We both were starting to really enjoy being retired but both too active to do nothing.
We launched our pet care gig with a family friend who entrusted us with their pup for a weekend. It wasn’t long before we had a small roster of clients. Enter Rover.com. Instantly, we had a foundation for growth and support that offered scheduling, insurance, bookkeeping, marketing and more.
The income we've earned through Rover has matched and exceeded most anything available for seniors these days and it’s allowed us to keep our savings and retirement funds intact.
Retirees throughout the U.S. are using Rover, and other side gigs, casually to bolster their retirement savings, so they can have more freedom. — Kathy & Craig Chastain, Retirees
Look for additional ways to reduce the cost of your lifestyle
Look for ways to reduce the cost of your lifestyle, so that your expenses are less than the income your investments and pension(s) provide. For example, try walking in your neighborhood as opposed to joining a gym. Start a garden in your backyard that produces vegetables during the summer months. Shop at secondhand clothing shops in affluent neighborhoods. The savings from even minor tweaks to your habits will accumulate significantly over time.
And don't wait for retirement to start putting these changes into place. Start adjusting your mindset sooner, rather than later, to ensure the most comfortable retirement possible down the road. — Adham Sbeih, CEO & Co-founder of SocotraCapital.com
Look into government and non-profit organizations
Don’t ever be too proud to ask for help. There are numerous organizations and resources that can make retiring less stressful. From free activities in your local community center to benefits programs, there is something out there for everyone. — Chelsea Hudson, Personal Finance Expert at TopCashback.com
Reduce or even eliminate your mortgage if at all possible. Additionally, consider downsizing to a lower-cost home or area. — Caleb Backe, Certifed Life Coach and
Downsizing is a great way to make some extra cash and ultimately save money. Smaller homes are less expensive to buy and maintain. Don’t forget location is key, so move somewhere where you can walk to shopping and entertainment. Sell or donate household items that are no longer needed to make downsizing and moving a breeze.
If downsizing your home is not for you, then consider renting out a room to bring in some extra money a month. — Chelsea Hudson, Personal Finance Expert at TopCashback.com
Use Apps to Manage Your Money
There's a lot of new technology for managing savings, even retirement, on your own. Take the DIY approach and research apps that help you manage your retirement savings without the high cost of a financial advisor. Just make sure the app you choose is backed by great security and--if you're actually using it to save--FDIC insured. — Bethy Hardeman, Personal Finance Expert at Tally
Whether you make small changes or big, start now so you can avoid running into money problems down the road. You’ve worked hard for many years; you deserve to relax without having to stress about money. Being frugal can give you peace of mind that your retirement is secure.
Start Planning Early
Even if you're not yet retired, start planning now and practicing frugal living. Retirement can sneak up on you, and you want to be as prepared as possible. Use resources like 401k calculators to plan out the amount you'll need in retirement to live comfortably. This will take into account your current age, your annual salary, your current 401(k) balance, etc. This will give you insight into your retirement numbers and if you're on track or if you need to increase your saving to meet your desired retirement fund.