Topics:Budget Smart Medical Alert Companies Medical Alert Systems 101 Retirement Medical Alert News Fall Prevention Tips Health Tips Lifestyle Safety Tips
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. Practice flexibility 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 Consider downsizing 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 Business Consultant for Maple Holistics 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 savings to meet your desired retirement fund.
Medical alert devices have been around for decades and largely serve the same purpose they always have, so how can you know which company is the best? Two of the most well-known names in the medical alert industry, Life Alert and Medical Guardian, both serve thousands of customers and feature 24/7 monitoring by certified emergency representatives, but what are the key differences between the two? Allow us to break things down for you. Price Medical Guardian's systems cost anywhere between $29.95 to $49.95 per month. The least expensive system is the Classic Guardian system that plugs into a landline connection and features 1300 feet of range. The most expensive unit is the Premium Guardian, which is roughly the size of a deck of cards and is GPS-enabled, so you can take it with you anywhere. This means that wherever you go, emergency responders will be able to pinpoint your exact location, even if you're outside. Unfortunately, Life Alert doesn't disclose any prices on its website, so it's hard to make a solid comparison. However, it appears as though Life Alert offers similar products to Medical Guardian. There are even mobile apps available with Life Alert. But since we don't know the prices of Life Alert's products, we can't know for sure if the customer is in for a bargain. Winner: Medical Guardian (by default) Equipment Fee Medical Guardian offers no equipment fee for its systems. This means that you won't have to pay extra just because the system shows up at your door. Thankfully, Life Alert doesn't charge an equipment fee, either. Winner: Tie Activation Fee Medical Guardian charges no activation fee for any of its packages. When the product comes in the mail, just plug it into your wall outlet and/or landline connection, and it should be ready to go. All of your contact information comes pre-loaded and assigned in accordance with the unit you ordered. Life Alert charges an activation and installation fee of $95 to $295 depending on the package. This can be frustrating because this could equate to a month's worth of groceries or several months of emergency monitoring. Many top medical alert companies are doing away with these fees, and Life Alert would do well to do the same. Winner: Medical Guardian Contract Medical Guardian operates based on a month-to-month basis. If a customer needs to cancel services for any reason, there isn't a hefty contract binding you into monthly payments regardless of your need. Just ship the equipment back to Medical Guardian headquarters and you're good to go. However, there is a 90-day service agreement, so you must pay for the first three months of service. If you want to return the device before the 90-day period expires, Medical Guardian will refund you the remaining amount in due time, but you must pay for the first three months beforehand. On the other hand, Life Alert operates based on a 3-year contract. This means that the customer will be required to pay every month until the 36-month period has expired, and this can be incredibly frustrating if funds are running low or you don't need the product anymore. The customer may have the option to buy out of a contract, but depending on how much time is left, that can cost upward of $1,000. Winner: Medical Guardian Warranty Both Life Alert and Medical Guardian offer lifetime warranties on their equipment. This means that if anything goes wrong with the equipment you've purchased, the company will replace it free of charge. Winner: Tie Range Medical Guardian's most basic system (Classic Guardian) offers 1300 feet of range, which is one of the greatest distances currently available on the market. The Home Guardian, which is $5/month extra, only offers half that range. Remember, though, that Medical Guardian has a more expensive GPS-enabled system that allows it to operate anywhere. In comparison, Life Alert's system offers 800 feet of range. This is still an impressive number, but Medical Guardian's most basic system can outshine this by 500 feet. There is a mobile option available to Live Alert customers that is also GPS-enabled, but the price of the product is unknown. Winner: Medical Guardian Time in Business Life Alert has been in the medical alert industry for 30 years at the time of this article's publication. The company established itself in the late 1980's with the television commercials featuring an elderly woman crying, "I've fallen and I can't get up!" These popular commercials have helped Life Alert to be the most well-known name in the medical alert industry. Medical Guardian has only been in business for 12 years at the time of this review. However, we found that Medical Guardian has a much more robust and navigable website in comparison to veteran company Life Alert. Life Alert would do well to follow Medical Guardian's lead with an organized blog, clearly outlined package pricing, and informative videos. Winner: Life Alert Customer Reviews According to BestCompany.com, Medical Guardian boasts over 1,400 customer reviews with an average rating of 8.6/10. The majority of customer reviews indicate quick response times, friendly customer representatives, and easy setup. Comparatively, Life Alert currently has a 1.6/10 rating based on 45 customer reviews. Most of the reviews complain about poor customer service and rigid contracts with overwhelming buyouts. Winner: Medical Guardian Overall Comparing the two companies, the obvious choice is Medical Guardian. The company offers several pricing options boasting different functions that should complement most customers' budgets. Even the most basic package has one of the best ranges of any device in the industry, and higher-priced units are GPS-enabled so you can take the product anywhere. The company also has excellent customer feedback based on over 1,400 experiences. This speaks to the company's customer service and ease of use. Life Alert is one of the pioneers in the medical alert industry, but according to feedback from customers and a lack of pricing transparency on the company's website, the organization seems to be a little out of touch. The lifetime warranty and lack of equipment fee are definitely encouraging but aren't enough to set the company apart from other companies in the medical alert industry. Looking at customer feedback is especially discouraging. Winner: Medical Guardian