As baby boomers and aging seniors move into their later years, saving money becomes more than a matter of building up their savings. Following retirement it can make a difference in whether they live a comfortable life or live in poverty.
I grew up shortly after World War II and into the mid-sixties. The United States was coming back after a devastating couple of decades of the 1930s through the War years and into the 1950s when the economy started to get better.
We lived on a farm where Mom had two gardens and did a lot of freezing and canning. We drank lots of milk because of the dairy cows and had plenty of meat from sheep and cows and the occasional hog and venison. We ate well, and were basically shielded by our parents as to how poor we really were.
Years later, when Mom went back to teaching school and studied her way up to a Master’s Degree in Elementary Education, and Dad got a much better paying job after we moved off the farm, our family income rose accordingly. We found ourselves in an upper middle class income level and living a fairly easy lifestyle.
Mom and Dad took numerous trips around the United States and to England, Germany and Korea – basically using the excuse that they wanted to visit my brother who was in the Air Force, although the truth is they just wanted to travel as much as possible. They caravanned to Alaska three times (from Michigan) with various aunts and uncles of mine, and had a blast!
Back to budgeting
Now, Mom is gone and Dad is living on his retirement and Social Security. Because he had a limited work-life where he was earning retirement benefits, sixteen years, his current income does not allow the lifestyle he enjoyed years ago.
Because we are both retired and living on fixed incomes, we again find ourselves watching our spending. It is not necessary for us to live a frugal lifestyle, but we do take care not to overspend.
Since I moved in with Dad, I’ve gradually tried to spend less money so that we could afford special small luxuries we would not otherwise be able to afford. While we don’t live the lifestyle we used to, we are both enjoying retirement.
Here are a few of the tricks of the so-called penny pinching or frugal living, trade that might help you save money as well. Some of these tips I picked up from my mother years ago and others I’ve learned the past couple of years.
I’ve taken advantage of sales for a very long time. It is amazing how you can pick up quality clothing at a fraction of the cost by hitting high-end stores during clearance or end of year sales. You can also find quality used clothing in thrift shops – the trick is to visit fairly often so that you can pick out the best clothing when they first come into the shop. Buy shoes at discount stores.
Make a list! And stick to it! That has helped me so much over the years. My daughter is adamant about coupons and saves a lot of money, while I focus on non-brand name products.
We also keep an eye on sales, return pop bottles for a refund, and try to only shop after we have eaten lunch or a good breakfast. Believe it or not, that makes a difference as to how much we buy. If you go shopping when you are hungry, everything looks good!
Another thing I’m trying to change is not buying bottled water, but drinking from the tap. I keep a jug of water in the refrigerator because water tastes much better to me when it is cold. That way I’m not paying money for water I can get free, and also helping the environment because of the plastic bottles that will no longer end up in a land fill somewhere.
Check out yard and garage sales.
I’ve found all kinds of things over the years including clothing, books, wall art, and much more. One of the keys, for me, is to only go to a higher end neighbourhood where you are likely to find better quality items.
Flea markets can also be fun. Mom and a couple of her friends used to drive several hours to a gigantic flea market – one in another state – once a year just for fun. At one place I worked, a couple of co-workers and I took an annual spring trip around the area and found all kinds of cool items at the many antique stores in the area.
There are many more ways that you can save money including in the areas of entertainment, second hand furniture, and transportation and so much more. Search online for such terms as penny pinching and frugal living, among others, and you will find all kinds of ideas.
You are welcome to share your own penny pinching tips in the comment section. We would love to hear from you.