26 Frugal Retirement Tips For A Comfortable Lifestyle

Enjoying a comfortable retirement lifestyle shouldn’t mean sacrificing or being overly cheap after years of saving for these golden years. You may have saved a bunch for retirement, but you want your money to last through your retirement, which could last more than 20 years and may require lifestyle adjustments. Using our frugal retirement tips will help you enjoy your life more.

What is Frugal Living?

 Choosing a frugal lifestyle doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your life in retirement. On the contrary, you should have the most satisfying life you deserve and plan for, whether that means more traveling, leisure time, entertainment, or spending more time with family and friends.

However, your spending during retirement will likely differ from previous years, allowing you to cut out work-related costs, travel off-peak, and live comfortably without feeling deprived. Frugal living does not mean you’re solely buying cheap things that only consider the price. Instead, seeking quality for extended comfort provides more value, like shoes, appliances, and mattresses.

Are You Financially Prepared For Retirement?

Knowing if you are financially ready for retirement causes many to worry that they don’t have enough money saved for retirement.  In the Center For Retirement Research study findings, most households in the National Retirement Risk Index have a good sense of whether they are on track for retirement, with 40% saying they know they are in good shape. In comparison, 20% know they are facing trouble and understand it. The rest either are “not worried enough” and may misjudge the assets they rely on or are “too worried” about saving too little. 

In another survey, 67% had greater confidence when figuring out their retirement resources by adding up financial assets accumulated through savings and investments. Meeting with a financial advisor or planner can help you fill in the gaps related to your retirement and your budget so you can determine the retirement income you will be living on.

While frugal living is a good practice at any age, it is particularly essential when living on a fixed income. By cutting out unnecessary costs, you can adopt a cost-effective lifestyle with greater confidence about running out of money. Here are 26 frugal living tips to help you have a comfortable and enjoyable lifestyle in retirement.  

1. Create A Budget

Your budget should give you the most realistic view of your monthly income from savings, social security, work-related retirement savings, and less your monthly expenses. Spend mindfully and reduce unnecessary costs that you find wasteful as you reassess your retirement lifestyle. Many people don’t like budgeting and prefer to track their spending. Do whatever works best to stay on top of your budget and finances. 

2. Automate Your Bill Payments

By automating your finances, you’re removing your emotions. You can better pay your bills on time, avoiding late fees, but savings will become an essential line item in your budget. Recognize that saving money is not an end but a means to preserving wealth.

3. Eliminate Debt

Retirement is an excellent time to eliminate debt, especially credit card balances, pay off your mortgage, and resist taking any personal or car loans that can pressure your monthly costs and reduce your ability to spend on priorities like health care, leisure, and travel. Consult a credit counseling or debt relief firm if you need help reducing your debt.

4. Emergency Savings Fund

Establish and maintain your emergency savings fund during retirement to use this account for unexpected events that you can’t plan for but could be costly. Keep this account for emergencies in an easily accessible liquid assets account without fees.

5. Downsize Your Home and Cars

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, housing expenses, including mortgage, rent, repair and maintenance, property taxes, and insurance, account for about 33% of annual expenditures for 55 and older Americans. However, it creeps up to 36% for 75 years. That is an uncomfortable amount to pay every month.

Consider selling your home and paying off your mortgage to eliminate your debt. You can downsize to a smaller house or apartment in your current area or move to a lower-cost area that provides many benefits during retirement, like a better climate and better tax treatment. You can eliminate one of your cars if heading to an area with an excellent transportation system.  You may have a dream home and are willing to relocate, so consider carefully where you want to be. 

6. Save on Utilities

Higher inflation caused utility costs to rise over the past two years. You can save money on utilities, where being frugal can pay off and get the most from your fixed income. Check with providers of electricity, gas, water, Internet, and telephone or sewage providers for fee waivers or discounts to Americans 65 or over. Depending on your provider, you may get discounts for your income level or seasonable reductions. Get a smart thermostat that can help save as much as 10% on heating and cooling costs by adjusting the temperature. Buy LED bulbs that use less energy and last longer than incandescent bulbs.

Additional ways to save on utilities:

 7. Saving on Electricity 

Turn the lights off when leaving a room. Unplug less frequently used appliances with power strips that include your phone chargers, lamps, and microwaves. Besides saving costs, plugged appliances can be a fire hazard. 

8. Saving on Water Costs  

Your family can save water costs by turning off the tap when unnecessary, taking shorter showers, using a budget-friendly sprinkler system, and repairing leaks. It may be time to replace old appliances like the dishwasher and fixtures like faucets with water-saving ones. According to the EPA, the average family spends $1,100 in water costs but can save $350 annually by retrofitting with better fixtures labeled ENERGY STAR. Use your dishwasher when fully loaded rather than washing dishes. Make sure to fix leaky toilets or sinks.

9. Negotiate Your Bills

Your bills may be higher with inflation and may reflect more fees. Find alternative vendors to compare prices. Where there is competition, there is more choice for you to reduce costs. Scrutinize your bank and brokerage statements for charges you don’t recognize and ask the companies to explain them and possibly reduce them.

Start shopping around for better rates for rent, car insurance, cable, internet, cellular and landline, radio, home security, gym memberships, utilities, and magazine subscriptions. Many providers expect their customers to negotiate bills, especially with lifestyle changes. If you aren’t up to the pain of tracking down the best rates, consider services like Select or Trim that can help you reduce monthly costs.

10. Eat At Home More

 Eating at home serves multiple purposes. It’s healthier, less expensive, uses leftovers, and more fulfilling. Make simple and quick meals on busier days, try out recipes, eat less meat, and have vegan nights. Grow your vegetables if you enjoy gardening. Make time to cut or shred your fruit, cheese, and veggies. It can be therapeutic, cost less, and stays fresher longer and tastier. 

11. Staying Healthy

You can exercise, find walking paths, or take easy hikes with more free time. Eating healthier with more fruit and vegetables is good for your wallet, especially when visiting the farmer’s market. Ensure you drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and avoid processed foods.

12. Healthcare Costs

You’ll need to consider your medical care options, which include Medicare and private providers.  If you retire at 65, you are eligible for Medicare.  Medical costs have risen faster than inflation over the past 20 years, and your budget should expect those costs to increase 10% each year over the next decade. According to two studies, retirees will spend 12% of their income on health care, growing to 17% over the next ten years.

Fidelity Investments revealed that a 65-year-old retiring this year can expect to spend an average of $157,500 in health care and medical expenses throughout retirement. This estimate assumes retiree enrollment in traditional Medicare (Part A and Part B), which covers costs such as hospital stays, doctor visits and services, physical therapy, and lab tests, and Part D, which covers prescription drugs. Medicare is a worthy benefit for those 65 or older, but it doesn’t cover all the medical costs like deductibles, copayments, and long-term care. Many buy long-term care insurance that can support services in home settings.

13. Prescription Discounts

In addition to Medicare, retirees can get free discount cards to save on prescription drugs from companies like GoodRx, SingleCare, OptumPerks,  and America’s Pharmacy. These companies have prescription savings programs and coupons that provide up to 80% off prescriptions for seniors. Additionally, if eligible, seniors could seek state pharmaceutical assistance plans (SPAP), which offer prescription discounts to help cover the cost not picked up by Medicare D. Check some of the government’s plans that can help you get discounts based on your needs.

Consider loyalty programs for retailers you frequent for access to their sales and savings benefits. CVS (i.e., CVS ExtraCare Rewards) and Walgreens (i.e., my Walgreens) have excellent reward programs when you frequent their businesses for reduced prescription costs and drugstore items.

14. Entertainment Using Senior Discounts

Socializing is a big part of retirement, but you can forego high-end luxury restaurants that are more memorable for their prices than the experience. It doesn’t mean you can’t go out to eat with friends. Get senior discounts, some of which start at 55 and over, for dining, movies, theater, sports, museums, car rentals, trains, travel, and cruises.

Take advantage of getting senior discounts from local and state websites, most retailers, and through AARP membership, which is $16 annually and costs $12 for the first year if you choose a more extended membership.

Seek free and cheap experiences that are easy on your wallet, like roaming through thrift shops, antiquing, nature trails, beaches, or parks.

15. National Park Pass

One of the best perks for seniors interested in traveling is the National Parks pass. At 62, you can purchase a lifetime National Parks pass for a one-time fee of $80. Visiting the parks can be a great alternative to expensive foreign travel if you’re retired and trying to save money. You’re never far from one of the more than 400 parks, monuments, preserves, or historical sites that comprise the vast National Park System of the United States.

Those with mobility issues will find the national parks more accessible than ever. Check with each park individually if you have mobility issues by going to the “plan your visit” section of the website or calling the park directly.

 16. Cancel Unwanted Subscriptions

You have many subscriptions you aren’t using or need, and you should cancel them. Consider a shift to free ad-supported movies and TV shows on sites and apps. The ads are acceptable at lower prices for Netflix subscriptions and other companies, like Crackle, PopcornFlix, Peacock, and even Amazon’s Freevee. 

Besides streaming, you should purge any monthly subscriptions you are not using, like wine, pet toys, food delivery services, and more.

17. Declutter Your Home And Sell Unwanted Items

If you are in a purging mood, you should declutter your home and sell unwanted items for extra money. The average home has 300,000 items. Have a garage or tag sale, depending on the items you sell. Categorize what you want to sell, like clothes, baby gear,  gift cards, jewelry, luxury watches, books, vintage posters, kitchenware, electronics, or appliances. You’ll be able to find specific places that will buy your things based on their condition, and you’ll save or make it easier to sell your home.  

18. Travel During Off-Peak

Seniors who no longer have to abide by time off from work or their children’s school schedules can travel more freely and frugally. When traveling during off-peak times, typically shoulder or off-season, prices are lower, and crowds are fewer.

19. Visit Your Library

Your local library is an excellent resource for books, online music, movies, videos, and audible books. Sign up for the Libby app for free ebooks, audiobooks, and magazines. 

Libraries are excellent environments for exploring, meeting fellow book lovers, finding local discounts, and holding speaking series. I enjoy visiting our perfect small-town library and walking out with my favorite books.

20. Comparison Shopping  

Find bargains by pursuing deals for groceries, clothing, electronics, appliances, or used cars. Use your phone to shop for lower prices and understand the products and features you need. Don’t just seek the lowest prices, which may mean lower quality and less durable. 

21. Credit Card Rewards

If you pay off your monthly balances each month, using credit cards for travel, gas, or grocery rewards makes sense if the rewards don’t outpace the high-interest costs associated with cards. However, skip credit cards if you can only pay them off partially each month, as interest rates on credit cards are rising.

22. Bulk Buys For Non-Perishables

Buying in bulk makes sense for products without “Best by dates.” Our favorite membership-only warehouse is Costco, but we like Sam’s Club and BJ’s Wholesale Club, though they are limited to the eastern US, Target, and Walmart. You can stock up on household necessities, like paper goods, toiletries, cleaning, pet supplies, or family-size Cheerios, which you use frequently.  

 23. Buy Generic Brands

You have probably been buying generic brands for food, drugs, pet foods, and household products at warehouses like Costco and other retailers, which is a terrific way to save money.  The generic brands (also known as the private labels)  and the name brands often sit next to each other. They are usually identical except for the price, with the generic brand costing one-third to two-thirds less. 

24. Thrift Stores 

Shopping for bargains at thrift shops and buying high-end costume jewelry can make you look and feel luxurious without spending a fortune. It is also fun to get gorgeous outfits and jewelry at affordable prices. Self-made millionaire Barbara Corcoran, who grew up in a modest home, admits proudly that she only wears costume jewelry and shops for bargains. Looking like a million bucks doesn’t have to be costly. 

25. Earn Extra Money As A Side Hustle 

Besides saving money, you may want to earn extra money. Find time to add a side hustle and boost your retirement, depending on the skills or hobbies you have or want to strengthen. You can make extra cash if you write, cook or bake, proofread, paint, do opinion surveys, do DIY woodworking, walk dogs, or sell crafts. 

26. DIY Home Maintenance And Repairs

Some people enjoy working on their cars and homes during retirement, having enjoyed home maintenance and making repairs. They are competent, have helped friends, and plan to do some of it during retirement. Safety comes first, and there comes a time when you may need to outsource certain repairs like the roof. However, if you find you are still handy, this can be a rewarding way to save money.

 Final Thoughts

 Getting ready for retirement is exciting, but it requires some decisions to ensure you have the most desirable lifestyle possible. Give significant consideration to cutting out unnecessary costs so that you can spend your time enjoying a healthy and long life.  

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