Monday, August 30, 2010

Spending Now to Conserve Later

Like a great many folks, my retirement will entail having a lot less money than I had hoped. Knowing that I may have to live on just my government survivors pension and social security sooner than I might like, I tend to spend some time planning and evaluating scenarios.

Knowing my reality, one of the things that I do as part of my long term frugal plan is to acquire certain things. Depending on your current  and future lifestyle and finances, you may wish to do the same. Some might say that this goes against the grain. In my case I'm taking money from my puny IRA for living expenses. The prevailing attitude is probably that even taking an extra few dollars now is a bad idea. Better to down size and streamline now in preparation for what awaits. To be sure, I do that as well.

But the truth be told, extreme frugal living in retirement will require basic preparation. Look at it as disaster preparation for retirement if you will. Part of being prepared is to make sure that we have the items in our possession to make do, no matter the circumstance. To avoid being caught unawares or without basic needs. If we need to rely on our little pot or pots of money for the basics bills and hopefully a few extras here and there, then we need to find a way to provide all those other needs, wants and comfort items.  And we need to get them as cheaply as we are able. That requires perseverance and planning. My personal goal, is to live as richly as I can with as little as I can. So again, preparation is the key. Since it seems to be too late to change my so called "retirement plan" in terms of investments and savings-I need to prepare in other ways.

What should we stock up on? Obviously that depends on needs, lifestyle and location. In general, items used to replace, create, amuse or comfort. Things that later in life may not fit into that tightly squeezed budget. 

We may want to get replacement items at a good price. I expect my really good coffee maker to last a long time. Unfortunately, having missed out on the grace and coordination gifts, I do not expect my carafe to last that long. I have two that cost pennies. I plan that my queen sized bed will go wither I goest (which will never be an RV or a boat).  I am on the lookout for at least 70 per cent off items for the bed, and when I see something I like that fits the bill, I'll eventually get it. My goal is to never buy clothing after I retire unless someone gifts it. So I shop for clearance items and put them away. I have acquired a reasonable number of canning jars.

What about household supplies or comfort items that you anticipate being needed? Being unsure of remaining in this house, I have not made very many adjustments. As a healthy but arthritic woman, If I were staying I would invest both in grasp bars and a higher toilet seat. By the same token, my bending and reaching isn't what it once was and a wheelbarrow would make my life much easier. I would also be making any and all improvements or repairs now.

Another possibility are hobby or amusement items. Yes, occasionally our interests change. But if you have a real hobby that uses any amount of equipment or supplies, getting them now may help later. I quilt, create cards and scrapbooks, cook, read and travel. I've slowly starting acquiring various items in an organized fashion so that not only can I know that I will always be able to enjoy these things on the level that I do now, but that I can use my skills to create gifts instead of buying them. You may have different hobbies, interests or talents. No matter your interest or skill, make sure that you will always have the necessities on hand to enjoy them. Not only can you enjoy your hobby, you may be able to bring in some small extra cash if you have the proper materials and supplies at your disposal.

Obviously as you acquire these things, you need to have a place for them. Every one's amount of space is different. If it's all in a pile in the guest room, it serves no purpose.  As I mentioned before, as part of my frugal preparations I also downsize and eliminate things from my life. My former dress for success wardrobe, evening outfits that I wore when my husband was alive and we entertained, piles of hardback fiction, cooking utensils and appliances I don't use-these are just some of the things that have exited my home, with more to come.

It's fairly sure that every one's list of needed things will be different. In my case I was married to a Department of Defense employee. Going overseas meant loss household goods, broken furniture, the inability to move food and outdoor items from place to place. Someone who has lived in the same home all their live may have fewer and different needs I suggest you look at your home and environment and ask yourself what you would do if you could not go beyond your yard for three months. What would you want to make sure you had, not including food. Could you mow your lawn? Be comfortable in your house? Have enough to do? What would be in your way and of no use. Use that as a starting point and go from there.

Although it's a topic for another day, don't for get that there are other ways to "invest" in your frugal future. Skills, knowledge and sweat equity come to mind, but I'll save that for another time. .

1 comment:

  1. "to live as richly as I can with as little as I can."

    I like that line from your blog. The key is "richly." To live life cheaply but to not do anything except exist is living poorly.

    Stocking up is an excellent plan. There are obvious pitfalls if carried too far, as you have noted in your article. But, the concept is valid.

    Some good things to think about.


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