Saturday, November 5, 2011

Frugal Retirement-Frugal Substitutions That Work For Me

Adjusting to my current income has been an adjustment. It's a continuous learning process, to say the least. I definitely learn as I go. In order to get where I am, I've given things up, made substitutions, and altered some systems, for lack of a better phrase.  Some of my substitutions and alternatives work better than others, some have not worked at all. I'll start with the things that have worked (mainly) to begin with:
  • Saying farewell to eating out (mostly). This has been MUCH easier than I thought it would be.  Why??? Well first, eating out was not a social thing for me. It was an I don't want to clean up after myself thing. It was also an I can't cook (fill in here) as well as the restaurant.  Saving money by cooking smart and healthy and cooking, as well as freezing meals has been no real sacrifice. As for those things I cannot cook, I simply allow myself two or three times a year at really, really good restaurants. I ask for gift cards to these places, save them for special occasions and savor them to the fullest. Right now one of my guilty pleasures is TVs "Top Chef". I intend to listen closely to the names of every restaurant and chef mentioned.
  • Culture (for lack of a better word). I expect that this is less painful for me because I live in an immediate suburb of a large city with many free opportunities.  My weekend section regularly lists free alternatives for theater, concerts and even museums. Sure, many of these performances are amateur, but the big boys got started in amateur theater (and many pros return to amateur theater to refresh). I allow myself one summer musical and one winter concert in a traditional big setting a year. If Eric Clapton or Neil Young or Jeff Beck ever perform in Dallas , I'll simply sell the kids the dogs and the house to go see them. Other than that, I'm good.
  • Adjusting my travel alternatives:  I would be being less than honest here if I did not mention that living seven years in Europe has certainly given me the upper hand in terms of travel. I also freely admit that I love road trips and will be as happy to take a trip along the gulf coast as a cruise to the Bahamas.  My trips are less often and well planned.  I'm more than happy to explore, say downtown Boston by foot and see a couple less costly indoor alternatives.  Travel is about experiencing the location, after all. That said, I have a daughter who lives in the Caymans, and am saving my pennies for a trip to Europe in two years-so you'll see this category in the "may not work for me" pile as well.
  • Clothing:  This was painful at first. I am a clothes hound. What happened?  Well first, I lost weight.  And second, I lost weight.  How is that twice an advantage?  I bought clothes to costume-I don't feel the need to do that any more. And while I had to replace some of my clothing, it's much easier to do that at sixty pounds less. I regularly find good clothing at consignment and thrift stores, and at end of season sales I no longer have to worry that my size is the first size sold out.  Having a casual lifestyle certainly doesn't hurt in any way either.
  • Personal Care:  As I mentioned in my "looking good on a budget" post, I am overall a low maintenance gal.  I have no problem either going to gray or coloring my own hair. I used to get monthly pedicures. Now I do it quarterly and fake it in between (I cannot give up the quarterly option as my knee does not allow me to bend well). I'm still experimenting with those low cost skin care alternatives,but I've had some good results.  Combining sales with extreme couponing has gotten me where I want to be.
These choices were all made with thought and have worked well for me.  Naturally, life is not all champagne and roses.  Cutting back on my book buying habit, limiting the amount of quilting fabric I can buy, having to be more selective on house improvements, and cutting spending on my children  are all areas where I am still a work in progress. In these areas my belt tightening has been a bit more painful.  Look for me to share the "downs" next.


  1. AGGGG! I will have a difficult time giving up my feet feeling excellent. I found a low cost pedicure in my area. It is less than half of what I paid at my old salon. Ask around. My daughter gets her toes done by a friend- who trades for a crafty thing at the house.
    Look on bulletin boards at school.
    You are doing well. You have come a long way and are dragging me with you. The journey is a process. Between you and Bob--I hope to find my satisfying way to live richly in retirement.

  2. thanks Im getting there slowly but surely Janette. BTW, did you not used to have a blog? What happened?

  3. It is nust hitting me how much things will have to change if my husband chooses not to go back to work in Jan. But I am sure we will adjust.

  4. Barb,
    I think I was just getting more out of reading than writing. It has been six months. I am thinking about returning, but am unsure I have a lot to add to the conversation. I have loads of questions, but am learning, again, that I am not as good as Bob in asking them.
    I am enjoying your blog. You answer my questions (sometimes statements) with good thought. Even the ones that are not asked well.
    Do you feel the growth that you project? I don't say it enough, but I often find myself nodding to your replies and say- she is right. All of us could move forward. There is a way. That might not be my way- but there is a way to still contribute. You really should consider a book.

  5. All really good ideas.

    For travel, we do home exchanges sometimes - they live in our house and drive our car while we're doing the same at theirs.

    We also joined the Evergreen Club and the Affordable Travel Club - you're hosted by an over-50 couple at their house, pay $15 or $20 for the night and a breakfast. We hosted half a dozen couples this summer and will be staying with another next weekend when we travel to Canada.

  6. Linda..ohhhh I'm so happy you metioned those two alternatives to me. I will look into them much further. How have I never heard of them before. Please let me know ho wyour book comes out. I've been thinking of taking a similar step for awhile.....although I think mine woudl require query letters

  7. Tamara, I just want to let you know that I am having a heck of a time commenting on your blog. It rejects my google id for whatever reason and it doesnt give me the idea of name or url-I dont know if this is my issue or what,but I do read your blog all the time.

  8. Janette...I am working on a book. ..slowly but surely.

  9. Oh and Tamara, when son leaves, food may even go up. I dont like to cook on a daily basis (I enjoy cooking a gourmet meal on occasin or a big family meal), so a bit of take out and roasted chicken may enter my life.


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