Monday, July 28, 2014

Living Richly in Retirement-The Lazy Frugalista

 Pets are a joy, yes a joy I tell you!  Last nite my coon dog and beagle were out in the back yard.  I heard screaming and ran outside, afraid that they were in danger from a raccoon or worse.  Well, folks, what did I find but a dead baby raccoon in my beagles mouth.  That's right.  MY DOGS KILLED A RACCOON.  Admittedly a baby, but still.  They have the taste of blood I say!  Tomorrow we go to get rabies boosters, and the animal is being tested.  Life is truly an adventure.

I live on what is basically a true fixed income in retirement.  A pension and a social security allotment create my basic income. Added to that are research and writing projects and quilt sales and other ventures such as Christmas baked treats and gifts.  However, those are irregular and depend on both my mood and energy as to when they fit into the budget. I work when I want to rather than because I need to which means that base amount is where I stand.

Recently I was talking with an "in real life" acquaintance.  Her husband is ready for retirement (she stopped teaching early) but she is fighting it tooth and nail.  She is afraid that she will have to give up "everything".  More importantly, she has visions of making her own laundry soap, super couponing, changing her own oil and more. In other words, she looks at retirement as physical drudgery AND deprivation.  I don't know her finances or after work benefits, so I cannot comment to much on that one (although I would observe that right now he is doing all the drudging).

This particular group discussion included both early and late retirees, all with varying incomes.  Our advise to her was similar.  We all do SOME labor intensive frugal things (cleaning our houses, mowing the lawn), but those things vary on interests and priorities.  We also all do some so called investment frugality-occasionally spending money or effort that will pay off in the long run.  Again, the things we do are all different.  In my case I make gifts from scratch, bake, can, do my own house repairs.  All things that I enjoy. I don't garden, change my oil or spend hours clipping coupons, on the other hand.

Most of my little group of sewers agreed that their biggest method for saving money (and effort) was the things that we simply no longer did-those things eliminated from our lives or for which we found free and cheap alternatives.  We all need to look at ways that save money, and I don't mean to belittle that.  Adjustments are very often made in retirement, and for some people solutions mentioned by me will not work.  Still, for comparison, below are the things that I no longer do, have cut down on, or have found a viable alternative for-without spending extra physical energy or money (most of the time).

Do remember as you read this list that I'm a "lazy retiree" who enjoys chilling at home, spending time with friends, the occasional road trip, a fair amount of hobbies and the occasional new skill challenge.

  • I don't eat fast food, ever (except of course with one small exception, that being the rare WhichWich egg salad sandwich).  On the days when I am out of the house all day, I have a small cooler.
  • I don't eat out as much as I used to, generally no more than once a month except when I am traveling. I am not a great cook but I like cooking on occasion and eating at home and cooking is no longer the stress it was during work life.
  • I don't buy fiction and rarely buy non fiction. I used to, as many readers know I kept Amazon in business for almost six years while living in a foreign country with no English library. I now have a good library system and take advantage of free kindle books.  On those rare occasions I buy non fiction reference books, they are used and I have checked them out of the library too many times.
  • I don't shop recreationally, although I once did. I entered retirement with a four season wardrobe, and have mainly replaced things as needed with plenty of time to look for the best price.
  • I don't go to malls.  Enough said.
  • I don't have expensive hobbies (with one exception).  While most of my hobbies are crafting, discounts and sharing and coupons make them as cheap as I want them to be. I receive gift cards for craft stores and fabric stores almost exclusively for the holidays and birthdays. I belong to a knitting club that meets at a local independent bookstore (free, with the occasional hot chocolate or tea thrown in). I belong to a walking group (free). I belong to two book groups (free). All of these groups meet a free venues where free instruction is also often offered. I do belong to a monthly movie group, that requires entrance fees and popcorn purchases.
  • I don't do expensive entertaining. I tend to thing this is an area that many retirees get to let go of. I do brunch on occasion, a cookie or tasting party where everyone brings something, or round robin dinner groups.
  • I don't do expensive or international travel.  This is not a value judgement, as I did this for many years.  I've simply decided that traveling the open road as cheaply as possible works for me these days.
  • Cheapskate that I am, I no longer do the hours long extreme coupon thing. I buy loss leaders and produce and dairy products once a week and we eat mainly casual and simple food with leftovers that are reused. I do have a well stocked pantry and freezer and enjoy doing all my own baking.
  • I don't have a high maintenance grooming routine. In retirement I have a short simple classic cut that almost anyone can do. I use basic skin care and personal products and have a four season mix match wardrobe (black yoga style pants with bright colored tops, coordinating skirts and a few  maxi dresses. Nothing needs to be dry cleaned or ironed and my jewelry items all go with almost every outfit.
  • I don't belong to a gym, even in a four season climate.  Occasionally I drop in for a daily fee to use the pool in our rec center.  Mostly I walk and do yoga and aerobics at home using utube classes
In all fairness, there are things that I do in order to save money.  I do try and keep these time suck kind of activities to a minimum or to concentrate them at seasonal times to get them out of the way.............
  • I do allot a certain amount of my day to a quick perusal of online discount, deals, freebies and coupons and the like.  This does not take long, it reaps huge rewards in a fairly short period of time.  However, if I do not do this for a full week, I don't panic and have more than once put it aside for a more rewarding activity in the short terms
  • I do canning, and gourmet baking, both labor intensive items, but ones that I enjoy.  They save me money, provide unique gifts, and occasionally make me money.
  • I do cook intensively on occasion (once a month cooking type stuff), however this is not a regular occurrence and so I don't mind.
  • I/we do most of our own seasonal maintenance (emptying out gutters, rotating mattresses, putting screens out if needed, cleaning windows).  Again, these are not regular occurrences and are so less bothersome.
 There you have it. Ways that I have eliminated less important things from my life (or found free alternatives) to keep the budget in check while not feeling deprived. In fairness there are also things that I "don't do" that have to be done by someone else. I don't mess with my own car, or mow my lawn for example.

The bottom line for me at least is that I spend the majority of my time doing free or almost free things as the mood strikes, relaxing as the mood strikes and not worrying around the rest.  I am able to live the lifestyle I do because I do a few high energy frugal tasks, hire out a few tasks, and eliminate and set priorities n how I spend my time and money. I am not an expert but this lifestyle works for me.  Just sayin.


  1. Good post; point well taken. After you retire (unless you're super rich or super poor) you should probably do some economizing -- but do the things you find easy, or even fun -- I take back my bottles for the deposits (easy) and shop at sales (fun) -- but not the things that you find really burdensome. Also, give up things that you don't really value, or that seem redundant (gym membership?) but don't feel you have to give up things that are important to you.

    1. It's amazing how much more freedom I have by just eliminating a few things.

  2. Wonderful post! I am Into year ONE as a retiree with my husband.When we worked full time and lived in the busy "burbs " I had a cleaning lady, ate out a lot, shopped at the Mall for stress reduction, took expensive vactions to "escape.." and had a VERY different life.We retired.We sold it all and moved to a small (2000 people!) town in the mountains where we used to "vacation."

    Now,I am ALWAYS "On vacation!!

    I have economized in many of the same ways as you have and I am enjoying the process.Time is so much more valuable to me now, than extra money. I am taking drawing and other art classes for FREE at our community college (free for over 55) , I hike a lot,right out my back door! =-free! I volunteer for Meals on Wheels so my Monday mornings I get to visit with 10-12 incredible people in my new town.. love this!!

    I clean our home ( a smaller one!) but not that often.I am ok with messy these days..we LIVE HERE!!

    I cook a LOT.. but that has always been a hobby so I am HAPPY to have more time to cook, meal plan,etc..

    Vacations: We are exploring our own state more, we have a few road trips in mind, and I got a great deal on a flight to go visit old grade school buddies in Colorado next month.

    Retirement DOES mean a lot of adjustments, for most of us, but I am finding them to be pretty easy, especially when I tally up what FREEDOM means!Thanks for sharing..

    1. Yes, I fully admit that my home is clean but relaxed, no more entertaining as in earlier years, and I have multiple hobbies and three dogs. I agree, I am willing to do a great deal to keep the freedom aspect!!

  3. I do mostly the same things you do Barb. I had an awful time in the begining of my retirement. It was very difficult for me to give up my 'before life'. Now? What was I thinking? What was I so upset about? I just laugh.
    I clean every single day, but only for a hour. I like my house tidy and clutter free. I do this right after my morning coffee. I do deep cleaning when I see fit, which is once per month. I don't eat out much anymore either. I like my own home prepared foods. If there is an emergency and I need to eat out, I stop at a McDonald's and order from the Dollar Menu. Or use a coupon at Applebee's.
    I use the library for EVERYTHING!
    My hobbies are walking, hiking, biking, yoga and the occasional sewing project (Xmas & birthday gifts)
    I only entertain over the holidays and even at that I don't know for how much longer.
    All my travel is local now: America and possibly Canada.
    Same pixie haircut for years now @$13 every two months. $2 tip.
    I've gotten into swimming lately and go every day to our community pool. When the chill comes, I go to our local college olympic-sized, heated pool. Winters have me in Florida pools.
    I stopped cooking. DH does it all now. If he doesn't cook, I eat quickly out of the fridge. I don't think about food much anymore.
    All my shopping consists of two things: food & gas.
    We seasonally keep up our home, everything is DIY. We hire no one for anything.
    Retirement meant a lot of adjustments AND I am so glad that part of the journey is over and done with! :)

  4. I just recently retired. My husband is disabled. We have had a very hard time finding an affordable apartment. Finally we have found a Senator in our city that is taking the time to help us. We have an application for a beautiful apartment within our budget. "People help others no matter what their "job" is!"


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