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
- 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.
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.