Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Passive Savings (And Earnings) in Retirement-Monday Saving Monday

As we move into the new year, one of my blogging goals was to have more information here about frugal living and fixed income in retirement-money saving, money managing, and money earning.  I do know that some folks who read other articles on the blog are not into this. However, I began the blog to talk about living on a fixed income in retirement, and a great many folks who read (and comment) are having similar issues. So..............

Every time I comment on frugality on the blog, I get piles of questions- often more by email than in the comment section of the blog. Some of them are semi-negative and some are truly curious and worried. What fun is retirement if I have to take a peanut butter sandwich when traveling or going to class?  Doesn't being frugal and saving money take up all my time and energies?  Why do I spend all that good retirement time doing money saving task?  How can I have a rewarding retirement if I have to watch pennies?  The questions go on. I mean, I get many more comments that are positive on the blog every day than negative. But some folks question the reality, and some folks want to know how to add and save a little money in their retirement-without having that take away from said retirement, if you will.

I am neither an expert on money saving or money earning as such.  I have learned a few things in this frugal retirement journey.  So before I talk about passive and non-time consuming ways to make money, I first need to state the obvious: All the little day to day money saving thoughts are worth little if you have not "positioned yourself" financially in retirement. By that of course I mean that nothing else matters if you haven't gotten that huge expense of where you will live under control.  

All the money saving tips you might glean from blogs or financial websites are of little value if you are "house poor" in terms of fiances and or energy.  For example, I relocated, primarily because of the energy and time, although my bottom line got a burst in the process. My personal view of a joyful retirement means no yard work or house maintenance or lawn mowing (and not paying someone else to do the same).Sometimes we reposition more than once in retirement, and often for other than financial reasons. A successful, financially good retirement depends on facing reality head on when it comes to those major costs of living.

That said, once big issues like housing and transportation are under control, my personal experience says that earning and saving money can both be done passively, and often as part of our daily routines.  While there sure are labor intensive things we do to save money, my personal experience is that we do those based on what we like to do. I make gifts because I like to and have everything I could possibly need on hand. But  I would never change my oil, or can produce because I hate the idea and probably have not the physical skills needed.

My goal in the coming months is to add a money related post every week or so, and include things I personally have done that saved me money or made me money.  I also want to track how much money I have saved on the spending side, now have a tracker to see how much I actually save a year.

Now, my goal each month is to make $150 to $200 either passively or while doing things I would be doing normally.  Much of my so called "money making" is actually earning gift cards. Just to give everyone an idea of future posts, I'll close with a rough idea of what I earned last month, just by doing stuff while watching TV or shopping or walking.  For those interested, I'll include both links and exact amounts in future posts:

I earned multiple gift cards on the Swagbucks website.  I did this by running apps on my phone while I was watching TV or sewing, ordering through their website (I do all online shopping except for when I visit small local businesses), and buying gift cards. I go to AMC movies regularly, and have meetings at Panera twice a month, so I purchase those gift cards and get rewards.

I earned more gift cards through another app (I obviously have unlimited Data, but I also do most of this on my wifi, so it is not costing me extra). Viggle is an app I run while watching TV, earning up to four points per minute-either live or streaming. I watch a fair amount of TV at this time of year-I just finished the made for Netflix show "Travelers" and of course have been watching a great deal of football. Finally happy to see Clemson WIN (with apologies to Bama fans).

I earned gift cards for things I purchased at the grocery store. There are a variety of websites and apps that give you points and or cash for purchasing what you normally would. Just as an example, I buy the pre-cooked all beef burgers and have a half a burger and salad and fruit for lunch. The last two times I purchased one of these, I earned a dollar each. Now, just like coupons it's self defeating to purchase what you won't use, but thankfully many of these rebates are for milk, produce, bread and eggs.  I also earned five dollars for spending $35 at Joanne's crafts.

I sold things I made. Now, before everyone yells, "but that's not passive", let me tell you why it's here.  I don't sew or quilt or draw things for people. I make what I want and what I like. When I'm finished, I decide what to do with what I made. Sell it, give it to the shelter, give it to a family member or keep it. Since I see all kinds of fabric I like, I often make things that, while I love them, don't match or fit as such with other family members.  If I decide to sell, I list on Craigslist or my local Facebook Next Door site (which takes three minutes of photos and listing) and then wait for someone to tell me they might like it.

Finally, something I haven't done, but will add for this month: getting gift cards for exercising. There are plethora of apps out there that allow you to connect with your fitbit or other exercise tool, and that give you rewards for meeting goals and more. I've connected one with my fitbit and we'll see how it goes.

Just as expenses depend on seasons, some of these give me more rewards and some less depending on the time of year. In holiday shopping periods there are many more coupons and rebates for real food items. And since I watch less TV in the summer, some of my "sitting in front of the TV time' is better spent elsewhere.

There are also occasions (again seasonal) when I might do a few more time consuming earning things, depending on my energy levels. In the past I have both written articles and edited papers for content. I've done the occasional craft fair, and every year I consider working in Dillards during the holidays to grab the rewards and discounts, although I've never done it yet. My son, nephew and brother are all six foot six and they have an extensive tall guy section actually in the store.

Even when it comes to so called passive income what works for me might not be the same as for someone else.  I am still learning to use my new Samsung Edge phone, but it takes really good photos. If I were a better photographer, there are many places I could sell photos. Someone who travels or has the passion to take many many pictures might see this as a primarily passive way to earn.

One last thought as I add this new feature to my blog. When I talk about earning money, I do so with the knowledge that I have created a life where earning does not pay for the necessities as such. I can live, eat, drive and do other things without the money earning. Depending on your financial level,I encourage everyone at any level to first do those major things that make them as secure as possible-and then add earnings and savings.

And now, I'm off to have my car looked at-speaking of spending versus savings


  1. Hi Barbara, I've read a lot about Swagbucks and Viggle. Can you really earn much in gift cards through these sites without spending a large amount of time? We retired a couple of years ago and I am amazed how busy I stay with hobbies and projects but we are on a fixed income and anything extra would sure help!


    1. Hi Bonnie! Let me say that it takes time, however I do these passively while doing something else. For example, they have six different apps that run on your phone. I just run them once right after the other while I am sewing, in meetings, watching TV or whatever. So yea, to run through them takes time. If that makes any sense. The same thing with Viggle. I just turn it on, let it hear the TV and then it runs throughout the show. and if I answer the phone or a text, it goes right back. If you would like I can link you to some places, now there are some folks who do surveys and so on and so forth on their website, but I don't do that. I would say the average throughout the year is 15 to 20 bucks a week on swagbucks.

    2. I always enjoy your take on retirement topics. I also kinda feel sorry for people who feel being frugal is a "chore" or somehow sad.. I feel kind of "superior" when we are road tripping and I pull out our cooler of sandwiches and juice! Restaurant meals are often greasy and expensive..and opening up my turkey sandwich at a picnic table in a nice park is MY kind of luxury! I guess if you are not raised in the lap of luxury, and have had to make those early marriage /kid years paychecks streeeetch a bit-- you learn some very good skills. And a good attitude about it!! We did not have credit cards back then either! We lived on what we had, and learned a lot in the process..mostly, how to be happy with a bit less!!! The time and freedom of retirement it THE PRIZE ,to me.. pinching pennies here and there to make sure we have money for travel or lunches out with coupons or at the local joints,well.. -- not a chore at all!!!!!! I like the way you think,Barb!!

  2. Frankly, I'm grateful I grew up in a home where the philosophy could be interpreted as, "waste not, want not" and making "something out of nothing" was considered the smart thing to do. Likewise, we didn't leave lights on all over the house if no one was in the room or using them. I recall after we had children as I read the newspaper I clipped coupons for the products I normally used, learned groceries had "loss leaders" so since we had about 3 supermarkets, each about the same distance from our house, I discovered watching for sales that buying meats at one (best quality, too), paper products at another, other items at the third saved $$$. Those newspaper coupons amounts added up to more than the subscriptions to the newspapers. None of that was work in my mind as was often multi-tasking and was just fun.

    Have not kept up with all the ways to save in this digital world. and since I haven't yet seen the need to own a smart phone. or gotten into selling on the internet, I have only a passing acquaintance with ways to make the dollars work with little time and effort. What you write about is very informative and I'll look forward to reading what you share, choosing any suggestions that might be meaningful to me and my lifestyle now as a widow living alone.

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