December 7, 2019 — We don’t know about your experience, but in ours we are starting to see signs that many of our retired friends and relatives are getting more and more frugal. Some have to cut back from necessity, but even many of our very well off friends seem to be pinching pennies, at least in some corners of their life. Folks that might fly business class to Australia on a luxury vacation, but hoard plastic bags from the supermarket to line their kitchen trash bin. Many like to save money for the sport of it. After all, who likes spending money on unimportant stuff. Snagging an inexpensive vacation, landing a great deal on a rental car, or getting a better internet deal is a lot more fun and exciting than paying top dollar!
If you search on the Internet for “live like a cheapskate” you will strike a frugality bonanza. There are authors like Jeff Yeager who have written best sellers on the subject (“The Cheapskate Next Door“). There’s even a show on TLC, “Extreme Cheapskates“. Not to mention all of the articles Topretirements has written on the subject over the years (see Further Reading at bottom). This article will roll up advice from all over into some of our top tips on how to live like a cheapskate, and have fun while doing it!
First of all, a little etymology – if you are going to be a cheapskate you might as well understand where the term came from. Although there is some uncertainty about the origin of the word, the main dictionary sites think that “skate” was a late 19th century slangy term for a worn-out horse, to which cheap was added to imply mean or miserly. One Wiki source claims it refers to inexpensive strap-on roller skates; while we acknowledge those were horrible to skate on back in the day, we doubt that is the term’s origin.
Our Top Cheapskate Ideas
Here are some of the best ideas we have heard for saving money in retirement. Although there are lots of things you can do to save little amounts, we are trying to concentrate on opportunities that can save serious money. What we are really hoping is that you will all add your best ideas for saving money in the Comments section. Here goes our list:
Move to a smaller, more efficient house. Real pennypinchers don’t waste money heating/cooling, painting, maintaining, and paying taxes on a house that’s bigger than they need. If you expect company, rent them an Airbnb.
Buy a reliable car, preferably second hand. Buy a basic model, and keep it until big things start breaking on it. If you have 2 cars – get rid of the gas hog and use Uber or rent for occasional use.
Move to a less expensive state. Hopefully one with reasonable real estate costs along with lower income and property taxes.
Plan your major purchases in advance. Avoid impulse buying so you have the time to take advantage of deals.
Buy only with cash. People get themselves into the most trouble with credit card-backed, sudden urge purchases. Having to pass over a wad of $50 bills is a powerful way of promoting restraint.
Plan…. to be flexible about your travel plans. An airplane that takes off with unsold seats or a cruise ship leaving the dock with empty staterooms means lost money for the company. Sign up to get deals from the companies you are most likely to travel with. If you have the flexibility to go at the last moment, maybe to a place you hadn’t even considered, you can save huge dollars. Sites like hopper.com, airfarewatchdog.com are a great source. Search on Google for “last minute cruises” and you will find big discounts on all the big cruise lines. Many offer additional savings on excursions, upgrades, and drink packages as well.
Take all available discounts. If you travel, get an AAA card. You’ll usually save 15% on motels. Senior discounts are about everywhere – ask if you don’t see them. If you live in a tourist area ask for the local discount – most places give them. Or, just ask – do you have any discounts – you’ll often be surprised.
Cut the cord. Even with the so called “Triple Play” from the cable companies, your internet, phone, and cable bills can add up to thousands of dollars a year. Plus your cell phone bill. Most people couldn’t live without an Internet connection, but you can shop around for the best deal. Nobody needs a home phone anymore. And if you are anywhere near a TV station you can use an antenna to catch signals from the air for free. Investigate streaming services like Hulu, Sling, Netflix, and others for your home entertainment.
Take advantage of free entertainment. Read the newspaper and online guides – you’ll be surprised by how many free (and good) events there are. Many museums have one day a week or month that’s free. Use your local library; they have many audio books, movies, books, and subscription materials. Plus great programs of all kinds.
Stay healthy. Co-pays, drugs, and other out of pocket expenses can actually drive you into bankruptcy. So save big bucks – get yourself into shape, cut down your vices, take your medicine, and generally take care of yourself.
Travel by bike, walk or take the bus. At $3 a gallon every car trip you take costs you money. We guarantee you will enjoy a short bike ride or walk a lot more, and it will be free! Many municipalities have free or discounted bus service for seniors. Or live in a place where you don’t have to drive everywhere.
Practice frugal gifting. Think ahead about what gifts you need to purchase in the coming year. Buy when they are on sale, or knit, draw, or build something more meaningful at a fraction of the cost. Last minute excursions to buy gifts almost always cost you more.
Cut out smoking, alcohol, and sweets. Besides killing you, the price of a pack of cigarettes is obscene (remember when you could buy a carton for $3?). Cut down or stop your consumption of alcohol and sweets, both of which can turn out to be a pretty big (and unhealthy) part of your budget.
Maintain your stuff. You paid a lot of money for your car and household appliances. Read the manual and take the simple steps they outline to preserve their long life and cut down on repair bills.
Shop at consignment stores. Particularly if you are furnishing a new home, you might be astonished at how inexpensive you can find the things you need. In wealthier areas the clothing castoffs are often top shelf at a fraction of the cost. You can save enough there to fund some really nice items.
What is your experience? Are you finding it a little harder to part with your hard-earned dollars, even if you have enough to go around? Or are you the opposite, figuring you can’t take it with you, so you might as well spend it before your children get their hands on it. Please share your thoughts and ideas in the Comments section below.
For further reading