Last Updated on 4th January 2021 by Emma
Frugal living tips for seniors need to focus not just on saving money right now but also about adjusting to life stage changes in the future.
Older people are often on a limited or fixed income with little scope for making more money.
There are plenty of seniors who do work, part and full time, but many more who don’t and who don’t want to.
They want to be living frugally on retirement income so they no longer need to work.
They’re asking themselves ‘how can I be frugal in retirement?’ And the answer is, very similar to when you are working, but with a few subtle differences.
frugal living tips for seniors with their finances
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How you organize your finances as a retired person and as a worker bee are very different.
As a busy worker bee, you are hustling to try and earn more, save more and spreading the money you have across different accounts and investments to get the best return.
Someone who is retired and starting to advance in years wants simplicity.
You don’t want to be forever changing savings accounts and insurance deals to save a few dollars.
You want your finances to be simpler and more streamlined.
More importantly you don’t want to be paying for financial products that are no longer relevant to your stage in life.
Review your insurances
Insurances are an essential part of everyone’s financial life but what you need insuring as a 30 something is very different to that of someone who is a senior and retired.
Disability Insurance – an essential insurance when you have dependents relying on your income every month. Not so essential when children have flown the nest.
Review what disability insurance you have and whether it’s still relevant.
Some insurances have get out clauses for those hitting certain age milestones, regardless of whether you are working or not.
Life insurance – another essential insurance when you have a young family who need your wage to survive. Does your spouse of family need a lump sum if you were to pop your clogs now?
I emphasize the word need because yes, a lump sum would be nice for any family but is it an essential item in your budget now? Is anyone relying on your income, your pension to live?
If you have a spouse it is a good idea to look at your incomes together and research what would happen to it if one of you were to die.
For myself, my pension would pay my husband a spousal pension worth half what I currently receive.
This would not be enough for him to live in the way we do now (frugally of course!) so we pay for life insurance on my life to help cover the reduction in income he would receive.
His pension has the same 50% spousal pension but it’s less than my pension so I can comfortably live with just that. Therefore we do not insure his life as I wouldn’t need that extra financial cushion.
You can compare life insurance quotes completely free of charge using brokerage: Reassured.
Simplify your finances
As you get older you have less interest in juggling too many things at the same time. I might not be 70+ yet but I am already appreciating the need to simplify my finances.
Simplifying where you hold your money, what you are invested in all helps you to keep a firm hand on your money.
Gone are the days when I juggled various credit cards for the rewards you can gain, now I have just 2 for simplicity.
Nor do I have multiple bank and savings accounts each with just enough to gain the maximum interest rate those accounts will pay out on.
I find it a bit too much effort to continually do this.
Credit cards – How many do you have? How many are you using? Pay off the ones you have and consider reducing down to 1 or 2.
Less statements to keep track off and less encouragement to spend on them all.
Savings accounts – Interest rates are so low now that the banks aren’t offering those tasty high rates to get you to switch.
Consider consolidating your savings into fewer accounts.
Investments – Are your investments in the right risk category as a senior who lives frugally?
When you are building your savings and investments up you have a higher risk acceptance than once you are retired.
Being older, you’re now in the wealth preservation stage, or to put in easy terms, you want to keep the money you have not risk it for higher reward.
Review the investments you have and ensure they are in low risk trackers/investments.
Did you ever get frustrated when you were younger that there were plenty of discounts for older people but you were too young to grab them?
Now’s your time!
There are so many discounts available to help you live cheap in retirement, why not take advantage of them? Senior discounts can include:
Eating out at reduced rates – senior specials are often available for lunchtimes and weeknights giving you up to 50% off meals.
You can also take advantage of lighter options aimed at the smaller appetite (unfortunately I have not reached the point where I have a smaller appetite!)
Discounted travel – in the UK you can grab a senior railcard to receive a 30% reduction on off peak travel. Many travel companies worldwide offer senior discounts so do check what is available in your area.
Cheap travel – being retired you are not restricted to travelling only during school breaks or at the weekends. Every day is a weekend!
Home improvement grants – these are state and country dependent and can help with extra insulation, energy saving measures and home safety adaptions.
The Senior List has an excellent, comprehensive list of senior discounts covering everything from medications to retail stores to hotels.
Senior Discounts also has an extensive list of senior discounts, I lost count of how many, there were that many!
MoneySavingExpert has a detailed list of both freebies and over 50’s advice regarding pensions and entitlements.
frugal tips for seniors at home
Frugal living tips with a big impact are not just confined to getting your finances simplified.
There are many frugal tips that focus on your home that can help you both save money and simplify your life.
Saving money and simplifying things can be important as a senior but so is being able to live frugally on your retirement income.
Retirement income and pensions are rarely much more than 50% of the income you received when you were working.
Knowing how to live a little cheaper in retirement is extremely helpful.
Downsizing your home
At some point many older people find the layout or location of their home no longer works for them.
Problem is, when they finally reach that realization, they feel too old to make the move.
My parents were extremely sensible, they recognized that living in a very rural location, with no shops, buses or even medical practitioners within walking distance, was not sensible in their advancing years.
They moved into a village with these facilities before they needed to.
Downsizing your home to something that is more manageable (less cleaning!) and nearer more facilities will help you reduce your living costs later.
For instance you won’t need to employ a cleaner or gardener or take multiple taxis.
Moving to a cheaper area
Moving to a cheaper area helps keep your ongoing costs lower. Less to pay in property taxes and council tax.
Combining this with downsizing your home can help you either free up some cash from a larger home if needed, or pay off your mortgage.
Moving for more facilities
We moved last year to a much more rural location. We have no shop, no doctors and no buses within walking distance.
The nearest village with any facilities is 5 miles away across fields or along a very busy road. A vehicle is a must in this area.
This home, as much as we love it, is not our last home. We have already identified which town we would move to before we get to ‘that point’.
‘That point’ is the point where you are or feel you are too old to move, too set in your ways, too tired to contemplate the upheaval moving causes.
The town we move to must have all the facilities we would need for everyday living within walking distance.
- Post office
- Grocery stores (not just a small corner store)
- Other retail stores
- Organized community activities
I’m not keen on living in the center of a busy town but better that than feeling isolated and unable to cope in a more rural area.
Before you get to ‘that point’ consider making the move to a more central location, one where you could see yourself still being completely independent at 90. We’re all living longer.
Cook at home
As you age you become slightly less tolerant of many things (not just me I hope!). Less tolerant of ignorance, of rudeness, of overpriced goods and of badly cooked food.
Cooking at home will free you from at least of these annoyances – overpriced goods and badly cooked foods.
You’ve spent a lifetime working out what you like to eat best and how to cook it, and you know it costs less money to make it yourself than someone else cooking for you.
Meal planning – for the week ahead helps you save money by both using food you already have in your pantry and freezer AND reduces the temptation to eat out because no meal was planned.
If you find meal planning a time consuming chore or lack recipe inspiration then the $5 meals plan is a must. For just $5 a month you get a weekly meal plan, the recipes and the shopping list of ingredients.
All the meals in the $5 meal plans are perfect for seniors on a budget with meals costing less than $2 a person and often much less than that.
They are also very user friendly and include one freezer friendly, one slow cooker, and one 20-minute recipe every week.
$5 a month is less than one takeout for one person, if it stops you from getting takeout then you’ve saved money.
Age proof your home
Frugal living tips for seniors are not just about trying to save money today. They also look ahead to take account of future life changes.
As you age there are certain modifications that will make your home more suitable for your advancing years. Modifications such as:
Brighter lighting – As a younger person I was all about mood lighting, as I’ve got older I’ve noticed I need more light to read and move about.
Brighter LED lightbulbs and more overhead lighting will help. As will motion sensor lights – no more scrabbling to find the light switch!
Handrails – Living in a 2 level or more home involves stairs. A banister is great, adding a handrail on the other side of the stairs helps decrease the chance of a slip or fall.
Bathroom grab bars – I don’t consider myself too old yet (!) but when staying in a hotel and using the grab bars in their shower/baths I find myself being somewhat thankful they are there.
Especially useful for baths. My Mother recently got stuck in the bath and could not haul herself out due to the lack of grab bars.
She was in there, getting cold, for nearly an hour before she was rescued. Grab bars now duly installed.
Maintain your home
Spending money now to improve aspects of your home can be a very sensible and frugal thing to do.
For instance repairing a tiny hole in your roof is much cheaper than waiting until the whole roof needs replacing.
My parents are a little bit behind on the curve with maintaining their home and as they approach their 80’s they are now undertaking a list of works to maintain and upgrade their home.
Things they could have DIY’d are now being outsourced to others for a much higher cost.
Sometimes these frugal living tips for seniors are about spending money now to save money later.
Swedish death cleaning
Have you ever heard of Swedish death cleaning? It’s not about facing imminent death and having a good clean.
It’s about getting rid of all the ‘stuff’ you have accumulated that you really don’t need any more. You get rid so that no one has to do it after you’ve gone.
Decluttering is very cathartic. Swedish death cleaning takes decluttering up a notch.
Think about it, if you passed away tomorrow, how much stuff do you have that your loved ones would need to go through?
Every drawer, box and shelf
Every item in your attic
All those things at the back of your kitchen cupboards
The clothes you haven’t worn in years
Your garage, your shed?
When you declutter Swedish style you are not only doing your loved ones a huge favor, you are also streamlining and removing stuff from your life.
Margareta Magnusson has written a great book on the subject called The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning, you can probably get it used from Amazon or your library may stock it. It’s a very interesting read.
frugal activities for seniors
As we age, we might slow down, a little bit, but as a senior we have more time. More time to be active, to do things, to enjoy life.
But activities cost money so the more you cram into your life, the more expensive it can get. Hence free and low cost activities are one of the frugal living tips for seniors you want to focus on.
Explore your town – the benefit of moving to a different town later in life is that you have a whole new area to explore.
But even if you haven’t moved, I bet there are many undiscovered gems in your area that you are not aware of.
Museums & galleries – these are often free and have regular changes of exhibits.
Free talks – many community centers, museums and churches hold irregular, free talks on a variety of subjects.
Breakfast out – eating out, having a coffee is an enjoyable way to spend a few hours. Dinner can get expensive whereas there are many breakfast and lunch deals you can grab.
One car living – If you are used to being a 2 car couple, reducing to one car can take a little getting used but really it’s not too hard.
A little planning of your week is all it takes. And the reward is saving a lot of money over the coming years.
For more things to do with no or little money check out this post: 99+ Productive Things To Do With No Money (& Never Be Bored)
Extreme frugal living tips for seniors
Extreme frugality for seniors is not something you want to have to resort to.
Having to live extremely cheaply is often something you are forced into because your income has taken a battering. Not something you want to have as you get a bit older.
I’ve embraced many extreme frugal living tips in my time, some I still do, but as I age I definitely am moving away from being super, super frugal.
frugal living tips for seniors to enjoy life
Frugal living when you older is less about saving money for your future and more about having a good quality of life on the income you have.
It’s not about finding tips for living poor, it’s about finding the right way to live on the income you have.
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