Are you struggling to make ends meet? Well, I can assure you from personal experience and from maintaining two retirement blogs that there are millions of other retirees out there having the same problem as you.
Many of us didn’t have to struggle as much when we worked so we didn’t have to watch our budget so closely. But now things have changed and we are having to look for ways to stretch our dollars. There are many ways to save money but it’s difficult training ourselves to apply the new tricks we learn and a lot of us aren’t willing to spend the time and effort.
… But there are ways to make our money go farther.
Linda Manley has some great suggestions for saving money by spending time. Let’s see how we can apply her suggestions to our lives.
Thrifty Retirement – Spend Time, Save Money
By Linda Manley
When it comes right down to it, most things in life are a trade-off of time and money. Most of us today pay others (save time) to do things we could do ourselves (save money). At one extreme, none of us wants to grow our own cotton, spin the thread, weave the fabric, cut the cloth, and sew our own clothing. ‘Way back when, our ancestors did just that. At the other extreme, few of us have servants to lay out our clothes, draw our bath, and fill our sherry glass. Most of us are somewhere between these two polar opposites. And in between lay the opportunities for savings.
Simple example: eating out. We are all perfectly capable of fixing our own food (save money). Now that we’re retired, we have plenty of time to do that, but at least a couple times a week, we pay others to do that (save time). It takes time to prepare a meal: plan, shop, cook, serve, clean up. If we don’t think we have the time, we pay others for their time.
In the kitchen, you can save money by buying in bulk and repacking into meal-sized or recipe-sized portions (save money). You can buy whole chickens and cut them up yourself. Dice and chop your own vegetables and fruits, rather than buying cored, peeled pineapple in a plastic container or cantaloupe in tidy little cubes (save time). Frozen chopped onions are convenient, but you can buy three pounds of fresh onions and dice your own for the same cost as a 12-oz. bag of pre-diced.
Another example: personal grooming. How about haircuts? We all go to someone else to cut our hair (save time). We could do it ourselves, but, good grief, how would we look!? If you had been cutting your own hair since you were 20 (save money), you’d probably look just fine. It’s not too late to learn. If you are talented with your hands (sewing, drawing, painting, woodworking, decorating cakes), you can probably do a passable job of haircutting.
Hair coloring to hide our emerging gray? We can do that at home (save money), but many of us hire someone else to do it (save time).
Nail care takes only an emery board, a nail clipper, and a bottle of polish at home (save money). At a salon, it takes at least $30 for someone to do that for us (save time).
Simple auto care is a time vs. money area and a common do it yourself task. We can fill our own tanks, check our own tire pressure, and change our own oil (save money). Rotating tires is a long and dirty job and most of us pay someone else to do that (save time), but as retirees, we have the time, if we want to spend it.
Yard care is a familiar time vs. money area. Of course, we can mow our own lawns, rake our own leaves, and trim our own shrubs (save money). It’s good exercise for us in retirement and we can make sure the work meets our own picky standards. But many of us hire someone to do that (save time), whether it is a neighborhood teenager or a professional lawn service.
Most home repairs are simple enough to do ourselves (save money). Need to fix a leaky faucet? Spend time on the Internet to find all the information you need. Brand new faucets come with do-it-yourself instructions (save money). You can paint walls, fix a light switch, replace a doorknob, scrub your deck, and unclog a toilet. Or you can pay someone else to do those things (save time).
If you are serious about sticking to your budget and you want to retire on the cheap, you should be serious about investing your time to save your money.
Copyright 2010, Linda Manley
Linda Manley, a retired university research director, writes website articles on topics that interest her, such as retiring in warm places, staying fit and healthy, and saving money while doing both. You can find more of her articles at http://www.CheapPlacestoRetire.com
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