16 Frugal Habits That Have Made Retirement Even Better

Rebecca Holcomb

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Ah, retirement. Those twenty-five or thirty years after you hit the age to fully withdraw Social Security when you can sit back, relax, and enjoy life's splendor. But it can also be a time of extreme anxiety, heightened stress, and financial difficulty.

If you're looking toward retirement with a less-than-stellar financial report, learning to be frugal with your spending now can help you improve your retirement years. Thankfully, we're here to help. Even if you've already adopted a frugal mindset and minimalistic lifestyle, there may be a few things you'd like to improve on, and we've just the list here to offer some assistance.

1. Budgeting Like a Pro

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Learning how to manage your money is worthwhile when you decide to retire. There may be better times to learn, but there's no time like now. By creating a carefully planned budget, you'll be able to understand better where your money is going.

This activity will allow you to plan for unexpected emergencies and enjoy all those fun, adventurous activities you're looking forward to. By learning to budget effectively early in your retirement, you can better ensure that your money lasts and is still there when you need it.

2. Cooking at Home

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Eating out is excellent. You get to take the night off and enjoy a lovely atmosphere. However, you can also rack up a hefty expense. Two or three times a week, and that pace will eat away at your best-laid financial plans.

The great thing about cooking at home is that it's a learnable skill. Even if you don't consider yourself a great cook and steer clear of the kitchen on most occasions, you can learn to sustain your dietary needs.

3. Embracing DIY Projects

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If you want a way to get a little satisfaction in your retirement years, there's one surefire way to get there. Learn something new or complete a back-burner project yourself. Whether you've wanted to do a vehicle rebuild on that classic car stored in your garage or you need to put a new coat of paint on your house, doing these projects yourself can have a two-fold reward benefit.

Not only will you feel immensely accomplished and satisfied once you've completed these projects, but you'll also save considerable money learning or doing them yourself.

4. Downsizing Living Spaces

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Many retirees quickly realize that the home they used while raising their children is too big. Downsizing can be pretty lucrative, especially if your “family home” is paid off. If you don't intend to leave the home to anyone, you can sell it, pocket the profit, and add that to your nest egg.

After you sell your larger home and find a suitable apartment or smaller home, it'll be easier to pay those bills upfront without worrying about money for the year.

5. Exploring Senior Discounts

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One of the cool things about turning 65 in the US is all the discounts you can take advantage of. Some of these discounts even start as young as 50 or 55. As an older adult, you can get cheaper airfare rates, cell phone bills, favorite clothing, and even deals at places like Home Depot and Lowe's.

You can save a bundle over a year when you use these senior discounts on clothes, home repair supplies, and other monthly bills. Add those savings to your investments to help your money grow even more.

6. Opting for Public Transportation

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Depending on where you live, public transportation can be a viable asset for those looking to save and pinch their pennies in retirement. It can also be a great way to meet new people, enjoy interesting conversations, and travel safely without worrying about gas or car maintenance.

Even in rural communities, healthcare insurance often pays for transportation to doctors or hospital visits if you set them up beforehand. Even if you keep a car for emergencies, these conveyance services can still positively affect your finances.

7. Staying Healthy on a Budget

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One complaint you'll often hear about eating healthy is that healthy food is expensive. This assumption is correct but doesn't tell the whole truth either. For seniors, saving money at the grocery store can mean being able to afford healthier food options. From store reward programs to in-season fruits and vegetables, older adults have plenty of ways to save on food and other perishable items.

Eating healthy on a budget often entails being picky about where and when you buy your food, having a plan in mind before you start, and even meal prepping to know what needs to be purchased. It might take stopping at three or four stores, but finding the right combination of food prices and store stops is possible.

8. Utilizing Library Resources

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Libraries are full of excellent resources for seniors. In addition to picking up a great book to read, older adults can also access the internet, get current tax information, and even rent a movie.

Taking advantage of ebooks, courses, specialized programs, and other available resources allows seniors access to lifelong learning, critical social interactions, and the Internet. Using online library resources is also an excellent way for senior citizens to access all the library resources from their homes. This feature is essential for those 65 and over to keep their minds sharp with easy-to-use assets that can help them connect to friends, family, and community.

9. Shopping Smart

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It's relatively easy to find deals on food, especially if you are a couponer or like clipping coupons. This activity can also help older adults save on everything from toiletries to household goods. Scouring the internet for digital coupons and online shopping deals can also help older citizens save on home essentials.

Discount stores are also an excellent way for seniors to save. Retailers like Walmart and Big Lots often have lower prices on everything from housewares to laundry and kitchen supplies, as well as food and baby items.

10. Investing in Quality Instead of Quantity

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As you age and your nest empties, money gets a little easier. This “freedom” lets you focus more on quality products than quantity. You may spend a couple hundred dollars more on shoes that last twice as long. You may also purchase a higher quality electronic device or a better cellphone plan.

By doing this, you can spend a little to save a lot in the long run. This shift in focus can offer significant savings for frugally-minded seniors looking to upgrade their tech, home, or comfort devices.

11. Freeze Your Property Taxes

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Having a safe, warm place to live shouldn't concern older adults. However, many Americans worry about losing their homes because of rising property taxes. The good news is that many states have programs to help seniors significantly reduce or even freeze their property taxes. 

Visit your housing authority or government office to learn more about programs that might help you reduce your property tax liability. 

12. Embracing Minimalism

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Learning to live minimally is an excellent way for seniors to reduce stress. Decluttering your home and life can reduce stress and help you better organize your home. Often, when you declutter, you'll be able to sell some of your unused items and make a bit of money off these items as well.

If you are already well-off, you can donate valuable items to Goodwill or your local charity to help other older adults. Minimalist living can also promote overall health and well-being, allowing seniors to embrace their golden years enthusiastically and with vigor.

13. DIY Home Maintenance

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Buying a home is part of the American dream. However, keeping up with home repairs as you age can be difficult. There are ways to help ensure you can still look after your home property.

Build gardens to be beautiful with an easy, large layout. Give walkways and pathways plenty of space, and use stepping stones where applicable. Repaint your home with soft colors, creating a relaxing atmosphere. Choose easy-to-complete upgrades, like declogging your gutters and caulking around doors and windows. Leave the big-ticket items like plumbing and electrical to the experts.

14. Cultivating Hobbies That Pay

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Making money concerns many seniors as they begin to look at retirement. The idea of not having disposable or dependable income can be scary, mainly if you haven't saved enough for retirement or if you don't have much paid into Social Security.

Some well-paying hobbies you could enjoy might include arts and crafts like pottery or painting, photography, upcycling (turning regular items into something unique using paint or other mediums), handyman or sewing services, local tour guide, dog walker, pet sitter or music/school tutor, cooking classes, cook for time-stressed families or sell baked goods.

15. Taking Advantage of Free Entertainment

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Like the rest of us, seniors love a good time, and finding a way to do those enjoyable activities on a budget is even better. Local museums often offer a free or discounted night for older adults, and open mic night at a nearby coffee shop can be a great time.

Finding a community with similar interests, like a book gardening club or volunteer group, offers ways to give back to a younger generation while doing something you genuinely enjoy. You can also learn a new skill, like playing the piano or singing, acting, painting, drawing, or dancing.

16. Grow Your Fruit and Vegetables

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Gardening is one of the most enjoyable and rewarding activities a senior can take advantage of. Not only do you get to dig in the dirt and nurture your plants as they grow, you'll learn a lot about yourself and how to care for your garden. You'll also be able to use those vegetables, flowers, or fruits in ways that will make you happy.

Gardening is not for the faint of heart. It takes time and patience to get it just right. However, this enjoyable hobby will give you more than you'll invest in the long run. 

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