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Wednesday, August 21, 2019

How We Can Save Money

     One way B and I save money is by paying our bills on time. We never (well, almost never) pay a late fee on a utility bill or tax bill, and every month we pay off our credit cards on time -- so no interest, no penalty.

     As an aside, we have several credit cards ... which is probably not the best way to do it. But both of us agree, we'd rather pay one bill for $500, and then a second bill for $700, rather than have to swallow one bill for $1200 all at once. I realize this makes no financial difference ... but don't you agree, it makes it easier?

     Here are a few other ways to save money. Some of them B and I practice (although, as you'll see, I don't necessarily hold us up as paragons of frugality). Others I've recently read about, or heard about. Feel free to add some others, since we could all benefit from saving a few dollars here and there.

     Vacations. Travel is expensive, and so the best way to save money is to stay at home. But we want to visit the grandkids, or go to the mountains or the beach, or take a long-dreamed-of trip to Europe. One strategy we use is to go out of season -- the beach in November or February. We have also cultivated connections. We rent the same house on Cape Cod every year, from a woman who hasn't raised our rent in the past four years. We use a rental agency in South Carolina that periodically offers seasonal or longer-term specials ... and we jump on them. One thing we do not do is frequent miles. We've never been able to figure out how they pay off. (We get cash back instead).

     Restaurants. One way to save is to go out for lunch instead of dinner, when the fare is less expensive. Unfortunately, we don't really eat much of a lunch. But when we go out to dinner we often share a plate, or skip the drink, or go for the chicken dish instead of the steak or lobster. Also, to be honest, we are not really gourmets ... we do pizza as much as anything else, and we avoid any restaurant that sports tablecloths. Also, on the rare occasion we go out for coffee, it's Dunkin' Donuts, not Starbucks.

     Transportation. We recently got our Senior Fare cards for SEPTA (Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority), and so we can ride for free -- which we did just the other day. We still have two cars; but we're talking about downsizing to one, because we hardly ever use both of them at the same time. Has anyone done this?

     Gambling. We don't gamble. That includes the state lottery.

     Clothing. B spends a lot on clothing. I spend almost nothing. It averages out.

     Entertainment. I play golf in a league, which always negotiates a better rate than the normal greens fees. I also play ping pong for $5 a night at the senior center. B does a lot of her entertainment at her church, which is largely free. We also get the senior rate at our local movie theater. However, I did just spend a fortune to buy two tickets to the quarterfinals at the U. S. Open in a couple of weeks. Don't do that if you want to save money. (I'm guessing it's a similar story for football tickets, but I don't know for sure, I've never been to a professional football game.)

     Souvenirs. See above, the item for clothing.

     Haircuts. According to Brandongaille Marketing the average man's haircut costs $28.30 -- plus tip, presumably. I go to an old-fashioned barber shop located in the parking lot of a mini-mall, and I pay $17 plus $3 tip for $20 total. I honestly don't know what B pays (what, you think I'm gonna ask her?!?) but she doesn't go to the fanciest place in town, and her hair looks great!

     Storage units. In my opinion, keeping stuff in a storage unit only means that you haven't made the hard decisions. And not making decisions costs you money. We rented a storage unit for a year, when we were between moves, and that lightened our wallet by over $200 a month. Fortunately, we now have that monkey off our backs.

     Gym membership. Well . . . it all depends on whether you use it or not.

     Grandchildren. B sends her grandchildren a book every month. (Remember, she's a retired librarian.) That may sound like a lot, but really, it's only a few bucks. I don't have any grandchildren yet, so my cost so far is $0.00 per month. But my first grandchild is on the way, and B thinks I'm going to be a pushover. We'll see . . .


Juhli said...

Love your list!

We went to one car when we moved 2 1/2 years ago with the decision that if it became a problem by restricting what either of us was able to do then we would get a 2nd one. So far no need. When scheduling things that can happen at any time we check each other's calendar. Local buses have been used as has carpooling with friends. There is always Lyft if we are truly stuck. I didn't think it would work but so far it has.

DJan said...

Hubby and I still have two cars, but we hardly drive them, so we have a discount from the insurance company for driving less than 5,000 miles annually. I also ride the bus often (free), but we have different enough styles that it wouldn't work for us to have only one car. I have a gym membership (which I use), but it's also free because my Medicare Advantage plan has Silver Sneakers and it pays for it. :-)

DavidH said...

One thing I love about my medical insurance, Humana, is that it includes a free gym membership to Twenty Four Hour Fitness which has seven locations within a thirty minute drive. Humana is the advantage plan with the many wonderful benefits that does not cost anything other than the $135.50 Medicare fee. They even give you gift cards for going to the gym! My brother and you spend a lot for medical insurance and I have to wonder is it because we live in the best state in the union - HAWAII!

Janis @ RetirementallyChallenged said...

Saving money is in my DNA. I think even if I won the lottery (not likely since we don't play) I'd still look for deals and ways to save. It's really a matter of not wanting to waste... money, time, or energy on things that don't make me happy. Have you thought of home exchanges or house/pet sitting as ways to travel for very little money?

Olga said...

I have recently started using my credit card for everything. I pay it off every month and i get points to use but the reason is that I prefer to write the one check rather than having to spend time a few times each week entering debit card purchases in my checkbook. The less math I have in my life these days the better for me.

Niculina McClanahan said...

Oh, you have broken down some good ways to save money. My husband and I have been with one car since 2011 and we don’t ever feel we need a second one. We take turns using it for personal matters and when we travel, we travel together anyway. If we really need another car, we rent one out for a day or so, but that has happened only once in over 8 years.
We love to travel the world, so we do what I call a cluster-traveling, to avoid paying for plane tickets back and forth too many times.When we go to Europe, we stay a month or more and visit a cluster of countries that are close to each other. We use only AirBnB and trains/busses/ metro to move around. At some point we spent 6 weeks in Italy and we picked Bologna as our logistics base for a month because it’s a major hub and it’s kind of in the middle of the country. With a train pass, we went on day trips to Venice, Florence, Cinque Terre, Sienna,...everywhere we wanted. The last 2 weeks we stayed in Milan and used it as a base to visit the northern Italy and part of Switzerland. Cluster traveling gives us enough time to really experience the culture and learn a lot about each region. We budget for a couple of years and then we go.
We monitor airline fares and buy tickets when there are promotions.
And we also keep the eating out to a minimum.

Tabor said...

I have become lazier in saving money as now the children are grown and college is paid for and our retirement income is generous. We only spend big on travel. We eat out once in a while. I do spend on the grands, but that is only once or twice a year.

Tom said...

We don't do Medicare Advantage, we have regular supplemental. But we should look into it if nothing else for the Silver Sneakers which sounds like a great benefit. Six weeks in Italy? Oh boy, now you've got me thinking!

Dick Klade said...

We went to one car 10 years ago and have yet to experience a problem. We also altered out dining out strategy to go primarily for lunches with only an occasional dinner, a complete switch in our lifestyle in that regard. After about a year we adapted completely to the new regime. We also stay on the lookout for restaurant coupons and specials and seldom pay a full price for lunches. We also use coupons for grocery shopping, but only those for items we truly want.

With those economies we have plenty of spare cash to visit casinos occasionally, take in any local events of interest, and travel internationally occasionally.

Arkansas Patti said...

Had to smile at your reasoning for two credit cards. I do the same with my gas tank. Frequent fill ups when 1/4 down seems less painful that filling up on empty. My brother laughs but to me for it is the same dollar amount but it just feels better.

gigi-hawaii said...

I don't drive my car very much, but am hesitant to sell it right now. In 7 years I will be 80 years old, and I might sell it at that time.

Anonymous said...

Be careful with the Medicare advantage plans as they do look good but most only cover you in the county you reside in. At least that is the case in AZ. If you still travel and have a medical issue you can be liable. Happened to friends of ours on a short trip from Phoenix to Flagstaff and it was an expensive lesson.

Celia said...

Grandkids are the hole in my budget. I used to take them shopping for their birthdays when they were small but quit that because I couldn't turn down those tiny faces that lit up at something twice what I planned on spending. :-)

I also found a three-day a week exercise class offered to over 60's for free at our senior center who managed to get a grant for it.

Otherwise my budget control is mainly not shopping.

Keri said...

We are fortunate that while I am still working, my husband who is ten years older than me has retired. He has two pensions, one military and the other from his civilian government job. He saved a lot of money through the thrift savings plan and our monthly expenses are less than the money coming in without touching the retirement nest egg. So we do need two vehicles, my car and his truck which we need for the farm, with chickens, bee and the garden equipment. We are doing a lot of canning and freezing fruits and veggies. Our hair care is reasonable, I buy good quality shampoo, conditioner and oil for my hair. Hubby has been cutting my hair for me since we first started dating as well as his own so there are no expensive salon bills or bad haircuts. He also gives my teen boys their monthly haircuts and I get asked where they get their haircuts as he does such a great job. My mom, who though home haircuts was low class, finally admitted that hubby is an excellent stylist and asked him to cut her hair for her last year as he does a better job than the salon that charged her $75 and did an awful job. Funny that she fawned over how nice her hair looked and she was so smart saving the money. He gets asked by my friends to cut their hair and I tell them to ask him yourself, I am not making promises for him. But he is ok with doing them, but I don’t want strange women just showing up at the house.
We do our own snow cleaning up and pretty mich al, we can. We don’t do dental work or surgery though.

Wisewebwoman said...

Brilliant list.

Though I do cheaper even.

My hair is long and put up so no hairstyles now. And I'm happy with that.

Thrift shop clothing.

I wait a while for the perfect -----. Recently it was a pair of shoes, I have odd wide feet and finally found a pair (2 years!) that were on sale and fit perfectly.

Like you I get cashback on my credit card, I use it for everything and pay it off monthly, airmiles have never made sense.

I make a list of things that delight me and don't cost me anything.

I ask for senior discounts everywhere as many don't display that they do and I like planting the idea that they should offer them.


Barbara said...

Grandchildren can definitely be a high item. I think sending books monthly is a great idea. I almost always go to the library when the Grand Girls come over but for birthdays and holidays I mostly give books. I can keep up with what they are reading by our trips to the library but there are also many good sites that make book recommendations, I believe whatever I buy the Grands is like an adventure with memories because I get to relive the gift with them.

Snowbrush said...

I enjoyed getting to know you better through this post, which served as a reminder that if I lost Peggy, I probably wouldn't remarry and have to deal with working through issues around many things, none of them more important than money. I'll just address a few of the headings.

Peggy cuts my hair and I cut hers, and both of us would question the wisdom of our marital choice if the other took up gambling any amount for any reason aside from the occasional charity-sponsored drawing.

For clothing, would it be just too low-end for me to inquire as to whether B has considered charity-run thrift stores as an option that's cheap, environmentally friendly, isn't based upon sweatshop labor, and permits more options than any single new clothing store?

Eating out--I would never ever eat out as preferable to staying home where I would know whether the cook washed his hands, and I could watch a very old movie while I ate. So, what eating out Peggy does, she does with friends with the exception of her birthday when I happily go with her to anyplace she chooses. Neither of us ever buys any kind of drink to go with our food.

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