Saving money means different things to different people. Long-term or short-term? In your home or out and about? Supplementing your income or cutting back on costs? Whatever method or series of methods work best for you, here are a dozen money-saving tips that seniors can implement to make your lifestyle more budget-friendly.
Get a Roommate or Sublet
Getting a roommate can help minimize a wide variety of expenses. From rent and groceries to utilities and transportation, splitting the cost of monthly expenses can really take the load off your wallet. Having a roommate also means sharing household chores. Sharing the labor required to keep the home neat and tidy can save you time, as well as the money you save by splitting the rent. As an added bonus, it can be really comforting to have company around the house. Having a dear friend to eat dinner with, run errands with, and share ideas with can transform a house into a home. Human beings are social creatures, and having company around can quell the parts of us that feel lonely.
You may already have some company in your home, like a spouse or a partner, and you’re just looking to put your extra space to work. Subletting or renting out a portion of your home to someone looking for a place to stay can be a great way to earn a little extra income. People all over the world have begun opening their doors to prospective tenants using services like Airbnb and have found a successful side hustle in renting out their extra rooms. And, even though the pandemic has made services like Airbnb a little bit harder to come by, it’s a money-making prospect that is worth keeping in mind.
Do you have extra space, but don’t want to get a roommate? Subletting isn’t for you? Maybe it’s time to consider downsizing. Extra space that isn’t working for you can eat away at your money in unexpected ways: you end up heating and air conditioning an under-utilized space, and if you’re paying rent, you’re paying for the square footage you don’t really need. And, since you have the extra space, you might find yourself trying to fill it with furniture or items that you don’t need or use. This combination of unused space and items can chip away at your wallet over time, and it could be best to consider selling or donating your extra, unused items and moving into a smaller home or apartment.
The process of downsizing doesn’t exclusively apply to those looking to move into smaller homes or apartments; it can also apply to you if you find yourself looking around a room full of your belongings and thinking, “when is the last time I used this?” Everyone can benefit from a little tidying up, and there’s no better time to spruce up your living quarters than during this pandemic, considering we spend the majority of our time at home anyway. Take a look through your old knickknacks, furniture, clothing items, and really ask yourself if you need those things anymore. Like Marie Kondo, author of The Illustrated Guide to The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up says, does it spark joy? If not, then belonging be gone!
Get a Smart Thermostat
Take a look around your living space. What appliances and electronics could be picking away at your savings? What can be done to minimize the costs of keeping your home cozy and comfortable? From energy-saving appliances to unplugging electronics you’re not using (learn more about vampire energy and how it can be costing you here!), there are plenty of ways you can make your living space more budget-friendly. But sometimes one of the largest money-eaters can be easily overlooked. Air conditioning and heating use a lot of energy, and if you aren’t mindful of the air in your home running on auto-pilot, it can cost you serious cash in the long-run. Enter: the smart thermostat.
Smart thermostats are aware of the temperature in the room and can adjust to your personalized comfort level, and these little gadgets do that while also stabilizing temperature changes to save you energy and money. It’s easy to forget that we left lights on, or the air conditioner running, but knowing that you can trust your smart thermostat to monitor your home’s energy levels can be a load off of your mind and your wallet.
Regifting and Reselling
While you’re downsizing, consider what you can do with all of the items that you’re getting rid of. From regifting to reselling, recycling to repurposing, there are plenty of things you can do to save or make money with the items you decide to let go of during the downsizing process. Depending on how gently those items were used, you might find a money-making opportunity through online marketplaces like Facebook Marketplace or eBay, or through a clothing consignment store that will pay you for your gently used clothing.
If you’d rather not go through the trouble of reselling, regifting is a great option especially if the items have never been used, or are like new. Over the years, it’s easy to accumulate items like lotions, jewelry, wallets, and more, that never end up being used; consider gifting these to the people around you who may have a special occasion or birthday coming up. This way, you save money on the gift, and the item finds a great new home. There’s also a real feeling of joy to give an item you’re not using to a friend who can use it.
Shop at Second-hand Stores and Garage Sales
If you find yourself in need of some new items, be it clothing or furniture or any number of things, second-hand stores are great places to take a peek. Consignment stores like Goodwill and The Arc offer daily deals and discounts on already marked-down clothing and houseware, and usually, these stores have a designated day of the week when seniors receive an extra discount. Take a look at your local selection of consignment shops to see what deals they may offer senior citizens.
Rummaging and meandering around consignment stores not really your style? Garage sales can also offer some great finds. Take yourself out for an early-morning stroll around your neighborhood, and see what deals you can find. One of the greatest perks of garage sales is being able to barter with your friendly neighborhood sellers, so if you want to maximize your savings, you can try your hand at negotiating the prices on the great finds you might come across while prowling your local garage sales.
Cook Instead of Going Out
After a long day of scoping out garage sales or cleaning out the second bedroom, it can be challenging to get up the motivation to make a home-cooked meal. Ordering pizza or Chinese takeout sounds like the ideal way to relax in the evenings, but it’s far from ideal for your wallet. Cooking-instead of going out to eat or ordering takeout-can save you heaps of money in the long run. You’re going to be buying groceries no matter what, so make sure that none of that food goes to waste by cooking up a delicious meal at home.
If you’re concerned about maintaining the motivation it takes to cook for yourself every night, you might find meal prepping incredibly convenient. Meal prepping has become recently popular for how convenient and budget-friendly it can be; all you have to do is spend a few hours at the beginning of the week where you cook all of your meals at once. Typically, meal preppers cook one or two different types of meat/proteins to center the meal on, then a variety of sides that can be paired with the proteins. But, if you’re concerned about meal-prepping potentially meaning that you’ll be eating the same thing every day, you can attempt a modified version of meal prep that can cut down on cook prep time in the long term. For instance, you can cut up your vegetables and cook your meats beforehand so that when the time comes later in the week, all you have to do is throw the ingredients together.
Why not cut down on costs from the comfort of your home, all while getting in some daily activity outside? Gardening offers a potentially calming pastime under the sun and yields literal fruits of your labor. It’s a great activity, as well as a fun way to save some money on fresh produce and spices. If you find that you’re not the proud owner of a green thumb, or if you don’t have the option to garden outdoors, there are plenty of ways to bring your garden indoors. Plants like basil and mint can be kept indoors year-round, and make for great little garnishes or add-ins to a wide array of dishes.
Cancel Cable and use Streaming Services
Switching from cable to streaming services has become more and more popular for TV-lovers; streaming services means the ability to binge-watch your favorite shows back-to-back, watching whatever you want whenever you want, and doing it all without commercials. Satellite TV and cable have recently become obsolete, since television shows, movies, and news can all be found with a click of the button. Even the most obscure content is searchable and binge-able, with the right streaming service at your fingertips.
The most popular streaming services are Netflix and Hulu, which cost $8.99/month and $5.99/month, respectively. Compared to cable, which on average can cost anywhere from $20 to $85, changing over to a service like Netflix or Hulu (or both) can save you serious cash, with savings starting at $10 monthly. Even if you were to get both Netflix and Hulu (which means access to all of the most popular shows and movies), you’d still be spending less than you would on the least expensive cable package, and saving at least $5/month.
Senior discounts are a huge perk, and there are all sorts of places that offer senior discounts that you can take advantage of. Even if they don’t have their senior discounts or hours openly listed, it never hurts to ask the cashier or waiter or store-representative what discounts and deals may be offered to senior citizens. From restaurants to movie theaters, zoos to amusement parks, remember to see what ways you can save at the establishments you frequent every week.
Travel to National Parks
Speaking of senior discounts, national parks offer some great deals. The National Parks Service offers a Lifetime Senior Pass for $80, which grants access to more than 2,000 recreational sites across the United States. The pass covers entrance fees and standard amenity fees and allows travel companions to enter for free, too. Up to three adult companions in a non-commercial vehicle can enter the park under the Lifetime Senior Pass, which makes for a great deal considering the Annual Pass is $80/year for non-seniors and only a one-time payment of $80 for seniors who want the Lifetime Senior Pass. If you’d prefer to save a little bit in the short-term, though, the Annual Senior Pass is only $20/year. So, you get to make the call: $20/year for the Annual Senior Pass, or $80 for the Lifetime Senior Pass, which will pay for itself over 4 years of use. No matter your choice, looking into senior discounted passes into National Parks is a great way to get outside, get active, and save a few bucks while you’re at it.
Get Rid of Your Car
Finding ways to save money relies heavily on the resources you have available. Do you have a backyard or green space? Considering planting a garden. Do you have an extra bedroom? Perhaps renting out that space can get you a little extra income. Do you live in a city with accessible public transportation, or a town with a lot of walkability? Maybe it’s time to consider getting rid of your car.
More and more seniors are selling their cars and taking to ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft or seeking out public transport. Ride-sharing services specifically intended for senior citizens are also becoming more popular: GoGoGrandparent is a service that offers rides to seniors without requiring the use of a smartphone or mobile app. All you have to do is call 1 (855) 464-6872, and GoGoGrandparent will connect you with Ubers or Lyfts in your area and indicate where you’d like to be picked up. The service is only $9.99/month, and also offers access to other delivery services like PostMates and UberEats without the need to navigate a mobile app.
Getting a gym membership is all about saving money in the long-term. Going to the gym is a great way to get out of the house and get active, no matter the weather or season. Just as an apple a day keeps the doctor away, going to the gym and staying active is a great way to work on your health, and, hopefully, offset the costs of medical bills by minimizing the chances of needing a visit to the doctor. Also, since you’ll be paying a monthly membership, it’s a great way to stay motivated to go to the gym since you’re paying for the membership either way.
Whether you’re looking to save money in the long-term or the short-term, there are at least a dozen ways you can make your life more budget-friendly. From your home to your diet to your social life, there are always ways to save a little extra money.
Article by Rhianna DeVries