When I retired one of the big things I wanted to focus on was better budgeting and learning to be frugal. I decided that if I was going to retire at age 60, we were going to have to learn a few lessons here. I knew our income was going to be less than we were used to and those spur of the moment frivilous purchases were going to have to be a thing of the past. I wanted to pare down our spending in order to do things we love and enjoy our retirement.
This really should not be that hard for me as I come from a family that knows about being frugal. My parents are pretty well off now in their later years but that is because of knowing how to be frugal. My Mom is from the Maritimes in Canada and man they know about this topic down there! My Dad grew up in small town Saskatchewan during the depression and he knows this topic also. I grew up being frugal. We did not have extra money to spend on unnecessary items. So it is not going to be too difficult to incorporate some different strategies into our budgeting.
Here are some successes so far:
- One thing that has been a success has been grocery shopping. Just putting more thought into what I purchase, making meal plans and lists and watching prices has helped. I find that the meal planning and prep has really made a difference in eating out as well. I am enjoying making things that take more time to do. Things I didn’t have time to make when I worked. I have made a lot of soups this winter. Economical and they go far. Love, love home made soup. I also find that we waste so much less food now. We are using up whatever we have. It is amazing what you can do with a little of this and that with a little thought put into it.
- We have not had meals out nearly as much, so saved money here for sure. The meal planning is paying off.
- General household spending is down. We are tending to put more thought into things and figuring out how we can accomplish something and still spend less money. More DIY projects. More checking around for pricing before buying. We are trying the old “wait a day and see if you still feel the same about a prospective purchase”. I really enjoy the satisfaction I get from repurposing something or finding a used item for a fraction of the cost of buying new.
- We have saved money on gas for the vehicle by being more aware of running into town all the time. We are trying to combine 2 or 3 errands into 1 trip. Our goal is to go into town only once a week instead of constantly driving back and forth. This is working out for the most part. Sometimes it can’t be helped if there is something unexpected that has come up but as a general rule it is saving us gas money.
- We have saved money by using reward point cards, airmiles and the like. Paying attention to this can really help. I use a reward card at the drug store I frequent. I save up the points and then use them to purchase things like a moisture cream that is more expensive than I would normally buy or extra out of budget items. I collect airmiles at my grocery store. Last Christmas I was able to buy a whole load of groceries using the miles. This came in really handy as we had a houseful of company. We use a reward mastercard that issues us a companion air ticket once a year for $99.00. We have made use of this on several occasions.
- Planning out future expenses. I am learning to wait for things. I really want to jazz up our laundry room. I have some ideas in mind already. The old me would just go ahead and do it. But the new reality is that it will have to wait for a bit. Same thing with our back yard. We did accomplish some things back there. But that is enough for this year. We will do some more things next year. It can wait. And I am OK with that.
Here are some areas that have not worked out so well and need work:
- Travel expenses. This area has mixed results. We have saved by using our reward mastercard points and companion tickets. We have saved by booking flights as far ahead as we could. We have saved by checking around for pricing on rental cars. Doing that saved us quite a bit on a 3 week car rental in Kauai recently. So some successes. I feel we can do better in this category however. Getting a better grip on packing all our things into carry on luggage is something we are working on. Not interested in paying for checking luggage. I think we can do better with food costs when away from home. Less meals in restaurants is a key here. Also doing more research into what things we can do while visiting that are free. For instance we are going to the UK this summer and there are lots of museums and attractions that are free. Jury is still out on this one. We will see how we do.
- Decorating our new home. I needed to purchase some area rugs for our new home. In the past we have spent extra to buy carpets that are low VOC or hypo allergenic as my husband is really sensitive to the chemicals used in carpeting. This time in my quest to be frugal, I purchased 2 carpets that were shall we say on the inexpensive side. I do like the carpets and the quality for the price is good. However husband has not been happy with the off gassing of these carpets. So bit of a fail there. But cost wise was good and the off gassing is minimizing. (Hopefully he lives through the process!)
- Budgeting. I think we have work to do in this area. We need to sit down and discuss this. Sometimes we are going in different directions in our spending. I will have an idea in my head how funds will be disbursed for the month. I look after the bills and bank accounts. Then all of a sudden, husband will purchase something he needs and there goes my plan. So better communication on this is necessary.
- Cell phone. I think we are spending too much on this. Our needs are not the same as when I worked and we need to work on getting this bill lower.
- Emergency Fund. I think this is one thing we have failed hugely on. Since our move to our new house, we have had all the usual things to buy when one moves. Also some big vacations to pay for. But I will get there.Not having to go into our investments for things will be a plus. Having 6 months of expenses sitting in a savings account is the goal. That way when things come up, the money is there. Like husbands new lenses we had to pay for today!
Keep it simple. An example here is our back yard. We are working on it now and we have said, oh let’s put up a pergola with plants growing on it and get some patio stone and make a little courtyard kind of area, and on and on. Oh and a fire table and, and,and. Do we really need all this? After discussing this several times over we decided that no we didn’t. After all we are going to be travelling a lot for the next couple of summers and won’t be here anyway. As long as we have a decent patio area to sit out in and some planters and a few shrubs, we are happy. So dodged a bullet there. Keeping it simple is sometimes the best way.
On the whole I think we are doing OK at making our new income work in our life now that we are both retired. The key is to give things more thought and really plan out how we will spend our money. Not going to lie, we have more work to do on budgeting. It is true that you adapt and make it work, after all what choice do we have? I have no plans to go back to work, that is for sure!