Frugal. It’s a word that some people wear like a badge of honor, and one that others dread. In fact, when building a retirement strategy, some people are working to avoid a retirement that requires them to be frugal.
But here’s a question that means something to a lot of people: Why not both? Retirement is a reward for a lifetime of hard work, diligent planning, and some sacrifice, and you should want to enjoy it. But being frugal doesn’t mean you have to go without, and it certainly doesn’t mean your retirement has to be constrained. In fact, it’s possible that embracing frugality may make your retirement even more fun and full of potential.
But being frugal doesn’t mean you have to go without, and it certainly doesn’t mean your retirement has to be constrained. In fact, it’s possible that embracing frugality may make your retirement even more fun and full of potential.
Here are some tips from a recent article on how you can do both.1 First, it can help to define your preferred lifestyle. A good place to start is with your home. Are you going to stay put in the home you raised your children in? Or is it time to downsize to a condo or single-floor townhome?
Smaller homes require less upkeep and maintenance, which keeps more cash in your wallet. And by necessity, downsizing means you’re going to have to get rid of some of your stuff. While you might have to simply donate most of it, you may be able to sell some of it. Earning a few extra bucks here and there may make you frugal, and it may also make you happy.
Here’s another tip: If you and your spouse or partner are both retired but you each still have your own car, consider selling one of them. You’ll not only make some money off the top, but you’ll also enjoy savings with insurance, maintenance, and gas. If you’ll each need the car for solo activities, work out a schedule that keeps everyone on the same page.
Another way to take care of your retirement budget is to take care of yourself. Stay up to date on vaccinations and your annual flu shot. Exercise regularly, whether it’s a long evening walk through the neighborhood or something more strenuous like pickleball or a senior softball league. A healthy body may mean you are able to keep more of your budget away from healthcare costs, making you frugal and smart.
Finally, having plenty of fun is an essential part of retirement. Like we said earlier, you’ve worked too hard to get to retirement only to find yourself sitting on the couch, day after day, without anything to do because you don’t have the money.
But being frugal here can help, too. If your retirement is going to include plenty of golf, day trips, or other out-of-the-house activities, why not ditch cable? It’s expensive enough that if you aren’t using it a lot it’s probably not worth it. Trade cable for Netflix or Hulu, both of which provide endless hours of entertainment for a fraction of the cost of cable.
Lots of museums, concert venues, theaters, and other arts establishments offer generous senior discounts. Another option is to volunteer as an usher at your favorite venue. That way you’re getting out of the house, having some fun, and seeing a show for free.
Being frugal doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. It just means you’re making some decisions that take you closer to the retirement of your dreams.