Whether you’re already retired or thinking about it for the near future, we need to determine how to live on retirement. The number crunch game is a game you can win – if you’re smart.
The number crunch game! Game over?
If you’re an older boomer, you might already be in retirement mode or seriously thinking about it. Before you do, make sure you read my article 6 Biggest Retirement Mistakes – Don’t Do These! – – Or, if you’re a younger pup like me, retirement is just up the block and around the corner. One thing I’ve noticed in my research over the past few years, is that a large percentage of us are at a grave disadvantage with our finances. We need to find viable and meaningful ways to live on retirement, on our terms. If you’ve hung around here a bit, you know my tragic story of not saving for my future. I truly thought I had more time… and here I am, already. I’m unprepared.
Also, I’ve recently joined the ranks of being over 50 and unemployed. In thinking over the dire consequences of my financial situation, I’ve come to the realization that I need to ramp up my earning potential and seek options to pad my non-existent wealth; I also need to find ways to further crunch-down my spending. That’s when I decided to start my own blog and online business about baby boomer retirement, and our looming shadow of potential unemployment as we hit that “downsized” category.
However, another thing surfaced during this transition… I figured out that we don’t need as much money to live on as I thought! Me and the hubby have been living TIGHT on my paltry weekly unemployment checks – but we are definitely getting by. Shocker actually. We have reverted deeper into living thrifty and we find it’s only a tiny struggle. All we had to do was number crunch!
Be a savvy saver
We were smart with the money we do have. For instance… we have never spent our income tax refund on frivolities. We always put that money into an emergency fund. It grew to be quite hefty (in our terms). So, when we relocated to a new state last year, we had enough to pay cash for long-distance professional movers, we used cash as a down payment on our new home (by the way, we also bought 30% LESS house than we were approved for), and we still had plenty money left over to feel decent. (Note: we didn’t use credit cards for any of it). Then we instantly replaced that money as quickly as possible – and we did it in about a year and a half.
Remember I just said we replaced our savings quickly? I got to thinking about that today. This is how it broke down (d0n’t laugh, we don’t have much):
- In 2014 we saved an additional: $3,750 = about $150 per paycheck
- Income tax refund 2014: $2,500
- In 2015 we saved additional from scrimping by: $3,750 = about $150 per paycheck
- Income tax refund 2015: $3,000 (write offs moving and purchasing new home)
We have credit cards – but no debt. They all have zero balance, in case you were wondering. Living on unemployment has been easier because we have a small savings (of cold hard cash) to pad our necessities. Another thing we noticed, we had forgotten how to live CHEAP and well under our means. We definitely had some cuts to make. So here is my outtake on this.
We lived comfortable on $300 less per month when I was working – because we shoved money into savings and didn’t touch it. But now that I’m unemployed… I noticed that we still spent WAY TOO MUCH of our money on crap!
So I crunched the numbers
Since my husband was freaking out about our money situation, I number crunched and figured out we could cut up to $400 a month in spending if we stopped doing BS crap. But look – check it out. If you can save $13 bucks a day, that’s $400 a month. Do the math! That’s about $4,800 smacks a year! GASP (in a good way)!
This is what I crunched off the top of my head:
- I cook all your meals at home. This will save you $13 a day right off the top. Stop eating out for Pete’s sake! Eat at home and light candles for ambience.
Grill your own BBQ. We grill out almost every night and all year long.
- Cut out all (ok, or most) of the goodies (it’s bad for you anyway).
- We NEED nothing – seriously. At our age – WE NEED NOTHING. Period. Unless it’s health care. 🙂
- We went for a drive yesterday and the shopping malls were PACKED! What the heck do you really need?? A new purse??!
- Be budget friendly shopping for grocery (using coupons and freebie days). Also;
- We plan our meals ahead of time.
- Take a list! Do not shop by the seat of your pants. BAD IDEA. And don’t shop hungry.
- I cook and freeze in bulk.
- I buy the store brand items.
- If you don’t already have one – get a food sealer. Ingenious! These should be the standard in every single household! We love ours!
- We drive slower (not because we’re old – but because we save a ton of fuel).
- You can cut about 15% on fuel by lowering your speed from 65 to 55 (don’t listen to Sammy Hagar we are not hot & fast anymore).
- We don’t use the air conditioning in our car. We use 4/40 air. All 4 windows down – and go 40 mph. 🙂
- I called our utility company for ways to save energy and trim our bill.
- While our neighbors are running the air conditioning units all day and all night – we don’t. We use it strategically according to our comfort and lifestyle (Yes – we live HOT in the summer and COOLER in the winter…Who cares? We don’t). Quite frankly our society has become much to soft in this area of heating and cooling.
- I take advantage of little AARP discounts and senior discounts. Use to hate the thought of it, now I look for it.
- BYE BYE CABLE COMPANY! And… next year, after my contract expires? I’m giving up cable and switching to Amazon’s Fire Stick. I’m so stinking angry paying high prices for cable and getting BS bull crap customer service. I’ll save an additional $2,ooo per year without it! WOW!! I’m not doing it anymore.
- I purchased a “drying rack” for most of my clothes (saves TONS of energy on electricity by not using the dryer).
- I wash my dishes by hand – the old fashioned way. Have you ever really paid attention to low long it takes to wash a load of dishes in the dish washer? LONG!
- We unplug stuff we don’t use. If it’s plugged in – it’s using phantom power. Stop paying for what you don’t use.
- I make my own cleaning products. They smell great and work better. My fav ingredients? White vinegar, fresh lemons, and baking soda.
I’m going to stop here, because I literally could go on forever.
For Pete’s Sake!
I know what you’re thinking. How dare I put this to paper… we’re boomers for Pete’s sake. We know how to save and spend. Well. I beg to differ in most circumstances. We all want to maintain a higher standard of living – it’s the American way. But being realistic – all the spending we do is quite unnecessary.
It’s all about changing our spending habits! This is easy, people. 🙂 – and not nearly as scary as it sounds.
Think about how we spend. We spend A LOT. I’m always humbled when I watch something on the news and see how people in other countries live (or heck… other areas of our own towns for that matter). It makes me quite appalled at our spending habits. But what I find exciting is this:
We can live so rich, on so little! I quite like that.
But let me just say, I don’t judge. Really, I don’t. My goal is simply to help people live great on less. Like I said, me and hubby have always lived “scant”, but I see how we could do better. It took being unemployed, without a real paycheck, to see that we can still live okay. Does it pinch a bit? Uh… yes, it does. But does it hurt? No. Not really.
As my business continues to grow, I hope we keep our thrifty habits in place. Living minimal is quite stress free.
How to live on retirement
Save now for our future. We’ve been hearing that a long time, haven’t we? It still important. You know you’re going to have to live on less money when you retire, don’t you? You need to stretch it out and make sure it lasts. The average retired person (from the Greatest Generation) lived about 5-7 years after retirement. NOW, we live much longer. That retirement money might have to last us 20 to 25 years, or more! WOW! Did you think that through? Have you number crunched your numbers yet? Have you figured out a plan on how to live on retirement?
- Think about working longer
- Hold out on snagging that social security income
- Take that vacation – but do it in the off season
- Downgrade your cell phone and bill (do you really need a computer on your phone??)
- Cancel memberships you don’t use often
- Don’t remodel your home if you’re keeping it – you won’t be worring about resale value. This is a hard one. I want to remodel so badly, but I can’t justify it.
- Save more cash
- Think about starting a small online business like I’m doing
- Move your money around (investments) and take a look at your financial stability
- For fun… check out AARP’s retirement calculator. Get the crunchy low-down on your retirement!
- While you’re there… sign up for AARP and start reaping the benefits of saving. It’s only $16/year. AFFORDABLE! And you’ll earn your investment back in no time.
We all love games. Number crunching happens to be my favorite past time for the moment. We baby boomers are the experts when it comes to saving money. Those old hippies did some things right. Communal living, growing their own vegetables and living off the land (oh stop yourself, not on park benches! LOL!), recycling, living minimalist and free. We can incorporate some of that old mindset into new ways of thinking and living.
It’s all about needs and wants, people. Let’s cut out the excess and live clean, clear and unafraid of debt, and looking forward to our futures.
Until next time…