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Saving Money in Retirement

I have been a local teacher for the past 18 years and still have a ways to go before retirement.  As a blogger who writes about saving money, you can bet it’s a topic that comes up often with my family.  For this week’s post, I have invited my father, a retiring Baptist preacher, to provide some insight on saving money in retirement.  Here are the words of my dad, Rick Lawrence:

Being the father of The Frugal Teacher puts a lot of pressure on me to make some good financial decisions. I wanted to share with her readers that there are some ways you can save money as you are approaching retirement.  I’ve learned from my personal journey and from her that there are a few tricks out there that aren’t too hard to implement.  My last day of work is just a few short months away, so here are a few thoughts that might help some of you who are in the same stage of life.

It’s not too late to make a budget.  If you tighten your belt now and don’t make any major purchases, you will get a headstart and maybe a little breathing room when that last work day arrives. The Frugal Teacher talks a lot about writing out a budget and sticking to it. My wife and I recently did three months of a “trial” budget using our expected retirement income.  We wrote down every single expense for three months and looked for trends in our spending.  We used that information to make our projected retirement budget.

Don’t let the term “fixed expenses'' remain fixed.   Fixed expenses don’t have to stay the same in retirement.  Let me give you three examples.

1. Property taxes are not necessarily as fixed as you think. The Frugal Teacher researched some ways for old dad to save and then helped me apply for a senior citizen property tax exemption that I didn't know existed. We signed up last year, were approved, and I'm saving a couple of hundred dollars a year already.  

2. Homeowner’s insurance has more wiggle room than you may think. Since my home is paid for, I decided to raise my deductible to the highest amount allowed.  I also chose to insure my actual structure for less than what they wanted me to insure it for. These changes save me about $150 a month, or $1800 a year!

3. Health insurance costs can also be adjusted. I’m on Medicare with an advantage plan and I found one that refunds me almost all of the monthly Medicare expense. Between me and my wife, that’s $330 a month in savings.  That’s a big deal when you’re trying to put together a budget in retirement.

Learn to travel cheap.  I don’t know how you plan to travel in your retirement, but we do a lot of camping. We have the National Park senior pass, and we also downsized to a small camper that doesn’t require a large truck to tow it. We’re saving fuel and RV costs and camping for almost free. We’re about to embark on a two week trip to Washington D.C. and our total lodging and campground costs will only be $200.  We cook almost all of our meals when we travel and look for cheap and free things to do in the cities we go to by doing a simple Google search.  

Look for perks when eating out.  There are plenty of senior discounts when it comes to eating out. My wife and I had lunch this last week at the new Zaxby’s restaurant and discovered a 10% discount that saved us over two dollars for our lunch. Burger King has a senior soda for $.50, and I have all the restaurant apps on my phone.  Just because you’re a senior citizen doesn’t mean you can’t pull up an app on your phone to save a few dollars.  

I’m really looking forward to retirement, and I’m not afraid because I’ve done a little bit of planning and live next door to The Frugal Teacher.  It doesn’t get any better than that.


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