Frugal Retirement

Frugal retirement has become a necessity for those who have or are planning to retire soon.

When living on a fixed income, the uncertainty of financial investments and the increasing cost of living has caused many to reconsider their budget.


Frugal doesn't necessarily mean cheap.

It is all about how you spend your money. It involves finding ways to make your dollars stretch.

By using simple techniques, you may find that you will have more money in your budget.


The best situation for retirees is to have paid their mortgage off. However, this is not always possible in this day and age.

If you still have a mortgage, you may want to consider refinancing or selling your home. If you choose to sell your home, you can relocate to an area with cheaper housing costs that will better fit your retirement budget. If planning a move, find out which states are tax friendly to retirees.

More and more retirees are choosing to downsize their homes when they retire. Moving into a smaller place can save money on your property taxes and utilities.

You can also consider even cheaper alternatives for a frugal retirement, such as living in a retirement mobile home park or spending your time RVing around the country.

If selling your home is not an option, you might think about renting out a room for extra income. Be sure to run a full background check on any prospective renter even if they seem like very upstanding people. We ran into this problem when renting out our house. A background check will save you a lot of headaches in the long run.


Utility costs vary across the country. While you may feel you don't have much control over these costs, there are some simple methods that can help you save money toward a frugal retirement.

Electricity Saving Tips

  • Turn off lights when not in use. We all know this but often need to be reminded. It may seem like you are only saving pennies but pennies do add up.
  • Use the stove top and microwave in place of the regular oven.
Picture of electric meter.
  • Use a toaster oven whenever possible.
  • When you do use your oven, turn it off ten minutes early and use the heat to finish cooking.
  • Install a timer on your water heater.
  • Use the cold setting for most laundry loads.

Heating and Cooling Saving Tips

  • Invest in a programmable thermostat.
  • In winter months after using your oven, open the door and allow the heat to help warm the room.
  • Keep curtains and blinds on south-facing windows open during the day. This allows solar radiation to warm a room. Close all curtains at night to retain the heat.
  • Caulk windows and doors. Install door sweeps.
  • Check and maintain duct work regularly for air leaks.

Water Saving Tips

  • Run your washing machine and dishwasher only with a full load.
  • Monitor your water bill for unusually high use. You could discover that you have a leak.
  • Use a broom instead of a hose to clean your driveway and sidewalk.
  • Replace your showerhead with a water-efficient model.
  • Shorten your shower by a minute and you will save up to 50 gallons of water per month.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables in a pan of water instead of running water from the tap. Use the pan of water to water your houseplants.
  • Use a drip system to water plants and trees.


What happened to the cost of groceries? Every time I go to the grocery store my bill gets higher and higher and I buy the same items! So, what can you do to save money?

Using coupons is not the only way to save money on your grocery bill. Here is a list of some other ways to save toward a frugal retirement at the grocery store:

  • Find a bakery outlet where bakeries unload the day's overproduction. You can buy high quality goods at dirt cheap prices, especially if you time your shopping visit for their 'Sale Day' when you can save an extra 50 percent or more. Bakery items freeze well, so be sure to stock up.
Picture of meat market aisle in grocery store.
  • Pay attention to meat market sales, as managers cut as much as 50 percent from the original price of meat, fish, and poultry when the expiration dates are near. Remember to freeze items nearing the expiration date if they won't be consumed within 24 hours.
  • Check out your favorite grocery store's website for weekly specials. Many sites allow you to add the specials along with other items to your shopping list.
  • Stock up on non-perishable items when they are on sale. Buy enough to last until the next sale, which may be three to six weeks later.
  • Use generic and store brands. Usually, they only differ from name brands in the packaging. However, if you are disappointed in an item, take advantage of the store's satisfaction guarantee policy and return the item for a full refund.
  • Check your receipt for errors. If there is an error, some stores will give you the item free.
  • Leave the checkbook and debit or credit cards at home when you go shopping. Take only cash to the store to eliminate impulse buying. If you run across a great deal, you can always return later.
  • Many people find that shopping for a month or two weeks worth of groceries help to save money. I guess every time you can avoid going to the store helps to save money.


Here are a few more money saving tips for a frugal retirement:

  • If you are an impulse buyer, your first strategy should be the use of foresight. Do extensive research. Decide if you really need the brand new more expensive model or will a used item serve your needs? If so, spend time in thrift shops, flea markets etc. It takes time to find a bargain but it is well worth it. Never pay full price!
  • Purchasing a new car can only be considered economical if you plan to own it for more than 10 years and pay cash. When it comes to a car purchase, the amount you "save" is not as important as how much you spend.
  • Use a credit union instead of a bank. Credit unions are nonprofit organizations who return surplus funds to their customers in the form of less expensive services.
  • Sometimes the pharmacy's price for generic drugs is cheaper than the normal insurance co-payment. Always compare the amount of your co-payment with the pharmacies cash price.
  • Many pharmaceutical companies have a Patient Assistance program for the uninsured and the under-insured. However there is an income limit.
  • Be sure to cash in your credit card reward points. If your credit card does not pay back rewards, you should get one that does. You will be surprised at how fast the points add up.
  • Always ask about senior citizen discounts.
  • Check on free items for senior citizens.
  • If you are planning to return to school, see if you qualify for an educational grant.

Using these frugal retirement tips along with some planning and good decision making, may allow more financial freedom when living on a fixed income.


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