Many seniors live with a fixed or limited income. What’s worst is that this fixed income isn’t adjusted for inflation, which means that they are losing purchasing power year in and year out. This makes meeting everyday expenses a significant challenge. I know many seniors who are struggling, and it seems like many seniors they know are struggling too. How can they get more for their money and stretch those precious dollars a little further?
Here are some ideas that will help seniors save money every day:
Embrace Online Shopping. You can often find cheaper prices online on everything from groceries to appliances to toys for the grandchildren than at brick-and-mortar stores. Free shipping is commonly offered and if you shop at an online site that does not have a physical location in your state, you can delay paying the sales tax too. You’ll also save any associated costs like gasoline and parking when you shop on the web.
If you’re concerned about the security of online shopping, you needn’t worry. Most online shopping websites are perfectly safe. You will need to pay for your purchase with a credit card but fear not — your financial information can be transferred as securely to an online shopping site as it is to your bank. Just make certain you see one of these two things on the shopping website:
A small image of a padlock, indicating the site provides secure data transfer. The lock usually appears in the status bar on the bottom right of your screen but it may appear elsewhere, depending upon your browser.
In order to further increase your protection, you shouldn’t save any credit card information on the site you buy stuff at. If Experian, one of the premier credit agencies in the world can have their customer data hacked, then it’s safe to say that no merchant is safe from having their customer data stolen. It’s a hassle, but type in your credit card information each time you shop. You can also use PayPal, which sends encrypted data to your merchant when you pay. You are still saving your information on PayPal.com, but at least you are limiting your exposure by just having all your financial information on one website.
Use your flexible schedule to your advantage. As a senior, you may be retired or work fewer hours than a traditional workweek. That gives you some flexibility in your schedule that can allow you to take advantage of savings opportunities that folks at work will miss out on. These savings could come from merchants who offer savings during slow times during the day. For instance, a local company offers a discount on oil changes between 8:00 AM and 10:00 AM in my town.
Remember senior discounts are all around you. Senior discounts are everywhere. From restaurants to movie theaters, department stores, and health clubs - the typical 10% -15% discounts allow you to do more and spend less. My neighborhood pharmacy for instance gives seniors a 15% discount from 7:00 - 8:00 every Thursday. Keep senior discounts constantly in your mind because some businesses don’t advertise them. You never know where they offer discounts. Did you know that even credit card companies may offer a lower interest rate to seniors? Next time you go to a store or talk to any customer representatives, don’t hesitate to ask if a senior discount is offered.
Purchase in large quantity and share. Seniors often find grocery shopping vexing because so many items come in such large quantities. Most seniors cook for only one or two people — they simply don’t need large amounts of groceries. They may have downsized their living space and don’t have a lot of pantry or freezer storage either. Purchasing smaller amounts, however, often means higher prices per unit which wastes money.
A solution to this problem may be to form a “buying group” with other seniors, neighbors or family. Have a member of the group purchase the large, most economical size of the desired items, then share the goods and the cost among the group. This could work with something as big as a case of canned vegetables or as small as a loaf of bread. Seniors’ needs and budgets are small but you can get just what you need without buying more than you need by implementing this “buddy system” for buying groceries.
Put a stop to that cable bill. Our country has largely embraced the streaming age, but many seniors are still stuck paying those $100 cable bills. One of my friends own their home for the past few decades and because of Prop 13 in California that limits yearly property tax increases, they literally pay more for their cable TV than they do for property taxes.
Netflix, Disney+, HBO Max, YouTube TV, etc are all wonderful services that will fit most people’s TV watching needs. There’s really no need to keep paying the cable TV bill.
Re-shop all your insurance policies. Many seniors are still paying insurance premiums on policies they took out decades ago. Do you still need life insurance? Have your life change enough to warrant a new health insurance or car insurance policy? At the very least, most seniors aren’t driving anymore and can probably save a bit on their auto insurance.
Even if nothing’s changed, it’s always good to shop for new rates regularly to get a better deal. Do this now.
Look for assistance on your utility bill. Many utilities offer assistance to those who need it, and they are pretty much all income-based. When you no longer work for a living, you may qualify for significant discounts on your utility bill.
Consider moving. Speaking of downsizing, this is a serious money saver. With a smaller house, you not only free up some equity in your living arrangement but you are also paying less in property taxes, utilities, and upkeep. If you are thinking of moving, you should also think about your lifestyle so you can move closer to the activities that you want to do. That way, you get to save some time on the commute and you will likely save on gas and other transportation costs as well.
While it is a challenge to live within limited means, seniors have more choices for saving than just the “Early Bird Special." You can even turn their unique circumstances into savings opportunities with a little effort and creativity.