In retirement you can have more time and choice to do things differently. Simply put, if you worked eight hours a day and traveled for two hours then you have 50 hours extra a week coming your way. You can use that time to save you costs and change the options you have to improve your life. There are some very obvious savings that you might be able to enjoy, like not spending money to travel to work. That money might be used in travelling to fun destinations. Here are some of the things that could cost less in retirement.
Off Peak Cruising
Cruising used to be very popular for seniors (before Covid) but you had to be ready to go at any minute. It can be difficult to use some of the great priced cruises if you have commitments to be in your area. You can however get some huge savings if you can leave within a few months or weeks and at off peak times. It is not unusual to see deals at half price or less. As an example, you could go to the pacific islands on a trip such as “Brisbane, Noumea, Lifou, Port Vila, Brisbane”. It may even be winter (June) at the departure port “Brisbane Australia” but the temperature on the Islands is about 25°C at midday with water temperatures 24°C.
If you choose a trip to the Australian barrier reef such as “Brisbane , Airlie Beach , Yorkeys Knob, Cairns , Port Douglas , Willis Island (Drop Anchor) , Brisbane” the weather in April (which is mid Autumn) warms up very quickly as you travel up to most of these destinations and remains somewhat tropical. Our family has been on both of these cruises and they were great. At the date of writing the price is about AUD $83 to AUD $100 per night per person quad share, ocean view rooms. That includes room, restaurant food, daytime activities, show room entertainment and the other usual cruise entertainment of course. Just think no cleaning, no dishes; you get the idea! I am probably already preaching to the converted. If you want to find cheap cruises a little further afield look on VacationstoGo.com – they have a 90 day ticker that has discount cruises leaving in the next three months. Cruising is probably better left till we have a Covid vaccine but you can do your research before then.
Off Peak Accommodation
Do you remember the times when you could only go on holidays in the peak periods and looked at the off peak prices and realised that you were always paying the premium rate which was probably 30% more than off peak? Well, if you are are retired and can be flexible with accommodation dates you can reap the benefits of that flexibility. The practice in the past when you were working and you may have had children in school was to book a long way ahead to make sure you got that critical period you needed. Your boss agreed to the dates and you were locked in. It requires a change in thinking but maybe you can leave it to the last minute, or more to the point just grab the opportunity to go on short notice and pay far less. Mid week short term stays are also very cheap/affordable options as any stay including a weekend or even a Friday are usually more expensive. The web is full of special off peak last minute deals. By experience I would have to say not to rely totally on the availability and pricing shown on the web. Many times I have found these to be out of date and even showing a higher price than what is possible. Try ringing the places you want to go, and talking to the manager. Let them know what you have found on the web and often the availability and price are better than online. Be sure to mention the web info first as a baseline for your conversation.
Second Hand Time Share
Have you ever thought of buying “second hand” time share. You can find these for sale in most versions they were offered throughout history. They are on the private market for prices at a fraction of the original purchase price. Be sure you understand what you would be getting, what your yearly and incidental expenses would be and I recommend that you get advice from a lawyer then have them process the change in ownership if you decide to go ahead with it. The yearly ongoing cost can be about 70% of the market price for rental however it is not uncommon to be able to get offers from the timeshare companies to buy extra single weeks rentals paid in advance. These can be at less than half the price of the market price for rental. If possible it is worth asking questions of people who know the particular time share deal you are considering. There is also the option to rent for additional time in the year at particular resorts for a discounted fee. You could get the best out of these options if you are retired and flexible about dates.
This is a big one and decisions need to be made carefully. Remember that making no decision at all is actually making a decision to do nothing.
Think of the reasons you live where you are. It may have been close to a city where employment was available. You may have been near family and friends who may or may not be in that area any more. Moving to smaller accommodation and somewhere that is less expensive might suit your needs. Even consider renting. It’s interesting that when I was growing up renting was a last resort. You may say “We/I don’t have to pay any rent because we/I own our home!”. Don’t forget that the house you own can cost you nearly as much in lost investment dollars as renting every week and sometimes more if there is little or no capital gain occurring in the property you own. As an opposite scenario consider buying and moving to a more expensive area and bigger house given that in some states/countries the money in your primary dwelling is not counted as a capital asset when calculating your government benefits. Too much cash in the bank can be an issue. Also consider how many options you will have in the future for mobility, medical services availability and access to other things you need. That second floor is great for exercise but a time could come when the climb is not good for you. You can always do some modifications to a property to may make it suitable for you. Consider whether you can make another move later if you need to and come out of it with a good result.
NOTE: It is very important to consider all the various options and get advice from a financial adviser! Consider your potential loss or gain of age pension and other benefits depending on what you decide. Centrelink have free financial advisors if you need to see them.
You will often see visiting shows that are offered at 10% less in price through the week than the Fri-Sat-Sun price. Take another 10-20% off for some concession cards.
Off peak movies (weekdays – Tuesday, Sunday evenings etc) can be at 10-25% discount. You save because you have more flexibility when you are retired. You may be able to take a few minutes and get some snacks or at least water to bring with you instead of buying them at the cinema. Remember to check the rules first. Some cinemas rely on making some money from the refreshments because their ticket price is quite low compared to other operators.
Another thing to consider is that different cinema operators can charge vastly different prices for tickets. At the time of writing the minimum standard ticket price in south east Queensland can vary from AUD $18 down to AUD $8.50 per ticket. Some concession/pension/health cards will get you further discounts bringing the price as low as $4.50. If you have to travel to reach one that has a low charge consider planning another activity in with the trip such as visiting someone or doing some discount shopping to make it worthwhile.
Senior’s Discount Cards, Pensioner and Health Cards
There are a considerable number of discounts available in many countries for their retired or older residents. Be aware thought that some cards provide varying benefits. Where the response for one card is that there are no discounts for that item another card can provide significant discounts. They can be for travel e.g. bus train, ferry, for health costs and car registration and many more other tings. Most councils in Australia have discounts on rates for pensioners and the electricity companies provide a seniors discount on electricity accounts. The benefits usually don’t happen automatically so keep asking each time you pay and mention each card you hope to get a benefit from. For some expenses you will need to register the claim for the benefit providing the card info before you can get the benefit and they usually don’t backdate or refund for periods where they were not notified.
You may be eligible for discounts from a lot of other places too by showing your senior’s / pension card. In Australia you can go to this Government web site to check eligibility. You can search for businesses claiming to provide the Australian senior’s discounts on this government web site. Even McDonalds will give you a free coffee if you buy a burger and have a seniors card and don’t forget to ask Red Rooster for a seniors discount too.
A word of caution: it is only cheaper with the discount if the bottom line charge is less than a competitor!
If you are out and about grab a special whenever the price is right instead of just buying everything you need in weekly shopping. Make sure you don’t risk the items being expired before using though.
Try shopping at thrift/second hand stores in both fancy and not so fancy neighbourhoods. The difference in value for money and products offered can be great. Remember that technology items lose value extremely quickly so second hand is not usually a good idea for these items. Look for items that you have knowledge about. Sometimes the second hand shops don’t assign a high price for items that you may know are high standard. It doesn’t happen much but it is interesting to look for these. You may be surprised to know that a lot of second hand shops only consider the value of the gold or diamonds in jewelry. That means that the ‘non-diamond’ coloured gemstones in jewellery are often ignored in the pricing. If you know your precious coloured stones really well you might pick up a bargain compared to new retail price. Don’t buy if you are unsure of the value though and remember that if you were to sell the item second hand jewellery is cheap.
You have time in retirement, so go to different places to do your shopping to get those discounts. Go to a fresh fruit shop or fresh fruit market and dare I mention to go to somewhere like Aldi next, then the standard bigger shopping chains to make up what you can’t get at the other places. Only do it if it is not taking too much time and travel expenses. Remember your car costs about the price of two standard loaves of bread for an extra 10km round trip.
Avoid the Christmas rush and sometimes get better pricing.
Use Your Skills to Save
You may have heard the saying that “a plumber never fixes their dripping taps”, but can if they are retired! You have probably built up skills throughout your life. Even if you don’t think you have many relevant skills you could sign up for a course then have fun doing a project. Here is a blog about Learning Something New. You may not want to do some of the things you retired from as you may be glad to get away from that. You might want to resurrect a life skill you used in an earlier career.
Try out your cooking skills and take the time and cook more and freeze for another day rather than take away (yes some food does taste better on the second sitting). This way you can save your takeaway budget for travelling where it can be very convenient.
Do some research to find a cheaper energy retailer. Seriously consider solar power because when you are retired you might get to use the power ‘as it is generated’ through the day which can get you the highest returns on your investment. Especially if you are in a hot area using more air conditioning load during the day. See this blog prepared earlier.
Buy clothes when they are on special if they are clothes you will need. If you have time to keep an eye out for an item you know you will need later, you can wait for that special. Don’t forget to ask someone with good fashion sense what suits you so you can get something that will stay in fashion for longer. Try to avoid too much pattern as patterns tend to date faster. It was not a saving if you ask your kids “do you think this will be in fashion next year?” and the kids say it was in fashion last century dad!
Only do What is Worth Doing
Don’t let your responsible saving turn into an obsession. Your time is valuable and there are better things you can invest your time into than always searching for and talking about money.
The Bible verse Hebrews 13:5-6 wisely says “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said”, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Money is a means to an end, not the focus.