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The Elder Guardianship Scam

Thrifty Elders

Last year, inflation was so low that Social Security recipients received only a 2 percent cost-of-living (COLA) increase for 2018. But that was a relatively giant raise compared to 2017 (.3 percent) and 2016 (nothing).

Of course, I can't speak for you, but I live almost entirely on Social Security (about 85 percent of my income) and in each of the named years above, my expenses for Medicare Part B, Part D and supplemental coverage along with auto insurance and certainly food increased at much high rates.

In no way do I mean you should think I'm destitute or anywhere near. For many obvious reasons, it is much less expensive to live in retirement than during earning years and every month I surprise myself that I have money left over to add to the emergency fund.

But not a year goes by that the increases in my fixed expenses don't go up between five and 10 percent.

That doesn't sound like much except that over even a few years, it adds up to a great deal more than the Social Security COLA covers so I worry a bit about future price hikes.

Even so, I don't feel deprived but I know a good number of elders who live on Social Security only and whose benefit is smaller than mine. In those cases, hardship can be a daily reality.

So for many of us frugality and thrift are in order and, at least for myself if not others, I'm pretty good at it.

My most successful single savings came not quite two years ago when my Verizon cell phone bill jumped to just over $105 a month. Fed up, I finally did the homework and switched to one of the small providers that gives me the same service – unlimited calls and texts and one gigabyte of data - for $22 a month. How great is that, and the service is as reliable as with Verizon.

Since then, however, expenses for necessities listed above have more than eaten up the $83 I saved in that one change.

There isn't much other wiggle room in my budget. I would be willing to cut cable TV from my life but that company is the only local broadband provider in my area and they charge more for internet-only than for internet with basic cable. (Grrrrrrrrrrrr.)

I may cancel Netflix soon. In the past year or two, the dreck increasingly exceeds the better quality offerings. But that saves only $10 a month. Amazon Prime is, even with the recent 20 percent per year increase, still worth it for me. I save hundreds of dollars on shipping costs each year and more often than not, prices are better than elsewhere online.

Over the past year I lost a lot of weight. So much so that I've had to replace part of my wardrobe. There are a couple of excellent resale shops here so I've done well to get the replacements I need while spending embarrassingly little, and several items were brand new.

I still prefer to read on paper than a screen of any size so I have kept a few hard-copy magazine subscriptions. Somehow my favorites are the most expensive but I'm going to continue them until I'm stretched too thin to not give them up.

It's easy to cut down on whim shopping especially (I'm being blunt here) having faced what I thought was certain death within a handful of months and so what could I possibly need to purchase.

Now that I have been given a reprieve from the cancer for whatever period of time, I've already got a year's practice in that kind of thrift.

That leaves the possibility for further cuts to types of necessary spending that can be down-sized, like food. On Saturday, I visited the second farmer's market day of the season and I was shocked that the price of a locally-made jam I like has increased from $5 to $7 over winter.

A bunch of six – SIX! - small, sweet turnips are up to $4.50 now while fresh halibut, never cheap, is $25 a pound. (I stuck with the cod.) It's high season for certain strawberries and I can't remember if a pint was $4 last year or less but that's the price now.

I'm not a rabid coupon cutter but I watch for sales especially on food items I like to always have in the house. That's what supermarkets are for and I suspect I'll be buying fewer items at the farmer's market this year.

I think we should all buy local when we can, to keep our dollars in the community, but the prices at that market this year take my breath away.

And, finally, restaurants. I don't eat out often enough to need to reduce that spending and there are some good, reasonably priced restaurants near me.

You've probably noticed that gas prices are up and expected to climb further over the summer. Some experts are predicting that depending on how Trump administration foreign and domestic policy changes play out, we could be in for increasing inflation (which has already climbed a couple of points this year) and higher prices in general.

So this would be a good time, I think, for us to crowdsource our best ideas to keep down personal and household expenses.

Most TGB readers are old enough to have weathered several economic downturns and a few remember growing up in the Great Depression. That ought to be good for some suggestions. Who among us are cutting back and how are you doing it? What are your best tips and secrets for surviving hard times?


Comments

My expenses keep rising but for a different reason. I just finished (sort of) raising my grandson. As he ventures out into the world I am still going to be paying for his cell phone (a huge added expense), his Uber (he doesn't drive) and I don't know what else. Until he settles into whatever he is going to settle into. I did sell my main home though so now I will have no more two mortgages and no more two HOA fees. That will be huge and so possibly my grandsons expenses won't seem so bad when those big ticket items are gone. Fingers crossed.

The only way I could retire early and we could have the life we do is to have the house and cars paid for. I made sure of that before I retired. We live a very small, simple life which is fine for us, others might cringe. I have many retired friends who are living grand lives, traveling all over the world, eating at famous (expensive) restaurants, buying new cars, and paying exorbitant prices for entertainment tickets (sports, theater, concert). I have neither funds nor inclination to do those things.

Without any wisdom on my part I worked at two universities with retirement programs. I therefore have a pension to supplement social security. When I sold my house to move into a retirement community, I chose the cheapest place within walking distance of stores and the library. The University has a fabulous School of Music with many free concerts. Many as in four/week during the active school year. It's ten minutes away. I take folks who can't drive to these. The Botanical Garden is also 10 minutes away.

I do splurge for concert tickets and travel. But usually make only one overseas trip/year, trying to use "free" miles for the tickets. In another couple years I may not be able to travel so I'm doing it while I can. I buy clothes at thrift shops and rarely eat out. Our combined cable and internet cost here is $29/month.

I do not stint when it comes to adventures but they can be internal ones, like learning something new or using skills I already have creatively.

After raising our children, my husband ended up the nursing home for 4 years at 10,000/month....I was still getting by okay until he died in Sept. of 2016.....the cut in Social Security and our expenses from his illness pretty well cleaned me out. I ended up selling my car to save money....my puppy of 13 years, Mary, (who was my constant companion and who I miss horribly) died in January, so no more pet expenses. That sounds really cold, but it was amazing what the car and dog were costing me. I think about getting another dog, but don't know if I could even begin to afford it. Every time I go grocery shopping, things are going up...the going price seems to be $4.99 for so many items. I have applied for many jobs and good luck finding anything at 76! I dropped my cable, but kept my internet. My kids let me use their apps and we had a deal for $21 for all the local channels and then pick 10 ala carte channels so I did that. I get all my books at the library and I have some art projects that I enjoy. It feels good to pay my bills and have a few dollars left for groceries.....not much "whim" shopping going on. We do have a big grocery store near by that delivers for $5, which would cut down on impulse shopping. There is a theater that has $5 Tuesdays for first run movies.... The thing that I try not to be negative about is that I went back to school in my 40's, am post-doctoral, have good experience but due to circumstances beyond my control. i.e. husband's illness, age, etc. increasing my income is just impossible. I am grateful that so far I have my health, good friends, loving family, an apartment that I like and can keep myself busy!!! Living the high life in Minnesota!!!

Get a Fire Stick for your TV and have your grandkids install.
Then you can drop cable!

I retired at 65 this year, due in large part to significantly reducing my expenses. My new life is quiet and simple with time now to putter in the garden, work on a new book, and teach the occasional caregiving, art or writing workshop. Cost saving measures have included grocery shopping at Aldi, cutting the cable tv cord; using Magic Jack for my landline phone service; researching senior discounts available in my city including the water bill; property tax bill (if income is under certain level); and taking/passing a defensive driving course online that gives me a reduction in my auto insurance for the next three years. As one of your other readers mentioned, this simple life is not for everyone, but it has opened my eyes to the beauty around me and I am grateful every day for what I have.

Right now, I find my biggest expenses (outside of rent) comes from the increasing rise in the cost of everyday items like food, toiletries, and clothes.
Unlike you, Ronnie who has lost weight, I have gone in the opposite direction. And, since nobody actually alters clothes anymore, I had to buy some new (and bigger) garments. Talk about sticker shock. Since when did Levi's Jeans cost $70? Man, if that ain't an incentive to go on a diet I don't know what is.

My husband and I both have pensions and social security - in addition to a couple investment rental properties that augment our income. We are by no means in any financial distress, but we like to be able to help out our children and their children occasionally, and we do travel.

A couple ways to keep food costs down for us - I shop once a week at Trader Joe's; if you have one in your community, the savings on canned goods, cheeses, fresh pasta, frozen items (especially flash frozen fish), eggs, some packaged fruits and veggies (small avocados, bagged lettuce for salad), sauces and dressings, bottled drinks (including wine), can be substantial. The quality at TJ's is invariably excellent.

Also - we have a Grocery Outlet, and I swing by there every so often to see what the bargains are. They change often, since it's mostly overstock items, so there's not stuff you can count on from week to week, but sometimes there are amazing values to be found.

I also try to get to our supermarket (Safeway) at least one early morning every week - the meat department has a "Manager's Special" bin filled with fresh meats that are near or at the expiration date. It's marked off anywhere from 30% to 50 % - and into a ziplock bag (Dollar Store!) they go and then popped in the freezer. Best chances to find these bargains are early morning - before 7 a.m.

We don't belong to a big-box store like Costco, because we don't like to buy stuff in quantity, and I resent having to pay a fee to join in order to be able to spend my $$$ there.

As for restaurants... sometimes we just don't want to cook. But we don't need a fancy place to be happy. Trying different ethnic cuisines can be fun. Sign claiming "Best roti in Toronto" in a small hole in the wall place apparently run by a single owner-cook? Okay, give it a try! That one turned out delicious. Since our appetites are small these days, often we get another meal out of it at home, later.

In the chain restaurants, searching the menu will usually uncover something that's reasonably healthy and not overpriced. We've found that most will allow seniors to share an entree. We make sure to tip well, though. With the way restaurant staff are so often treated by management, skimping on tips is not an option.

We've even figured out the healthiest way to eat at MacDonalds! All-day breakfast, Egg McMuffins: cheap, low calorie, made fresh when we order. Maybe some coffee (my husband likes their coffee, I don't). No fries. Fruits and veggies we can have at home later.

Kay and others...
The Firestick requires an internet connection and for most of us, that involves the cable company. As I noted in this post, the cable company - the only broadband provider in my area - charges more for internet only than for internet and cable.

My husband and I practice a moderate amount of thrift. We have a vegetable garden and we have planted fruit trees, kiwi vines and grape vines which are hardy in the Mid-Hudson Valley. We have an Amazon Prime membership, so after carefully going through all the prices we can have things shipped in bulk “for free” and can also watch media through Amazon Prime. Not that I’m pushing Amazon, we just try and watch where the dollars and pennies go and having things delivered here via a regular delivery route saves us time and gas as we are a half hour or more from larger stores. I also do occasional thrift shopping for “tags still on”clothes. I mend everything and when towels,etc. are really worn out I turn them into rags instead of using loads of paper towels. We also set up rain barrels for the gardens instead of pumping water out of the well. We buy a lot of fruit in season from local orchards and preserve it in the freezer as applesauce and pre measured pie filings. My husband also makes his contribution to savings by brewing his own beer in what he calls “The Nano-Brewery”. It’s hard work, but he does it for the team...

Hmmmmm, oh that budget, which I just blew with two expensive books! The rule about eating out is never more than once a week. I don't eat meat, and now am eating from the garden, so tasty and cheap! I rarely get a hair cut, a snip here and there, a razor blade is a great tool, no mistakes possible. Clothing mostly comes from the thrift store. After all, the fashion industry is the second largest polluter, plus it seems as though I come up with more interesting outfits from the P.T.A. I haven't traveled for three years. There are free cultural events within traveling distance (at this point). Just last week I listened to the painter who did Michelle Obama's portrait........it was free! Reality check............if I had to make it on Social Security alone? I'd be nervous, verrry nervous. And a lot tighter with myself than I am now.

Our best cost saving trick is using discounted gift cards wherever possible. Good bargains can be found through www.giftcardgranny.com For the past several months, Applebee's restaurants have been offering a free $10 gift card if you buy a $50 card. That's a terrific deal at a decent restaurant. Because I don't mind a bit of junk foot now and then, I rarely pay more than $4.00 for a solo lunch by combining gift cards and coupons at Arby's, Wendy's, or Burger King.

I retired from full time 4 years ago + my husband--7 years ago, at two professional jobs making good money. I was a RN manager and cringed at the thought of "loosing my identity" through my job and loosing my paycheck. However, I worked in the occupational health industry, sort of like being a school nurse for adults in a business setting. Amazing how we live without a pension, on social security and savings from 401Ks/personal accounts. We could not do this without paying off our mortgage and two cars. We live simply--go out to eat 1 x/week, walk instead of the gym payments, garden, read lots of books from the library, read personal and investing finance articles online and paper, and fortunately, live in a tourist New England town, so we are 5 minutes from a beach ,which we enjoy for 3-4 months/year. We quit vacations which we did when we were younger. I lost 20 lbs simply from less job stress and enjoy retirement. It is freedom.

I feel fortunate in so many ways regarding this. For 18 months before I retired in Oct 2016, my daughter and I had an in-law apt built off the back of her garage. It’s 523 sq ft and perfect for me and my cat. I spent the build time downsizing my home and moved into my apartment (in a small town right outside of Portland, ME) 4 weeks after I retired. I also have a retirement account from work, which I contributed to for over 25 years. While working, I stocked up on craft supplies (I cross stitch and make beaded jewelry, which I sell). I make liberal use of the local library for books and movies. Portland has a lot of activities, some are free or minimal cost to seniors. I recently started volunteering at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute atthe University of Southern Maine. My volunteer hours give me free classes. I don’t “whim” shop and I wear my clothing until they are practically rags. I cut the cable cord last fall and haven’t had a landline phone in 3 years. One thing I do to keep toxins out of my home and the environment, as well as save money, is make my own cleaning and personal hygiene products. Vinegar, water, Castile soap, baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, coconut oil...all can be used to clean, make deodorant, toothpaste, lotions, lip balm, etc. Lots of info and recipes online. My daughter and I garden in the summer and have planted fruit trees and berry bushes.

My wife and I agree, costs are going up while income stagnates. Recall, that for the first time in human history two generations are retiring at the same time. I expect to see everything rise, most especially labor. Not like what I saw as a young boomer; we were a dime a dozen. Energetic workers will become the most expensive commodity, with the costs passed on to we retirees. I still have about 9 mos. to go, but am fearful of the income drop when I finally retire. What will save us is a military retirement and close proximity to two bases and a hospital here in Kitsap County, Wa. We still burn wood and I drive a 31 year old car to work. We have good jobs, but as everywhere the wages are stagnant.
We are still considering paying off the property entirely and living on pension income only. Amazing what "accountants" and "financial planners" attempt to sell you! Fortuneately, we eat less----our only saving grace. I'm realistic enough to know I will do less as time goes on. I'm seventy but still working full time and cutting wood. I fear that declining purchase power may be the future for we seniors.

I don't eat out, don't go to movies or other public events, don't travel, mostly drive only to the grocery store once a week (avg 2,500 mi a yr). Shop entirely online and as family can get free shipping from Amazon with my son's Amazon Prime. My house will never be paid for, but the payment is half what rent would be. The Denver housing market is through the roof. I can't buy or rent anything cheaper than what I've got. I'm trying to figure out how to get internet without TV, but have the same problem Ronni mentioned. My son managed it because he got business internet with no TV; I don't think I can convince the service provider that I'm a business. And I'm trying to convince myself that my aging cell phone is sufficient and I don't need an expensive landline (so far I'm too concerned about security, 9-1-1, etc. to let the landline go). My big splurge is video games and the hardware/software/subscriptions needed to enjoy them, TV, and my computer.

Libraries offer some many free things! They are supported by tax dollars and sometimes by donations and grants.

I have been life long user of libraries and worked in a one before I retired a few years ago after working there for 15 years. My first job was as a "library page" when I was 15 years old. Besides free computer use, books, DVD's, magazines, newspapers etc. there are many options available online which include audio books, movies, data sources, magazines, etc. It will depend on your particular library branch as to which is offered. Many libraries have free lectures, programs, movie nights etc.

I can borrow books and DVDs from other libraries in my state because we have an inter-library loan system. My library card is good in any library in the state I live in and can have my local library request an item from another library if they don't carry it. I pick up and drop off at my local library. It's all about sharing resources.

I support my library not just by paying taxes, but also by using the facility and making small donations. Donations are made monetarily or by letting go of my books that serve no purpose sitting on a shelve that will be sold at book sales to add to the libraries budget.

I could go on trying to encourage people to use this great institution because I love libraries but I will leave by saying "check out your local library." For those who haven't been in a library since childhood, much has changed.

Ronni, do you have more than one farmers' market available to you? The farmers' markets here vary wildly in price. We walk north 1 mile for the pricey one and 1 mile south for the cheaper one. The produce comes from the same areas.

My husband and I joined Seatstir a few years ago - they offer free tickets to various events, for a subscription of $8/month. Since then we have been to over 200 events - concerts, plays, comedy clubs. Saw Boz Scaggs, Suzanne Vega, Maria Muldaur - plus lots of terrific bands and shows we wouldn't have heard of otherwise. If you like that sort of thing, it's quite a remarkable bargain. Available only in big cities, though, I think. Our membership is in Philadelphia, but they allow you to switch to another city once a year, so we switched to Washington DC when we visited there. Saw two wonderful plays we would not have seen otherwise, and also discovered the delights of Commedia D'ell Arte!

Growing up just after the Great Depression, being born into a very poor family, and living through WWII rationing prepared me for a life-long "make do" existence. I have retired from an era that never heard of pensions, 401Ks, etc. The only people with pensions in those days were government workers, railroad employees, or miners. And like many of you, I raised three kids, mostly on my own, got them through college, and ended up old, tired and poor once again.

I'm lucky enough to live in California which has lots of great help for Elders. And just before I retired I managed to pay off the loan on my nice, sturdy 3-bedroom mobile home and my 19-year-old car. Ended up with Social Security and a very small work-related pension ($102 per mo). Found monetary help from Kaiser-Permanent for co-pays, discovered food banks all around me, and a whole lot of other help that is available to us after we are over 65 and with total income of less than $20K per year.

It's a precarious way to live, but I and many of you other TGB lovers are far better off than many of the other residents of our neighborhoods.

I get your RSS feed, Ronni, on my homepage and the word "Thrifty" caught my eye! I'm always looking for ways to cut expenses.

Every year I do my budget. I look at last year's budget and forecast my expenses for the coming year. I cut corners where I can. I use the library. I have Amazon Prime. I read my newspaper subscription daily on Kindle. If I buy a book, I compare prices on Amazon between new and used and buy the cheapest one. I like Amazon because I can download a sample to read before I borrow or buy.

I keep utilities as low as I can. I review them every year. I have a landline. The city has not only heaped on additional fees but they discontinued the call packages which were negotiated by a consumer group. The call packages were very low but over the last 7 years, my landline bill went up $10 due to tacked on fees. My internet, Uverse, is also the same company as the landline. I called them last fall to see if I could reduce both costs. They lowered both considerably. In fact, I called them back to see if they made a mistake and they said they had not.

Grocery shopping is fragmented. It is divided among 4 stores. I don't shop at a farmers market. I do raised bed vegetable gardening thru a community organization. I grow my own tomatoes, lettuces, turnips, radishes, carrots, green onions, garlic and herbs during the growing season.

I was always a big magazine subscriber. Loved magazines. Still do. But, every year, I evaluate them. I'm down to 5 which still sounds like a lot!

Many of the housing and other programs we have like reduced property taxes are for low income seniors. We have a 50% discount based on age for exercise and crafts classes thru our parks.

Internet: No cost. Google Fiber free for 7 years after paying for installation.

Phone service: $86 for two cell lines.

Entertainment: No cable TV for two years, and we don’t miss it. Netflix DVD + Amazon Prime streaming for a total price of about $20 a month. Eating out is kept to a minimum. Most restaurant food is overpriced and way too bland. We do Taco Tuesday on occasion. We read and listen to music, which costs nothing. We think travel is overrated, but every now and then we go someplace. Our three cats are plenty entertaining.

Food: Oatmeal for breakfast, and eggs and skillet potatoes for dinner. (Hey, it worked for Willie!) Sometimes I make Red Beans and Rice with whatever I have on hand. If I don’t feel like cooking, I might buy a $6 rotisserie chicken and supplement with a salad or side dish, or I might buy a bake-at-home pepperoni pizza for $6 and add toppings of olives, onion and frozen green beans.

Liquor: Trader Joe’s merlot, $3 a bottle.

Gym fees: None. Daily walk instead. No yoga fees either. We garden, and there’s plenty of stretching and contorting in that.

Transportation: Six-year-old Kia, beloved and paid for.

Clothes: What? I’ll cobble something together. It’s not like anyone is looking at me.

Housing: Ten more years on the mortgage, paid out of savings.

Health Care: Savings set aside for the unexpected. We have a Family Practice physician we have trusted with our lives for the last 30 years, and we try to see him just once a year.

Great topic, Ronni.

I just received the letter announcing the annual increase in my supplemental policy. Another ten dollars a month. Since turning 65 three years ago, each year has been another increase of about the same. If my husband did not receive VA care for his medical care and numerous medications, I don't know how we would get by. Our income is about 85% Social Security and we live extremely frugally, but still struggle. What really keeps body and soul together in our house is that we both grew up in families that followed the mantra, "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without." We have mostly followed that all our lives and are reasonably comfortable with it. We have always shopped at thrift stores and garage sales, but have been very surprised how many more people we see at the Goodwill and Salvation Army and other thrift locations these days. This increase in use has been over just the past 10-15 years and probably speaks volumes about the changing economy.

And I'm wondering how tariffs are affecting, or projected to affect, food costs. The best thing our community did for seniors recently was create senior market days at our local food bank. The second and third Thursdays each month are dedicated to anyone over age 60, with no income requirement, no paperwork; only an ID is needed to verify age. Even though the two days a month are dedicated only to those 60 and older, seniors can go any Thursday, just will have to contend with larger groups on those other Thursdays. I have gone just three times since learning about it three months ago, and was doubtful about this at first, feeling that I might be taking something out of the mouths of those who were much more needy than my husband and I, but it was explained to me that our participation does not deny the same opportunity for food to anyone else, and, in fact, larger numbers at the senior days help insure that program is retained. Almost everything offered has been good so far. Each week we get a couple of choices from breads and buns, boxed cereals, peanut butter, milk (fresh liquid - not powdered), canned tuna, canned fruits and vegetables, beans and pasta, eggs, frozen meats and sometimes fresh vegetables, especially potatoes, green peppers and carrots. Last week we got some very nice fresh tomatoes. The meats have been all different kinds and mostly brands I would be buying at the store (even Trader Joe which we do not have in our community). The use of coupons, visiting lower cost stores and making meals that last us 2-3 days makes a huge difference in our food cost. What's appalling to learn is how much perfectly good food is thrown out on a regular basis. I'm hoping that this distribution keeps going for a very long time.

I've been retired for about 18 months and so far have been comfortable with my Social Security income, supplemented with income from a rental property I've owned and rehabbed over the last 20 years. Hoping to sell the home I live in and move back into the rental property sometime this year, which would eliminate the mortgage payment on my residence. The rent from the other apartment would pay for all of my utilities as well as the taxes. My mom lived to 101 so I am fearful about how to make my savings last, but I live a frugal lifestyle. I eat out more than I should but typically spend about $8 for lunch. On days when I eat at home I eat very inexpensively so it seems to balance out. So far have kept the dreaded cable but plan to cut the cord someday. It is definitely more expensive to live alone, but I hope to be able to keep making that work rather than trying some Golden Girls-type arrangement!

I've heard that sometimes veterans can get a break on auto registration fees; and here's another hat-tip to public libraries: our local library has a Veterans' Resource Center where I learned that.

I'd love to downsize to a smaller home/lot--we're on an acre, sigh--and pull our horns in just a little bit financially so we could help family, not have to worry about paying for taxis when we get where we can no longer drive, etc.; but my hubs won't hear of it. As mentioned above, we too have "retired friends who are living grand lives, traveling all over the world, eating at famous (expensive) restaurants, buying new cars, and paying exorbitant prices for entertainment tickets (sports, theater, concert)." And hubs is always wanting to copy just about everything they do. (I hope they never decide to buy a trip to the moon, lol.)

For the 3rd time I've "lost" in cyberspace a comment I'd spent about 30 minutes writing and editing. The web page "timed out". On each instance I reloaded it, but my post (which I used to be able to "save to clipboard" and copy into the new page) failed to appear. Since this has become a bit frustrating, future comments will probably be succinct and to the point. If anyone has had (and resolved) a similar problem, suggestions are welcome.

We've done many of the suggestions given by TGB readers. I'm 3-1/2 years into "involuntary" retirement. We're making it financially on Social Security, a modest annuity, our RMDs and occasional withdrawals from savings to meet unexpected expenses. Still, it's not uncommon to find a few days of month remaining at the end of our cash. We've cut discretionary spending, and there's not much money for "luxuries" (like a newer car or redecorating), but we should make it through to the end if we don't live too many more years--and we don't need a nursing home.

It's easy to understand why older people stay home a lot, don't update their décor often and drive 20 Y/O vehicles. Despite 55-60 years in the work force, that's all many can afford.

We're lucky to have pensions as well as Social Security, and we don't feel we are pinched at all. Part of the reason, however, is because we naturally do many of the things that have been discussed here: gardening, shopping at garage sales and thrift stores; buying groceries on sale; using discounts; eating at home frugally; using the public library for books, eBooks, audio books, entertainment, etc.; combining trips when we drive, repairing rather than replacing, etc. We walk for exercise, my husband uses oars when he goes fishing, we do our own yard work and house work, so we stay in shape as best we can. Our entertainment requirements are low cost.

We paid off our house and our vehicles before we retired, and that made a big difference in our finances. My husband is retired military, so we have our supplemental insurance through that. We made good choices through the years, but those choices were more luck than planning. We are grateful, but we don't take it for granted.

Could we start a Ronnie's halibut fund? I get more out of your blog than out of many of my subscriptions. If you want New Yorker Magazines a week or two late, I have them piling up in my house as I find it hard to recycle them.

FWIW Elizabeth, I often get timed out here, cause I write so much, take so long, get interrupted. So, I routinely copy my comment in case it gets lost — the ol’’ copy and paste. Then, after a site “refresh” if it doesnt post, I type an alphabet letter in the comment block, “paste” my comment, delete that letter I added and then post.

Guess in a way I was lucky to grow up with a Mom for whom practicality, waste not, reuse, find new uses for items rather than throwing away, was just our way of life. For example, with utilities, if I’m not using it, turn it off I.e. room lights if I left a room — to conserve electric bill; make auto trips count with planned stops by minimizing trips — buy groceries to last for a week or so. When our fortunes regressed we just did more of the same. Many conservative — frugal to some, I suppose— habits just seem natural to me.

My auto was born in the previous century and will likely last as long as I do, (that’s what my husband told me when we bought the one with higher mileage than what I wanted), though some of the safety features on newer models might help me be able to drive longer. Should that be the case, I’d be looking for another used car.

Some years ago I pretty much gained control of my shoe acquisition tendencies, so save there. I don’t require the wardrobe I did years ago, so buy few clothes. In our southern Calif. climate most everything can be worn year ‘round with mostly only changes to fabric and color variations. I have various sizes in my closet, so could probably drag something out that wouldn’t even look dated. In fact, I need to downsize those clothes.

I’m fortunate to be able to use Antenna TV, receiving all over-the-air stations/networks in the Los Angeles & Orange County area which includes 3 PBS stations and numerous secondary stations the various channels have. I finally acquiesced to Netflix, but may drop it as have seen most of anything I care about. Might subscribe to something else or use the DVD player I have but haven’t used. I get some movies on my regular TV.

Have special rate with card at local movie theater I haven’t used for a couple years after I got a parking ticket and city wouldn’t waive, but that’s another story. May resume seeing some new releases there one of these days. Local Sr. Center very close by so no driving to speak of, but the few activities I occasionally engage in there are generally free. I could even sign up for a reduced cost weekday hot lunch that is prepared elsewhere and is good. I might try in the future.

I have miserable internet speed (very very slow — less than ten (10) MB through phone company that also provides my landline which I keep because its the most timely efficient emergency service, offers more speed if I get cable. I could get cable TV, too, for same amount I pay now, or less, especially if I changed companies, but I haven’t wanted cable. For the second time (and am sure it has been even more) I checked internet speed and not even getting the slow speed I’m paying for, so rec’d 3 mos credit (max they’ll give) each time. Son lives out-of-state, has me on his phone plan for a very inexpensive cell phone charge — I keep to use mostly for emergencies, road service, security, etc.

Just my mouth to feed. Don’t do a lot of traditional cooking and baking as I did so many years. and don’t mind at all. Could cook and freeze some I suppose, but rarely do. Have access to several quality stores nearby with excellent fresh produce, several farmer’s markets, and a fresh strawberry patch in a long season (my addiction). I use toaster oven, but microwave a lot plus some deli prepared meals, a few frozen, occasional breakfast meal farm fresh takeout I eat half of and save other half to warm up next day (has whole ham slice to halve).

Years ago I evolved into mostly eliminating red meats so seldom have any beef, limited pork, but is not about being a vegan. Coincidentally, my son was doing same thing across the miles, but we didn’t know each other was doing so. We both independently observed the same results, noticeably pleasant lighter sensation in stomach over time, for lack of finding better words to describe it. Eat fish several times a week, chicken. turkey. Like salads and fruit.

Still send snail mail birthday, get well, be good to yourself, cards, etc. (send me your address and I’ll mail you one!) — can pick them up for under a dollar (postage can cost more) and all sorts of odds and ends at 99 cent store. Wash clothes when a full load — saves power and water (latter impt for our drought.)

Big bulk stores with membership fees not cost effective for me, nor is Amazon membership where I mostly buy just books (generally used, occasionally for my Kindle app. (Came across excellent internet inexpensive used book source, free shipping, that also donates a book in other countries with each purchase — I can share if interested.) Haven’t gotten to using various library links I have, but am member locally, donate books there some and buy some books, other items there sometimes — giveaway prices. A used bookstore in area and can get credit for some of my paperbacks to offset cost of purchases. There are a number of mini lending library boxes around town, I read about recently, but haven’t tried them yet.

Stopped getting my haircut when I retired a few years ago as wanted to see what it would be like with long hair since I’d worn it short for so long, so am saving money on that. Unplanned expenses associated with “living in place” are more than eating up any money I’m saving, but that’s the bargain I’ve made, or risk I’m taking (along with others) by choosing to live out my years in my residence rather than any of the other options.

Shop Aldi for food.

My income is about 1500, and my husbands is 3100. His phone and the landline are expensive, but the biggie is the cable and internet aty 231. He needs high speed for work, and we have to get both to get the internet. My meds are cheap, and bottom line I can get medical care at the VA. We eat simply...about 50 a week, an occasional morning movie at 6 bucks is a treat. I get all my clothes from Amvets and the Discovery Shop. You have one of those near you. He occasionally get's a T shirt or two at Tarjay.

Our truck, Grumpy, is 24 but isn't economical. Our Toyota is ten. We buy our gas at Costco as it is almost 4 bucks a gallon out in the real world. The mortgage is almost paid off. No Pets. HOA...unfortunately.

We do volunteer. We don't drink, but we do go to an occasional ball game and COMIC CON too. lol Next year we are going on a 3 day inaugural cruise...already paid for. I'm not half as economical as all your other readers, but I don't mind pinching pennies here or there if I can have a little fun too.

I manage to live on $1200/month SS -- my only income. Luckily I "own" my house & have loan modifications that make the payments possible. I certainly couldn't afford to rent even a studio apartment -- it would be more than my total income! Throwing pride to the wind, I now receive food stamps, & MediCal (Medicaid) which lets me have Anthem MediBlue for my Medicare -- no copays & no monthly payment. Had an MRI -- no copay. No copay either on my upcoming knee replacement surgery. Got help from the state for med copays.

I couldn't afford the cable/internet payment any longer -- it went from $89/mo to $109/mo so I ditched the cable & bought a Roku. Now I just subscribe to the 4 or 5 channels I watch .. at $5/mo each, and the internet is only $30/month. I applied for a free cell phone from the CA Lifeline Administrator, but it was a complete & total snafu for a rubbish phone so I'm going back to Tracfone for $10/mo.

I do everything possible to keep utilities low: use the washer or dishwasher only after 9:00 or before 9:00; hang laundry outdoors to dry. Try not to run the A/C -- have fans in every room -- more more economical. Grill meat whenever possible. Have a senior citizens discount of gas & electric. Use as little water as possible -- no discounts from the local company!

I used to go to the food bank but usually got loads of breads & cakes, which I shouldn't eat, & very little veg or protein. Now I shop almost exclusively at Grocery Outlet & farmer's markets -- being lucky enough to have several in my area.

Wear my clothes until they're falling off & shoes too -- then shop thrift stores on senior days. Subscribe online to freecycle & trash nothing -- they sometimes have offers of things I need -- with no cost.

I'm sure there are other ways I economize -- I know I reduce & reuse as much as possible, & then recycle. However, lately I have gotten a housemate, which takes me out of the screaming poverty level into the I-can-have-a-wee-bit-of-discretionary-income-if-I'm-careful, which is allowing me to replace things that are broken or don't work, & the occasional lunch out with friends.

Like most of us, it never occurred to me that I would be this financially fragile in my old age, and I worry constantly about what's going to happen as the price of everything continues to rise & my income doesn't. I sign a lot of online petitions to lower meds prices & to protect SS!

If you don't have a fire-stick for your TV you're losing a lot of low-cost entertainment! What a surprise!
Small pets don't eat that much - they're good company & security.
Thrift stores have LOTS of good used clothing, books and other items - some days of the week are 25% off.
Goodwill is not what it seems - check out why on the web.
Some cities have free food give aways - food banks - just search them out.
Check out YouTube on doityourself (DIY) car maintenance - make your auto run longer. Not just cars, either.
Why buy new appliances? Craigslist has almost new (check serial # -manufacturer can tell you when it was made.
People move - have to sell their washers/dryers when they can't hook up to gas or elec. or new apt has them already.
Some folks are in a hurry to sell. and Asking price is a wish. Keep checking. Check YouTube for easy repairs, too.

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