A new trend among retiree involves living not in a house, as one would expect, but rather in some manner of alternative shelter, such as a boat or recreational vehicle. Such was the choice of Gary Pierce and his wife, who blog about their decision on their Web site frugal-retirement-living.com.
When Pierce, a 63-year-old former commercial real estate broker, retired several years ago, he and his wife moved into a sailboat in the Caribbean–and slashed their living expenses to less than $1,000 a month. “Instead of buying tailored suits and a Herm?s tie, you can just slip on swim trunks.” After eight years, they traded the boat for an RV and toured the US for four years.
Many seniors are becoming adept at saving a buck, developing cost-conscious habits such as asking for discounts and clipping coupons. These new habits reflect a senior population in financial crisis. According to the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, 40 percent of working seniors reported that they were just getting by, while 45 percent said Social Security will be their primary income once they retire.
One author who has looked at the new retirement landscape, Jan Cullinane, recommends seniors ask for discounts or deals from companies. Her book, “The New Retirement: Revised and Updated: The Ultimate Guide to the Rest of Your Life,” chronicles her efforts to stretch a buck. For example, after being told a monogrammed item was not returnable, Cullinane contacted the president of the store and received a $135 gift certificate for her trouble. She also procured free meals on a vacation to Florida just for asking the hotel chain for the deal.
Cullinane also suggests using gift registries, which are designed for newlyweds, because they often feature periodic discounts. After moving house, Cullinane and her husband were in need of household items and so registered at a local store. Later, they purchased the items for themselves from the registry and saved money on the items they had planned ahead of time to purchase.
Still more seniors are finding part-time work to plug the holes in their budgets left by the imploding stock market. And others have been resorting to unconventional living arrangements, when moving in with grown children is not an option, such as single seniors finding roommates to share living expenses.
Like Pierce, Cullinane has found that to save money in retirement, creativity can be a valuable resource.