How Do You Save Money in Retirement?

I have a question for all the folks who are currently retired. How do you cut costs and save money in retirement?

I’m gathering savings tips for a story on The Penny Hoarder, so your responses may be included! Thanks in advance!


I’m not yet retired but my husband is and makes less money now on pension, so here are some things we’ve done:

Continue to have money directly deposited into a savings account. Each month, EVERY month, regardless of how small the contribution. Try to increase the amount by 10% every year. Agree to not touch it unless it is an absolute emergency (e.g. new roof as opposed to taking a cruise). I also move money into a Christmas account every January for the years’ taxes and insurances (out of sight, out of mind). Consider making your savings account digital-free, meaning that if you want to make a withdrawal, you have to do it old school by physically going to the bank. That in itself is a great deterrent.

Consider lower risk investments; you may make less in interest, but there’s less loss over the long run, too. I’ve been in a low-risk index fund for many years and still average around 8%, which isn’t bad at all. Mutual funds are another good bet (Warren Buffet recommends them to everyone and if anyone knows anything about investing, he does). Also, diversify your investments and spread out the risk.

Eat out less… that extra $30 a week should go in to savings. $30 x 52 weeks = $1560!

Get rid of excess vehicles… we eliminated our ‘spare’ vehicle and now have just the 2, dropping our auto insurance by $200.

Downsize your nest. Our house is already pretty modest but if you don’t need the extra bedrooms anymore, think about moving into a smaller house. Smaller means less taxes, utilities, upkeep, and heating and cooling. And it’s a heck of a lot easier to keep clean!

And if you find yourself getting bored, get a part-time job doing something you really love… I’ve worked in IT my whole career but dream of a day when I can work PT doing anything that doesn’t require computers


We paid off major debt before retirement, ie mortgage and vehicles. We pay off any credit cards monthly. I think the best tool for myself has been tracking my spending for a few years before I retired (and continue to do this) so I could see where the money “fluff” was going. I started seriously eliminating or reducing the “fluff” upon retirement.

Some of the “fluff” we’ve modified: junk foods from the grocery, restaurant meals, Starbucks, some Grandkid “fluff” is being reduced, too, and for me…staying out of the craft stores. The latter goes along with a major attempt in using what we already have and reducing waste. I have always loved finding good deals in used clothing, accessories and furniture so we continue to shop thrifts, FB marketplace, ebay.

We both love movies so we do pay for both Netflix and Amazon Prime for streaming and find the annual fees to be a bargain compared to the cost of movie tickets. We also attend a local live theater often where the events are amazingly talented. Most of the events are between $15-$30 per ticket. And we are fortunate to have a small university in our town, and any events open to the public are either free or a have nominal ticket price. Sports, concerts, art exhibits, talks all available.

My partner is learning to do some handywork thanks to YouTube. Most of the things have turned out well, but can’t deny we had a few fails, nothing life threatening! He has the common sense to call in the pros when we should!

Cutting back on the “fluff” has allowed us to continue to putting money into savings, tho a little less than when we were working.

The one expenditure we have not skimped on is health insurance. We pay top dollar for a Medicare supplement. It has paid for itself already and being able to continue is a, if not “the”, major goal to help us keep our retirement funds solvent.


There are a lot of great old movies on Youtube, I pay YouTube premium to enjoy them without commercials. I am surprised how much cheaper it is to live in retirement.

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Hello Gang!

This site was highly recommended by my dain law. She’s learning a lot and shared with me so I decided to join. Obviously I’m new to the group but wanted say hello.

I joined hoping to get financial tips so I can begin budgeting butter and start saving at least a little in case of emergencies on my limited income.

This year I’m hoping to cut the cable cord. I’ve been researching the best ways to go about it. I will still need internet. If anyone has suggestions I’m all ears.

I recently paid off my vehicle so that has helped in many ways I hate the thought of going to liability insurance but I’m going to use the company you suggested to get a quote so thank you for the link!

i look forward to a bright and VERY SUNNY 2020



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Sorry for the late reply, and thanks for sharing how you cut costs, @tekkiechikk, @mintjulep and @john.everett! I’m sure your tips will be helpful to any new or soon-to-be retirees here in the community. :)

@sofie, welcome to the group! I personally cut cable a few years ago and have found I don’t really miss it at all. I use Hulu to catch up on a few shows or to watch movies, but there are so many options out there. Services like Sling and Philo allow you to watch live TV, or you can watch movies and TV series on demand on platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime. The key is nailing down just one or two apps to sign up for — otherwise all the individual bills for each service could add up to the cost of your old cable bill!


Loved all these practical comments! In addition to the above we purchased a book by Dave Ramsey. He strongly suggest paying off all credit cards, loans, house, etc and having an emergency savings account. He also advocates funding your own retirement instead of counting on pensions (not common) or the government. My advice is watch your pennies and then the dollars will take care of them selves. Purchase (gently used) clothes, cars, furniture, etc from yard sales, eBay, craigslist, Facebook posts etc. Compare auto and home insurance every six months for less expensive policies. We cut the cable and only watch things on the Fire Stick. Never sign a contract unless you have read it thoroughly and then wait for 3 days. Grow your own food if possible. Get chickens for free eggs. they are legal in many urban areas. Always cook at home with healthy ingredients to stave off future health issues. Live simply (like your grandparents did) and don’t try to keep up with what commercial, radio and TV will tell you that you need. always stay vigilant of where your money is going. Don’t become lazy or slack.

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I am looking forward to retiring May 2020. I love all the ideas and any suggestions on better ways to save.

My wife and I are always looking for ways to save money. One of the biggest savers for us is our local library. We have been getting all our television series, movies, music and books for about 7 years and enjoying watching them in the comfort of our own home… It costs us NOTHING to do this. We have seen all the Academy Award winning films, block busters and oldies. When you consider the cost of an outing to see a movie and what we have saved, it is pretty remarkable. We order everything on line and the library emails us when it comes in for pick-up. We normally have 7 days to keep it and can renew it online if needed. The library is a 5 minute drive from our home. I would recommend to those that enjoy staying in to check out their local library and see if they offer the same service.

We have trimmed our food bills down by only shopping coupon items. We plan our weekly menu around what is on sale for that week.

I have been cutting my own hair and coloring and cutting my wife’s hair for over 20 years and have saved a bundle doing this. Being self trained in this art I am thankful when my wife is complimented on her hair.

These are just a few things that we have found for ourselves where it makes a huge impact on saving money.


@palmer Your wife is brave letting you cut her hair! Good work, I’m sure! I’ve not taken that step yet, however I cut my partner’s hair with electric trimmer/clippers and it passes muster with him.

And ditto on the library. I’ve only used it for books either hard copies or audio books, but one branch is just 5 min from our home and it’s so easy to order it thru the library app and pick it up, usually just a day or 2 later unless it’s a best seller, then I may have to wait a few weeks. If I ever get another tablet, I will download library books, but right now I hate reading a book on my cell phone.

Our library also has book sales every week allowing one to stuff a plastic grocery bag as full as you can get. We only pay $3/bag because we belong to that branch’s “Friends of the Library” a one time fee of $25. Otherwise the bag is $5. It’s mostly paperbacks that have seen their better days. When we are done reading them, we pass them along to friends and family readers, or we donate them back to the library to re-sell. They also offer DVD movies and music in their sales.

@ Lorrie F Great tips!! You are surely a Penny Hoarder! You mention something we are very guilty of not doing and that is reviewing our insurance policies often. I hate doing it and trying to get new quotes, mainly because I don’t really understand what we coverage is best for us. I think we are over-insured as a result!

Great tips for saving day to day! I’m hoping to retire this year and my biggest financial fear is that once I’m on a truly fixed income, should I need to dive into my emergency fund, how difficult it will be to ever rebuild it?

Think of how you started to build an emergency fund to begin with. Consistent deposits into that fund, however small, will build it up again. If possible, consider working PT temporarily to build the fund again. Tighten your belt with expenditures if need be to accommodate those deposits. Check back regularly for some of the GREAT tips that have already been posted. Good luck!

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We are anticipating retirement in about 5 years. We will be 70. We are living almost as modestly as we have all along and throwing whatever we can into savings/retirement vehicles. We never made much. We eat simple scratch meals at home for the most part, buy used or on sale, repair what we have, (clothes, furniture, small appliances), have one efficient vehicle,(purchased used in cash), keep the thermostat at modest levels, conserve water, have a small garden, compost, shop at Aldi, cut our own hair, bake bread, can and freeze, make some gifts, purchase certain items after holidays. We don’t have cable or streaming services or subscriptions (except for one work related publication my husband gets). We play board games, free online games, read, listen to old time radio, borrowed DVD’s or our own stuff. We have our phones through Republic Wireless. Some of the less usual things I do are reuse aluminum foil and zip lock bags, (if not used for meat), and use discounted older postage on packages and envelopes. Another is to can jams/preserves in commercial jars, if they are for gifts. Almost all seal nicely and are good to go. The rest we stick in the fridge and use at home.

I was just reading one of the articles on how to “budget “ in retirement and then saw your question asking for information from those of us already retired. I read the other comments and I want to offer another situation since I am speaking from an income level lower than the other commenters. I did a lot of the suggested pre-planning as possible except for putting aside enough money yearly in my 401k because most of my jobs didn’t offer the option even when asked—that’s only given to white collar jobs. Personally I feel ever single job should offer this as it is good tax deduction better than trying to fake tax deductions to bring home more money in the paycheck upfront. I did manage to get a small 401k fund saved. I also managed to get the highest level of Social Security based on my highest income averages over my working years. I was planning to retire at my FRA after finding out that my ex-spouses benefits were extremely lower than mine and would not be enough to support me for the remaining years until I reached 70 to max out my benefits. But life dealt me a vicious blow when my company decided to close down operations completely in 2015, 6 month short of my 65th birthday and 18 months of FRA. I was also denied unemployment benefits based on my age and their was no employment options offered by my union unless I took an extreme cut in hourly pay and hours and I need to keep a certain monthly income level to cover necessity bills, like rent. I had to file for my Social Security benefits earlier than planned. Luckily I had already been working on a debt reduction plan which would have been totally eliminated if I retired at FRA. Now 6 years later, I am still working on it slower than I wanted thanks to increases in interest percentage but I have drastically improved my credit score. My worry right now is what Congress is planning to do with taxation on 401k accounts both with the required minimum withdrawal and the funds in the account. They already delayed the age to start from 70 to 72, which means I have to wait until 2023. I plan to be still be alive and I plan to eliminate more of my debt before them too. But with housing costs taking 40% of my monthly income it’s tough. I don’t live above my means.

I’m very sorry for your situation. I don’t know if this would work for you, but I’ve known other retired ladies who have done it. Could you take in a roomate?

I am already sharing residence with my son to share household expenses, but until he gets a good enough income to fully take over the housing costs, I am stuck with it, as 2020 cut his income drastically. My children are pledged to making sure that I have a place to stay so I am not alone and will never place me in any senior housing. I have used all the suggestions, eventually I will be out of debt but not in the drastic version like some posted articles where people paid off all debt in a year but didn’t pay housing costs during that time period. I want realistic suggestions for someone who does pay housing costs and don’t suggest moving to a cheaper area because then I will be on my own entirely away from family since the “cheaper location “ don’t offer job opportunities for them. Besides I don’t drive anymore or own a car so a rural place won’t work unless I can walk to the town center and get delivery on heavy items.
Most of the articles assume that one has a specific income level over $60,000 plus, but I am surviving nicely on about $40,000 and want to eliminate my debt level to have more leeway in the budget. Costs are rising which doesn’t help. Take food costs ( and I maintain a pantry) buying to keep it full since 2019 my monthly costs for the same amount of items has risen $300 almost double. My income is not going to rise, that COLA “increase” always means a similar increase in Medicare premium. Hence my desire to get all debt erased or substantially decreased. I am looking for real people telling real experiences in budgeting.

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The funny thing is that poor people always know how to get by and i look to them for suggestions. I even went to pantry parties in a lower income neighborhood when I was poorer where the prizes were food. You know you don’t have money when the prizes are food!

Are there any senior apartments nearby? Sometimes they have reduced rent. But I think they don’t allow relatives to live with you but sometimes look the other way.

Every expense category has poor mans version.

I’m not retired yet but I’m doing saving practice to save as much as possible I’m trying to cut down my travel expenses.

I’m not retired yet, but I’m doing practice to save money as much as possible, I just figure out that I’m paying too much in my daily traveling so I do some research to how do I get safer & affordable traveling I discover a Get Transfer Coupons which is affordable than any other rental car service.

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Good luck preparing yourself for the voyage forward to your version of “retirement “. Travel/commute costs are an important cost for any part of life. I gather that you are a user of personal vehicle versus public transit ( probably because of lack of good access and services). As a vehicle user ( whether you drive or use a car service) that’s a cost that you can’t really cut without giving up costs elsewhere. If you are doing the driving, you have to have car insurance and maintain the car operating plus the fee whether lease or loan payment. If you are using car services ( Uber/Lyft/private car service) that cost is determined by the company used and never is stable. All of this cost is determined by your geographic area, some areas have have higher price costs based on trip starting point and end point. I personally made my choice to deal with public transit and firmly told my workplace that my time in person at work was limited to available transit services time. You will be surprised how some companies will work out a solution to get their employees to work that is reasonable. We had 2 companies in my area that got the local bus company to extend service times on key routes so their employees could get to and from work. Some companies invest in private bus services from key transit hubs for their employees.
With today’s younger workers who don’t want to be drivers, they would be a key component for lowering commute costs to a manageable level for all workers.