Being frugal can have a slightly different meaning for seniors than it does for, say, a college student. Seniors have done a great deal more living than the average college student, and there are different expectations for one’s finances in the twilight years.
Seniors, for instance, may be living off of retirement funds and social security (a fixed income). They are often on more medications than they were when they were younger, too, so health care costs are a prime concern.
Here are some ways that frugal living can be defined, and what it means for seniors.
1. The Frugal Mindset
Being frugal is different from being cheap or a tightwad. Frugal living is more about how you manage your money and spending when you think something is worth it, not just refusing to spend at every turn. For instance, a frugal senior may decide to spend money on natural supplements instead of medications because he (or she) thinks this is the best use of his money. It doesn’t mean he simply refuses to spend money on his health at all.
So as we talk about frugality for seniors, remember the frugal mindset: it’s about making smart choices about how you save and spend your money, not just how you can avoid spending it at all.
2. Loans Less Likely
For frugal seniors, getting a loan may not be on your list anyway. But if it is, frugal seniors may have to come to the realization that long-term loans are not going to be available to them. This means that frugal seniors will need to learn how to work with their existing income or find a way to obtain money through means other than loans (such as selling stock).
Another point about debt – sources advise seniors to avoid it as much as possible. The reality is, you just don’t have as much time to pay down debt as someone younger, and you may end up leaving that debt for your relatives to deal with.
3. Less Need for Stuff
Many seniors find that they have a great deal of stuff from over the years. Seniors may find it relatively easy to be frugal regarding spending sprees. Before you spend, you will probably think about how much you already need to get rid of. Also, some seniors may not be interested in the latest gadgets and technology. So for seniors, frugal living may involve not spending on lots of new stuff.
Seniors should make sure they are receiving all possible benefits from Social Security. There may be some benefits you could claim that you don’t know about, such as spousal benefits. For seniors, being frugal means making sure you are getting everything you should be getting for the time you’ve out in to the workforce.