Being a Super Saver
By nature you may be thrifty or have a nose for a deal. When you pass a certain age, in some cases as young as fifty, you will find that you are the darling of an entirely new marketing machine. Disguised in the cloak of saving you money, endless opportunities to spend your money on “senior specials” will come your way. When these make sense, take advantage. Where they don't make sense is if they impel you to start spending money on things you don't need, just because it is a “bargain” or cloaked as an “investment,” such as so-called collectibles. It is never too early to develop a habit of being a careful shopper. When you transition to living on a fixed income, you will be highly motivated to stretch your dollars. There is no need to wait until then to embark on a treasure hunt for the best values in everything you purchase.
While looking for bargains can be a rewarding undertaking in itself, you might also evaluate cutting out certain overhead items completely. Some ideas for consideration are as follows:
If you have a cell phone and a land line, do you need both?
Could you go to the library to read periodicals and skip the subscriptions at home?
Are you paying dues to clubs or organizations you don't use?
Eliminating specific expenses is a noble goal. Additionally, there are many areas of your life in which you really cannot stop spending completely, but in which you can seek lower costs. Much as with a diet, you have to be smart about what you cut back on and how you cut back so you don't end up throwing your hands up in frustration saying, “Forget it, this is too hard!”
In the areas of food, clothing, entertainment, and health care you might ask yourself the following questions:
If you are a household of one, is it more economical to cook and maybe eat leftovers, or to purchase small portions of ready-made meals?
Would you be willing to try going an entire year without purchasing any new clothing, shoes, or accessories?
Does your ego allow you to enjoy the senior discounts offered for everything from movies to early-bird specials at restaurants?
Are you aware of choices you may have for health care coverage, or prescription benefits?
Are you aware of sources for the best prices on prescription medications?
Some tips for being a super shopper are:
Clip coupons only for products you use — not any you don't.
Make your deal for a new car at the end of the month, when the sales people are trying to meet their sales goals.
Comparison shop — know what's available on the market for whatever you need to buy, and how much it is selling for.
Hold on to receipts — many retailers offer to meet or beat competitive prices up to thirty days after a purchase. Watch the ads even after you have made a purchase — you may be eligible for a partial refund.
In smaller stores, make an offer below sticker price. A motivated owner may be happy to move inventory.
Purchase holiday items out of season, when they are on close-out, and save them until the following year.
Probably the most important advice for being a super shopper is: Don't overbuy. A bargain can quickly become an extra expense if you buy more than you can use in a reasonable period of time. Plus, you have the inconvenience of finding a place to store extra items until you finally need to use them.