Living on a fixed income can be challenging. As we live longer, we get concerned about how far our savings will last, if there are savings. Even if you don’t live on a fixed income, you may not want to spend extra money on necessities so that you can use it for more fun things like travel or cultural activities, or whatever makes you happy.
Finding ways to cut costs can help make your money go farther. You don’t have to sacrifice to cut costs. Here are some cost-cutting measures that we use in my family, as well as ways to make deeper cuts. And, if you’re over 60 years old, you should always ask if there is a senior discounts at places you dine and shop. There are places that don’t advertise their senior discounts, so always ask. You have nothing to lose.
Grocery Cost Cutting
- You can cut costs on groceries by shopping in-season. An in-season apple costs far less than off-season grapes.
- Purchase frozen, when possible. I’ve started buying frozen orange juice, which is a little over $1, instead of regular orange juice, which runs $2-$4, depending on whether it is on sale. Frozen vegetables are a great way to save money and you can also purchase frozen fruit for smoothies for far less than fresh fruit.
- Shop around, if time allows. I admit than until recently, we went to one grocery store to buy everything we needed and overpaid for many items. With a bit of organization and research, you can figure out which stores carry your items for less money and stock up when you can. For example, my son loves a brand name raisin bread. It is usually $4.99 at the grocery store. I have started purchasing it at Target, where the regular price is $2.99. I also use my Target Red card to save an additional 5%. Huge savings! I now buy two loaves when I go and freeze one so that I don’t have to go to Target weekly.
- Go meatless 1-2 days per week. Eggs and beans are great forms of protein and cost far less than chicken or beef. Have a breakfast for dinner meal or make black bean tacos or rice and beans for dinner. You can also get your protein from quinoa. I recently made burrito bowls using quinoa, pinto beans, cheese, sour cream, salsa and cheese. Delicious, vegetarian and cheap!
- Don’t throw away food! I am very guilty of this. I buy a ton of produce, thinking I’ll have time to cook it during the week, but the week ends, and the uncooked vegetables have gone bad in my refrigerator. Only buy what you realistically can prepare in a week. If you can’t cook it, freeze it!
- Plan your meals around the grocery store flyers. I had a customer who used to do this so well that I started doing this as well. Each week, she’d look to see what was on sale and purchase those items. She saved a significant amount on her proteins and produce.
I have other grocery tips to save money here.
Household Cost Cutters
- Don’t leave things plugged in if they are off. This uses energy referred to as vampire power. That goes for your cell phone chargers, coffee maker, toaster oven, DVD players, microwave or TV (if you use infrequently).
- Turn down heat or air conditioning a few degrees. Just turning your heat or air down a few degrees shouldn’t make a huge impact on your comfort, but it could make a nice impact on your utility bills. My parents are guilty of this and, I admit, it drives me nuts. They crank their heat up to 78-80 degrees and wear short sleeves, or in my dad’s case, shorts. I’d much rather throw on a pair of sweat pants and a sweat shirt and turn my heat down to 70 degrees. I personally don’t like an over-heated home.
- Evaluate your cable plan. Are you paying for features you don’t use, such as digital video recording or a premium package? Take a look at what you’re paying for and cut accordingly.
- Contact your electric company and gas company and ask about programs for seniors. Some utility companies have special programs for seniors and low income families.
- On that note, contact your cable and cell phone providers and ask them for a better deal on your package. In some cases, they’ve developed new packages or programs that cost less than what you pay. My dad has also threatened to leave and secured a new, less expensive package.
- Use your local library for entertainment. You can borrow books (of course!), music or DVDs.
- If you are in the market for new appliances, be sure to purchase energy saving machines. This will save you money in the long run.
Low Income Money Savers
If your elderly parent is low income, visit to do a benefit check and determine what resources they qualify for. You should also reach out to their utility companies for low income rates and look into nutrition programs for low income seniors.
Hopefully, these tips and resources will help you and your parents. Even if they’re not on a tight budget, it is far more fun to spend money on the fun stuff than on some of the basic necessities.