While researching this article about how to be frugal in retirement, I asked Rich Gray, author of The Frugal Senior: Hundreds of Creative Ways to Stretch a Dollar and the editor of FrugalWorld.com, to share his favorite money-saving tips for retirees. Here are some that Gray E-mailed to me:
Keep a spending diary. Write down everything that you buy, no matter how small. At the end of the month, go through it and add up all like items to get a good picture of where your money goes. If you do this for several months, modifying your spending as you go, you'll be pleasantly surprised at how much your spending shrinks over time.
Buy seasonal. Buying foods in bulk when they come into season is a great way to get a bargain. Local produce such as strawberries, corn on the cob, and asparagus can be bought in quantity and frozen for future use. Baking staples such as flour and sugar are generally much cheaper during the holiday period and can last for months if properly stored. This tip really starts to shine when you begin to target meats in season. If you have a deep freezer, you should be stocking it up with turkeys around Thanksgiving, hams around Christmas, corned beef around St. Patrick's Day, and hamburger and hot dogs around the Fourth of July.
Put your credit card on ice. Literally . Credit cards are easy to abuse and a quick way to lose track of your budget, but you'll be less tempted to use one if you have to chip it out of a block of ice first. Probably more symbolic than practical is the idea of literally freezing your credit card in a block of ice in your freezer. It's simple to do: Just fill up a small plastic container with water, add your credit card, and freeze. You actually will save money because you won't be carrying a block of ice around with you and impulse shopping with it, but it will still be available for emergencies. Think of it as solidifying your resolve to save.
Improve gas mileage by cutting down on drag. Consider keeping your vehicle's windows closed when you are traveling at high speed, as open windows can result in considerable drag and reduce your gas mileage. If you're looking for a breeze, try opening the vehicle's passive air vents. Similarly, remove all ski racks or other roof racks if you can, as these also will generate drag and cut into your gas mileage.
Dryer strategy. When drying clothes, try to do two or more loads one right after the other. After the first load, the dryer will still be warm for the second and third. Loads will take less time to dry, using less energy.
Think locally when searching for gift ideas. We all have stuff that is grown or produced locally that others will consider exotic or a delicacy. For example, we live in Vermont and have ready access to fairly inexpensive maple syrup, something highly prized by and expensive to friends and family in places such as California and Arizona. Look to your own town, county, or state for similar products.
Bill yourself first to increase savings. One innovative way to sock money away every month is to write yourself a bill, payable to your savings account. Bill yourself every month, pay yourself first, and you'll see your savings grow.
Buy all your insurance from one provider. If you're buying auto insurance from one provider, mortgage insurance from another, and health from yet a third, you can probably save money by combining them all under one provider's roof. Contact all the providers you use, and even ones you don't, to get combined quotes.
Please share your favorite money-saving tips below.