Retirees have watched their nest eggs shrink over the past two years. Cutbacks in spending have been necessary and painful. Some 60 percent of retirees say they have reduced expenses since 2008, according to a recent Harris Interactive survey of 501 retirees underwritten by Principal Financial Group. The retirees largely say they are planning to stick with these frugal changes regardless of future economic conditions. Here’s a look at the things retirees are learning to live without.
Meals out. Even early bird specials and senior discounts aren’t enticing retirees to spend more to eat out. Instead, many retirees are preparing more meals at home (55 percent) and a few are even cutting back on take out coffee (9 percent).
Balmy temperatures. A popular way for retirees to save money is to lower the thermostat at home (47 percent). A big part of winter in retirement could be warm sweaters and hot drinks.
New clothes. Retirees don’t need professional work clothes or to pay for dry cleaning. Some frugal seniors have also started to shop in their own closets instead of making new purchases (35 percent) and finding must-have items at thrift or consignment stores (29 percent).
New books and movies. Although retirees generally have more time for books and movies, they don’t have as much disposable cash to get the latest releases at full price. Many retirees (19 percent) say they frequently visit the local library to check out both books and videos.
Impulse purchases. Clipping coupons, waiting for sales, and buying in bulk (24 percent) is standard procedure for many retirees. Retirees are increasingly comparison shopping online and asking for senior discounts.
Home improvement projects. To save money, many retirees are considering delaying home improvement projects (34 percent). Seniors are also doing their own home painting, lawn care, cleaning, and other household maintenance and chores instead of hiring outside help (33 percent).
Debt. Since the recession began in 2008, many retirees have taken steps to eliminate their debt (36 percent). Instead, seniors are striving to live within their means (62 percent) and follow a budget (32 percent). To make sure they don’t take on debt again many retirees have an emergency fund (28 percent) and are taking steps to protect their nest egg (37 percent).
Pricey transportation. Retired couples are usually able to downsize from two cars to one. Some retirees are also considering buying a more fuel efficient car (16 percent) and have started carpooling or taking public transportation (3 percent).
Bigger homes. You can generally get by with less space once your children leave home. Some 7 percent of retirees are considering downsizing to a smaller home. Conversely, 2 percent of retirees want to keep their larger home and are considering renting out a room or getting a roommate.
Traveling the world. A common retirement dream is to do all the traveling you couldn’t squeeze into 2-week vacations while working. But many retirees are cutting back on ambitious travel plans. Some 42 percent of retirees are not planning to do any traveling this summer and another 20 percent have altered their summer travel plans to save money.