When my wife and I started out on our full-time motor home journey in the summer of 2009, one thing we wanted to find was ways of saving money and how to make what money we had go further. We did this by cutting down on everyday spending as well as stocking only the necessary items needed that would not take up too much room in our new 400 square feet of living space. The following information will be useful for those of you out there living in a home on wheels, apartment, or in a small confined spacing who are also on a fixed income and need to budget.
Here are some ideas that will help:
1) CLEANING THE HOME:
For cleaning, there are a total of only 5 items you will need to clean your home.
a) A quality dish soap that has a disinfectant as well and cuts the grease and dirt. For example, Dawn Dish Soap is effective for cleaning the dishes as well as the countertops and appliances (including your conventional oven). Dawn Dish soap can also double to be used as a pre-treatment for your clothes, it will do as good of a job (if not better) than the store bought pre-treatments currently available. Simply apply a dab to the spot, take an old toothbrush, dip it in water, scrub lightly, and then let it sit for 2 to 3 hours before washing.
b) Ammonia can also be cost effective, it is known to disinfect and deodorize a large number of things. By adding a ½ tsp. to a 20 oz. bottle of water you can use it to clean windows or by adding 1 cap of ammonia to a full bucket of hot water to clean larger areas such as a laminate floor..
c) For your wood and glass top furniture, try using a light oil based furniture polish spray such as Kleen furniture polish. This oil is light enough to protect your wood when used regularly, yet, will not smear on the glass. It comes out with a little shine instead, plus is also provides a wonderful scent of lemon and is one of the more less expensive brands out there.
d) A bottle of Old English Oil is also good to keep on hand in case you have scratches on your wood that need to be covered up.
e) A small bottle of bleach will do wonders to get rid of those tough stains and calcium deposits on porcelain sinks and toilets and yet will not scratch or cause damage to the surface. It too disinfects and deodorizes. Bleach can also be used in your clothes washer when washing whites. Simply add 1-½ tsp to the “add bleach” slot on your washer machine once it is filled and has started to rotate to wash.
2) SAVING ON PERSONAL CARE ITEMS:
Personal care items such as shampoo and body wash may have different options out there available, however for the most part they are all basically the same. Some shampoos and body washes can be used for both your body and your hair. For example, a shampoo can be used as a body wash as well as for your hair. The ingredients are almost identical. So why spend the extra money to buy one of each?
Shaving cream is another personal care item where you can save. Shaving cream can be replaced by soap and water. A mild soap with conditioning in it such as Dove or Almay will be just as effective and will allow you to shave and yet moisturizes at the same time.
3) SAVING AT THE GROCERY STORE:
Groceries can and usually are a challenge when it comes to saving money. Coupons are good way to save for those items you use most often. It usually will allow you to buy in bulk so you always have it on hand. There are websites that provide up-to-date coupons that you now can print out and use at your local grocery store. Some of these websites such as coupons will even email you with the latest news and coupons. Many grocery stores also provide their own coupons on their website.
Another way to save on your grocery bill is to look at what is on sale for that week either through the flyer in your local newspaper or on the grocery store’s website. When items you use are on sale, try to purchase enough to last you awhile. Also, shopping for can goods and pre-packaged goods earlier in the year when they are on sale may also help save you time & stress for your holiday cooking & baking.
Credit cards can be beneficial to you when used for grocery shopping. Try using a credit card for your grocery shopping only and pay the bill off every month. This will allow you to review your grocery spending each month and some banks even offer points for usage so that later on you can have discounts for restaurants, air fares, etc.
When planning your meals for the week, try using leftovers to make another meal or two. For example, make meatloaf one night, than the next night use the leftovers for either spaghetti or lasagna. Left over side dishes are great for adding into a main dish as well. This saves both time & money for those of you who work. Also, if you have small waste baskets for your trash, try using the plastic grocery bags left over from shopping. The bags are of no cost and can be easily stored in an empty tissue box and will be easier to dispose of.
4) SAVING ON CLOTHES:
Clothes can be very costly when they are needed. When the time comes to purchase these department store items, try going to a local consignment / discount store. Most of these stores offer a wide selection of very nice clothing that range from those everyday work & play to special occasions such as weddings, proms and anniversaries. When buying clothes for your children, you need to keep in mind that they will be outgrowing them in no time, so why spend hundreds of dollars for clothes that will last only for a short period of time. Another benefit when you purchase from one of these type stores is that your money will, most of the time, go to a worthy cause such as “The Cancer Society” or supporting our Veterans and their families. To find your local consignment/discount stores in your area, one useful web page is resaleshopping this particular website currently has over 2,150 stores listed throughout North America.
5) SAVING AT THE PUMP:
A way to save at the pump is to completely fill your tank each time you visit. You never know when the gas prices will go up again and this will allow you to get the best possible price at that current time. Choosing where to purchase your gas can require last minute decision making at times (especially when you are on the road), however, one of the ways to save is by purchasing your gas at places such as Wal-Mart. By putting money on Wal-Mart’s gift / discount cards, you can use this card at their gas pumps and receive .03 off per gallon. Also many grocery stores have great discounts on their store cards for local gas stations after purchasing a certain dollar amount on groceries. There are many websites that will provide the latest on gas prices for the area that are of interest to you such as gasbuddy and gaspricewatch. These websites are very helpful and are continuously being updated.
The speed & type of road can also make a difference on how much gas is used between fill-ups. When driving on the highways, try to stay at a speed of 60 – 65 mph. This will make your dollar stretch more by making longer times between fill ups.
In closing, there are many ways to save money at home. The best way is to do your own research and think about what you can do at home and on the road that will help you save. Remember, knowledge is the key to success and success means a brighter future.
I also have an article on ways to save money once you are retired.
There are many ways of keeping the costs associated with retirement living to a minimum. Analyzing this is a very important first step in figuring out if you have set aside the proper finances to make that step in your life. Financial Analyst will tell you that you need to have 70% to 80% of your current income before you can retire. Along with that, they recommend you plan for your retirement income to last you until at least the age of 85. Controlling your cost of living is a requirement to meet all these expectations and if done properly could possibly let you do it for much less.
One of the most critical steps in the process is to decide on where you want to live or call your state of residency. You will need to consider the following when analyzing this step:
1) Does it or does it not have state income tax
2) Cost of registration for vehicles
3) Cost of Various insurances both Medical and Vehicle
Each state has its advantages and disadvantages. As an example, you hear of Florida and no state income tax, it also has very low vehicle registration costs. However, it is one of the higher states when it comes to health insurance premium costs. If you have an accountant, they will be a very valuable asset for you in determining what fits your situation the best. Everyone has a different situation to review, but you do need to study this aspect very closely. There are also many books written just on this subject alone.
Once you have determined where you want to live, now you have to decide how you want to live. When my wife and I retired we looked at this step as having two options. Either we purchase/rent a home or we purchase a motorhome and travel. We opted for the motorhome avenue for some very particular reasons. With a motorhome, we could travel the country cheaper than we could purchase a home and settle down. When you travel and stay in campgrounds you do still have a rent payment, however, it is usually cheaper than most mortgages on a home. In most campgrounds you don’t pay for electric, water, sewage, and sometime cable if available. With those costs already included in the camping fees we were able to have this portion of our budget less than 50% of what it would have cost us to live in a house or apartment. At the same time we get to travel, see things that we always wanted to, and stay in warm weather year around by following the seasons.
Another way to reduce your costs of retirement is to find some sort of part time income to assist with the costs. Of course you are retired so you need to find a way to earn a small income without it feeling like you are still working fulltime. Some ways of doing this is to try and find ways of making money with your hobbies. A few I have found for doing this are, if you like photography there are ways to sell your photos on the internet. If you like to teach and write you could start a Blog and make money that way. One of my favorite ways is not really a method many think about. Since we live in motorhome and stay at campgrounds we do something called Work Kamping. This is a means of working for the campground a few hours a week in return for compensation in the means of my campground fees. For about 20 hours a week we save hundreds in camp ground fees every month. You may even be able to do some kind of consulting if your job history is from a field that would support that.
Now most everyone that retires will still want to stay in touch with family and friends. With all the Social web sites out there such as Facebook and MySpace, it is actually pretty easy to do for free. You can even use Skype to talk to family and friends for free when you call computer to computer. There also are many free Wi-Fi hotspots around every town that you can use to email and stay in touch with people for free. Take your laptop to dinner with you if you go places like IHOP or Denny’s and you can eat and catch up with people or pay your bills online at the same time.
Another way to save money in retirement is to eat at home more. When you were working it was hard to eat at home. After working all day the last thing you want to do is start cooking dinner when you get home. Thus, it was much easier to go out. Now that you are retired, you have all the time in the day to cook healthy and eat properly. Using coupons will help save at the grocery stores, you can find many valuable coupons on the internet and print them out at home.
One last hint I will give you to assist in lowering costs. Use a credit card for all purchases. Use a card that gives you points that can be used to purchase things such as a restaurant card. Just use the credit card for every purchase during the month and pay it off at the end of the month with your monthly income to avoid interest charges. This will also help you manage and track you expenses at the same time help you earn a free dinner out.
In closing, there are many things that you can do to lower your cost for retirement living. You need to just sit down and think about all the things you can do without or can cut back on that can assist you in reaching your retirement goals. Retirement is a wonderful place to be at the same time a scary place. You don’t want to jump into this part of your life if you are not completely prepared for it.
I have been asked many times, how was it possible for my wife and I to retire at the young age of 44? I am here to tell you, it’s much easier than you think, even in these trying economic times, if you have a realistic goal of what you want to do in retirement.
The first and foremost important thing to consider is the kind of lifestyle you want to live and what it is you want to do in your retirement years. Now my wife and I’s life style may not be for everyone, especially since we went from both having full time jobs and living in a 2500 square foot home to a 400 square foot motorhome, but some of this stuff can be applied to living any kind of lifestyle you wish in retirement if you plan and think it all through completely.
Travel: Traveling this country and seeing the wonderful sights it has to offer was our foremost thought when we decided to retire. You don’t have to get on a plane and travel over the oceans to see all the fascinating things right in your own back yard. Many people spend their whole life working and never travel more than a couple hundred miles from where they live. That means no matter what country you live in, you have most likely not even scratched the surface of all the wonderful things to see. If you don’t go see it soon some of it may be gone before you know it, especially with the way the world is growing and changing daily.
Work Kamping: Work Kamping is one great way of killing two birds with one stone. It allows you to stay at various locations throughout the country for free in exchange for an average of 20 hours of work a week doing odd jobs around the area. You can work camp in locations such as State and Federal Parks, Even some amusement parks offer work campers jobs in exchange for rent. I bet even your local camp ground down the street has work camping jobs if you give them a call. I have stayed in many parks and camp grounds around the country and I can’t remember even one that didn’t offer some kind of work camping duties. The 20 hours a week is also just enough for us to both save money but have something to do to help pass the time. Going from full time jobs to nothing is a lot harder than one would think.
State or Residence: One of the most critical things to consider when retiring, besides if you have enough money is what state or area to call home. Many people want to stay where they grew up or near their children. There is nothing wrong with any of this but doing this may mean you have to work longer and there is nothing wrong with that either. My wife and I decided to change states but just travel back to see our children. Since we are retired there is nothing stopping us from going back home during the summer months and just work camping around our children. However, this still leaves us the winter months when I want to be down south, out of the snow, to travel. Many states offer different tax breaks to people. Some have no state income tax and some just don’t tax pensions or capital gains. Depending on your situation you will need to sit down and give this one a long thought. Might be wise to talk to an accountant to assist you with your personal situation and help you make a wise choice. Just keep in mind that having to pay state income tax in any area just means more of a burden on your retirement savings that you will need to account for in the decision Its quit a feeling to just let go of everything and feel free and not tied down anymore.
Selling your home and possessions: If you decided to move into a smaller place or just get up and do what my wife and I did and that is travel. The hardest decisions to make are what possessions you own are important to you. My wife as an example kept all the photo albums and such but got rid of everything else. If nothing else, our daughter sure has a nice looking apartment and is completely furnished now. We decided to get rid of our home because of the taxes and upkeep was more than we wanted to deal with. At the most if we are going to stay somewhere we will rent. This allows us to still continue to travel and not have to worry about someone taking care of the lawn or shoveling the snow. No Painting and upkeep needed. Also in an apartment our utility bills would be much less than in a home.
Money and Budget: As you can see the life style my wife I have chosen for us is not for everyone. However, it is what we wanted and because of that we were able to retire with a lot less money than you may think. If you look at just the money side of retirement, at the basic interest rate of 7% on say, $500,000 that comes out to $35,000 a year in interest and that is before you touch any principal. You tie that to living in a state with no income tax, low sales tax, and work camping when we travel to reduce rent costs, you can live very comfortable with very little. Another thing we do to allow us to take cruises periodically is we use our credit cards for all daily expenses. Then just take our money and pay it off at the end of each month. This allows us to generate points or rewards that by the end of the year can put my wife and I on a very nice cruise for very little cost.
Expenses: Some of the most common expenses you will have in retirement that many don’t always think about are; Taxes, Food, Gas, Medical Premium, Prescriptions, Cellular Phone Bill, Rent/Utilities, Insurance, Dining Out, Clothes, and gifts for your children. There are others but this is some of the most common that every retired person will have. All of retirement planning is trying to find ways to minimize this list and what items you do have on it keeping their costs down as much as possible.
In closing, there are many other ways to reduce you costs that will allow you to retire young and with a lot less than you think. Whatever your plans are the most important thing to do is the plan early and when the time comes to enjoy it to its fullest.