The retirement conundrum. Now or later? I was talking with one of my sisters the other day about retirement financial planning. I shared with her that I had pretty much mapped out how I intended to tap financial sources and fund my retirement – when I get there. There is considerable uncertainty in world markets and economic conditions, that even well crafted plans could be turned inside out. Still, I recognize the value in creating a plan and factoring for variables and change.
Intentionally, I have lived frugally for the last decade. It’s a simple lifestyle that I’ve chosen. I haven’t deprived myself, yet I haven’t lived my past, extravagant life. If you have a large nest egg and/or a generous pension to look forward to, then choosing frugality may not be necessary. For many, however, “pinching pennies” now is both conscientious and a prudent habit to have.
In the past 18 months I’ve engaged friends and colleagues in conversations about living frugally – as one plans for retirement and once retired. What I am learning is that there is a wide spectrum across which people plan and do not plan for their retirement. And for some of them, the concept of living frugally hasn’t factored into their current lifestyle. They either don’t need to or they just don’t know the value of money and what inflation does to it, at increasing rates, over time. Or, they don’t know value at all.
I’ve heard some interesting ideas from those already retired. A recurring theme is: begin to shift your lifestyle well before you retire, even if it’s just visualizing things differently. There are plenty of qualitative aspects to retired life that don’t cost a lot. And there are other facets where you might want to freely spend some of your nest egg. After all, living comfortably contributes significantly to one’s wellness.
The list of frugal possibilities seems endless. Here are three considerations for those already retired or for those who are still planning for life’s next act:
- Get what you can for free. And that’s plenty. Public libraries rent out not only books and movies, but they also run lots of free programs including lectures. Parks hold concerts for free and colleges frequently allow those aged 55+ to audit classes for free. You won’t earn credits toward a degree, but you will learn some new things.
- Swap and trade are words to live by. Offer your guest room to out-of-town visitors and you’ll feel better asking to use theirs. Use a home-swapping service when you visit new places. Trade your plumbing skills with a house painter. The one commodity that retirement gives everyone is time. Barter it for the lifestyle you want.
- Boats are things belonging to friends. To state the obvious, you can always rent a boat for a day of sailing or a weekend at sea. Let your boat-owning friends know that you’re “thinking” of buying one and ask if they would mind taking you out for the day? Most boat owners love to show off their toys. Many boat owners say the guests they like are the ones who stick around long enough after the day to help clean up and secure the vessel.