Start Planning Now To Cut Expenses Later

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Anyone who says they don't like to save a buck is probably lying. If you're like many seniors, you're living on a fixed income, so saving cash is a big thing.

In his book, entitled "1001 Ways To Cut Your Expenses," author Jonathan D. Pond outlines the following ways to cut financial corners:

• Join the AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) and other senior organizations.

"If you participate in the programs and discounts they offer, your return on such a small investment (annual membership fee) will be spectacular," said Pond.

Make a list of the restaurants, theaters, etc. in town that offer senior discounts and keep it handy in your purse or wallet, so you don't forget who gives the discounts.

Many movie theaters, hotels, insurance companies and restaurants offer AARP discounts.

• Make projections of income and living expenses and devise a plan today that will allow you to enjoy retirement for the rest of your life.

"Most retirees will have to continue saving during the first 10 years or so of their retirement, so they will have more money available in the later years to keep up with inflation," Pond said.

• Plan trips and vacations through senior citizen organizations.

"Many senior citizen organizations sponsor low-cost, day and weekend trips, and longer vacations," he said.

• Search out pharmacies that offer senior discounts.

"Prescription drugs cost a small fortune these days. If you use some repetitively, be sure to comparison shop on the rates for bulk purchases offered by the AARP," he said, or order your medication online through a reputable dealer.

• Downsize your home.

"I'm amazed at the number of senior citizens who insist on staying in the large home that, typically, they raised their family in. They don't really need all that space, upkeep is a burden, and the cost of maintaining a larger-than-necessary home can put a big dent in a retirement nest egg," Pond said.

• Get a break in education.

Many colleges offer discounts to senior citizens for their continuing education. Try a new hobby or take a class on current events to keep your mind sharp, and do it on a budget.

In her book, "Miserly Moms," Jonni McCoy offers interesting insight. "I am not tight by nature. I know many people who love to be thrifty, but not because they need to," she said. "Many frugal newsletters advocate dumpster diving and reusing envelopes and dryer lint. I always have to ask myself, ‘Why?' Are these things worth the time?"

McCoy advocates a couple of simple guidelines:

• During grocery shopping, read the ads and follow the sales. (Unless you have to drive an hour to save a dollar)

"Make homemade instead of store-bought popcorn, pumpkin bread, cookies. Visit day-old bread outlets for bread, cookies, chips and crackers," she said.

"The worst mistake shoppers make is to show up at the grocery store and just buy what they think they'll need that week," McCoy said.

At minimum, have a list to reduce your spending.

• Buy less meat.

"Meats are a very expensive source of protein. They can range from $1 to $7 per pound. Dried beans are an excellent source of protein, carbohydrates, iron, thiamin and fiber. They cost very little, averaging about 25 to 49 cents per pound," she said.

Follow the guidelines about out how much protein you need and eat more cheese or tofu, too.

• Plant your own garden.

"To preserve my bounty, I bake a bunch of meals or snacks from that one food item and then freeze them. For example, I'll make a ton of jam, zucchini bread, and tomato sauce. I then have what I need all year," McCoy said.

Exchange your goodies with a friend who grew something different, then you both won't have to buy those items at the grocery store the next several months.

• Ask the gas or electric companies to give you a free energy audit.

Perhaps you can save money by turning down your water heater, or adjusting your thermostat.

Being miserly isn't easy, however, you'll save loads of money over the long haul.

Try this today -- every time you buy something that costs more than 50 cents, write it down. Keep a list of how much you're spending and for what for the next month. After 30 days use more of the above mentioned tight-wad ideas and see for yourself how much you've saved. Over time, you just might be able to afford that special vacation you've postponed for years.

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