When you retire, you notice how much your cost of living goes up every year, and how inadequate the Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) is at meeting those higher expenses. Even seniors who take on part-time or seasonal work can feel the pinch. Therefore, to help, here are suggestions on how seniors can stretch their fixed income dollars.
The AARP has put together tips for saving money on food, entertainment, health, auto, fashion, personal technology, financial transactions, travel, home improvement, and fun and fitness. We will cover some suggestions for stretching your food and health dollars.
How to Save a Bundle on Groceries
You must eat. It is not optional. While you can forego some other things when money is tight, like leisure travel or remodeling your kitchen, food is non-negotiable. Luckily, there are ways to make your food budget cover more.
- Waste not. Americans throw out, on the average, 25 percent of the groceries they buy. If you only buy what you will actually eat, then plan your meals around what on hand, you can save a lot of money.
- Shop local and in season. The fresh fruits and vegetables in season are less expensive and produce from local farmers does not have the expense of shipping over a great distance. Stock up and freeze the excess in serving-size portions.
- Avoid freezer burn. There is no point in freezing extra food, if you will toss it in the bin because of freezer burn. Ideally, vacuum-pack food before relegating it to the freezer. Vacuum sealers pay for themselves quickly by preserving food longer, so don’t throw it out before you have time to eat it. If a vacuum-sealer is not an option, use thicker storage bags. However, the cost of these can total more than the vacuum gadget.
- Cut your own meat. The more work the butcher must do, the more your meat will cost per pound. Learn how to cut your own meat, so you can, for example, buy an inexpensive whole chicken, rather than multiple expensive packages of chicken parts.
Saving Money and Staying Healthy
Knowing how to use Medicare and other government services can keep you from having to spend hundreds, if not thousands of dollars on uncovered health costs.
- Hearing tests. Instead of paying hundreds of dollars for a hearing test at the doctor’s office, you can get a hearing test for $5 using your landline phone. The National Institutes of Health funds the scientific screenings.
- Check with Medicare before buying. If you need health-related equipment, like a walker or wheelchair, contact Medicare to see if they will pay some or all of the cost.
- The name matters. You get a free wellness visit with your doctor every year with Medicare. However, if you call your doctor’s office and make an appointment for a physical, you must pay for it out of pocket.
- Get the freebies. Medicare provides many free preventive tests and screenings, but only if you jump through all the hoops. Check how often Medicare will pay for these services, such as once a year. Verify that your doctor accepts Medicare as full payment for the service.
Using these tips can help seniors save money on their groceries and healthcare costs. The laws are different in every state. Talk with an elder law attorney in your area to discover if the regulations are different in your state than the general law in this article.
AARP. “99 Ways to Save Money on Everything.” (accessed April 7, 2018) https://www.aarp.org/money/budgeting-saving/ways-to-save-money/
AARP. “12 Ways to Save and Stay Healthy.” (accessed April 7, 2018) https://www.aarp.org/money/budgeting-saving/info-2016/tips-to-save-on-health-costs.html
AARP. “9 Ways to Save on Food.” (accessed April 7, 2018) https://www.aarp.org/money/budgeting-saving/info-2016/food-items-to-save-money-on.html