When a baby boomer transitions from full-time employment to full-time retirement, many hours of free time suddenly become available. If you work 40 hours per week for 50 weeks each year, and commute one hour per day for 190 days worked, that’s 2,190 extra hours of free time that retirement will make available to you. Some of that free time can now be used to take steps that will actually lower your retirement expenses.
1. Develop and use your cooking skills. Let’s face it – busy Americans tend to save their precious free time by eating out a lot and purchasing expensive convenience foods to eat at home. This adds a lot to the food budget. As a retiree, you now have plenty of extra time to plan and cook complete meals at home, using lower cost basic ingredients instead of prepared convenience items. You also have time to learn and develop improved cooking skills. If you do it right, you end up with a smaller food budget, a healthier diet, and better tasting meals. This is definitely on my list. I can imagine saving $50-$100 per month this way.
2. Comparison shop. Most everyone knows that the the Internet has dozens of different shopping tools and sites that enable the skilled shopper to find the best deal on thousands of different products. Similarly, carefully studying the local grocery and drug store ads can lead to significant savings. I do a poor job of comparison shopping now because I get in a hurry. There is no excuse for being in a hurry when you are a retiree with an extra 2000 hours of free time.
3. Find and exploit the senior discounts. Now that I am approaching 60, I am learning of senior discounts offered by stores that never occurred to me before. Some of these discounts are out there but not heavily advertised. It takes time to find them. It can also take time and planning to use them. For example, one of our local grocery chains offers a 10% discount on most food purchases to seniors (60 and older) on the first Wednesday of each month. With lots of free time to plan ahead, it is a lot easier for a retiree to find and use these senior discounts for yourself.
4. Seek out free entertainment. Folks who work full-time tend to spend a lot entertainment dollars in a short period of time because they don’t have as much free time. Examples include the whirl-wind, high dollar vacations we take. With more free time, a retiree could end up spending even more entertainment money, if the entertainment activities are similar. However, if you use some of that free time to develop new interests and engage in activities that are less time intensive but equally enjoyable, you could spend less. Reading, gardening, volunteering, etc., are all hobby-type activities that can be free or inexpensive compared to some of the other ways we entertain ourselves when we feel pressed for time.
I’m sure there are lots of other ways in which a retiree’s free time can be applied toward retirement cost reduction. If you have any suggestions, please leave them in a comment.