Practical Cost-Saving Tips for the Senior Lifestyle

Retirement presents us with a puzzle.
Retirement presents us with a puzzle. | Source

Will you Have Enough Retirement Income?

Author Lilian Jackson Braun worked from the ages of 17 to 97 (in 2010), writing with a thick pencil on legal pads and shunning electronic technology. How many of us will be able to do any of that past retirement age?

Producing one or two Cat Who mysteries per year since the mid-1980s at a goodly income, Lilian did not likely worry about or rely upon a monthly Social Security check. However, most of us in America do so in our older years.

Several changes were made in Social Security Retirement regulations for 2011, but most Americans will not need to work to age 97 to collect full benefits. They may need to work until age 75, however, suggested by legislation handled by Reagan Administration (1981-1989). Professors taught about his in Preventive Medicine and Microeconomic Courses in the OSU Department of Medicine in Ohio during the later 1990s.

Spoken Word recording by the future president. The Reagan Congress decided that Americans need to work to age 75. This means Generation Z.
Spoken Word recording by the future president. The Reagan Congress decided that Americans need to work to age 75. This means Generation Z. | Source

Increasing Retirement Ages

Generations coming to retirement age after the Boomer Generation will find themselves required to work to older ages in order to retire with full and partial SS benefits. The second half of the Boomers are already experiencing increased age requirements.

Some individuals have been notified already that age 70 is the age for receiving full benefits. The related goal of our nation is to retire Americans at age 75, with Millennials and younger generations receiving gradually older ages for retirement benefits. Lilian Jackson Braun made that a moot point by working to age 97, but some other changes likely make her shake her head today.

At the same time that retirement ages are increasing for each successive generation, many older workers today are being downsized or experiencing cuts in weekly work hours and pay between ages 40 and 55. This places them in precarious earning jeopardy and many have been unable to return to work at all after layoffs during the Recession of 2008 - 2010.

High school and college graduates in the 2010s need to carefully plan their careers and investments to provide for middle- and older age. They can benefit from a determined effort to devise some sort of passive income stream(s) long term in addition to their well-planned careers.

Lilian's First Cat Who

The Cat Who Could Read Backwards
The Cat Who Could Read Backwards

Ms. Braun wrote this first novel in 1966 when she was an Editor at the Detroit Free Press. In the story, she adds together mystery, murder of a newspaper art critic, a smart cat named Koko, an investigative reporter named Qwill, a 1960s "Happening" and a cast of character you will wish were real.


Long-Term Unemployment Among Seniors

Given the number of long-term unemployed I have encountered among individuals 40 through 60, I would like to advise younger workers to secure enough investments and retirement income by age 50 to maintain themselves until age 90 or 100.

This sounds drastic and unrealistic. However, in the face of layoffs between ages 40 - 55 and retirement far off at 75, what is to be done in the 20 or 30 gap years? In 2010 - 2011, we have experienced 12-14 million unemployed workers, with half this number or less of advertised job postings (with a few more in the hidden job market). New industries and jobs are emerging through the sustainability and green businesses movement and through privatized space travel (commercial and tourist). However, this expansion of jobs may not double the number of available job listings, which is needed in early 2011.

Consistent income and a reasonable budget that can be maintained in middle age and retirement are necessary goals for the generations retiring from 2010 - 2050.

Some Answers

We cannot all work 80 years, as did Lilian Jackson Braun.

One answer to the income gap between layoff or downsizing and Social Security Retirement income is to cut daily costs. This is easier if, in early working years, we can be determined not to be led into conspicuous consumerism and unreasonable levels of credit card debt, mortgages, and student loans and their interest rates. If this lifstyle has become a habit, then reducing and keeping costs lower during senior years will be simpler.

Several senior citizens has reported useful ways of reducing costs. Some of this advice includes:

  • Stay Healthy - Aging includes susceptibility to the "diseases of aging", but planning to be healthy and following health, nutrition, and exercise practices proven to be effective can reduce many health related costs.
  • Purchase Used Instead of New Automobiles - I first heard 30 years ago that depreciation is enormous in the first year of car ownership and that it is wise to wait until the 4th quarter of the year and purchase the new autos that have not yet sold. They will be discounted in price. Some buyers wait until January and purchase them at a larger discount.
  • Mass Transit - As drivers age and mass transit increases in quality and expanse, some drivers sell their autos and take the bus or light rail. In some cities, transportation fares for senior citizens are greatly reduced and in a few cities and towns, transportation is free. Senior centers in some towns offer free van transportation for shopping and entertainment outings to those aged 50 or 55 and over.
  • Senior Discounts - Discounts and free items and services for senior citizens are offered by various businesses, but not always advertized by a sign in the estabishment. Don't hesitate to ask if a senior discount is offered at restaurants, coffee shops, movies, airlines, and many others. As an alternative, review the databases of senior discounted and free products and services below.


Retirement can be happy.
Retirement can be happy. | Source
  • Homesharing - Homesharing is a grant supported program in some cities that matches senior citzens with younger people looking for a room to rent and willing to work a bit for a partial discount in rent. This provides companionship, increased safety, and financial help for the senior and an affordable, pleasant living environment for the younger individual. Background checks and a set of interviews are required and supervised by a case management persoin, usually a social worker.

  • Faith Based Repair Services - A Brethren Church in Franklin County OH maintains a men's service group of volunteers that come to the aide of female senior citizens and widows of any age. This is based on scripture that advises us to help the widow(culturally, the original language means to include older single women as well and some local churches include widowers) This group will go into the homes of these women that need repairs completed and do the work that they are equipped to complete for them at no charge -- A number of churches and synagogues supervise youth groups that will help senior citizens in their homes at no charge. Jobs included that would normally cost fees include lawn mowing, snow shoveling, and many other tasks. Seniors can call local faith based organizations and inquire about such services and groups.
  • For additional services and tangibles offered to senior citizens at reduced cost or free, contact your local social services hotline number. In Central Ohio, the name of the hotline has been CalVac and FirstLink. If you are unable to locate your hotline, call you city's mayor or city manager's office or what qualifies as your City Hall and ask if there is a social services hotline locally.

Try Writing For Income

One reason I joined HubPages was to write in order to earn a continuing income that might supplement or replace Social Security Retirement if that program should end. Today, long before retirement, I earn over half of my monthly income from HP affiliate programs, contests, etc. You can do as well or better!

A number of members have been offered writing jobs through exposure via their Hubs (articles and stories). Some are writing their own books right now. You may not want to work to age 97, like Lilian Jackson Braun, but you may be able to earn income at HubPages.

© 2011 Patty Inglish

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Comments 15 comments

Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 5 years ago from California Gold Country

I love the "Cat Who" books-- so have contributed a few cents to her retirement.

All of your suggestions are right on-- start investing before you see the need. -- Then write best-selling books whenever possible

Barbara LaBier 5 years ago

I enjoyed your informative article especially the mention of the website,homesharing and faithed based repair services. Saving for retirement is always a struggle but I still see real estate as part of the solution. If you have paid for your house you will always have a place to live and with a rental property you can use the montly income when you retire, and you can trade it or borrow money from it. This is a plan that must be started at least age 40 to bear fruit

Christopher Price profile image

Christopher Price 5 years ago from Vermont, USA

My favorite line is: "As drivers age and ass transit increases in quality and expanse, some drivers sell their autos and take the bus or light rail."

You're absolutely right, if their asses weren't so expansive we could cram more of them on each bus, and save money!


BobbiRant profile image

BobbiRant 5 years ago from New York

Frankly the higher retirement ages are because the government hopes most are dead before reaching those ages. It's hard for anyone to get really nutritional foods because junk foods continue to be cheaper and probably another way they can kill off seniors. Not many can work now, and probably not into the future to a very ripe old age because this country age discriminates left and right. There are also very few investments that are likely to even be around long enough to sustain anyone from 40 to 50 onward given all the plans and banks and companies either taking it all in fees or just plain folding and taking it all. The trend these days is to get rid of those 40 and over, if they can. Not many plans can be trusted to stick around long enough to collect your investments anymore. Even 401K investments charge 'processing fees, handling fees' to the tune of over half of what you really receive.

okmom23 profile image

okmom23 5 years ago from Midwest, U.S.A.

Patty, Well researched and written helpful tips. Voted up & useful! Thank you for sharing.

Zsuzsy Bee profile image

Zsuzsy Bee 5 years ago from Ontario/Canada

Patty another super hub. There as always is a fly in the ointment though. Unfortunately the mature worker does not have a chance to keep his/her job because of his/her age and being hired at age fifty+ represents quite a challenge. Until companies realize what great assets they have in a mature worker there won't be much hope for anyone working into their seventies.

I'm afraid it's going to be a hard sell.

great hub

hope you're well


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 5 years ago from North America Author

I love these comments!

Rochelle - 'write best selling bopks whenever possible." Some people may be able to, but i think I'll have to stick with something shorter. :)

Christopher - Thanks for finding the missing 'm.' I really got a laugh out of your comments.

Barbara - Real estate might be a a ood option, and one I know little about. Thanks for mentioning it.

BobbiRant - Admittedly, I have often wondered about just what you say. It's a bad situation. Seniors may drop dead in the streets like the mass bird and fish kills recently. I recall a Chicago hi-rise filled with seniors in the 1990s - all residents died in a fire because windows were sealed shut and the elevator would not work. That represented a lot of Social Security and pension $$.

okmom33 - Thanks so much for taking your time to read and comment!

Zsuzsy Bee - It's exactly as you say. A very hard sell.

GusTheRedneck profile image

GusTheRedneck 5 years ago from USA

Hi Patty - Not everyone can succeed with what yu advise folks to do, but everyone should try their best. Why not? Do people have anything really better to do?

Gus :-)))

Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 5 years ago from North America Author

Thanks, Gus!

Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 5 years ago from London, UK

Patty, that is a very thoughtful hub in every respect. Thank you for the joy to read.

vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 5 years ago from Nashville Tn.

Patty - Bless you for writing this wonderful hub. As a senior, I consistently search for any opportunities available for us. While opportunities are very limited, I get a certain satisfaction from paying my senior discount for a cup of delicious McDonalds coffee. (I never eat fast food, so I frequent M.D.s only for the java) :) Your tips and suggestions are execellent. Some younger folks, tend to stick their heads in the sand, so to speak, thinking old age will never happen to them. (I was one of these poor, foolish souls). So, your hub will hopefully pull in plenty of traffic from those who follow in my footsteps. Fortunately, I am blessed to provide for myself financially by living my passion as a musician and teacher. Thanks, Patty for this super hub. Rated up, up, up!

Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 5 years ago from North America Author

vocalcoach - I actually stopped spending money on just about anything after I was tricked out of $200 at age 18 by a bait-and-switch sale. From then on, I kept my eyes open for value and good pricing.

It's good to hear that you can continue enjoying your calling of musician and teacher throughout your life. Thanks for reading and for your kind words!

Support Med. profile image

Support Med. 5 years ago from Michigan

I think it's terrible that we would have to work until age 70 to get social security. And I think they have great nerve to deny social security for those who need it. I have a ways to go before I can say I receive a goodly income from this site,but will continue to work at it. Thanks for sharing this information.

janet2 5 years ago

. I am trying to get my mom a cellphoen to seem likea gift. but its really for my sanity. was looking at senior value cellphone from tracfone just because I have a tracfone that I like.. but this one seems designated for seniors with things that benefit their needs. have you ever heard of it or know any seniors that maybe liked it? its like seven bucks and i just really want to save her money.

Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 5 years ago from North America Author

I heard of one available through AAA auto clubs, but yours is less expensive. Seniors need to keep a cellphone charged up, turned on, and in a pocket or by the bed all the time.

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