How I Am Surving Retirement on Social Security in 2011

After giving much thought and endless hours of research, I took the jump and retired in 2008. This was before we knew about the financial crisis. Before housing took a hit. Before the stock market began crashing. Before, before, before.

Saving on food and household items. This has actually turned out to be easier than I thought. I have cards for all the grocery stores I use for shopping. And many of them give you discounts on gasoline. I have cut back on expensive items, like steak. Unless, It’s a manager special or BOGO. And I have cut down on serving sizes. Why do we each need a 10oz. steak or pork chop? We actually find we feel better eating smaller portions. Rotisserie chickens are great, especially when on sale. You can get several meals out of one chicken and then soup out of the carcass. I find we are eating more vegetables…especially frozen on sale.

Am I the only one who washes out the zip-lock bags with good old soap and hot water to be reused? Not to mention the plastic bags we bring home the produce in from the grocery store. And how about the liners holding the cereal in the box. Remember when it used to be waxed paper? Well, those bags are very sturdy and can have all kinds of uses.

I no longer spend my money on disposable wipes for cleaning and have gone back to using vinegar, bleach and baking soda. Water with some vinegar added cleans my windows so much better than the spray window cleaners. And newspapers leave them streak free! I use a lot less paper towels too. What an expense and waste! Why did I ever stop doing them that way?

Lately, I’ve been seeing my 12-roll packages of toilet tissue on sale. As a retired couple, someone is always going to the bathroom. When I see that 12 pack for $5.99 or less, I buy one. Today I bought one for $3.99. It certainly is not going to go to waste.

Entertainment. Now this one can be tricky. Luckily, our pleasures are simpler since retiring. I include eating out in this category. Going to a restaurant where the meals are in excess of $16 each and wine is $6-7 a glass, is no longer the fun it used to be. So this is reserved for an occasional treat. The rest of the time, its good, inexpensive, local little places.

Cable television is another area that’s been cut back. Three hundred channels with maybe fifteen that ever got watched was an unnecessary expense. I canceled the service, got an indoor antenna and save about $75 a month. What I discovered? You get multiple channels of network and PBS. I don’t lack for things to watch. In fact, I like it better.

I can’t do without Internet, but I do have “lite”, instead of high speed. Its faster than dial up, but slower than what I had before. I’ve adapted and it costs less.

I have a landline phone that is a two state plan. When I need to call someone outside of my calling area…I use Skype, for free. I use a pay as you go cell phone. No bells and whistles, just a phone. Remember when answering machines were high tech? If I raised my family, worked, volunteered, etc. without having everyone in the world able to reach me at any time of the day, I can do it now. While IPads, smartphones, etc. are great wants, for me they are not a need. I can check my messages when I get home. Most of those are telemarketers, anyway. If I go out of town, I take my laptop. Its really not that heavy. And I use email to keep in touch. Not to mention…Facebook. What a great invention!

All in all…I find living a simpler life is so freeing. I do more walking and communing with nature. I’ve taken up geocaching (treasure hunting with a handheld GPS). It gets me out, gets me exercising and it such fun trying to find the cache someone has hidden. And once again, its free.