Sunday, September 29, 2013

Getting a better return on your money

I found two very different posts recently that, to me, speak to the same subject - how to get a better return on your money while living the lifestyle/retirement that you want. And neither one had to do with finding that tiny bit better interest rate!

October pantry insurance challenge at Nanny's Place focuses on how to economically stock your pantry so that you have "insurance" in the form of a food supply that was bought as cheaply as possible and can be tapped as needed. She suggests steps that focus on organizing and auditing what you currently have, planning using store ads and coupons, setting a weekly cash budget for food shopping, and customizing your purchases to fit what your family will eat.

I'd add shopping on senior discount day if it applies to you. I save 5% on everything purchased at the standard grocery stores that way. However, we have lately found better prices on many things at Trader Joe's and there isn't any senior discount there.

How to juice up your retirement returns at Retirement: A Full Time Job focuses on larger expenses and gives great examples. She also makes the point that a penny saved is equal to about two pennies earned if you are taxed on those pennies earned. Great incentive to not spend.

I like the focus on larger expenses. We already are mortgage free, clean our own house and do our own yard work except for things like trimming large trees. Our credit card doesn't give us airline mileage points though and that could be helpful given the amount we travel. I also have friends who do home exchanges to travel less expensively in this country and abroad and they have had a good experience.

I think I would add some other things to think about.

1. Be careful before investing in home repairs/improvements.  Do your research. Make sure it is necessary, has a good return on investment, or will make you so deliriously happy now that you won't wish you still had the money when you are 90! We are slowly moving on fixing a bent pipe in a shower. Today we took things apart enough to see that perhaps it can be fixed without tile being removed. We have a couple of other small jobs for a plumber so we will have them done at the same time. I found a source for matching tile in case we do need it and will call to see if we can order it and return it if it isn't needed. We will shop for the other parts needed too and then call the plumber. I hate paying the plumber to go shopping!

2. Take care of what you already have. If it lasts longer because you took care of it, then you have a greater return on investment for the money spent. I am not willing to do as much as the Mom who writes CT on a Budget but I could if money was tighter.

3. Make sure you really are using the services you pay for each month and see if you can get a better deal on any of them. I know this gets talked about a lot, but it really can save money. If you rarely use your cellphone, then Tracfone or something similar is much cheaper than a contract plan. If you actually go to the gym, then find a less expensive one or see if your health insurance has a subsidized deal with any gyms in your area - mine does and it is the least expensive monthly plan I can find at $25/mo plus tax.

4. Make your PAID entertainment and eating out as well as book/music/chotchke purchases really pay for themselves in terms of pleasure received. A different kind of return on investment, but worth thinking about carefully. Will I greatly enjoy Thanksgiving dinner at a restaurant since just the two of us will be celebrating this year? Absolutely - just like we have made Christmas Eve dinner at the same restaurant a new tradition for our empty nest years. Do I really want to buy a book for my Kindle or will I enjoy a free one from the library just as much? Remember, you can get almost any book in hardback through interlibrary loan for just a few dollars if you can't get the book for free.

None of us are getting very good returns on our bank accounts or other investments right now so we really need to find those returns elsewhere.

Other ideas?


  1. You've hit on all of the good common sense solution for living within your means. My best advice is live on what you make and not on what you have made in the past. When people say they cannot retire in the style they have become accustomed to I always wonder why they were living so high that they couldn't save to retire. I hope that makes good sense.

    Thank you for the visit is always good to have you comment.

    b+ (Retire in Style Blog)

  2. Your comment makes great sense! I do think the idea of saving enough to retire comfortably is overwhelming for some people - others are just scared. I hear a lot of the "I can't afford to retire" comments too and wonder what will happen to these people when they can no longer work for whatever reason. Perhaps they are just complaining?