Your giant guide to living frugally in retirement

Living a thrifty life on the pension often isn’t a choice, it’s a lifestyle many are obligated to. Millions of Australian seniors are living on just the pension alone, and are scrimping and saving where they can to make ends meet and try and have the best quality of life you can.

But even so, there are ways to save more money than previously thought, just by being savvy.

Here are 30 ways to save every week so that you can enjoy life and make the most of your 60s and beyond.

1. Check every bill

Finding it hard to save money and even live day to day? You’re not alone. It can be difficult to have any money left over, especially if you’re on the pension and you have bills coming in. But how often are you checking your bills for discrepancies? You could be charged for things you didn’t even realised, such as this Telstra scam.

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2. Find free new hobbies in your area

There are plenty of free activities happening in your area – you just need to find out where. Check your local council’s website, or Google “activities in …. area”

3. Try eBooks

eBooks are often 50 per cent cheaper (or more) than hardcovers. Amazon and Booktopia have eBooks available and the best part is that you can read them on a tablet or eReader – no more lugging around a huge book. There are also websites that have free eBooks of the classics!

4. Go prepaid vs postpaid

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Forget about a phone plan you’re locked in to – try a month-to-month prepaid instead. The deals are often better and you can bring along your old phone.

5. Sell your collections

Do you remember when almost everyone had a collection of some sort? Nowadays they can be worth a fortune however some people still have boxes and boxes of vintage goodies in their sheds. It’s time to get it out and sell on sites such as eBay and Gumtree.

6. Use the 10-second rule

Whenever you pick up an item and add it to your cart or to take it to the checkout, stop for 10 seconds and ask yourself why you’re buying it and whether you actually need it. If you can’t find a good answer, put the item back!

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7. Rent out your unused room

Do you have an extra bedroom that’s not being used? Rent it out on a site like Airbnb or Gumtree. If you live near a popular or tourist area, doing so could bring in a lot of extra money.

8. Make your own cleaning supplies

Here’s a streak free cleaning spray recipe, and a list of 5 other homemade cleaners.

9. Go on coupon websites before you shop

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ShopaDocket, OzBargain and All the Deals are good places to start. Otherwise, simply Google “coupons for …..” or “discounts for …..”

10. Sharpen disposable razors

Wait! Before you throw out that blunt razor, why not sharpen it? It’s as easy as running the razor along your arm in the direction of hair growth six or seven times. Alternatively, you can do this on your jean leg. One man online said he used the same disposable razor for years.

11. Learn to upcycle furniture

Instead of buying brand new, why not make something old look new? Bunnings often have free DIY workshops which show you how to make some drab into something fab.

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12. Grocery shopping

Go to the supermarket either around 8am or 5pm to take advantage of mark downs – supermarkets are well known to use these times of the day to mark down fresh produce, which you can freeze if you’re buying in bulk or may not use it.

13. Get rid of the car if you don’t need it

If you live close to shops and your relatives, and only drive a few days a week, it could be a good idea to get rid of your car. It may feel like you’re getting rid of your independence but in actual fact you will get more money to spend on things you enjoy.

14. If you need something, buy it secondhand

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Gumtree and eBay have millions of items ready for you to purchase at a great price, and some even for free on Gumtree. You can get awesome deals on things that have barely been used.

15. Stay away from restaurants

Restaurants are an easy target if you want food and now. If you want a great meal, why not have friends over and everyone brings a plate? Plan your meals in advance so you can only buy those ingredients and freeze anything you don’t eat.

16. Drink more water

If we eat more, we’re going to spend more. Over 60s are much more prone to dehydration, yet we don’t feel like we are. So have a cup of water instead of eating and you’ll be amazed at just how much less food you snack on.

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17. Use an app

Here’s our favourite apps that will save you money:

  • Groupon
    This app is packed full of cheap coupons for just about anywhere you’d like to go. If you’re looking for a cheap restaurant or experience, have a look in this app! Once you get a code, you get an instant code which you can simply show when you redeem your coupon.
  • Mint
    If you’re having trouble budgeting, the smartest thing to do is get a smart phone app to keep track of all your activity. This nifty app tracks your transactions and makes note of your spending patterns. It even has easy-to-read graphs to show you where to cut back.
  • Motormouth
    Running out of fuel? Simply log onto your Motormouth app and it will tell you where the cheapest fuel in your area is. Easy!
  • Viber
    Forget about excess data or phone usage, why not make free calls and texts instead? Viber enables you to contact anyone in the world for free, 24/7.
  • Hopper
    You’ll get your lowest airfares ever thanks to Hopper’s finely tuned price-prediction software. It finds out the best time for you fly, then it figures out the best time for you to buy tickets for that flight.
  • OneReceipt
    It can be hard to keep track of all your receipts, and we’ve all been guilty of throwing that one important one out. Now you can take a photo of each as soon as you buy a new product and sort into a folder. Even better, digital receipts or photos of receipts are considered as evidence of purchase by the ACCC.
  • Wi-Fi Finder
    Running out of data on your phone or need to use your tablet? This app can find Wi-Fi close by for free. It also works worldwide so you can use it overseas when you travel next!
  • Onavo
    The trouble with some smart device is that they don’t come with enough space. You can stop your phone from filling up too quickly by downloading Onavo, which compressing all the web pages, images, email and app data (except for media streaming) that you download before they reach your device, saving you up to 80 per cent on your data plan. Onavo even tells you how how much money you’ve saved every time you open it!
  • GetPrice
    This free app compares online prices – all you need to do is scan a barcode or search for a product to compare prices.
  • Your bank’s smart phone app
    Every bank in Australia has a smart phone app, so it’s just a matter of finding it in iTunes or Google Play! These apps can help you keep a track of your money and set up direct debits.
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18. Buy male instead of female products

Did you know female products have a price difference to the identical product for men? It’s called the pink tax. So buy men’s razors, shaving cream, deodorant and body wash instead of the female version.

19. Swap tofu for meat

Meat is expensive, let’s face it. Tofu is one of the most underused but useful foods, and it’s so versatile. It can be marinated, grilled and sautéed. It sucks up every flavour you cook it with, and comes in silken, medium and firm, depending on your taste.

20. Use boneless, skinless, chicken thighs instead of chicken breast

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Chicken breast is very expensive expensive per kilo, so why not change it by buying boneless, skinless chicken thighs? They’re just as delicious as chicken breasts, and very flavourful.

21. Use frozen mixed vegetables instead of fresh

It’s a common misconception that frozen vegetables lose their vitamins, however this isn’t true. In fact, they are just as good for you as fresh vegetables and in some cases are considerably cheaper. You also save time chopping, and can just use as much.

22. Cut and dye your own hair, or go to the local hair college

If you want a cheap haircut, contact your local hair college – the students will give you a trim for a bargain price. There are supervisors present to watch the trainees at work. Otherwise, you can dye your hair yourself – there are plenty of online videos.

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23. Do a wardrobe clean out

By cleaning out your wardrobe, you can sell items you don’t need, or at the very least find other clothes to wear. Here’s how to make it easy.

24. Stop paying for convenience

Stop paying ATM fees because you can’t find your actual bank’s ATM. Stop paying for soft drinks, milk and bread at ultra-high prices at the service station.

25. Glasses

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Where we get our eyes tested is often where we buy our glasses. But did you know you could save a bucket load by taking your prescription elsewhere and shopping around? Websites like ClearlyContacts, 39DollarGlasses and Discount Optical have great deals on frames and lenses. If all else fails, the $2 glasses from the discount store are better than nothing!

26. Over the counter medication

Brands exist to compete with each other for your hard-earned money but if you’re buying branded medication over-the-counter, the generic product will do just as well. This includes Panadol or Nurofen – the $1 stuff at the supermarket does the trick.

27. Cups of coffee

Many of us are coffee addicts and love to drink one or two cups (or more!) a day. If you’re buying these at a coffee shop or convenience store, you likely already know how much it can add up. Instead, buy a coffee machine and buy your own beans, or go the easy route and purchase a pod coffee machine and some pods. The average price of a coffee is about $1.15 a cup.

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28. Makeup

We love to look good but you actually don’t need to spend a lot – $15 is the most you should spend on foundation or concealer. Splurge on those two items plus face powder. Scrimp on lipstick, nail polish, mascara, eye shadow and eye liner. You can buy all of these at the chemist or other cheaper stores. You won’t notice the difference but your wallet will!

If you buy $60 foundation, $20 mascara, $15 lipstick and two $10 nail polishes every quarter, you could save $350 by buying $15 foundation, $5 mascara, $3 lipstick and two $2 nail polishes instead.

29. Parking

It’s tempting to just park in the closest car park to your destination but you could be saving yourself quite a bit of money by finding free car parks. Most council websites will have a street car park map and you will be able to find out where they are. Make sure you give yourself enough time to drive around for a park.

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An average car park in inner cities is $20 an hour, so if you use it for two hours every two weeks on average, you could save yourself $1040 a year by looking around.

30. Drinks and popcorn at the movies

Going to the movies is a luxury in itself, and as seniors we can usually get a discount. But it’s the candy bar that can really sting us. Why not take your own food in instead? Put some packet popcorn (about $1 from the supermarket) in the microwave and take it in with you, along with some lollies or treats.

If you go to the movies once a fortnight with a partner and buy from the candy bar (around $30 each), you could save $780 by doing it on the cheap, as mentioned above.

Tell us, what is your best frugal living tip?

Important information: The information provided on this website is of a general nature and for information purposes only. It does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. It is not financial product advice and must not be relied upon as such. Before making any financial decision you should determine whether the information is appropriate in terms of your particular circumstances and seek advice from an independent licensed financial services professional.