Retirement living has many perks – more time, less expenses, more fun, more options and fewer restrictions. But, there is another advantage to retirement living that most of us don’t realise… And it can be incredibly rewarding financially and socially.
This great perk is your ability to form a retirement co-op! This can happen in your retirement village, in your suburb, in your street or in your town. It can be virtual or it can be a physical group but whatever you choose, it has the potential to help you hugely.
So what is a co-op?
A co-op is a co-operative group that works together to achieve things with a better outcome for everyone. So, for retirement this means pooling your resources (i.e. money) to make things more efficient for everyone. Doing things in this group like buying things in bulk and not wasting the extra product lowers the cost of living for everyone. Or, entertainment like dinners, galas, and shows often become cheaper when you buy tickets as a group making these luxuries more affordable for everyone.
How does it work?
A co-op is best based on location, so a group of people living in the same street, suburb, complex or retirement village live in ideal conditions to start one. Every co-op has different rules but each month or each year, people can contribute a specific amount of dollars to the co-op and someone takes care of the money. Then, you have a resource pool to draw on when you do the agreed list of tasks be it shopping, transporting, entertaining or travelling.
What can we use the co-op to do?
There are so many different things you can use a co-op for. They can be small things to help ease living costs or if everyone contributes a little more they can be great for the entertainment factor. But some of the things to start off include:
Groceries: Groceries can be made a lot cheaper by buying in bulk. Places like CostCo require a membership to gain access to their great savings so by forming a co-op, only one membership needs to be paid for and everyone can enjoy making savings from bulk buying! This is just as effective for your local grocer or fruit and veg store, too.
Medical: Many discount pharmacists offer sales that are “buy 3 get one free” or “spend X and get 25% off”. It can be a little difficult for one person to justify buying four items of a product they only sparingly or spending a large amount of money to get a little sale. So with a co-op, you can take advantage of those savings and still enjoy just the right amount of products.
Entertainment: As mentioned earlier, entertainment like dinners, shows, events and concerts are often cheaper when you make a group booking. So, if you have similar interests why not use your co-op to get access to better entertainment deals – it is a great way to stay socially active too and you’re guaranteed to have a good night with friends.
Holidays: Just like entertainment bookings, travel bookings are often discounted for large groups, so if your co-op has some extra money to use on something fun, organise yourselves holidays together using group bookings. You can also take advantage of the ability to get accommodation that can hold more people as this is often more cost effective than individual apartments or units.
How can you start your own?
It is simple as long as you use some common sense. Organise a group of your friends or neighbours that are likeminded and easy to get along with. Draft a set of rules together over a glass of wine one Saturday afternoon and have everyone sign the document. Agree on the individual contribution per month or year and make sure you choose someone to handle the money and act as the coordinator. Then, each month agree on the forthcoming expenses as a group and set dates to have someone go shopping or organise your planned expenses!
It can be a great way to stay involved with friends, enjoy social activity and make big savings, so why not get your own started today?
Have you ever been apart of a co-op? Do you have a retirement co-op? Would you consider it? Tell us in the comments below…