The Downsized Budget

Lately, there has been a boost in conversation with both my friends and with my husband about sticking to a retiree’s fixed budget. I prefer to discuss this topic with my friends as we always come out patting ourselves on the back on how smart we are with our spending. When I talk about this with Tony, it results in making me want to go out and buy some extravagant item before I can’t.

It is true that spending habits change when one decides not to work anymore. But the best part of this retired life is that I believe we actually fine tune what we spend on what we do and get more out of it. Here’s my view on how to tilt the budget scale. Clothing: those semi-uptight corporate suits that filled my closet to cover two weeks of wear so as not to repeat an outfit, are now replaced with graphic yoga pants, jeans in various colors and cute t-shirts – all for much less money and it reflects my lifestyle. For old times sake, I sometimes breakout the suit for church.

Rather than shove a quick getaway into the 4th of July weekend our trips now take place during the less expensive weekdays. When working, if the moon was in the seventh house and jupiter aligned with Mars, that meant that the holiday fell adjacent to the weekend, your boss let you leave early and you did not get stuck in traffic resulting in a major fight before your jaunt even started. In my commune, no one goes away holiday weekends. At the start of the weekend, we have cocktail parties (dubbed “garage meetings”) and then babysit the grandkids while the parents attempt the quick getaway. Then we get to give the kids back.

Finally, those expensive so-so dinners in NYC with parking, tolls, gas, cocktails first then dinner all adding up to a mortgage payment is replaced with a craft beer dinner at the Roadhouse in town where you can walk home or a lakeside restaurant with a water’s edge view. The food is good, I’m looking over the calmness of the lake while sipping wine. And when the bill comes, I don’t feel ripped off.

In the state of New York, they still allow you to turn in your recycles for a refund. In an attempt to be frugal, I started saving the plastic water bottles so I could get my five cent per bottle refund. On my first time out to cash in my 10 bottles and collect my fifty cents, I stood in line behind a woman who had a black garbage bag full of plastics claiming her refund at this recycling machine. This expert-refunder was constantly clogging up the machine, holding up the line until it was fixed and made me realize I had better things to do with my time. The hole in my plan was that I would have to eliminate a car to store all those plastics in the garage. Seeing as how my husband would rather eliminate me, I immediately put the kibosh on this idea.

No, I am not meant to collect plastics, clip coupons or adjust my life to the gyrations of the stock market daily. Luckily, I don’t have to. I just have to do what I am doing and nothing more.




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