Stretch your budget in retirement

By David Houle-Tymeczko August 23, 2021

Since seniors tend to live on fixed incomes, they can often end up with meager budgets for groceries and other purchases after paying their bills. For this reason, knowing how to maximize the value of your money is essential.

 

I’ll be bringing up some advice on how to get the most out of your funds.

 

Arguably the most important things to try to save money on are your groceries. Everyone needs to eat and groceries make up a decent chunk of a person’s monthly spending.

 

Credit Canada, a non-profit credit counselling agency, has a bunch of tips to help you save money on groceries.

 

First, even though it may seem obvious, you should always make a list before going to the grocery store. The truth is that plenty of us shop without having a strict set of items in mind, leading to impulsive purchases and unnecessary expenses.

 

While it may seem like a lot of work, couponing can definitely help you out. You don’t have to just start in the dark either. MapleMoney has a comprehensive explanation on how to become an “extreme couponer” from scratch. That’s without even mentioning the many online resources for deals, such as flipp.com, which gives you all the best local deals for the items you may need.

 

Many of us are instinctively drawn towards brand names we recognize when shopping, even though we accept the difference is minimal when compared to generic brands. Switching to generic brands can save you loads of money over time and it’s certainly a step in the right direction.

 

Another tip is to check the expiry dates of products before you put them in your basket or cart. Buying perishable products that expire before you’ll be able to actually finish using them will just waste money. Additionally, looking for products at the back of their rows will ensure that you get the latest expiry dates.

 

Don’t shop when you’re hungry, since research shows that you’re more likely to overspend while in a state of hunger. It even applies to non-food items! So make sure you have a full belly before going to make purchases.

 

These next couple of tips come from Good Times, a Canadian retirement magazine. They have an article with advice on how to lower your grocery bill without compromising your healthy eating.

 

The first suggestion is to buy in bulk, as it can significantly reduce food waste. Buying in bulk lets you control how much you purchase, helping you to not overspend.

 

They also suggest that you consider meal delivery as an option. There are many meal delivery programs in Canada that offer ready-to-prepare dishes with preportioned ingredients and an easy recipe. Some of the companies with such meal delivery include Chef’s Plate, Blue Apron, Good Food, and Fresh City.

 

Another option is Meals on Wheels, a non-profit organization, which will deliver hot meals at around $7 each. They also have frozen meals that you just need to heat up.

 

Outside of just groceries, there’s a lot of ways to save money in general when it comes to making purchases. Retail Insider has a number of tips in this regard.

 

They suggest using credit cards that let you earn cash back, since most people make purchases with credit cards anyway. Here’s a list of credit cards that have many benefits and don’t require an annual fee:

  • Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card
  • SimplyCash Card from American Express
  • Tangerine World Mastercard
  • Triangle World Elite Mastercard
  • MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus Mastercard
  • Home Trust Preferred Visa Card
  • BMO CashBack Mastercard.

 

Aside from credit cards, there’s also a wide selection of mobile apps that give you cash back on your purchases.

 

Some examples of Canadian apps include Swagbucks, Drop, and Rakuten. The first two have systems of points that you earn for making purchases (and other ways, in the case of Swagbucks) and can be redeemed for popular gift cards like Tim Horton’s and Amazon. Rakuten will instead automatically credit the account you make with real money.

 

Retail Insider also encourages you to wait for a sale if you need to make a big purchase. You can ask employees when an item could be expected to go on sale, allowing you to reschedule your purchase. Something else to keep in mind is that shops will try to get rid of off-season products through sales. For instance, buying winter clothing in spring is significantly cheaper than buying it during winter. Patience can save you a lot of money when you wait for sales.

 

Even though quality products tend to be more expensive, they can save money in the long run. For instance, not having to frequently replace a washing machine would be preferable.

 

However, Retail Insider emphasizes that a higher price doesn’t always equate to a better product. You can check for online reviews to make sure that a product is as high quality as it claims to be. By purchasing quality items, you can save a lot of money as they’ll last longer.

 

If you’ve got a low budget for food or other expenses, or you just want to maximize your purchasing power, it’s crucial that you know techniques for saving money when you shop.