In the last column we talked about how seniors are filing bankruptcy at record levels, as well as some of the causes, and some of the financial advice that can help you avoid falling into that trap, as you prepare for retirement.
One thing that you can almost certainly count on in retirement, and have to plan for, is that many of your everyday expenses will increase. I am one of those people who check and compare my expenses from year to year. Recently, it seemed that my water bill was higher than it was for the same quarter last year,
so I checked it. Sure enough, even though I used the exact same amount of water, the rate per thousand gallons had increased. When you add up increased fees and taxes on things like your cable bill, the increased cost of a newspaper print subscription, increased snow plowing fees, and more, even though each
increase may not be a lot, it all adds up. In retirement, when you often don’t have the same ability to increase your income, this can have a significant impact on your budget. Knowing this, as you prepare for retirement, you may need to build the mindset that in retirement, you may need to be flexible when it comes to cutting expenses.
On a different subject, it is that time of year again when most college students are back to school, and the incoming high school seniors have finished up most of their college visits over the summer. It always seems to be the right time to cover some of the ways that college students can save everyday money at school. I have my own preferred list, so I thought I would look to some other sources for their advice. Here are some ways to save money from collegescholarships.org and fastweb.com. They are just some things to think about. They don’t all work for everyone.
1. Walk, use public transportation, or ride a bike, even a bike sharing one if available, whenever you can, so that you may not need a car. If you have a car, find the cheapest gas prices — check out gasbuddy.com and consider joining a buying club like Costco. If you have that membership, you can also have some of your friends join with you to buy a lot of things in bulk and save money.
2. Shop, eat and be entertained, whenever you can, where they offer student discounts with your ID, like senior citizens do in order to save money.
3. Make your own coffee in your dorm room or apartment. Collegescholarships.com estimates that you can save more than $2,000 over your four years at school, obviously more if you don’t graduate in four years. If you are a regular reader of this column, you know that the importance of graduating on time is one of the things that I really try to impress upon students.
4. Purchase generic and store brands whenever possible. They are exactly the same item, at highly reduced prices. Check the ingredients to make sure.
5. Make sure that you look into all the options for testing out of a class, so you don’t to pay for it, but can still get credit.
6. For some students being a resident advisor can not only save you room and board, but it can also build some organizational, management and social skills.
7. Shop around to get free checking and savings accounts. Credit Unions may be your best bet. Use cash and get it at you bank’s ATM, so you don’t pay fees.
8. Think long and hard before getting a pet in college. Sure they can provide companionship, but they can be very expensive, as we have discussed in this column. Be realistic — it is not just the food; there can be veterinary bills and much more.
9. Think long and hard about those expensive spring break or summer trips, if you are the one who has to pay or borrow for them. If your family or someone else is paying — have fun!
10. Take full advantage of the many free or low-cost activities and opportunities offered on campus.
11. If you are a gym rat, look into the quality and cost of any campus gym, which may save you money over an off-campus gym, and be open for more hours a day. It is not a tip for saving money, but make sure that you stay healthy by getting enough sleep and exercise.
12. Look for discount movie theatres in the area. You may have to wait a while to see that movie, but you can save some serious money.
13. Kick the bottled water habit. Support your local tap water and drink for free.
14. Look for ways to make money at school. Beyond getting a traditional job (by the way, working in food service may mean some free food), look at donating blood, or volunteering for a paid medical study, but research these options in detail. Also, if you have the skills, look at tutoring, doing tech support, or giving music lessons.
15. Then there are the obvious ones that we all know — borrow or buy used books, rent DVDs as a group and share them, cut down on alcohol, give up smoking, pick a realistic meal plan, get the best phone plan for your real needs, avoid credit card debt, buy furnishings at discount stores or garage sales, avoid impulse buying, and limit the number of times a month that you go out to eat or party.
Check out the collegescholarships.com articles for many more great tips, and good luck! Oh, wait, many of these make sense for everyone!
John Ninfo is a retired bankruptcy judge and the founder of the National CARE Financial Literacy Program. Find his previous weekly columns at http://www.mpnnow.com/search?text=Ninfo or at http://www.monroecopost.com/search?text=Ninfo.