Extreme Steps to Beat Inflation and Enjoy Your Life in Retirement

by BrendaReeves

When it comes to money, Americans like to spend it, but times of high inflation do occasionally roll around just as surely as history repeats itself.

This article is about setting priorities with your money and having the things you want to own or do. It's for single people who have an income that covers the basics in life, but are watching their pleasure money disappear due to inflation. It's about knowing who you are and not caring about what other people think about your lifestyle.

Suzie Orman: You Scare Me

I love Suzie Orman and watch her on TV quite frequently. I even attended a conference that she spoke at in Sacramento, but every time I listen to her, I just about get a panic attack. Other people have told me the same thing. It's when she speaks about how much money you're going to need for retirement. I'm actually drawing two retirement checks right now, but I'm still working because I want to, and yes, I need the money. I think Suzie would be surprised at how little money many of us can live on and still enjoy life.

She speaks to all of us when it comes to inflation. I admit, that is scary. Not everybody wants to travel and buy a vacation home. Some of us enjoy the simple things in life. We enjoy watching a sunset a lot more than owning another home we need to clean and maintain. That's why it's really important to know who you are before you start slashing expenses.

Know Who You Are

Do you really know who you are? I didn't figure that out until I was in my 50's. The reason is that I reached my 20's at the height of the women's movement. Our peers in the media told us that we wanted careers, and we could do and have it all. We didn't like throwing Halloween parties for children, baking cupcakes, sewing and cooking. I did like those activities, and other women my age laughed at me while declaring, "I want a career." So I spent my young adult years trying to be a go-getter. I didn't realize until much later that I was an introvert, and introverts aren't much for getting up and going. We like to contemplate life a lot.

It's important to know who you are in order to know what you want. Once you know who you are, you'll know how you want to live.

Make a List

Take some time to make a list of what you really like. What gives you pleasure in life? For a lot of people, it's traveling the world. I bet if you went out on the street and asked people what they wanted to do in their retirement, nine times out of 10 they'd say they want to travel. I'm too much of a home body. Here's my list of what gives me pleasure in life:

  • My cats and dogs
  • Hobbies
  • Grandchildren
  • Coffee with friends at Starbucks
  • Going out to dinner with friends
  • Driving long distances on a beautiful day
  • Nature
  • Day Trips
  • Weekend get-a-ways
  • Reading

There's my list. I never go on weekend get-a-ways, but I think I'd like to. Those things do cost money and hobbies can really be expensive, but the expenses are manageable for me if I cut back on some costs or work more or both.

In Defense of the Latte

Listen to Suzie Orman or any of the financial gurus and you're sure to hear: "Quit buying those lattes at Starbucks," and you'll save a gazillion dollars a year. "You could spend that money on a vacation." Well, I have something to say to all of the money wizards: I don't drink lattes, but I do like to meet my friends at Starbucks for coffee and maybe a slice of cake or bagel and cream cheese. It's not a daily ritual, but for me it's community. For some people, those lattes are necessary for their mental health.

When frequenting the same place you begin to recognize the regulars, and the employees know you too. At the Starbucks in Sacramento, CA, I organized a knitting group that met every Saturday. We all became friends. Susie and others, you have your priorities and I have mine. Here's why I can afford a cup of coffee at Starbucks without any guilt:

  • I don't take expensive vacations
  • I'm not a clothes horse
  • I drove my last car for 12 years then donated it to a food bank

My brother visited recently and chastised me for spending money on books. Not that it's any of his business, but...

  • Reading is one of my simple pleasures
  • After I read a book, I either donate it to the library
  • Or sell it to a used book store

Therefore, how you spend your money and live your life is your business no matter how eccentric it may be (Not that reading is eccentric). If my library had any decent books, I'd check them out, but they don't. I've tried requesting a book from another library several times, but it takes three months for my name to come up on the list. Don't let others dictate to you how you should live your life.


Slash Your Living Expenses

After you have your list of pleasures written down, It's time to start slashing your living expenses. It's up to you how you want to live and spend. Here's how I've decided to trim down my expenses:

  • Keep only one phone for my house: The cell phone
  • Turn off the cable. I don't watch TV anyway.
  • Cut back on utilities
  • Get rid of the Internet service
  • Buy clothes at the thrift store

I'm seriously thinking of moving to an urban area where everything is within bus or walking distance. Then I'll get rid of my car. It's a drastic move, but think of how much money we spend on our cars. To me, a car is another house I have to maintain and clean. There's the insurance, the repairs and the car washes.

Every time I get a letter from a utility company saying they're raising their fees, I cut back on my utilities. Pretty soon I'll be living in the dark and bathing in the river. Here's how you can save on utilities:

  • Turn down the thermostat
  • Wear more clothes in winter
  • Use fans in the summer
  • Turn off the heat and air at night
  • Unplug any electrical item when you aren't using it.
  • Turn off lights when you leave a room

The Internet service is a necessity for me, but the library is just a five minute drive from my home. I could take my laptop there and work. The big advantage to that is I won't spend 16 hours a day on the computer. I'm a computer addict.

Make your list and see what you can live without in order to have money to spend on the things you really enjoy.

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Housing: Your Biggest Expense

Housing is our biggest expense unless you have your house paid off. Maybe you don't own but rent an apartment or house instead. I own my home, or I should say the bank owns me. My payment is very low thanks to some cash I inherited. The problem I have is I want to move back to my home state of California where my children and grandchildren live. If I sold right now, I would lose money due to the economy. My plan is to rent the house out and turn it over to a management company. Then the question becomes, "what can I afford in CA?" Not much. I could rent a room or live out of my car.

Many people are getting creative in this economy with their housing costs. I'm posting some links at the end of this article that might give you some creative ideas for housing. I hope you take the time to read the articles. Notice in the first article that Tess said she was probably happiest when she lived in one room. I got divorced several years ago and moved out leaving my ex with most of the material possessions and money I might add. I moved into an apartment with very little. It was so liberating not to have a bunch of junk I had to organize and tend to.

Creative Housing

I knew about shotgun houses, but I hadn’t heard about saddlebag or two pen or dogtrot houses. I started doing some reading up on old houses and found some interesting facts.
A growing number of Americans are opting for a smaller slice of the American Dream by building and living in tiny houses.
Updated: 09/18/2012, BrendaReeves
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BrendaReeves on 03/26/2014

Thank you for the comment. I haven't been on here much lately. Sorry for the late response.

BrendaReeves on 06/09/2013

Yes, that is the trick. I think it requires moving into a more urban area.

kimbesa on 06/09/2013

As much as I like space and gardens, I'm thinking that not having a car would be great. Just have to live in a place where you can handle groceries, laundry and such via delivery or otherwise, without need of one.

BrendaReeves on 01/08/2013

Thank you for the comment Tolovaj.

Tolovaj on 01/08/2013

You are right, we all have to set our own priorities. For somebody this is latte at Starbucks, for somebody else this is a Harley Davidson and for somebody else, well... What is really important - WE have to make decisions for us, not somebody else.
And yes - without a car life is much simpler and way less expensive. Trust me on this one:)

BrendaReeves on 10/08/2012

Thanks for the comment Sheri. We can never have too many friends.

Sheri_Oz on 10/08/2012

I'm so happy you confirmed here my own growing view that the best place to be is home and having friends within walking distance.

BrendaReeves on 10/02/2012

Thanks for the comment Sheila. When we are young and in love, we don't think period!

sheilamarie on 09/25/2012

Wonderful article, Brenda! I am "prematurely retired" (aka unemployed and unlikely to find work because of my age and location). I actually had never heard of Suzy Orman, but maybe that's because I haven't had a T.V. for most of my adult life. I agree that we really don't need a lot to be happy in life, though I do need to travel, not so much for pleasure, but to keep close to family members who live far away. When we are young, we don't always consider the consequences of marrying someone from a different place.

BrendaReeves on 09/22/2012

Thank you for the comment cherylone.

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