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Retirement savings

February 28, 2013

Time-shift to stretch your retirement dollar

Time is money, especially when you’re working. But when you retire, you can turn having more time into spending less money.

It’s a time-starved world and it can make sense for busy, working people to pay to get things done for them.

Grass needs cutting? Tires need changing? Only have time for takeout food? Cha-ching. Cha-ching. Cha-ching.

If time is money, then more time is less money!

I know that sounds unlikely, but hear me out. In retirement, the extra time you have lets you “time-shift” in lots of ways that can save you money. Consider a few examples:

  • Free time equals free tire changes. Where I live in Southern Ontario, we need winter tires for several months a year. Now that I’m retired, I’ve got time to change my own tires. So every spring and fall, I save $95 when it’s time to change the tires.
  • House addition with a $3,000 subtraction. We recently had a screened-in deck built at our house. We wanted to be around to make sure the contractor did a good job. As time-shifting retirees, no problem there. Because we were flexible on the start and end dates of the work, the contractor knocked $3,000 off the price.
  • We time-travel. Well, not exactly. But we do travel in the “shoulder season” (usually fall and spring, but not March break), for lower-cost flights, accommodation -- even food. And we avoid flying on weekends, when airfares are especially high.
  • No-cost lawn watering service. My wife loves gardening and is happy to water the veggies, plants and lawn. But we travel a lot, so we need someone to water the plants while we’re away. Lawn-care contractors want season-long contracts, which are expensive. Thankfully, our neighbour, Sandra waters our garden when we’re away and we water hers when she’s on holidays. So, free time equals no-cost garden maintenance!
  • Driveway paved, $3,500 saved. Who has time to shop around among multiple driveway pavers, then negotiate with the lowest bidder? My wife, that’s who. She spent more than a month finding the best deal, then asked the short-listed contractor to knock an extra $500 off the price, because we were flexible about when we needed the job done.
  • Buy low, stack high. I built high-capacity shelves in our basement and boy, do we put them to great use! When we see paper towels, toilet paper, breakfast cereal, or canned goods on sale, we stock up. We don’t buy those things right when we need them; we buy when they’re cheap.
  • Shifty savings on electricity. Where we live, it costs more to use electricity during the day. Evenings and weekends are cheaper so that’s when we do our laundry, run the dishwasher, and recharge batteries for our lawn mower, laptop, etc. Now we pay off-peak rates for more than 80% of our power consumption.
  • Oil changes 10% off, lineups 100% off. If it’s your job to keep the family car(s) maintained, you’ve probably been behind me in the l-o-n-g Saturday morning lineup of people getting their oil changed. But now I time-shift and save 10% by going on a weekday. And there’s no lineup!
  • Seek and ye shall find discounts. If you’re willing to time-shift, you can save big money on fun stuff such as golf green fees, arena rentals, gym memberships, movie and theatre tickets, etc. You can also save on necessities; I’ve found a department store that will give an extra 10% off on almost everything on Tuesdays to people aged 55-plus. Some grocery stores offer a 10% discount to seniors on Wednesdays, but I’m still too young for that!

Go ahead, laugh. Plenty of people laugh at snowbirds who eat dinner at 4:30 so they can save money on the Early Bird Special. But they’re just one example of time-shifters, stretching their money to enjoy life to the fullest.

 

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