Signs You're Scrimping Too Much in Retirement

Maybe I should take up a hobby...


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Maybe I should take up a hobby...

A Penny Pinched Too Hard

Few of us can afford to splurge day in and day out, especially on the fixed income of retirement. Even seniors who have good savings are watching their wallets more these days, though, and they should remember — as we all should — that there’s a big difference between a budget-busting lavish lifestyle and taking frugality too far. When your quality of life suffers unnecessarily, it’s time to take a fresh look at spending habits.

Related: 24 Signs You're Too Frugal

Senior couple buying coffee to go

You’ve Banned Gourmet Coffees and Other Treats

Ordering an extra-large, $5-plus fancy-pants coffee every day will add up, but it’s nice to share a cup of joe with friends every so often. Don’t sacrifice that just to save a bit by drinking only the caffeine you brew at home. Same goes for pastries and other simple pleasures.

Related: Under-the-Radar Coffee Shops in Every State for an Inexpensive Cup

Close-Up Shot of Cutting Old, Gray, Elderly Person's Hair
Jeremy Poland/istockphoto
Seniors in a restaurant

You Rarely Eat Out

There are some people who never turn on their stove, preferring to dine out or live on a diet of takeout and delivery. While dining out often costs more than eating at home, it doesn’t have to be banned. If you avoid eating out solely to save money — and when you do, stiff the waitstaff with a paltry tip (“It’s their job to serve me”) — you may need to rethink. Dining out is about more than just the food; it’s a chance to be social and sometimes, to try new things.

Related: Ways to Spend Less When Eating Out

Mature black woman shopping in a clothing store

You Refuse to Buy New Clothes

A new sweater for the season or dress for a special event are small splurges that can yield a little boost of happiness. We’re not advocating compulsive shopping, but if you’re someone who simply rotates out the same selection of clothes year in and year out, there may be a problem. If you wear classics and keep them in excellent condition, that's fine. (It even helps the environment.) But don’t wear shabby, outdated clothing and shoes with worn-out heels simply to save money.

Related: Clothing Brands That Are Still Made in America

A black senior woman takes an online yoga class
Fly View Productions/istockphoto

You Forgo Any Exercise That Has a Fee

No one wants to feel guilty for never using an expensive gym membership, but those who simply refuse to invest in any exercise program (“I can walk through my neighborhood anytime I want”) may want to broaden their horizons. Virtual classes, pay-as-you-go options, and community programs offer thrifty ways to stay in shape and socialize.

Related: Fitness Programs Adults Over 50 Can Do at Home

Modern Library Building

Your Library Is Your Second Home

We have always loved our local libraries. Many were able to pivot during the pandemic to offer virtual programs and helpful curbside pickup of materials. Now that many are reopened and expanding services, you may rely on them even more for their free offerings. But think about whether it’s worth the effort to go to the library to read the newspaper daily. It doesn't have to be your only source of books or magazines, or the only way you watch movies or see concerts and lectures, or attend craft programs.

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Happy multiracial senior people cheering with red wine at dinner while wearing surgical face mask for coronavirus
Sabrina Bracher/istockphoto

You Never Offer Invitations (but Never Refuse One)

You do not want to be the kind of person who always says “yes” to an invitation but saves a few bucks by never reciprocating. Many people extend invitations simply out of kindness, others to build a community or network, especially when new to an area. You don’t have to “repay” a kindness, but even a small gesture — an invite to cake and coffee if you’d rather not host a dinner party — is considerate.

Related: Fulfilling, Productive Things to Do in Retirement

Senior couple at the movies

You Won’t Pay for a Movie Ticket

It’s okay to wait out a wave of pandemic until it feels safe to return to the theater. It’s not so okay if your aversion to the movie house has so much to do with the cost of the ticket that it means refusing to take the grandkids to the latest blockbuster. Catching “Forrest Gump” again on broadcast TV with microwave popcorn may save money, but it's not the same.

Related: Shows That Make It Worth Trying Out Another Streaming Service

Mother and son embracing at home
FG Trade/istockphoto

You Never Have Relatives Stay Over

Some people are uncomfortable hosting others. But if the reason is expense — extra meals, laundry loads, and the like — you’re missing the point of hospitality. Most people try to be well-behaved guests, often arriving with gifts and offers to pay for a meal out. 

Related: Ways to Entertain Holiday Houseguests

Car mechanic working

You Neglect Routine Car Maintenance

There’s something to be said for avoiding excess costs related to car ownership, but if you’re driving with a broken taillight, faulty windshield wipers, or bald tires, it becomes a safety issue or can lead to bigger problems down the line, such as when you push the limit on miles between oil changes. (You might consider springing for a car wash, too.)

Related: Car Expenses That Are Really Worth the Money

Woman selecting milk from dairy aisle in supermarket

You’ll Never Allow a Single-Errand Trip

Out of milk, but you decide to do without since a trip to the store isn’t planned until Thursday? If errands are done only back-to-back to save gas, you’d better be sure you make the absolute most out of “errand day” and take care of anything that might pop up before the next trip.

Cup of tea with teabag
A Weekend Getaway

You Think Staycations Are the Only Way to Go

Yes, travel costs more than staying home, but it’s about exploring, meeting new people, seeing new things — and, yes, sometimes paying for a very pricey meal or a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Isn’t it kind of hard to compare that to your local park or your backyard?

Senior Woman Knitting

You Give Homemade Gifts

If your idea of celebrating someone is by making something, that’s a generous thought ... so long as you have the skills. A wobbly vase, an uneven scarf, or a portrait of someone that’s unrecognizable might be charming coming from a child; less so from a retiree. While it may be the thought that counts, that thought is not supposed to be “I want to save money.”

A worker installs windows

You Attempt Ill-Advised Home Repairs and Maintenance

There are many home repairs and maintenance projects better left to professionals. You may be able to rake your leaves instead of paying for lawn service, or assemble a small shelving unit on your own, but reconsider climbing a ladder to clean the gutters, shoveling a long driveway and straining your heart, and most anything electrical and beyond.

Related: Repairs to Leave to the Pros and Avoid DIY Disasters

Old friends on the road trip
FOTOGRAFIA INC./istockphoto

You’re a Fan of Carpooling — as a Passenger

“I’d love to go. What time can you pick me up?” Don’t be the friend who always is ready to hop in but never offers to drive. You might feel pampered and save a little money, but you’ll lose points on friendship. If you are the perennial passenger, always offer gas money and consider a small gift after multiple “free” trips.

Related: Reasons to Hate Small Cars

Woman hands tying a ribbon onto a Christmas gift
Vladimir Vladimirov/istockphoto

You Are Not Ashamed to Regift

Regifting shouldn't be the only way you “shop” for others. I’ll never forget the wealthy supervisor who give me back the same cosmetics bag I had presented to her the year before. Regifting can be done if you are careful, but are the savings really worth it?

Related: Gifts You Should Never Feel Guilty Regifting

Senior woman deciding what to order

You Order Meals by Price, Always

If you do eat out, you glance at the menu and realize you’d sure like to have that signature steak or elegant dessert — but then stick to the cheaper options. Again, if you don’t enjoy a treat now and then, life can be pretty dull.

Related: The Best Under-the-Radar Steakhouse in All 50 States

Unrecognizable mature man having backache.

You ‘Deal With Pain’ on Your Own

Wow, your back is still hurting? Or maybe you are still favoring your ankle after a recent stumble? There’s a difference between being a hypochondriac and taking care of yourself when needed. The old-school “tough it out” mentality — coupled with “I don’t need to pay for a doctor to tell me it’s nothing” — can be dangerous.

Related: Reduce Your Health Care Costs With These Expert Tips for Seniors

Senior man and granddaughter decorate christmas tree

You Forgo Holiday Traditions

Celebrating the holidays can be pricey, especially with pandemic shortages and supply-chain issues increasing the cost of things from favorite foods to real Christmas trees. You’re allowed to complain and seek more affordable alternatives, but don’t let contrived deprivation put a damper on a festive season.

Related: Cheap or Free Family Traditions for the Holidays