I am a Victorian Soul, live in a small townhouse that was built in the mid 1970's, not a huge Mega Mansion, with my Hubby Joe, who is a Retired Letter Carrier. I worked night shift as an RN on a Hospital based Rehabilitation( Physical Medicine) Unit for 37 years before I had Knee Replacement Surgery and officially Retired in 2019 after 41 years working in Direct Patient Care ... I am LOVING Retirement!!!!


George Eliot
George Eliot was actually a pen name for a woman named Mary Anne Evans......


Friday, September 16, 2016

Frugal Living: Planning for Early Retirement

 Welcome to my 4th Installment in my Series on Planning for Early Retirement!!

In the 1st Installment, I shared, What We Learned About Social Security.....
  Click HERE if you missed that post....

In the 2nd installment, I did a bit of research into What Every Woman Should Know About Social Security, which was prompted by some of the comments on the first post.
  Click HERE if you missed that post......

In my 3rd Installment, I touched on Having a Plan.....
 Click HERE if you missed that post....

I want to THANK everyone for the amazing amount of interest in this Series and for those who are sharing what they learned about Retirement when commenting!!

I am also learning from all of you!!

As I previous mentioned, this post is about How to Live Frugally.....

 My advice is you should start doing this as soon as possible no matter if you are a year away from Retirement or 30 years away from Retirement!
 I will admit that this was a huge mistake that we made.....

We never adhered to any type of a Budget and that was primarily my fault.

My Mother lived on such a strict Budget, counting money right down to the last penny, and I mean actual pennies ,and it drove me crazy!!
I vowed I would never be like that!!


We should have been on a Budget, not as strict as my Mother was, but at least some sort of a Budget!

I made great money in my profession so I figured What the Heck????


About 4-5 years ago, when we first started to think about Early Retirement, we decided that we would change our ways and try to Live Frugally.......
 We also started to develop our Plan for Early Retirement......

The first thing that we needed to do was to start Paying Off All Debt!!
 It's simple, the less you owe, the more money you have!!

The first thing you need to do is to get rid of High Interest Credit Card Debt......
 You can do this by Debt Consolidation....
Either transfer all Credit Card Debt to one lower interest Credit Card or do what we did and refinanced our home at a very low interest rate and paid off all credit cards.....

Once you have done this, you then need to lock those cards away and  DO NOT use them unless it is an Emergency and that does not mean a Clearance Sale!!!



That could actually hurt your Credit Rating.....

Click HERE for a great article about this from US News and World Report!!

Next, get rid of what is probably your highest Bill if you are a Home Owner, Your Mortgage!!
Refinance your mortgage for a lower interest rate and for less amount of years.

We are paying on our Mortgage Biweekly and paying extra money on the principle each month so it will be paid off earlier.....

This was part of our Financial Plan....
Develop a Financial Plan for Retirement and get yourself a Financial Planner..
The advice that ours has given us has been priceless to us and it is a service provided by our Credit Union FREE of Charge!!
If you are planning to retire early, you then need to change your spending habits and live more frugally......
Here are a few things that we did to prepare for living with a bit of less money.....


The mistake we made was getting a new car every 5 years.

Over our 38 year marriage, we have had 15 cars!  CRAZY!! and STUPID!!

Currently, our 2 cars are are 9 and 10 years old and we have very little mileage on both of them.

My car is 10 years old with only 46,000 miles on it and Joe's is 9 years old with only 56,000 miles. We are lucky that we do not live far from where we work.

Our plan is to keep them both until I retire in a little over 3 years, and then trade them in for 1 brand new car.

We always bought one new car and one used car but no more than 2 years old. We are still debating whether we will go with a brand New car or a slightly Used Car. It will depend on what we find at the time we are ready to go down to 1 car.

Where we live, with everything about a 5 minute drive from us, we can live with only one car nicely once I retire.

This will save us on Insurance, Gas and Maintenance!

2. GAS

Speaking of Gas, try to consolidate your trips and do it all on one day or stay within one area.

Many stores, like Price Chopper, gives shopping credits toward Gas purchases so take advantage of that if available in your area.

Make sure your tires are carrying the right amount of air and are properly balanced because you will get better gas mileage.

When Shopping for a car, don't go for luxury, go for better gas mileage!!

Get the oil changed when it is scheduled to do so because this will keep your car in good running condition.

 3. FOOD

Don't eat out!! At least not too often.......

 If you want to eat out, lunch time is the cheapest time to go to restaurants. If you wait for dinner prices, you'll pay more and miss all those lunch specials.

 Order one entree for 2 people and call it in as a take out!!

Joe and I will split an entree from 2 of our favorite Italian Restaurants because the portions are so large!

Or if you eat in, when they bring your meal, ask for a take out container and split it in half  and take it home for later as another meal!

You then will have another meal that you don't have to cook.

Buy food in bulk and cook large portions and then freeze them for future meals.

This will cut down on the amount of energy you would use cooking every day and food in bulk tends to be cheaper than smaller portions.


Do you really need to buy your coffee at Starbucks or at the local Mini Mart?

I make our coffee at home and neither of us have never bought coffee once we leave the house!

It seems like such a waste of money to me!


If you are a Senior, shop on the days that offer a Senior Citizen Discount.

Watch for specials and sales

Use coupons

Buy in Bulk

Only buy what you like and what you know you will use!!


Only Buy what you truly need

Shop Thrift Stores and Consignment Shops

Shop end of season Clearance Sales

Look for timeless fashions and quality that will always be in fashion

Don't buy on impulse! Go home and think about it first!


  Don't spend a lot of money on entertainment.

I am a TV junkie and we have 4 TV's, 3 DVR's and 2 DVD players.

We have our cable, internet and phone wrapped up in one package and it is cheaper that way.

 I rarely buy magazines any more. I recently bought a Kindle Paper White , which I got FREE by cashing in points on my Visa Debit Card!! I can look at my magazines using that device!

I still like to buy books but I buy them at Church Flea Markets where they are sold for 25 cents to a Dollar....fractions off their original price and then I just donate the back after I read them.

 We don't go to movies. We wait until we can see them on TV or on Netflix which my younger son gifted to me!

We do go to a lot of Concerts because we live 5 minutes away from an Arena so I think it would be stupid not to take advantage of the Big Name Brand entertainment that our Arena brings in.

Take advantage of FREE entertainment!!

Check your local newspaper for FREE concerts put on by church groups or schools.

Attend events that also offer FREE entertainment like Fall Festivals and other Town Celebrations


Again, this is where we made a mistake.

We always went on a week long vacation every Summer and then several over the weekend vacations during the year.

I am not saying not to go anywhere on vacation but choose where you go wisely, maybe even going in off season when the rates are lower.

Cut back to one vacation a year and make that one memorable!

I can no longer travel due to health issues so I decided I would be on a vacation at home every day!!

I turned my 1970's townhouse into the Victorian Bed and Breakfast that I would dream about staying in when on vacation.

So now I feel like I am on vacation whenever I walk into our home!

If you like the beach, make your yard into one especially if you have a pool.

 Invest in some palm trees and other beach like accessories and even consider putting in some sand especially if you have kids!!

Set up a Cabana and you will feel like you are at the beach in your own back yard.


If you own your own home, insulation and a lot of it, is key in saving on Heating and Cooling costs.

Our "NEW" replacement windows are 27 years old so we will be replacing them , again, in the Spring to save on heating costs.

Shop around for energy providers. Our home is all electric and we do shop around for our electricity supplier.

Use the new LED light bulbs, buy Energy Saving appliances, Turn off your computer when not using it and the same goes with any lights.

If you are at work all day and no one is home then turn down your heat and turn it back up when you get home.

Use thermal backed drapes that you could close to keep your home warmer in the Winter and cooler in the Summer.

Use the Power Saver on your air conditioners


Try to cut back on your Water consumption by not taking long showers, waiting until you have a full load before running the washer or the dish washer.

Buy drought resistant plants in the Summer.

Go to a car wash to wash your car


Okay, this is an interesting one because we did not follow the masses when buying a phone.

Only buy a phone for what you need it to do!

In our case, we went with Consumer Cellular. I am sure that you have seen the commercials!

This is the phone that Joe and I both have..
Yes, it is a flip phone that we initially paid only $40 a piece for. They are now asking $50 each.

Even though I am considered fairly computer literate, Joe and I only use our phones for calling immediate family and a few friends and that is when we have to when we are out of the house and not at home.

We still have our land line so we do not give our cell phones numbers out freely.

We do NOT text...we have no need to do so. I would rather SPEAK to a person!!

We do NOT use it for the Internet. I have 2 computers at home that I use and Joe can barely turn a computer on!! LOL!!

We do not use APPS! No need to do so!

It does have a camera that we use on occasion but I primarily use my regular camera for photos . Hey, I am a Blogger and like my photos to be of a certain quality.

We do not pay for what we don't use and we do not have a contract.

Our 2 phones cost us only $32.00 a month!!

You an get up off the floor now!!

I do NOT like being available 24/7 and sometimes when I go out, I even shut my phone off so I will not be bothered!!

Again, you can pick yourself up off the floor now.

Instead of investing in an expensive phone, I bought myself a lap top instead because I do not want to be on the internet outside the house and while inside the house, I want to be able to see what I am looking at and not be looking at it on a small tiny screen!!


Take advantage of the health care you have while still working

Plan on having any elective procedures or surgeries done before retiring.

If you have Dental Insurance, have needed dental work done before retirement

Same goes with Eye Care, get new glasses and an exam done before your retirement.

Once retired, shop around for Health Care.


Shop your own home and repurpose things and move things into other rooms to change your decor.

Shop yard sales, estate sales and Clearance sales at the end of each Season

Buy only what you need, Love and Cannot Live Without, that is my Motto!

I found by staying out of the stores, I do not spend so I do NOT go shopping just to look around as that never ends well!

And stay away from internet shopping and do not watch TV shopping channels!!


Hair Cuts , Perms and Coloring

If you can do it yourself , then do it.

Take advantage of specials on Hair Cuts.

To be honest, my whole family has gone to the same Hair Dresser for over 20 years and she works at J.C. Penney's.  I dread the day that I would ever have to change to another hair dresser!

I stopped coloring my hair and let it be my natural Salt and Pepper color and that saved me $150 a coloring every 3 months!!

If you can color your hair yourself, do so. I was never any good at it.

Manicures and Pedicures

Ask yourself if you really NEED one!

If you can not live without it, consider also doing it yourself as there are many home products on the market.

Honestly, I have never had a manicure or a pedicure.  I use my hands doing too much work to even consider it!!

Make Up

Buy with coupons or buy when on sale


Look at the size of your home and decide if you really need a 4 bedroom home if all your kids have gone

In our case, we never upsized from the townhouse that we thought would be our "Starter Home" so we do not need to downsize.

For those of you who lives in a McMansion,  do you really need a large house with all it's higher utility payments and higher taxes........

Think about it.......will you be able to maintain that home once you retire.....


Many of you are covered by your employers but if you lost your job or retired, would you have any Life Insurance???

This is another thing that we went over with our Financial Planner.

I had no other Life Insurance other than what I had at work which is a total of $166,000!

But if I had to quit due to health reasons or retirement, I would have nothing....Zippo! My employer will drop me like a Hot Potato with no option to even continue my Life Insurance that I received while in employment.

 Joe will still have some life insurance once he retires from the Post Office.

He obtained additional Life Insurance and so did I through our financial planner.

By getting it now, in my case, it is cheaper now at this age than if I waited until I retired.

This way It will already be in place when I am dropped like a Hot Potato!!  LOL!!

Remember the younger you are when you take out a policy, the cheaper it will be.


Give money or Gift Cards as gifts because these make it easier to stay with in the amount that you budgeted for gift giving.

Since our sons turned 18 years old, we have given them money for their birthdays and Christmas.

About 10 years ago, Joe and I stopped buying gifts for each other. We thought it was senseless to go out and buy something that we don't need and maybe don't even want just to give a s a gift!

If we want or need something, we just go and buy it! No Occasion needed!!


If you are 50 years old or older, sign up for AARP!!

You get Percentages off meals, hotels, phones, car rentals etc.

Yes, our phones were cheaper because we had AARP!!

Their site and magazine also provides a wealth of Information about so many different things and not just about Retirement!

Well, that concludes my Tips on living Frugally!!

On a Personal Note....

Joe also stopped going to the Mohegan Sun Casino that is 5 minutes from our house!

He quit in Jan. 1st and has not gone back since then.......

And once our 5 Year Commitment on our Season Tickets for the Wilkes Barre Scranton Penguins is up next year, he plans to apply for  job as an Usher at the Arena so he will then get paid for being there at Hockey Games and not pay to see them!

He is also going to attempt to quit smoking once he is retired and do it under our Physician's guidance...

I do have some articles that I want to provide links to on Living a Frugal Life.....

Click HERE for "6 Tips on Living Frugally"

Click HERE for what I found was a Quirky article on "Extreme Frugal Living Tips From My Grandmother"!

Click HERE for "7 Painless Ways to Cut Your Spending"
There are tons of other Articles on the web so look into what would work for you!!

Remember it is never too late or too early to start to plan for your retirement!!

Next week, I will post my final Installment on Planning for Early Retirement which will touch on What Do You Do Now That You Are Retired, Adjusting to Retirement!!

So I hope you will be back to visit soon!!

And thanks to those who took the time out of their busy day to spend a little bit of time with me!!

If you do not have a blog, PLEASE  give me some way to reply to your comment, maybe by including your email in your comment.  If I can not find a way to reach you, I will reply on the post where you commented so please check back......

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  1. You have some great tips for retirement planning! Most of the ones you outlined are right in line with what we did when we retired. hugs....

  2. Debbie
    This was such a good post. You shared many tips that my husband and I are already implementing in our lifestyle. We just turned 60 and are semi-retired, which we couldn't do if we didn't make sacrifies.

  3. Debbie, thanks so much for all this information. We are a very frugal family, my husband and I grew up with parents who suffered during the depression, and their lessons were not lost on us. The one place you mentioned that I hadn't thought of was AARP. I just looked at their website and see many ways we could be saving money through them. Great job on this report, it's inclusive and informative, and I know it took you a lot of time to put together. Again, thank you.

  4. Wow, so much to know. But its necessary to know. Which I had realized long time ago to. The credit card thing I never had them before refused until mama passed on. So I had to built my credit somehow. Now I'm paying them all off I don't have a lot but enough. The thing about closing them off is a good reminder. My son had just recently told me that xpcause I was gonna do that he said no don't just like you mentioned. I will have to go back and read more of this post and the others. Thanks so mich for sharing it all. Have a great day with love Janice

  5. Great tips. Your posts have been informative.
    Good luck to your husband with quitting smoking - my mom smoked for a million years - well more than 50 and quit 24 years ago.

  6. Debbie, These are some great money saving tips. My husband is way more frugal than I am, but as I get closer to retirement, the more frugal I've become. Thanks for sharing your tips and posts with us this week at Snickerdoodle Create-Bake-Make Link Party. We love having you. Pinning your tips to share :) Have a wonderful week!

  7. I'll try this again - Wasn't signed in to the right account.
    Great tips. Your posts have been informative.
    Good luck to your husband with quitting smoking - my mom smoked for a million years - well more than 50 and quit 24 years ago.

  8. This is a very interesting post, thanks for all the informations. Have a great week
    Hugs Alessandra

  9. We do alot of this already but the one thing we have decided is to go on as many vacations as we can afford, we don't want to sit back when we are older and wish that we would have went somewhere while we were still in shape to do it, I guess after that we can start saving :)

  10. Oh I remember when we finally decided we needed a budget and to pay off all our debt. On the one hand it was HARD, but on the other our stress levels went down enormously!

  11. Appreciate your series on getting ready to retire, important information.

  12. You are very correct on planning the retirement as early as possible I mean it doesnt mean if you are 30 years ahead of it. The expenses that you are making should be within the budget from the very least up to the biggest budget that you have to make. We learned a lot from you and thank you.

  13. What a great article that I think everyone should read!

    I would love for you to share this with my Facebook Group for recipes, crafts, tips, and tricks: https://www.facebook.com/groups/pluckyrecipescraftstips/

    Thanks for joining Cooking and Crafting with J & J!

  14. YAY...I've been waiting on another informative post on finances but today is the first time I've had to sit down to blog. Pinning it now! Love you for doing this for us all. Hugs and blessings, Cindy

  15. Awesome information! It is very hard to do to save and pay off debt!!!!! Please come to our hop again and share https://www.floydfamilyhomestead.com/2016/09/21/the-homesteader-hop-21/

  16. WOW! I just loved reading you article! It's so funny---I am now 52--nearly 53, and I have always scorned the AARP letters. lol---stupid pride I guess. I didn't realize there are actual benefits! Your article was so inspiring! I found you article at this blog hop: https://www.floydfamilyhomestead.com/2016/09/21/the-homesteader-hop-21/ I'll be reading more of your articles, including your past ones in this series!

  17. Debbie, what a great post! I know that many of my friends did not plan ahead. Hubby and I lived frugally when we were raising our 6 kids. We continued to live that way after they were all grown. We have paid off everything and hubby has a lot of money put away. I know that things will change when he retires, but I think we will be just fine. Thanks for sharing with SYC.

  18. Debbie, these are just awesome tips! I appreciate the fact that you say you wish you would have started earlier. I'm sure most of us will feel that way. There are a few things on this list that we need to work on here at our house. You know, as with all habits, we've picked up some bad money habits that need to be reigned in.

    Happy Thoughts of Home.

  19. More great information!! Much of it applies to any age,too! We paid off our mortgage ten years early -- against our financial advisors ardent pleas -- and that was the best thing we could have done! We updated the "old house" with part of the money we saved. That paid off doubly because when we decided to move across country, the house sold well. Plus another portion of the saved interest helped finance the move -- cross country is NOT cheap! Keeping a budget is another key to being frugal. I keep a document on the computer that lists all our income and savings, then a list of all our fixed expenses. I update those two categories whenever there is a change. For the rest, I kept track of food, household expenses for three months to predict the next year's spending. No "pennies" to count -- just broad categories. Update that once a year -- so easy! It's worked amazingly well for a number of years! I would also add -- fund an emergency account of a couple months income that you can access with reasonable ease so you can cover those out of the blue expenses without stressing! Thank you for doing this series!

  20. Debbie, this is such great advice on living frugally. We live on a budget but frequently overspend anyway. We are not saving enough for retirement and I think that is simply because we are not close enough to it and don't realize. I appreciate the tip about the financial adviser, we'll check with out credit union to see if that service is offered. Entertainment and Gifts are the most troublesome areas on our budget to maintain! I'm so glad you shared with us at Merry Monday. This is such practical and valuable information. Pinning.

  21. Great tips, Debbie. As the single parent of 3 kids, I started many of these practices years ago. Thanks for sharing @Vintage Charm!

  22. Being on a budget is so important! We learned young and hope it makes a difference in the future! :) Thank you for sharing this with us at the #HomeMattersParty

  23. Love this series Debbie!! I am trying to pay off my credit cards as we speak and a few of the other things as well!!Thanks for sharing on My 2 favorite Things on Thursday. My blog was down last week but it's up and running again. I hope you can find time to stop by and share some more this week! Pinned!

  24. This information is really valuable. I have a plan to do my financial planning and i wish to hire financial advisor to save enough amount for my retirement year.Thanks for sharing this blog. Keep it up..

    Retirement Planning Advisors Texas

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