From Marketwatch-- When you retire, you enjoy long days with lots of free time. Just make sure shopping—and spending excessively—doesn’t fill the void.
If you’re frugal by nature, hunting for great deals gets easier in retirement. You can nab senior discounts, compare prices more thoroughly and research money-saving options.
The downside is with more time on your hands, you can buy more stuff. Online shopping can prove particularly alluring, especially if you grew accustomed to e-commerce during your working career.
For some retirees, their newfound idleness breeds rampant consumerism. If you’re sitting at home immersed in screen-based activities (watching television, web surfing, etc.), the temptation to shop can be hard to resist.
“Some seniors watch shopping channels on TV and get all pumped up and buy,” said Carol Bradley Bursack, founder of MindingOurElders.com. “And Amazon and other internet shopping is a big risk because they don’t go out as much. That can be a problem.”
To quell the urge to shop until you drop, Bursack suggests that retirees maintain active lives and a busy social calendar. Participating in volunteerism, exercise classes and community events prevents you from aimlessly acquiring things.
“If you get out and about, you’re less apt to shop,” said Bursack, who lives in Fargo, N.D. “Plus, it’s better socialization to use that time” to connect with others who share your hobbies and interests.
When you choose to shop, proceed with care. Check online directories of discounts and coupons such as SeniorDiscounts.com and ProgramsForElderly.
Before you buy anything at a bricks-and-mortar store, ask about senior discounts. Some pharmacies, supermarkets and other retailers offer specials, especially on certain days of the week.
Don’t assume they will automatically apply your discount at the checkout counter. Instead, they may require that you request it.
Tony Rovere, founder of StuffSeniorsNeed.com, recalls that when taking his father to the movies, he noticed that the older man in front of them in line became annoyed when buying his ticket.
“He got upset that he wasn’t offered a senior discount,” Rovere said. “But he was told employees aren’t allowed to just give the discount because it can offend people to assume they’re over 65. You have to open your mouth and ask for it.”
Resourceful retirees not only uncover bargains but also consider purchasing used items or even trading goods and services. Social media facilitates such exchanges.
“I love the Nextdoor app and Freecycle,” Bursack said. “People use these sites for giving away stuff or swapping things like an old computer. They’re reasonably safe because you’re dealing with neighbors.”
Before divulging your credit card information, confirm that you won’t get hit with a continuing fee or subscription. Some websites enroll seniors in programs that involve automatic monthly, quarterly or annual charges for, say, product shipments or membership dues. These purchases can be tough to cancel once they start up.
Based in West Islip, N.Y., Rovere has found that two of the most common sources of sticker shock for seniors are dental care and hearing aids. He launched his website in part to help retirees save money.
“You can use state dental associations to find free programs,” he said. “And some dental colleges offer 50% to 75% off.”
He adds that hearing aids are complex, expensive devices that often need customization. To help his mother hear better, he said a “pocket talker” for around $125 proved a serviceable option—and can save well over $1,000 in hearing aid costs.