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Planning Retirement Online

Spending Wisely

 One of the other pages in this Guide is called 'Where to Put It' and you can get to it by clicking on the link in the box. It describes how we can make the most of our money by putting it in the right places so that it works for us.

The other element of helping our personal finances and thereby making the most of our money is spending it wisely. The less we spend on the everyday necessities of life, the more we will be able to spend on the things that we actually want to do. You might find that some of the ideas below are definitely not for you, but we think that if you do some sensible things to spend wisely, you can help your personal finances by up to £500 a year.

Firstly, there are all sorts of concessions that are available to us once we reach a certain age. For some things, the concessions begin at age 60, whilst others in the public sector start at the state pension age for women, which is gradually going up from 60 -65 between 2010 and 2018 and then to 66 by 2020. So, for example, we all get concessionary travel (the 'bus pass') at the women's state pension age, as well as the annual heating allowance. Free prescriptions and free eye tests start at age 60 for the moment, although that might change in the future. The New Spend Less Revolution: 365 Tips for a Better Quality of Life While Actually Spending LessYou can go to many shops and stores on certain days and get a reduction (B&Q on Wednesdays, for example) and many local businesses will give you a reduction. For a comprehensive review of concessions, go to our Guide to Concessions and Discounts. Make sure you are aware of all the concessions that are available to you and then take advantage of them. If you go somewhere where you feel that there ought to be a discount (an attraction, say) and there is not one advertised, ask, 'What is the discount for the over-60s?'

Making the Most of our Money links

Probably the biggest single expenditure that is likely to increase as we get older is heating; the more time we spend at home, the more we will need the heating on. Therefore, it makes sense to shop around and get the cheapest utilities that you can find. Go to one of the price comparison websites, such as USwitch to see if you can get your electricity and/or gas any cheaper.

This site will also give you price comparisons on other services, too. If you want to save money on items such as household goods, go to Kelkoo. You can get price comparisons on hundreds of items in many different areas of spending.

In terms of heating and utilities in general, there are other things that we can do, too. Insulation grants are available, we can use low energy light bulbs, we can turn off the TV rather than leave it on standby and we should consider a water meter. There is a rule of thumb that says that if there are fewer people living in a house than there are bedrooms, it will probably be cheaper to have a meter.

The above web sites make the concept of 'shopping around' fairly easy and time-efficient. The concept of shopping around is a very good one for spending wisely. You can shop on the internet, looking at individual items, you can go to one or more of the web sites shown above, you can walk round the supermarkets to get the best offers in each one or you can use the telephone. Spending a bit of time can make you significant savings on your spending.

The Money Diet: The Ultimate Guide to Shedding Pounds Off Your Bills and Saving Money on Everything!A good example is when your car or house insurance renewal comes through the letter box. Most of us, when we're in full-time work, have very good intentions to shop around and get it cheaper for the coming year, but very often we never get round to it. As we get older, and certainly as we go into retirement, we should have a bit more time to ensure that we translate our intentions into actions.for a start, look on GoCompare for comparisons on car and house insurance.

Another area of large expense as we get older is motoring. Again, there are a number of things that we might do to alleviate this expense. How about trying one or more of the following:

  • If you have two cars, go down to one, especially if you and your partner have both retired. You could use a taxi for those occasions that you both need a car or you could use a car club if there is one in your area. Go to Carplus to find out about car clubs.
  • Buy a car with lower emissions - the road tax is cheaper
  • Get a car in a lower insurance group - you will pay less insurance
  • Drive a smaller car - you'll get more miles per litre/gallon and the insurance may well be cheaper
  • Walk or cycle more, use your bus pass, buy a senior rail card and then one-third off the price of all rail journeys) and use the car less

These are some of the major areas in which you might be able to help your personal finances by spending wisely. There are countless others (major and minor), some of which are listed below. Pick the ones that are most applicable to you and start to save even more money:

  • Keep your expenditure under constant review
  • Downsize your property
  • Take your holidays in the off-peak seasons
  • Grow your own produce - or if that's not possible, buy fresh food and cook from basics
  • Bulk buy. You could join with friends and get a card for Costco or Makro
  • Take a shopping list and only buy what's on the list - no impulse buying!
  • Join the library and borrow books, don't buy them. Or you could join the online community at Read it Swap it and swap books with people.
  • Go to charity shops - they can also be good for books, as well as clothes
  • Shop at supermarkets when they are selling produce off at reduced rates
  • Buy and sell on Ebay
  • Have a look around car boot sales
  • Use direct debits to pay for bills when the company gives a discount for using DDs
  • Pay off credit cards monthly
  • Be careful with your use of phones - especially mobiles. Get other people to ring you!

You will be able to think of others that are applicable to your own situation. Without living like a trappist monk or letting it become an obsession, be sensible in your spending and let your spending patterns become part of the help you give your personal finances.

There are other strategies for getting the most from your personal finances. Click on the links in the box to go to the rest of the Guide.

This Guide is written by Retirement Specialist Dave Sinclair supported by members of the LaterLife team. As well as writing on retirement matters Dave is Training Director at LaterLife and responsible for the content and continuous improvement of LaterLife's Retirement Courses.
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