How Can Seniors Save Money?
Upon your retirement, you’re suddenly found by an excess of free time. Why not take that free time and do something to help you with your impending obstacle – smaller income which, in turn, equals less money. We can show you some ways seniors can save money, a sum that is over $1,000 a year by simply taking the time to make a few simple changes in your senior lifestyle – ones that will make you feel more confident and pay less.
Cancel Cable TV
While this might sound like nonsense to save money, considering that you can spend your free time by watching cable TV, which, realistically, is very tempting, even for the purpose of a background noise, it is a tough choice for seniors that spend over 4 hours a day on average by watching cable TV. However, depending on your cable plan, you’re probably wasting from $70 to $100 a month (averaging at $86). This is over $1,000 a year wasted, money that you can save.
As a matter of fact, cable TV prices are rising at an increasing speed. Over the years, you must have noticed that your cable TV is showing less of what you actually want to watch and more of what your cable TV operator thinks you want to watch. One such example, as you must have noticed is that Comcast took down one of our favorite channels, Universal Sports.
You probably have only a few favorite channels and even less that you watch on a regular basis. It’s highly doubtful that those few channels are worth more than $1,000 a year.
Once you cancel cable TV or satellite TV, you’re free to continue watching your favorite shows, whenever and wherever you want and, as a bonus – pay less and you can save money.
- Netflix/Amazon/Hulu Plus (from $8/month to $80/year)
- Amazon, Hulu Plus, and Netflix have prices that range from $8 a month to $80 a year, which is considerably less than your cable/satellite TV.
The services that we mentioned allow you to watch and rent videos instantly, depending on the plan of your choosing. Netflix, for example, offers unlimited online movies of your choosing, and have one disc out-at-a-time for $16 per month. Amazon Prime’s membership, which costs $79 per year will give you instant access to movies and TV shows, free 2-day shipping and Kindle books access.
With Hulu, you can watch hundreds of TV shows and movies for free. For the sum of $8 per month, you will gain access to the latest movies and TV shows.
If you own a smart TV, you will have direct access to these services after you sign up for them. If you don’t own a smart TV, you have the option of buying a streaming video player from companies like Roku and Apple, with prices starting at $50.
These video player boxes plug directly into your TV and use your wireless internet to pick up the signal, which allows you to watch movies, TV shows, sports, and much more. Some of the programs featured on this video player are free and, some, like Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu will require you to obtain a monthly or yearly fee and the best thing about them is the variety of TV shows and movies that you can watch whenever you choose to.
In case you’re not ready to obtain one of these video players you still have the option to watch them on your PC or laptop.
Amplified HDTV Antenna ($15 to $50)
Once the cable is gone, you still have the option to watch local TV stations using an amplified HDTV antenna. These kinds of devices are placed on your TV and allow you to watch 15 to 30 TV stations, depending on the antenna placement and signal strength. You can use the FCC page in order to get the information you need on antennas and digital TVs. You can also use the www.antennaweb.org website to find out which HDTV antenna you’re going to need and which channels you will be able to pick up in your area.
There’s even a possibility to use your old TV antenna and still be able to pick up local channels.
Check Out the Library!
In case you haven’t been to your local library for some time, you should go check it out as you might be surprised at what you may find there. Most public libraries will have a big collection of DVDs and some may even offer streaming movies that you will be able to watch later on your PC or via your Smart TV or Roku box.
In case you are living in a small town that has a library with limited resources, you should consider buying a library card from the closest town that has a library with better resources, or one that is better equipped.
We know that getting rid of cable can be a difficult decision to make, however, the psychological and financial liberation is totally worth it, so we do encourage you to try it out. You really have nothing to lose and you can gain quite a bit.
Cancel Your Land Line and get a Cell Phone
Since seniors are so used to using a landline, this way of saving money can be a tough call to make for older adults. However, once you cancel your landline, you will find out that you’re not only saving money, but you’ll stop getting recorded sales calls. And much like cable TV, you won’t miss it one bit.
In case you already have a cell phone plan, this might be the time to re-evaluate that plan, and certainly so if you’re going to cancel your landline since the cell phone market of super-competitive and more and more providers are popping up each year.
If, however, you don’t have a cell phone plan, we can provide you with some programs with products and services that cater more to senior citizens. These programs are appealing because of the fact that you “pay-as-you-go” and require no signing of contracts whatsoever.
When researching cell phones and cell phone plans to save money, be sure to keep these things in mind:
- When and how frequently are you using your phone? Most of the pre-paid plans don’t have free nights and weekend included unless, of course, you get their premium plans.
- Also, knowing how many minutes you talk each month can help you choose which cell phone plan best suits your needs.
- Who do you use your cell phone to talk with? Is it your spouse? Or your kids, neighbors? Consider taking a cell phone plan from a provider that has a family plan.
- Or you might be a texter, in which case, you should take into consideration that some providers charge by text.
- Do you need a cell phone that is better suited for seniors? These kinds of phones have large buttons and are packed with features like medication reminders as well as emergency call buttons.
First on our cell phone plan providers is greatcall.com which advertises as Home of the Jitterbug, which is the first “senior” phone. This plan has no contracts, cancelation fees, affordable monthly plans, and other features that cater to seniors, which makes this service attractive Their monthly plans start at $14.99 for 50 anytime minutes and allow you to roll-over minutes. Data plans start at $2.50/month. You can buy a cell phone at Walmart for $80.
Some of the special features that are included in this plan are Urgent Care, which is an app that “lets you have access to unlimited health care advice and a registered nurse….”. Another one is Medication Reminders, an app that reminds you to take your daily medications and when you should go and refill your prescriptions. The 5Star Urgent Response is one-touch emergency response system where you’ll speak to NAED Certified Response Agents.
The second cell phone plan service is Tracfone – one of the first services in the pre-paid phone market. Tracfone works by using the phone network of bigger services like Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T. You can find and buy cell phones at Target for the low cost of $10. Pre-paid cards can be bought at over 90,000 retail stores all across the country.
Their minute's cards work on the principle that the more minutes you buy, the less expensive it is per minute. For example, a 450-minute card runs $80, about 18 cents/minute.
The third cell phone plan on our list is Just5. These are “senior-friendly” phones that have larger buttons, large screen digits and a talkback keypad, which means that the phone will say out loud the numbers that you’re pressing. You’re free to text but there’s no internet connectivity.
On the back of the phone, there is an “SOS” button that will start texting and calling the five emergency contacts that you have pre-programmed. These kinds of phones also include a flashlight and a radio. You can find phones like these on sale for $99 and the cell phone plans start at $10 for 100 minutes of talk time.
Fourth on our list is consumercellular.com. This cell phone program features no contracts, with cell phone plans starting at $10 per month, along with internet and text data plans, starting at $2.50 per month. Consumercellular.com offer cell phones like the Doro “senior” phone at a price of $60, which is a flip phone featuring large buttons, as well as more feature-packed smartphones.
Since consumercellural.com uses the cell network of AT&T, there’s a possibility you won’t have to pay for a new phone if you know someone from your family or friends which are buying a new phone. You can freely use their phones if it was previously used on the AT&T network.
Another thing worth mentioning regarding this plan is that the minutes bought don’t roll out from month to month which means that you’ll have to buy new minutes each month. Every additional minute costs 24 cents. AARP members get a 5% discount on monthly fees and 30% off accessories.
The fifth program on our list is T-Mobile. If smartphones are your thing, T-Mobile has you covered with pre-paid unlimited talk, text and data plans starting at $50 per month. Each of these plans doesn’t require you to sign a yearly contract with smartphones prices starting at $85.
Last but not least on our list is Verizon and AT&T - the giants in the cell phone industry which also offer “senior” plans. For example, Verizon has their Nationwide 65 Plus Plan, featuring 200 minutes for the price of $30 per month, which is a good price if you don’t plan on talking too much. Should you go over your 200 minutes limit, each additional minute will cost you 45 cents per minute. Text and internet data are their own separate charges.
The 5 Best Things About Going Cell Phone Only
- Save money by canceling your landline
- No more pre-recorded solicitation calls at all hours of the day
- The flexibility and security of having a phone with you at all times
- Easier communication with texting.
- Convenience when out and about: how many times have you gone to the store only to forget something on the list for dinner?
Save Money on Car Insurance
Take a moment and think about the last time you took a look at your car insurance policy. There’s a chance you’re paying way too much or holding on to that coverage that you don’t really need any more, as well as the possibility that you might be missing out on discounts.
In the following paragraphs, we will take a look at some areas where you might be able to save hundreds of dollars every year.
Your Driving History
When you’re deciding on your coverage, consider your overall driving record. Think when was the last accident you were a part of, how many accidents were you a part of (if any) and if they were your fault.
According to the US Census Bureau, people that are 55 years or older, have been involved in far fewer accidents than all the other age groups per licensed drivers number.
Also, take into account how many miles you’re driving now on average and get an estimate of your possible yearly miles. If you’re driving less, your chances of being involved in an accident are reduced.
Deductibles for Comprehensive/Collision
About half of your total auto insurance premium is directed to comprehensive and collision coverage.
If you’re financing or leasing your vehicle, comprehensive and collision coverage are required by the note holder. Collision coverage pays for any repairs to your vehicle that are needed after an accident with another vehicle/object. Comprehensive coverage is non-accident related and refers to theft, vandalism, storms and natural disasters.
You can change the amount of your deductible, which is the amount you have to pay before your insurance company can begin to pay for a claim and save money on your premium. On average, you can choose a deductible ranging from $0 and $1,000.
The amount of money that can be saved depends on several factors, which may include, but are not limited to your age, number of claims, the value of your vehicle, et al. You can ask your insurer about how high your yearly savings would be for the different deductible amounts and, based on that information, you can decide if the $500 or $1,000 out-of-pocket deductible is affordable in case you’re involved in an accident.
Do I Need Collision and Comprehensive Coverage?
There are no set values or rules that could help you determine if you need comprehensive and collision coverage. There is, however, a good rule of thumb that states that if you’re paying more than 10% of your vehicle’s value in yearly premiums – you might not need said coverage. You can get an approximate vehicle market value by using Kelly Blue Book or Edmunds.com.
For example, if your vehicle is worth $3,500 and your deductible is $500 – your risk is $3,000. That means that yearly, you’re paying $100 for comprehensive coverage and $200 for collision coverage which adds up to $300 per year, combined – which is 10% in yearly premiums. This probably means that you don’t need the coverage.
The 10% rule of thumb is based on the average number of years (usually 10 years) in between accidents for the average driver. In case you’re an avid driver, you might need to adjust the premium percentage even higher.
Another coverage on our list that you should consider dropping/adjusting is rental reimbursement. As a retired citizen, the availability of rental cars while your own is in the shop might not be as important as during your working days. Furthermore, if you have a second car, this kind of coverage isn’t necessary and you can pay less.
Car Insurance Discounts
Insurance companies have a range of discounts that are available to their customers. Feel free to contact your agent to find out if you’re eligible or taking advantage of these discounts. These are the more common discounts:
- Loyalty for the length of time you stay with the insurer.
- The green vehicle for driving a hybrid or similar eco-friendly car.
- Low Mileage discounts are given for the number of miles driven every year. When was the last time you adjusted this with your insurance company?
- Multiple Policy discounts are given if you bundle policies (auto, home, life) together.
- Multi-Vehicle discounts for having more than one car insured
- Affinity discount for belonging to a certain group.
- Paying premium in full rather than monthly/quarterly.
- Anti-theft (alarm system), Anti-Lock Brakes, Passive Restraint System (airbags)
- Safe Driver (clean driving record)
Mature Driver Class
The last thing on our list is the fact that most of the big insurers like USAA, Allstate, and State Farm offer a discount if the customer has completed a defensive driver course. Said courses may vary from state to state. However, most of them include actual class and road instruction, usually provided at a local senior center. Some of these courses are done online and some valuable benefits are offered for these.
In New York, for example, you can get 10% off your insurance as well as get eligible to reduce 4 points off your driving record by taking their online driving course.
You can find out some more information at www.aarpdriversafety.org, as well as the National Safety Council.
It’s also worthwhile to take your time shopping around. From what you can tell from the 24/7 commercials – car insurance is a highly competitive industry. The thing you should pay good attention to is that the insurer of your choosing has a good service reputation.
In case you find a policy that is lower than the one you’re paying for now, talk to your current insurer and wait and see what actions they’ll take to keep you as their customer.
At first, making and adjusting to these changes (especially when it comes to canceling cable and landline), will most likely be difficult at first. However, once you implement these adjustments, your life, and financial situation will get much better and you’ll probably never look back. Those extra $100 at the end of the month will come in handy.
It shouldn’t hesitate when you’re re-evaluating your car insurance simply because there’s no need to pay for protection that you don’t need anymore. Also, why not get the discounts that you’re eligible for?
We can Help! Our local advisors can help your family make a confident decision about senior living.