Retirement On ‘Just Getting By’.

I don’t think anyone plans on retiring on a shoestring. I think it just happens. Call it bad luck or good luck or any kind of luck, somehow despite all your pitfalls and errors you find yourself retired with a mere pittance to get you by. If you handle it right, however, if you’re frugal enough and creative enough, you can make it all work out. Sometimes seamlessly as if no one other than yourself will know.

We think it shameful to ‘just be getting by’ but we don’t realize how fortunate and blessed ‘just getting by’ can be. Why? Look at the alternative. Look at how ‘not just getting by’ really is. If you have a roof over your head, food on the table, paid-for affordable health care (Medicare plus an Advantage Plan) and your lights are still glowing and your car is still running, you, dear reader, are in great retirement shape! Consider yourself successful because it took guts and creativity to get you here.

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Every month, I keep my electricity usage in check and under par.

You cut your own hair (or get deep hair styling discounts) you clean your own home, you do your own manicure, pedicure. You cook your own meals. You troubleshoot your own cars. You do your own repairs. DIY to you is like nirvana. You take advantage of senior citizen discounts because after all (these years) you deserve them! You cancelled cable because you learned how to stream. You shun the gym because you’ve mastered the great outdoors. You attend free concerts, free festivals, free lectures and self-educate at your local homegrown library. You’re smarter than anyone you know. You’ve mastered the pathway to zero-interest loans which has afforded you to upgrade your lifestyle, your appliances, your vehicle tires, your big ticket items with feeling nary a tug at your pitiful retirement savings stash.

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Flannel shirts can cost upwards of $50. These 100% cotton flannel shirts were $15 but, on sale for only $10 a piece. Way better than Goodwill or consignment pricing.

You qualify for no-fee admittance to national parks, state parks and the local park down on your favorite neighborhood corner. You vacation off season and get to enjoy the property mostly all to yourself. You see the latest release movie for a pittance while enjoying that dollar-off, medium sized tub of buttered popcorn. You have so much time now to seek out sales and discounts that you no longer have to scavenge the racks at Goodwill. You’re wearing new clothes at prices better than any consignment shop a residence for the one percenters (1%’rs) could offer. You’re having fancy, well-rounded meals out, all thanks to that often maligned early bird special. You got your property taxes lowered because you qualified. You’ve got one car and it’s the most newish you’ve ever had. Or you take public transportation via a senior citizen discounted fare card.

You don’t take crap from anyone. If you’ve been cheated, you fight back to maintain your rights. Barely 10 months ago I bought this white holiday motif sleepwear (pictured on the left) from Lands End before the material thinned and frayed, causing holes everywhere on the fabric. It took me over 6 weeks but I got Lands End to replace the sleepwear, free of charge with absolutely no shipping charges in either direction. My new pj’s (valued at $60) are pictured on the right!

You live well. You eat well. And you feel well.  You enjoy your life and despite it all, you choose not to concentrate on its pitfalls but rather on its enjoyment. You know the value of a dollar as well as the value of a dime. Most of all, you know the value of your family. The value of having friends. Acquaintances and neighbors you can rely on. You understand money isn’t everything. Money’s not the only thing of value or to be used as a yardstick for judgment. Your honesty, integrity and how you treat your fellow man, woman, child and animal is your guiding light. You don’t lie or cheat your way up to the top. You respect everyone until proven otherwise.

You’re not your child’s friend. You are their parent. And you want them to grow up big and strong; just like you. And they have.

Not only are you retired and ‘just getting by’.

You’re retired and ‘just getting started’.





  1. You did it again. This is a wonderful, inspiring post. As I read it I was mentally checking my version of your successful retirement points.

    I would add one more thing to your list. We have saved money by using older family furniture. For example our sofa is a 1940’s Lawson style that is recovered in dark avocado velvet. We have used it for 40 plus years. My husband’s grandparents bought it from the Salvation Army. It is a classic. The frame is a Koehler and has been repaired and tightened once. The upholstery has worn wonderfully. It looks the same as when it was first recovered. When we moved last year I was going to buy a new sofa. My friends said that they hoped we would not get rid of it. I am so glad I didn’t.

    We feel satisfied with our retirement and keep trying to make our lives easier. Winter is coming early this year and we have been stocking up on things to add comfort to our life. My meals are not as good as yours and I seem to have lost interest in preparation. It is a good thing I have a tolerant husband!


    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Sue. We do the same thing. Our kitchen/dining room table and chairs are a hand-me-down from my MIL. I sanded it down and re-verithaned it. Got new seat cushions. I love it. The wood alone can never be duplicated.
      My husband is the cook in the family. I make the soups, appetizers and dessert. He does the entrees. Together, we make a great team as well as a good meal! LOL!
      Thank you for your comment. I appreciate it.


  2. I think you will be doing really well once your husband is able to retire full time and y’all are receiving the social security check. Y’all are doing pretty well right now!


  3. LOVE this post. I’m going to start my CVS’ing again to stock pile household products. It’s going into the dull season so I’ll have time. Switching to all home cooked meals as my husband and I continue to ‘try’ to lose weight. Restaurants just don’t cut it for me. Future travel will be thought out (only if we haven’t been) places and done with points, coupons, etc. We have a HUGE goal to pay off our home in four years so I will be concentrating on all the frugal things.

    Keep the frugal ideas coming…LOVE the inspiration. AND, as always, I’m enjoying the comment stream. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m reading this from my trip because I love your writing. Once we return, this will likely be our last trip abroad, so we’re enjoying every bit of it.
    You are so right about retirement and finances and the mindset in appreciating everything.
    I’m so grateful to have a roof over our heads, food in our bellies and utilities. Everything else is gravy.
    I’m doing almost everything you’re recommending (except for this trip), but again, it was budgeted for, and given DH’s recent cancer scare I’m really, really grateful we were able to do this.
    Keep these great posts coming Cindi, they’re inspirational!


      • Teri, we’ll be in Vero. Maybe all four of us can meet half way? I’ll keep you posted. I’m just itching for some Cuban sandwiches. Oh and would I love to dance the night away doing the samba and drinking me some margaritas!!! OLA!!


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