“Cost of living” refers to the cost of essentials and day-to-day necessities.
In the past twelve months, the cost of living for seniors in Australia has risen by 6.3%. This major increase can make it difficult to financially plan and to save money.
As many pensioners and seniors have no active income stream, saving money is a vital skill to have.
We’ll explore 11 great tips for seniors and pensioners to save money despite the rise in cost of living.
1. Claim your government benefits
As a pensioner or as a senior, you may be eligible for certain government benefits. These benefits can include age pension and income support.
Age pension provides fortnightly financial support to older Australians who need it. Age pension comes with additional benefits, like a free direct bill paying service, a work bonus payment, and a concession card.
2. Take advantage of concession cards
There are various concession cards for seniors available through the Queensland Government.
The different types of cards can save you money through:
- Queensland Government concessions
- Discounts on goods and services at participating businesses
- Public transport discounts
- Discounts through the free Senior Shopper service
You can check your eligibility and apply for a concession card on the Queensland Government’s Senior Card webpage.
3. Claim your entitlements
As a senior, you may also be eligible for certain subsidies.
You may be able to receive a subsidy of up to 20% (or a maximum of $200 annually) on your property rates and charges.
Queensland seniors may also qualify for the electricity rebate ($372.20 per year) and the reticulated natural gas rebate ($80.77 per year).
4. Cut forgotten subscriptions
Research shows that Australians are wasting an average of nearly $200 annually on forgotten subscriptions.
Review your bank statement to catch any regular subscriptions you may have forgotten about or are unaware of. For example, maybe you signed up for a free trial of a streaming service and forgot to cancel it before it started charging you.
You can also save money on subscriptions by signing up for family plans with your partner or your children. Plenty of services like Netflix and Spotify offer family plans that can save you lots of money.
5. Create a meal plan and a food budget
Creating a weekly meal plan for yourself can be as simple as writing a list of what you plan to eat each day. You can group days by ingredients and plan in advanced for leftovers.
Creating this meal plan will also help you to write a shopping list. A shopping list is so beneficial because it limits you from buying things you don’t need.
A food budget can help you stay within your means when shopping for groceries. It might take some time to find the perfect budget. By creating a meal plan and shopping lists, you can start to identify patterns in your spending to create a realistic and attainable budget. You’ll also start to build positive habits and find meals and snacks that work for you.
Some further tips of reducing your grocery bill include:
- Reducing meat from your meals
- Buying frozen vegetables instead of fresh
- Purchasing staple foods in bulk
- Finding cheaper store-brand alternatives to products
6. Tactfully reduce your bills
Be tactful about billed services, like:
- Cable – if you find yourself always using streaming services like Netflix anyways, it might be worth getting rid of your cable plan.
- Phone – do you have both a landline and a mobile phone? Consider cancelling your landline and instead making calls from your mobile phone only.
- Cooling and heating – only cool or heat the room you’re using instead of the entire house. Using blinds and door snakes can help regulate room temperature naturally. However, especially in the warm Queensland summers, it’s important to prioritise your health and comfort. Don’t totally forego using the air con simply to save some money.
- Laundry – only wash when the load is full. Use cold water. Hang-dry clothes instead of using the dryer. If this is a physically challenging task, a neighbour or family member may be more than happy to help.
- Electricity – unplug devices once they are done charging. Turn off the outlets of any plugged-in appliances that have a “standby mode.”
7. Look for free or cheaper alternatives to hobbies
Unfortunately, the rising cost of living might mean making some lifestyle changes. Luckily, there are likely free or cheaper alternatives.
For example, instead of buying books, get a card for your local library. Instead of buying crossword puzzle books, look for a free crossword puzzle app on your smart device. If you’re attending a yoga or exercise class, there could be a free option for seniors in your community.
Relationships Australia Queensland’s Senior Social Connection Program helps older Queenslanders in Sunshine Coast and Gympie to stay connected. Seniors in other areas of Queensland can find free social activities through the Queensland Government website.
8. Use Home Assist Secure for household repairs
Home Assist Secure is a service offered by the Queensland Government.
This service offers information, referrals, and subsidised assistance to eligible seniors with household jobs like replacing lightbulbs, maintaining smoke alarms, and small repairs.
9. Be aware of financial elder abuse
In Australia, financial elder abuse has been the most reported type of abuse against seniors.
Financial elder abuse can look like many things. Some signs may include restricted access to your own bank account or assets, family members controlling your money, and things disappearing around the house.
With the rising cost of living and housing, more and more families are moving in together to cut costs. However, these close living quarters and family dynamics can put seniors at great risk of financial abuse.
It’s okay to reach out for help. Our counsellors specialise in the protection of seniors against elder abuse, including financial abuse.
10. Don’t neglect self-care!
When stressing about finances, it’s tempting to sacrifice your wellbeing in favour of saving money.
For example, as stated above, you might worry about how expensive running your air con might be during the summer. However, it’s just not worth the potential health hazards and the discomfort. Experts recommend 24 degrees as the sweet spot between comfort and saving money.
There’s a common misconception that unhealthy food is cheaper than healthy food. This myth is perpetuated by instant-ready meals and fast food marketing.
However, research shows that a healthy diet in Australia is around 12-15% cheaper than an unhealthy one. Furthermore, An unhealthy diet can have severe health consequences, like diabetes and heart disease.
Using the tips above like making grocery lists and meal plans, buying frozen vegetables instead of fresh, and avoiding meat can help you have a healthy diet while sticking to a budget.
As an older person, you likely have new and evolving medical needs. Your health is so much more important than money. Take advantage of Medicare options as well as the concession cards detailed above to find healthcare options that are wallet-friendly.
Saving money also doesn’t have to mean sitting around and being bored. There are plenty of free or low-cost activities for seniors.
11. Get a free financial health check
If you need help or feel like you need to financially get back on track, talking to a Senior Financial Protection Service (SFPS) counsellor at Relationships Australia Qld can help.
The SFPS offers a free financial health check for seniors. Through this financial health check and subsequent support, the SFPS can:
- Ensure that your income and assets are protected
- Provide budgeting help, practical support, and references to relevant services
- Support if you are experiencing, or at risk of experiencing, elder financial abuse
- Improve your financial resilience
You are not alone if you are feeling uncertain about your finances.
If you are worried about money, our experienced counsellors can provide you with a FREE Financial Health Check. We can help you explore your concerns and possible solutions in a safe and supportive environment.
You can learn more about our Senior Financial Protection Service here, or call 1300 063 232.