Here is a viable plan for retiring mortgage free or to simply increase
your savings dramatically. The TSP recently reported their 2015 Thrift
Savings Plan (TSP) contribution limits. The limits are $18,000 and an additional $6,000 for the catch-up
contributions for anyone over 50. Employees approaching retirement over age
50 should try to max out their contributions if possible to improve their
retirement savings. This is especially important for CSRS employees that
don’t receive an employer match.
Most will have to learn to live on less in retirement, a fact of life
these days. And one way to become accustomed to less income is to start
putting away more when you are still working into your
TSP account. Starting
about ten years prior to retirement I saved all annual pay increases by
increasing my allotment to the TSP, Credit Union,
and through savings bond deductions. When I retired, my take home pay was
the same amount it was in 1995, ten years before I retired. When I turned
age 50 I contributed the maximum allowed at the time to my TSP through
catch-up contributions and when I did retire my monthly annuity check was
larger than what I was taking home when I was working full time. The bonus
was that I had a lot more savings because of how I invested my TSP and saved
my annual pay increases. I actually started this process much earlier.
Around 1990 I started putting away half of my annual pay increase so I
worked my way slowing into the process.
The additional catch-up contributions will help you become accustom to
working with less income. Most will earn less in retirement and this action
can help you in other ways as well. An employee could pay off their mortgage
by applying their annual pay increases to the mortgage and retire mortgage
free or have enough additional money in their Thrift Plan that at retirement
they could take out a one-time withdrawal and pay off their mortgage.
is the key and when you learn to live on less and the money is
out-of-sight and out-of-mind you won’t miss it.
This is a principle we should all teach to our children as well. Too
often too many spend all or most of what they earn and put little thought
into how to save and economize. For example, even without a COLA in 2010 and
2011, you can save by shopping at stores like ALDIs, a grocery box store
with exceptionally low prices. To locate an
ALDIs near you use their store locator to find one in your area.
Their produce is half the price of what you would pay in a regular grocery
store and we shop their often. Save-a-Lot is another discount grocery
to consider. Visit Save-a-Lot's web site
and type in your zip code to find a store in your location. Here are other
ways to economize:
- Consolidate services such as phone, cable TV, and
internet. Verizon, Comcast and DISH Network all have bundles available
for as little as $79 a month. I saved over $160 a month when I bundled
all of my services with Comcast recently and locked up the price for 2
years with no contract.
- Review all of your bills and services to see what can be
canceled or at least paired down a bit to save monthly fees. I
subscribe to several services and when I received annual bills for
services I subscribe to I call for discounts or to cancel if the costs
are too high. They often offer discounts of up to 50% or offer free add
on services if you sign up for another year. You will be surprised just
how much you can save going through this exercise each year.
- Look for discounts
- McDonalds offers senior coffee for as little as 75 cents in our
area. (Ask for the senior's discount)
- Arby's offers 10% off for those over 55.
- Boscov's offers a 15% discount for veterans, just stop at
their customer service department and ask for a discount coupon
when you first arrive at the store. You must show an ID. In
Pennsylvania the state prints a flag on your drivers license
with VETERAN listed under the flag.
- Golden Corral offers 10% for those over 60
- Sonic offers 10% off or a free beverage for those over
- Taco Bell offers 5% off and free beverages for those over 65
- Home Depot offers a 10% discount for veterans.
- Wendy's offers seniors free coffee in our area: FREE
if you ask.
- KFC offers all seniors a 10% discount, just ask for it at
the order counter.
- Kohl's Department stores offer seniors age 60 and above a flat
15% discount on Wednesday's after 4 pm.
- Boston Market offers a 10% Senior's Discount, just ask for
it when you order if you are over 60.
- Hotels and Motel Discounts
- Many hotels offer generous senior discounts from 20% to as
high as 50% off to seniors. Ask for their senior rates. The age
limit differs per hotel with many staring at age 55, most are
for those 60 or older. For example, Holiday Inns offer
from 20% to 40% off for anyone age 62 or older and Best Western
offers 40% for anyone age 55 or older. Quality Inns offer
40% to 50% off for those age 60 or older.
- Movie theaters - Most theaters offer senior
- Car Rental companies offer from 5% up to 40%
off for seniors. Age limits vary.
- Ikea Stores in our area offers a 99 cent
breakfast with free coffee at their restaurants if you arrive before
10 am. They open the restaurant at 9:30 am each morning, a half hour
before the store officially opens.
- ALWAYS ask for a discount, AAA, AARP, Senior and you will be
surprised at how many are offered. I discovered this by accident at
Super K one day when the store clerk said that he gave me a senior
discount. When I asked why he said that Tuesdays were senior
discount days and I must have looked the part.
- Look for Early Bird Specials, there are many restaurants, even
upscale, that offer great early bird or senior discounts. We like to
dine at the Grand Concourse restaurant in Pittsburgh from time to
time. They offer early bird specials from 4 to 6 pm daily. You can
also join their "Laudry's Select Club" and use their card
for additional discounts.
- When CDs Come Due Earn Higher
- Saving Grace, Fear of the
Unknown, and Keys to a Long Life, article by Dennis Damp
- Strategies for Increasing
Your Retirement Annuity and Income
- Make your own coffee, buy premium coffee at Sam's or Costco and not
at the high priced coffee shops. A financial planner recently
reported that if you put the cost of a daily Starbucks coffee away for
40 years you would be a millionaire.
- Cut coupons, many stores offer double coupon value up to 99 cents in
- Comparison shop, always obtain multiple quotes for repairs and
services. You will be astounded at the price differences and then check
out the vendor on the www.bbb.org site
to make sure they are reputable.
- Visit http://www.amazon.com to
price big ticket items you are considering. If the cost of the item
is $25 or higher shipping is free and you currently pay no sales tax.
- NOTE: Large box stores such as Best Buy are now offering
price matches with Amazon. If you find it cheaper on Amazon
print out the quote and take it to Best Buy or other retailers
for a price match.
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