Helping Federal Employees and Annuitants Understand Their Benefits


Retire Mortgage Free

Ways to Economize In Retirement


Discover Ways to Save in Retirement and How to Pay Off Your Mortgage Early

Here is a viable plan for retiring mortgage free or to simply increase your savings dramatically. The TSP 2023 Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) contribution limits are are $22,500 and an additional $7,500 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.   

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Use Your TSP to Retire Mortgage FREE 

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 placed all annual pay increases into the TSP, Credit Union savings account, 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. 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.  A mortgage refinance is always an option when rates fall. Aside from that, 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. Planning 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.

Ways to Save and Economize in Retirement

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, 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, Xfinity and DISH Network all have bundles available. I saved a considerable amount when I bundled all of my services with Xfinity.
  • 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
    • Ask for DISCOUNTS
      • McDonalds offers senior coffee for as little as 90 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 60
      • Taco Bell offers 5% off and free beverages for those over 65
      • Lowes offers a 10% discount for any purchases made with their credit card and they also offer all veterans a 19% discouont with verification of service.
      • Home Depot offers a 10% discount for veterans.
      • Wendy's offers seniors free coffee in our area: FREE if you ask.
      • 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 discounts.
    • 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.
  • Which Way is Up – A Retiree’s Conundrum
  • Saving Grace, Fear of the Unknown, and Keys to a Long Life
  • 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 our area. 
  • 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 site to make sure they are  reputable.
  • Visit 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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