Readers' Tips

Savvy Uses for Extra Money in Retirement

Assuming that Bill has enough money to pay for any health care or assisted living he might need in the future, here are a few ideas for spending his extra money well.

First on my list is a charitable gift of any sort. This could be large enough to be an endowment or just a small gift to worthy causes that he supports. Before giving to any charity, he should be sure to know how much of its income goes toward the actual purpose of the charity.

Bill could also play it safe by naming charities in his will. By doing this, he will be sure not to run out of money, but the charity still gets help when he no longer needs the money.

If Bill has college-age grandchildren, he might also consider helping to pay for their college education.

Bill could also "adopt" a poor family or a needy child and make sure that they have the necessities of everyday life like food, clothing, shelter, or any combination of these. Many children go to school hungry every day, and for some, school is the only place they get a meal.

There are many more ideas out there. These are just a few.
Barbara in SC

editor's note: Visit here for more savvy uses for extra money in retirement.

Free Retirement Money

I got a big IRS refund this year. My accountant suggested that I do something different for next year. I increased my deductions, so there is less withheld from my check. At the same time, I upped my 401k contribution. I won't get a big refund next year, but all that money will be making me more money for my retirement. The best thing is that my boss matches my contribution, so it's like I've contributed twice as much!

Crew Lunches

If you are part of a crew, it can be hard to save money on food. My nephew is an apprentice lineman and works on a six man crew. He was spending a lot of money on daily restaurant food until he suggested this money-saving idea. Each crew member is assigned a day to feed all the crew. The food has to be liked by the whole crew and obviously there has to be enough to fill up on. Each crew member only has to have a cup, plate, and utensils available. On his day, he and his wife make a giant sandwich with three meats, two cheeses, and all the fillings. They send condiments separately and include a bag of chips, two liters of drinks, ice, and apples. His wife shops for all the necessities with sales and coupons. Some of the crew members who have more money opt to take the crew to a restaurant. The more frugal crew members pack a brown bag for the whole crew. The crew loves the idea and those who enjoy saving are able to do so.
Van in AL

Additional TDS Resource: More frugal lunch ideas


I've gotten in the habit of asking for discounts everywhere I go. Whether I am buying a TV or booking a room for our vacation, I ask. All they can do is turn me down. I even ask in places you'd be afraid to ask. For instance we just had our wills redone. Just a few minor changes. When the lawyer's bill came, I called her office and asked since it was a minor fix if they could adjust the bill. They did! I don't think that I'll ever return to the days of not asking for discounts!

Selling Used Stuff

Do you sell stuff on Craigslist or at garage sales? If so, you've probably had some things that you weren't sure how much to ask for them. Before deciding how much, I ask myself two questions. First, is it valuable? If so, I want to get good money for it. I do a little online research to see what similar items are going for on eBay or at local resale shops. If it's not very valuable, I ask myself what I would pay for it on Craigslist or at a garage sale. Then I mark it a little higher, so I can negotiate down if necessary. I can't wait for garage sale season to start here in Michigan.

Additional TDS Resource: More on pricing garage sale items

Oily Driveway Spots

My car had left a nasty oil spot on our driveway. It was right where everyone could see it as they walked to our front door. Here's how I cleaned it up. I took some grease relief dishwashing detergent and squirted it all over the stain. They I spritzed it with water. I let it sit for an hour. Then I scrubbed with a stiff bristled brush. That removed about 80% of the stain. Then I hit it with some spray oven cleaner and let that sit for an hour. With a little more scrubbing, it was completely gone.

Finding Scholarships

Don't want to have huge student loans to repay after graduation? Do what my daughter did. She contacted a number of non-profit organizations that had a group in our town. She asked if they or their national organization had any scholarships that they offer. She applied for seven of them. Since they weren't well advertised, there wasn't a lot of competition to get a scholarship. They weren't big amounts, but she did get two of them for $1,000 each!

Additional TDS Resource: How to win a scholarship

Carpet Spots

Our toddler got an ink stain on our living room carpet, and I couldn't get it out no matter what I tried. Finally a friend suggested that I dye the spot back to its original color. I found some clothing dye that was close to the carpet's color and applied it to the spot. It took a couple of applications, but now I can't tell the spot was ever there!

Additional TDS Resource: Cleaning auto carpets

It Adds Up

We all like our little treats. Mine was a trip to the vending machine on afternoon breaks for a candy bar. Each day, I'd feed the machine $1. One day, I did a little math in my head and realized that I was putting over $200 a year into that vending machine. Therefore, I decided to buy my daily candy bar at Sam's and save more than $100 a year. It's like finding money on the street!

Ugly Food

Have you ever heard of 'ugly food'? I didn't until we were at a party and I talked with someone who worked in the produce department of a grocery store. He said that his store sold slightly damaged produce that just didn't look good if customers asked for it. I've been doing that lately and we've saved a bunch of money on our grocery bill.

Additional TDS Resource: More on ugly food

Rehearsal Dinner Worries

To keep my wedding budget in line, I needed to find some places to save. Since we were planning a full dinner for the wedding, we decided to keep the rehearsal dinner very simple, so we're having breakfast for dinner! We approached the owner of our favorite breakfast/lunch restaurant and asked him if he could stay open late and do a breakfast buffet for our guests. Not only did he agree, but he's also giving us a special price since the people in my family are such good customers!

Additional TDS Resource: Inexpensive rehearsal dinner ideas

Quick, Easy, Cheap Breakfast

I got this tip from my son in college. It is a filling breakfast that can be done about anywhere and costs next to nothing. It is filling, and you can take it on the go:

2 empty mugs
1 pack Ramen noodles, any flavor
1 egg
1 tsp. instant coffee or tea bag (sugar and creamer to taste)
2 cups boiling water

Crack egg over noodles in one mug and add a cup of boiling water. Wait until the noodles are soft and the egg is cooked. Stir and add flavor packet (1/2 flavor pack for low salt). Add coffee or the tea bag and sugar/cream to other mug and add boiling water. Take both mugs with you and eat up/drink up.
Van in AL

Additional TDS Resource: Homemade breakfast bars

Spending Plan Success

I've found the key to making a spending plan work. Have a "spending plan meeting" with yourself (and spouse if married) every week. I review my spending for the previous week and think about whether any of it was unnecessary or unwise. This simple review makes a big difference. Often, I'll talk myself out of spending money by remembering my meeting.

Curb Appeal

HGTV shows always say that people's first impression of your house is important. Therefore, I do spring cleaning on the front of our house. The aluminum front screen door was a problem until I discovered that a squirt of dish soap and two cups of white vinegar in a gallon of water will add shine to the aluminum. It almost looks like new again.

Additional TDS Resource: Home maintenance schedules

My Favorite Bath Powder

My favorite bath powder is getting expensive, so I decided to cut it with cornstarch. I mix about 1/3 cornstarch to 2/3 bath powder. I can't tell the difference. It's not a big savings, but every little bit helps!

Mosquito Relief

Want relief from mosquito bites? Try dabbing some Listerine mouthwash onto the bite. Just a few drops will take away the itch! I have no idea why it works, but it's cheap and works great!

Additional TDS Resource: Natural backyard mosquito control

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