for Most, the ‘In’ Thing to Do
By Margaret McCormick
Are you thinking of retirement? Or wondering if you’ll need to work — and scrimp and save for the rest of your life — as a result of lower or lost wages, the sagging economy and Great Recession?
You wouldn’t be alone in doing so. A Gallup Poll released earlier this year found that 62 percent of Americans would rather save money than spend it, up from 48 percent a decade ago.
Here are some ways to save money and get good bang for your hard-earned bucks.
Home — Are you in good health, with an extra room or extra space in your house? To reduce expenses and gain companionship, consider renting a room to someone else in your age range. If you don’t know the person you are renting to, you will need to take precautions such as background check, references, security deposit, etc. Check with your municipality and consult a lawyer.
AARP Bulletin reports that home-sharing arrangements are on the rise, including family members rooming together or groups of people organizing in so-called intentional communities. A Bulletin survey found that 32 percent of people over age 50 are living with their parents, their adult children or both. Another 15 percent say it’s “likely” that they’ll begin living with parents or children in the next year.
But that’s not an option for everybody. Cynthia Stevenson, director of Caregiver Services for the Onondaga County Department of Aging and Youth, says there are a several cooperative living arrangements for seniors and “well elderly’’ in Onondaga County, including the House at 807, at 807 Oswego Road, in the village of Liverpool.
The house can accommodate up to eight residents, who each have a private room and share bathrooms. It’s close to services like parks and shopping and is on a bus line. It’s not cheap to live there, but it may be less expensive than maintaining an apartment or house and buying groceries: The fee is about $1,000 a month, and includes a prepared lunch and dinner each day and self-serve breakfast and snacks. A manager lives on site.
For information, call 457-1334 or go to www.house-at-807.org.
Clothing — Buy summer clothes now at end-of-season sales — as retailers focus their attention on fall and winter — and you can save a bundle of money.
Shopping at secondhand/thrift stores and consignment shops can also trim hundreds of dollars from your annual clothing tab. Prices tend to be higher at consignment shops but the clothing and accessories are of higher quality, too.
The number of resale shops has grown during the Great Recession — 7 percent in the last year alone, according to the National Association of Resale and Thrift Shops.
One of the newer shops in Central New York is EcoChic Consignment Boutique, at 4314 E. Genesee St., DeWitt. A recent spin through the store’s women’s racks found such well-known labels as Chicos, J.Jill, Talbots, Ann Taylor, BCBG, Flax and others, at considerable savings over regular retail.
Want to make some money and gain space in your closets? Purge your closets of clothes you no longer wear and sell gently worn, well-cared-for pieces at a consignment shop. Due to space limitations and shopper preferences, shops are selective about what they take in. Most shops charge an administration fee, and the consignor receives a percentage of the selling price.
Whether you’re looking to buy or sell clothing, don’t forget the online marketplace. Check out the previously worn fashions at sites like eBay and Craigslist and put some of your own castoffs up for sale.
Or just browse. Window shopping doesn’t cost a cent.
Food — Everyone knows to buy in bulk, to stock up on chicken when it’s 99 cents a pound and stash it in the freezer. For good buys and good health, eat seasonal and local and become a fixture at your farmers market. In season, there are dozens of markets in Central New York. Know when your favorite fruits and vegetables come into season and buy at the height of the season.
When every vendor has blueberries, bell peppers and sweet corn, there are deals to be had. Buy big (three dozen ears of corn, for instance) and ask for a discount. Shop at the end of the day, when vendors might reduce prices so they don’t have to cart their goods home.
The Central New York Regional Market, 2100 Park St., Syracuse, is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursdays through late November and 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays, year-round. For more information, call 422-8647.
Partner up: Support a local farmer and save on produce by buying a CSA (community supported agriculture) share. Grindstone Farm, a certified-organic farm in Pulaski, estimates those who buy a CSA share will save at least 20 percent over the cost of retail. A share this year cost $565 for 20 weeks, June to October. A share feeds two to four people, so split a share with family, friends or neighbors.
It’s too late for a Grindstone share this year, but not too early to think about next year. For more information, go to www.grindstonefarm.com. For more information on other community/CSA farms in Central New York, go to www.localharvest.org.
Entertainment — Add up the money you spend on books, magazines, music, movies and cable TV and chances are it adds up to a lot. You’ll be richer immediately if you pull the plug on your cable, which can cost $1,000 a year or more. You’ll miss it at first, but there are alternatives.
How about dinner at home — prepared from scratch, by you — and a movie from the library? The Onondaga County Public Libary (OCPL) has dozens of branches and thousands of titles, including recent movie releases and current TV fare like “Big Love” and “Mad Men.’’
The waiting list and wait time can be long. In the meantime, take out some books, have a look at your library’s music selection and check websites, newspapers and publications like Clipper Magazine for savings on dining out. The “Discount Deals” section at www.9wsyr.com has dozens of deals good at local restaurants.
Travel — Even people on a mission to save money need a change of scenery on occasion.
A number of senior centers in Central New York offer day trips and overnight excursions for members and the general public. The Manlius Senior Center, for example, has day trips to the Merry-Go-Round Playhouse in Auburn and Letchworth State Park, and a visit to the Adirondacks that includes an overnight stay.
The best deal of all: You get to meet new people and leave the driving to someone else. For more information, go to www.manliusseniors.org.
If you’re planning a trip and you’re a member of the AARP, check out the AARP Travel Center (www.expedia-aarp.com; 800-675-4318) for information on domestic and international packages, cruises, flights, hotels and more.
Other travel savings suggestions from AARP:
• Travel by train: Older train riders get discounts in the U.S. and Canada. Amtrak (www.amtrak.com) cuts 15 percent off most fares for riders 62 or older; Rail Canada (www.trainweb.com/travel/canada.html) offers 10 percent off the full adult fare for travelers over 60.
• Drive for free: Sign up at www.autodriveaway.com for cars that need to be relocated. The only fee is a $350 refundable deposit, and the first tank of gas is free. Also: Ask rental car companies about one-way deals to relocate their vehicles.
• Meet and greet: Global Greeter Network offers free sightseeing excursions in select cities, hosted by volunteers with insider knowledge and information to share. Participating cities include New York City, Chicago, Houston and Toronto. For information, go to www.globalgreeternetwork.info