Living On A Budget: Turning Limitations Into An Advantage

Curious how to turn living on a budget into your best senior advantage? Here are 5 strategies to transform your thinking and your wallet.
An older man sits at a table counting his pennies

Maybe you’re on a budget because you have to be. Maybe you’re on a budget because you want to be. Either way, you can transform limitations into a unique, youthful advantage.

Here’s a combination of ideas to get your wheels turning. You might pick one or more, and come up with your own inventions. Living on a budget is not only great for your finances— it can do wonders for your energy, health, and vitality.

Playing Like a Kid

Remember playing? Remember seeing the world through a child’s eyes? Too often we wait to play until we have a child in our life, a grandchild, or a young neighbor. Instead of relying on circumstances, we can give room to our inner child.

We were all children once. It may have been a while, but I bet you still remember how to play, draw, dance, and sing.

The thing about playing is, you don’t need to have fancy toys or expensive objects. Look around your home right now. With the eyes of a kid, what do you see? Is there something to build, model, or paint? Is there something to create that brings beauty and joy to your life?

Stepping into the mind of a child allows you to make room for doing things that bring you joy and delight. You may find yourself dancing, singing, or playing music. Simple pleasures often are free. Simple pleasures like playing are often more fun with friends. You may want to share your delight with a friend or neighbor.

Hey, you just found a way to live on a budget that helps you create happiness.

Senior woman on a hiking trip
Reconnecting With Nature

The natural world is waiting. Whether you live in the country or city, nature is present. Trees. Grass. Flowers. All are waiting for you. When you open up to nature, it’s easier to relax, breathe, and enjoy beauty.

If you’re lucky enough to live near water, explore the lakes, streams or ocean. As you can imagine, these gifts of nature are almost universally free-of-charge.

If you’re fortunate to have big trees near you, you’ve probably heard of Forest Bathing. This is a way to spend time in the presence of tall trees. This traditional Japanese practice is known for calming, soothing, and settling the mind and body. Instead of focusing on working up a sweat, Forest Bathing encourages tranquility. The sounds, sights, and smells all have a way of soothing one’s spirit.

Perhaps there is a park nearby where you are living. Maybe a national park or a natural reserve you’ve been meaning to visit. Why not, put this visit on your calendar? Connect with a friend, neighbor, or family member and go together. Reconnecting with nature is a wonderful thing to share with people around you.

Oh, did you notice—this is a healthy activity, that is usually free or for very low cost.

Lightening Up

Lightening up is often a natural urge. It’s not that we love our ‘things’ any less. It’s just that we’re not using certain possessions as much as we did in the past. This may be true for all kinds of things. Big items: boats, RVs, cars or houses. Small items: jewelry, dishes, cookware, and clothing.

Lightening up not only feels great. Many de-cluttering experts find that people feel lighter, more energetic, and more youthful once they have let go of clutter. If you feel this could be useful, check out one of the most popular books, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of DeCluttering and Organizing. Marie Kondo has made a huge impact, helping people in lightening up their homes and possessions.

Once you get the hang of it, you may also find that the items you no longer use are valuable to other people. Consider selling your former treasures up at local resale shops. Many people like the ease of selling jewelry online. Either way, you can turn unused things into usable cash.

You might find that you have a two-fold benefit: an organized, simple home and some extra spare change.

An older woman stands in front of a subway train
Taking Public Transportation

If you’re driving less, or not driving, taking public transportation is a great move. You’ll save money on car payments, car insurance, maintenance, gas, and tolls.

Many municipalities have special programs for seniors, including monthly passes, travel companions and free passes. One U.K. study found that people who were eligible for the free monthly senior pass used public transportation 8% more. Additionally, there was a 12% decline in symptoms of depression amongst free bus pass users.

Check with your local transportation service. There is likely a senior pass, discount, or program that can help you stay active—and save money. This is a win-win advantage.

Doing What Matters

By simplifying your lifestyle, you can focus on what matters. Instead of having a stuffed calendar of activities, you can select what you really value.

As many experts point out: One of the beauties of aging is it’s easier to focus on what really matters. Take some time to explore this. What do you value? Answers vary widely from person to person.

Beauty. Harmony. Happiness. Tranquility. Love. Creativity. Sharing.

When you make your values a priority, it’s easier to turn this into meaningful action. There’s a natural flow from values to actions to a sense of purpose. Now, the question is no longer, “what does it cost?” or “how can I save money?” Now, the question is “does this really matter?”

Assistance Club Summary

The Big Idea: Yes, you can turn limitations into an advantage. It’s a way to live lightly, creatively, and happily. Isn’t it time to give it a whirl?

By shifting your perspective, you will discover fresh ideas and inspiration. With a little practice, you can transform limitations into inspiration. With this as a starter-kit of ideas, you’re sure to find new sources of beauty, creativity, delight and gratitude in your life.