Simple ways to stretch your dollar

Whether by choice or necessity, many Canadians 50-plus are looking for ways to pare down their expenses. Here are ten simple ways to stretch those dollars.

Only insure big: When your car reaches a certain age, consider dropping collision insurance, and insure it with your own savings.  It’s a good principle — only insure for the big losses — such as public liability and your house burning down.  Make the deductible equal to what you could afford to pay if the worst happened.

^What’s a life? Same goes for life insurance. Ask yourself why you really need it — after 55, needs diminish to provide for a surviving spouse or children. Buy only term and at the lowest rate you can find. Possible exception: last-survivor insurance that will pay the taxes on your estate.

Costly credit cards: For many of us, ads pushing credit cards with low interest rates are of no interest. If you pay off your balance monthly, you will never pay interest anyway.  Meanwhile, you will pay a hefty annual fee for the low-interest card. Most financial institutions have fee-free cards. They just don’t adveise them.

Bye, bye grass:  Lawns are the biggest water-wasters. And the poisons we pour on them are just that… poison. You can make your lawn disappear, swallowed up by perennial flowerbeds which, properly mulched, mostly look after themselves. Consider allowing what little grass is left brown in dry spells. You don’t notice it for the flowers.

Remove temptation: Carry only the cash you’ll need for the day. Tuck away a $100 bill for emergencies — you’ll think twice before spending it.

Control the thermostat: Keep your home cool in the winter and wam in the summer to save money on heating and air conditioning.  Wear a sweater if you feel cold; in the summer drink plenty of water.

No half-way jobs: Save water and detergent by washing only full loads of laundry or dishes.  Buy more underwear so you don’t have to do laundry as often.

The way to your wallet is through your stomach: Never shop for groceries when you’re hungry.

Bike for bucks: Walk or cycle more. Use the car only as a last resort – you’ll save on gas, parking, and wear and tear. You’ll also save on gym fees or fitness equipment.

Make your money work for you: Invest the money you save so it grows.