Help pack a million meals for struggling seniors on 9-11. Volunteer today



Driver Safety

Piggy bank on the road - AARP Driver Safety

Take the new AARP Smart Driver Course!

Happy African American couple

AARP Books

Visit the Books Section

Enjoy titles on retirement, Social Security, and becoming debt-free.

Jobs You Might Like

most popular


Savings Challenge

Retirement Is Possible for Cheapskates

Start now by downsizing your expenses so you can retire comfortably

Savings Challenge Logo

I come from a long line of proud cheapskates.

The Yeager family crest bears the inscription "Spartica Homo Erectus," which is Latin for "Cheapskate Who Stands on Two Feet," so I was never prone to out-of-control spending.

See also: Want to be a cheapskate, too?

My wife, Denise, and I have been married 27 years. Early on in our marriage, we made a pact. We agreed to establish a "permanent standard of living." We agreed that we were both perfectly happy with the lifestyle we were leading at that point in our lives and we agreed to keep our lifestyle at more or less that same level even as our incomes rose during our careers.

Instead of escalating our lifestyles to absorb every pay raise or year-end bonus we received, we put that money into savings or used it to pay off debt (specifically our mortgage). As a result, we paid off our mortgage in 16 years, rather than the original 30-year "life sentence."     

Ten years ago, when Denise became miserable in a job that grossly underappreciated her and her skills, I reassured her that she could leave that job the next day and not a single thing would need to change in the way we lived. Our permanent standard of living would continue just fine on a single salary.

Retire, Cheapskate style

Jeff Yeager at his home in Accokeek, MD on March 29, 2011.

A few years later — while still in my mid-40s — I quit my last "real job." I decided to roll the dice and attempt to write for a living — a form of what I call "selfish employment." I plan to continue being "selfishly employed" as a writer long after we begin drawing Social Security.   

We still live in the same house and we drive a car that most of our friends would have put out to pasture years ago. More important, we live entirely debt free. We also do spend our money and sometimes even expand our permanent standard of living to include traveling abroad for a month or two each year. Not bad for a couple of cheapskates who both had modest-paying jobs in the nonprofit sector for most of their careers.

So, are you interested becoming a cheapskate-in-training for retirement?
Whether you're already retired or still planning for it, we hope you'll use the Savings Challenge Group as an opportunity to share your favorite dollar-stretching tips and learn some new money-saving strategies to incorporate into your life.

If you're approaching retirement, it's a great chance to think about and start implementing at least some baby steps in the retirement rightsizing process.

According to a recent Gallup poll, nearly 60 percent of those surveyed have changed their retirement plans because of the economic downturn. Record numbers of Americans say they'll need to work longer than planned or now believe that they may never be able to afford retirement.  

If you take to heart even a couple of the financial tips we'll be discussing, I can guarantee that you'll save some money and maybe even decide that you can be just as happy in retirement by spending less rather than more.

Remember: The best way to double your money in this economy is to fold it in half and put it back in your wallet.

Stay cheap.

See what one couple did to rightsize >>

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts


Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.


Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

Member Benefits HomeServe

Members can protect their homes with comprehensive repair plans from HomeServe.

AARP Credit card from Chase

Members can get cash back rewards on purchases with the AARP® Credit Card from Chase.

Woman holding smartphone in city, Google map tool

Members can find discounts on the go via the AARP® Member Advantages Offer Finder app.

Member Benefits

Join or renew today! AARP members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.



Savings Challenge

Have the gift of thrift? Compete for prizes in the 2011 Savings Challenge from April 1-30.


Clutter Challenge

Clutter Challenge

Ready to get organized, once and for all? You've come to the right place! Discuss