Alert
Close

Watch the NASCAR race on Sunday at Martinsville Speedway. Join the Drive to End Hunger!

Highlights

Open

You and Your Town Contest-You could win an AARP RealPad

AARP Auto Buying Program

Contests and
Sweeps

$10,000 Winter Escapes Sweepstakes

Beat the cold and cozy up to a chance of winning $10,000! See official rules.

Driver Safety

Piggy bank on the road - AARP Driver Safety

Take the new AARP Smart Driver Course!

AARP Books

Visit the Money Section

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

Jobs You Might Like

most popular
articles

Viewed

Fabulously Frugal

Live Well on Less Money

couple in a gazebo

— Thomas Barwick/Getty Images

A few years ago, the two were able to quit their jobs—Yardley was a family mediator and Dwinell was a consultant to small churches. In addition to stacking firewood and tending their garden, they care for Dwinell’s 92-year-old mother, who lives nearby, and volunteer to weatherize houses. That still leaves time to ski midweek, when lift tickets are cheaper.

The family has chosen to go without health insurance, preferring to pay cash for care—as they did when Dana fell off a ladder and needed elbow surgery. “The hospital gave us a 20 percent discount” because they paid in cash, says Dwinell, a former nurse.

They also swap carpentry, knitting and graphic design projects for haircuts, dog-sitting and rides to the airport through a local Time Bank, where they earn credits to redeem services from others. To attend concerts or plays, they sell tickets or sweep the floor.

“Basically, we decide what we want to do, then figure out how to do it for free,” says Dwinell.

Doing well in Denver

There’s more to simple living than just living cheaply, says Travis Thrower, 50, a Denver tax accountant. “Voluntary simplicity means being aware of the world around you and how you want to live your life,” he says.

When he was in his 30s, Thrower became disenchanted with the American dream—the pressure to buy the big house filled with fancy furniture. “I’d see this dead look in people’s eyes from working the 9-to-5 grind,” he says. “Keeping up with the Joneses will only drive you nuts.”

In the mid-1990s, Thrower went into debt trying to start his own business, so he started economizing—working extra jobs, driving a junker and downsizing from a $900-a-month duplex to a $325-a-month apartment. He’s out of debt now, but those thrifty habits continue.

“Apart from my mattress and my futon, all my furniture comes from Goodwill or secondhand stores,” he says. “I own one suit and wear jeans, a sweater and Timberland boots.”

His Blue Cross/Blue Shield health insurance runs about $376 a month. “That’s a lot, but it’s better to have it and not need it than the other way around,” he says.

Thrower now works part time for an oil and gas company while building his private practice. “It’s all about freedom for me,” he says. “I want control over my time.”

These days, he rents a small house with a home office for $1,100 in a quiet neighborhood and doesn’t stint on socializing with friends or road trips to San Francisco. “As I get older, there are some things I don’t mind paying a little more for,” he says. “I opt for quality of life.”

 

Elizabeth Pope writes about work and retirement. She lives in Portland, Maine.

 

Topic Alerts

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

Manage Alerts

Processing

Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.

Topic Alerts

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

Manage Alerts

Processing

Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

The Cheap Life

Jeff Yeager Cheap Life Ultimate Cheapskate AARP YouTube web series save money

Catch the latest episode of The Cheap Life starring Jeff Yeager, AARP's Ultimate Cheapskate. Watch

Discounts & Benefits

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

Life insurance: you are covered rain or shine

Exclusive annuities for members from AARP Lifetime Income Program from New York Life.

AARP Credit card from Chase

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

Homeowners Insurance
Member Benefits

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

Rewards for Good

Your Points Balance:

Learn More

Earn points for completing free online activities designed to enrich your life.

Find more ways to earn points

Redeem your points to save on merchandise, travel, and more.

Find more ways to redeem points