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Want a Happy Retirement?

5 rules cheapskates follow for a comfortable, stress-free life.

3: Never underestimate the power of saving.

Ben Franklin famously said, "A penny saved is a penny earned." But when you think about it, a saved penny is actually worth more than an earned penny (once you factor in the taxes paid on most earned pennies, the costs typically incurred in earning that penny and the fact that a saved penny can be invested). Cheapskates understand this and place a priority on savings. They also recognize that even the smallest act of frugality — literally bending to pick up a loose penny on the sidewalk, for example — helps to instill and reinforce an "ethic of thrift" that makes wasting any amount of money that much harder.

4: Never plan to rely on Social Security income alone in retirement.

Social Security was never intended to be the sole source of income for retirees. In fact, the system is designed to replace only about 30 to 40 percent of your preretirement income. For most people, it's absolutely essential that they have other income (e.g., a pension plan, investment income, a part-time job, etc.) in addition to Social Security to live safely and comfortably in retirement.

That said, many retired cheapskates I've met have elevated the stretching of their monthly Social Security checks to a near art form, often more for sport than economic necessity. A common approach among frugal retirees is to reduce their fixed monthly expenses — the true necessities of life (food, housing, clothing, transportation, health care, etc.) — to the point where those costs can be covered by their Social Security income. Any additional income can then be used for discretionary expenses or emergencies or plowed back into savings. Cheapskates also typically delay collecting Social Security as long as possible in order to receive larger monthly benefits, assuming their health is relatively good.

5: Simple-sizing your life not only saves you money but reduces stress and makes you happier.

"Downsizing" is a common practice among retirees and those on the cusp of retirement. I found that cheapskates tend to practice what I call "simple-sizing" throughout their lives. They routinely choose to simplify their lives both to save money and to increase their happiness. Whenever possible, choosing the least complicated option — from a computer with fewer bells and whistles, to living close enough to where you work so that you can walk or take public transportation — tends to cost the least and allows us to focus on the things that are truly important in life, often those things that come without a price tag.

Jeff Yeager is the author of four books including How to Retire the Cheapskate Way and The Cheapskate Next Door. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

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