Retirement Hacks: Retirees, here’s how you can save money on medicine and groceries

United States

The inflation rate hit a 41-year high in June, and retirees may feel the unpleasant consequences while walking down supermarket aisles or the line at the pharmacy. 

Retirement Tip of the Week: Now is a good time to review your expenses, and make sure you’re not paying more than you have to for your necessities – especially if the price has gone up. 

The cost of food has jumped as a result of inflation. The price of eggs has risen almost 33% in the last year, while chicken is 17.4% more expensive and milk and butter are nearly 16% pricier. Americans are also stressing out about the price of gas, watching the price at the pump tick higher while they fill their tanks up. Healthcare costs steadily climb year after year, especially for retirees who may have more medical expenses than their younger counterparts. 

While an increasing inflation rate may mean a higher Social Security check next year thanks to the cost-of-living adjustment that is tied to the consumer price index, retirees still have to watch their spending. COLAs don’t always align with inflated prices, even if they are related, which means retirees could be spending more than they bring in from their benefit checks. Retirement accounts, like 401(k) plans and IRAs, are not inflation-protected like some pensions and annuities may be, so retirees tapping into their accounts to pay their bills may be taking out more money than they did previously. 

See: What can retirees do about inflation? 

In such a dire time, checking prices and being particular about what brands to buy and where to get them is important. There are tools to help compare prices for prescriptions and groceries, as well as map out the cheapest gas pumps. 

For prescriptions, GoodRx and WellRx are two sites that compare prices and check for discounts. Users enter the medication they need, as well as an address or zip code, and they can find the lowest prices or possibly even coupons. Retirees with Medicare should also look for ways to lower their prescription costs, such as asking about generic drugs and mail-order pharmacies. Medicare has a program called “Extra Help” that provides assistance to limited-income individuals who need help paying for medications. 

Now might also be a good time to check that your Medicare coverage is the right fit. Review your health expenses, doctor visits and what is and isn’t in network so that you’re prepared when open enrollment rolls around in October. 

Retirees can also compare prices for groceries. Basket is an app available for Android and Apple iOS phones that shows nearby stores and how much various items cost. 

Those who have their groceries delivered can also use services like Instacart, which shows prices for various stores and has shoppers who deliver or bag the items. Other grocery delivery services include Amazon Fresh, Walmart+ and Boxed. Just be careful about fees – there can be a number of charges tacked on to your bill, not including a tip for the person delivering your groceries, and those can add up quickly. 

The same goes for gas prices. GEICO has a gas price comparison tool on its website. GasBuddy is another site with a comparison tool that lets you break down your search by fuel type, cash or credit payment and preferred station (such as BP or Exxon), and check an interactive map.