Dave's retirement journey

Time-shift to stretch your retirement dollar

By Dave Dineen, BrighterLife.ca

Dave DineenTime is money. It’s a time-starved world and it can make sense for busy, working people to pay to get things done for them.

Grass needs cutting? Tires need changing? Only have time for takeout food? Cha-ching. Cha-ching. Cha-ching.

If time is money, then more time is less money!

I know that sounds unlikely, but hear me out. In retirement, the extra time you have lets you “time-shift” in lots of ways that can save you money. Consider a few examples:

  • Free time equals free tire changes. Where I live in Southern Ontario, we need winter tires for several months a year. Now that I’m retired, I’ve got time to change my own tires. So every spring and fall, I save $95 when it’s time to change the tires.
  • House addition with a $3,000 subtraction. We recently had a screened-in deck built at our house. We wanted to be around to make sure the contractor did a good job. As time-shifting retirees, no problem there. Because we were flexible on the start and end dates of the work, the contractor knocked $3,000 off the price.
  • We time-travel. Well, not exactly. But we do travel in the “shoulder season” (usually fall and spring, but not March break), for lower-cost flights, accommodation — even food. And we avoid flying on weekends, when airfares are especially high.
  • No-cost lawn watering service. My wife loves gardening and is happy to water the veggies, plants and lawn. But we travel a lot, so we need someone to water the plants while we’re away. Lawn-care contractors want season-long contracts, which are expensive. Thankfully, our neighbour, Sandra waters our garden when we’re away and we water hers when she’s on holidays. So, free time equals no-cost garden maintenance!
  • Driveway paved, $3,500 saved. Who has time to shop around among multiple driveway pavers, then negotiate with the lowest bidder? My wife, that’s who. She spent more than a month finding the best deal, then asked the short-listed contractor to knock an extra $500 off the price, because we were flexible about when we needed the job done.
  • Buy low, stack high. I built high-capacity shelves in our basement and boy, do we put them to great use! When we see paper towels, toilet paper, breakfast cereal, or canned goods on sale, we stock up. We don’t buy those things right when we need them; we buy when they’re cheap.
  • Shifty savings on electricity. Where we live, it costs more to use electricity during the day. Evenings and weekends are cheaper so that’s when we do our laundry, run the dishwasher, and recharge batteries for our lawn mower, laptop, etc. Now we pay off-peak rates for more than 80% of our power consumption.
  • Oil changes 10% off, lineups 100% off. If it’s your job to keep the family car(s) maintained, you’ve probably been behind me in the l-o-n-g Saturday morning lineup of people getting their oil changed. But now I time-shift and save 10% by going on a weekday. And there’s no lineup!
  • Seek and ye shall find discounts. If you’re willing to time-shift, you can save big money on fun stuff such as golf green fees, arena rentals, gym memberships, movie and theatre tickets, etc. You can also save on necessities; I’ve found a department store that will give an extra 10% off on almost everything on Tuesdays to people aged 55-plus. Some grocery stores offer a 10% discount to seniors on Wednesdays, but I’m still too young for that!

Go ahead, laugh. Plenty of people laugh at snowbirds who eat dinner at 4:30 so they can save money on the Early Bird Special. But they’re just one example of time-shifters, stretching their money to enjoy life to the fullest.

What time-shifting tips do you have?

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Bruce on


I really like your articles. I do agree that once retired, you can look at things another way and find activities that are frustrating when you’re working, enjoyable once retired. I had an uncle who biked around town buying groceries at the lowest prices at different stores. He got exercise, he really enjoyed the activity, and he saved money at the same time. Luckily, now a days you can take all the flyers to one store and they will match all the sales so it is easier to save now. You still need to go through the flyers though (so many people just don’t have the patience to do it). I think I save almost $50.00 each week this way.

I am very careful with my money, and as a result I was able to save quite a bit. What did I do with that savings? Well I went out and bought a cottage. Now I have to be more frugal again… :)

    davedineen on

    Thanks, Bruce. I find the most common criticism of frugality is that it’s practised by people who take no pleasure from spending money. Your story — and your cyclist uncle’s — show that one can get some nice rewards by not carelessly over-spending.
    Enjoy that cottage!

terrif on

Your retirement, renovating your house, travelling to Italy and paving your driveway doesn’t sound like a typical retirement. You must have been an above average income maker as it is hard for people to even make ends meet now nevermind save for retirement. That is doing all the money saving tips too.

    Dave Dineen on

    Hi, Terrif. Yes, you’ve guessed right. Because I had the advantages of a good education, good work ethic, good health and good luck, I ended up with a higher than average income while I was working. But as I suggested above, the health of anybody’s finances has two basic components: 1) how much you earn, and 2) how much you spend.
    We’re all different. Even if you had exactly the same size of retirement savings as I do, you’d make different decisions, based on what suits you. You might choose to retire later, or earlier, than me. You might invest differently.
    If you were like the average middle-income earner, you’d be spending more than I do on your cable bill; you’d have a nicer phone; you’d have a nicer car than me (and perhaps more than our one car). You might choose to, or need to, live in a more expensive neighbourhood than me.
    I think the point is that we can all learn from each other as we’re making our own personal journeys, not so that everybody’s journey looks the same, but so that you’re making the most of the choices available to you — so you can optimize your own personal journey.
    Best of luck with your journey!

Time stretched, exhasusted and working hard on

Dave, I enjoy your posts and living vicariously through you and your rich life.
A post like this is irritating for those of us who are time stretched and exhausted from working full time, while raising a family, caring for aging relatives, etc. I can’t get my oil changed during the middle of the week, get the 55+ discounts (even though it often feels that my dollars are stretched a lot more than some empty nesters who has their house paid for, is living on a nice DB pension with health and dental benefits, etc.). Good for you that you can get all of these discounts, have the time to spend a month finding the best deal on something. This seems like a case of the rich getting richer!
Why don’t you write a column on how to save money when one is working and struggling to make ends meet… you must have done it.

    davedineen on

    Hi, Time Stretched.
    Thanks for the suggestion about helping out overburdened workers with some tips. I’ll give that some thought.
    For the record, I do think it’s unfair that so many discounts are scooped up by people who can afford to pay full price.

Oscar Carter on

I have been retired for 6 years and I believe stretching and saving one’s retirement dollars is a “limiting belief’ for what is possible.

    davedineen on

    Oscar – That’s an interesting thought. If I understand your point, you’re thinking that one can overdo money-saving and become blind to enjoying life. I’d agree with that.
    But there’s also a danger in spending your money in ways that don’t really help you achieve your goals, or increase your enjoyment of life. I think that’s just dumb.

Brian Poncelet,CFP on


I don’t know if I am smart or you are strong.
My winter tires have free installs every year (at the dealer). I don’t like getting my exercise from moving tires and putting my back out.

Oil changes. $20 at the dealer. I don’t like oil spills and I do work that is worth a lot more than $20 while I wait. Plus they check other things on my car that can’t be found, unless you have $20,000 worth of equipment in your garage. This saves money…more than the oil change.

Driveway? I had a neighbour who saved a lot then spent more getting it re-done. When you go for the cheapest you usually get the crappy work done.

The travel off peak season is good. You avoid crowds etc. Just don’t go to Florida in August Ok?

But the the other stuff seems like you are willing to pick up loose change in the middle of the road. Or like picking up a cigarettes off the sidewalk for a smoke; it’s cheap but tastes awful!

Anyway, your heart is the right place!

    davedineen on

    Well, Brian, I won’t feel bad about your comment because I did invite readers to “Go ahead, laugh”!
    You’ve got a dramatic flair for making what is a good point: not every possible way to save money is worthwhile. But if you consider the state of the finances of the average Canadian, the ridiculous aspect is not how many ways they’ve found to over-save, but how many ways they’ve found to overspend.
    By the way, that $95 I saved on last fall’s tire-change? It paid for a wonderful meal my wife and I enjoyed at our favourite restaurant on a glorious sunny day in Florence, Italy.
    Retirement can be sweet. I had the time to save $95 and I had the time to spend it in a much more rewarding way.
    Thanks for taking the time to offer an alternative point of view. :-)

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