7 Creative Ways to Save for Retirement Early

February 4, 2016 — 9:50 AM EST

 Most of us can tell you a few ways we’d like to spend our retirement. We’d love to live comfortably, and we all know that saving money is important. But many of us admit that perhaps we haven’t saved enough to get where we’d like to go. Before you give up, here’s a list of seven creative ways to save for retirement that you probably haven’t considered so far. You’ll thank yourself later. (If you haven’t even begun to think about saving due to debt, read: The 7 Best Ways to Get Out of Debt.)

1. Look For Discounts Mid-week

Did you know that most items in the grocery store go on sale mid-week? Most stores will launch new sales and also honor last week’s coupons and discounts around Wednesday. The cost of the average flight drops in price around mid-week too. Expedia and Airlines Reporting Corporation (ARC) reported that apart from the weekend, Tuesday is the best day to book cheap flight tickets.

This break in your paycheck will give you the leeway you need to allocate some more funds to your retirement account. An additional perk is that stores are the most empty on Wednesdays, so you’ll have free reign over the selection and won’t need to make multiple trips.

2. Airbnb Your Home

Opening your home up to a stranger may seem bizarre to you, and maybe even intrusive. However, when you look at it as a safe and easy way to make a substantial second income that can help you retire early, you may think again.

Regarding Airbnb and your safety, the platform ensures that you can choose whom you approve to stay at your home. You also set your own calendar availability and prices. (For related reading, see: How To Make Money With Airbnb: Risks & Rewards.) The average cost of all listings, shared and private, on Airbnb in America, exceeds $170 per night. Depending on where your home is located, you could bring in even more, particularly if you choose to rent out your space when a special event is held in your area, such as a sporting event or convention. In the case that you rent the space out just two times a week for the entire year, you can make over $15,000. Imagine putting that towards your “retiring on the beach somewhere” fund.

3. Use Money-saving Technology

Usually, we think of technology as a tool for getting us to purchase more by shoving advertisements, games, smartphones, and tablets in our faces. Over the past few years; however, new tech startups and apps have created ways for us to use technology to save money. Take Paribus for example, a company that scans your email for receipts, to detect price drops in the products you’ve bought and get you money back. Make sure to always check out the apps provided by stores themselves or their individual websites, which often have exclusive reward points and deals.(To learn more, see: 10 New Apps That Help Budget For An Expensive Cities.)

6. Meatless Monday

Various studies show the health risks of eating a diet heavy in processed meats, including a recent report by the World Health Organization stating that 50g of processed meats (such as bacon) per day can increase your chances of getting colorectal cancer by 18%. Obesity, caused by a myriad of reasons including not eating enough vegetables and fruits, and consuming too many high-calorie meats, costs the U.S. $200 billion per year on medical bills, according to an obesity campaign report.

To avoid diet-related health issues, cook your own dinners with fresh vegetables and local produce. Consider having a “Meatless Monday” or going full on vegetarian to help with finances and decrease your risk of health issues down the line. Consider that when out to dinner, the steak on the menu is always more expensive than the pasta or vegetable dish. Even if you’re getting “cheap meat,” with all of the preserves, GMOs, fats, and hormones commonplace in the U.S. food industry, you’ll end up spending your savings from buying cheap meat on hospital bills, rather than leisure.

4. Vacation in the U.S.

The United States' collection of national parks attracted over 292 million tourists from around the globe in 2014, according to The National Park Service. You could save thousands by taking a road trip to Yosemite National Park instead of purchasing plane tickets for a vacation in Europe. Visiting parks requires you to pay a small fee; however, sometimes fees are waived on national holidays, and they are highly reduced for senior citizens. Plus, by vacationing in the States, you won’t run the risk of paying ridiculous prices and falling into tourist traps in a country where you don’t speak the language. Check out a list by Recreation.gov on 10 Great Places to Go for Free.

5. Go Green

Going green will not only help save the planet, but also your hard-earned retirement funds. “Going out of your way” to protect the environment got easier and less expensive over the past few years.

Utilize government tax breaks to invest in green energy such as solar panels and energy efficient heaters. Save on utility bills by using less water, and making it a habit to turn off the lights. For transportation, consider taking UberPool and split the bill with a stranger, while reducing emissions (and your bill).(To learn more, see: Easy Ways to Go Green and Stay Budget Friendly.)

7. Use the Sharing Economy

Looking for a driver, a hotel, a cleaning service, or a handyman? Look no further than new sharing economy platforms that connect buyers and sellers without a third party taking a huge cut of the transaction. There’s an abundance of platforms for hotels and rentals, such as Airbnb, HomeAway, HotelTonight, and Roomer. If you’re really feeling creative, try Couchsurfing where you can crash on someone’s couch for free as long as you have your couch listed on the site. For house cleaning and maintenance, check out Handy

The Bottom Line

To start saving early for a comfortable retirement, we must start to think outside the box for strategic ways to bolster up those “for later funds.” Help your future self out by getting creative with planning vacations, within the home, and by making changes to your diet, use of technology and the way you shop. You’ll thank yourself later.(For related reading, see: 5 Ways To Supercharge Your Retirement Savings.)