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How Seniors Can Be Frugal While Still Having Fun

By Karen Weeks

  When I retired, it was such a huge accomplishment. The promised freedom to do what I want, when I want, was a definite plus! However, once the retirement party was over, I quickly realized just how much of a difference my steady stream of income made in my ability to do things like shop, travel, and even eat dinner out. Read below for my article on budgeting tips for seniors who are living on a fixed income, focusing on how they can still enjoy their golden years with a little bit of financial tweaking.  – Karen Weeks


Seniors living on a fixed income need to adopt a more frugal lifestyle to ensure their funds don’t run out during their golden years. If you take a microscopic look at your finances, you can find plenty of areas where you can save money. With a sensible and creative approach to money, you can enjoy financial freedom without having to compromise too much on the lifestyle you’ve worked hard to create. Here are some practical tips on how to make it work.

Take Advantage of Your Surroundings

Sometimes, the best things in life are free. Instead of spending money on cruises and holidays, why not become a tourist in your own town? Invite friends and family to explore your area, and show them the pristine beaches, hiking trails, and other marvels on your doorstep. With such scenic surroundings, you can certainly live the holiday lifestyle. You don’t need to spend money on travel to explore. 

Downsize Your Home

Take a look at downsizing your home. If your house can generate a profit upon sale, why not sell and invest in a lock-and-go property? This way, you can also save costs on home maintenance, garden services, and other costs involved in owning a large property. To begin looking into the possibility of moving, calculate your home equity. Begin by finding your home’s current value – or at least an estimate – and then subtract your mortgage balance. If you’re not in a position to downsize, consider renting out a part of your home to tourists. 

Look for Discounts

Whether its activities, transport, or museums, a multitude of discounts are available for seniors. For regular massages and haircuts, seek beauty school trainees who charge very little to practice their skills. Meanwhile, the national parks offer discount passes for seniors; hotels also offer discounts for seniors. 

Sell Household Items

Over the years you may have accumulated a few valuable items. Have your furniture, antiques, artwork, and jewelry appraised. You can potentially sell an antique item or two to generate an extra funnel of cash. 

Create a Monthly Budget

Creating a monthly budget can give you an overview of your finances and allow you to plan your expenses. Don’t forget to put some money aside for savings or unforeseen circumstances. 

Find Part-Time Work or Start a Business

Chances are, there’s potential for part-time or seasonal work in your area. One option is to become a tour guide for seniors and conduct walking tours through hiking trails, museums, local attractions, and more. Alternatively, consider offering pet services or dog walking services for seniors who are no longer mobile. This gives you the chance to make your own schedule and essentially run your own business. 

If you decide to start a business, forming an LLC can be the best option as it offers tax advantages and flexibility. You can use a formation service to help you file your paperwork and Articles of Incorporation, or you can do it yourself. Either option saves you the expense of attorney fees. Since each state has its own rules for starting a business, check how to start an LLC Florida business. It only takes five steps, and you can use a formation service if you’re nervous about missing any important legal documents.

Living Well on a Budget

You can live well on a budget if you make wise financial choices and take advantage of your surroundings, local discounts, and job opportunities. By having a plan in place and sticking to it, you can live a fun, comfortable life well into your senior years.

The St. Johns County Council on Aging works to ensure that Florida seniors can enjoy their lives. We offer resources, programs, and community events to keep seniors connected and active. Visit us online and consider joining us today!

Island Doctors Champions for Elders Golf Tournament – August 29, 2022

Council on Aging Announces Island Doctors COA Champions for Elders Golf Tournament – August 29

Council on Aging (COA) invites the community to participate in the Island Doctors Champions for Elders Golf Tournament at Slammer and Squire, World Golf Village, on Monday, August 29,2022.  COA has been serving seniors and caregivers in St. Johns County for the past 49 years, and the annual golf tournament, now in its 19th year, is our largest fundraiser of the year. Sponsors are invited to bring a team of four to enjoy a day of golf followed by a celebratory luncheon, or participate as a sponsor off the course and support the important work COA does every day for local seniors and caregivers.

COA provides an extensive array of services for area seniors including Meals on Wheels, independent living services, case management, memory enhancement programs, therapeutic adult daycare, transportation, prescription assistance, and more. The organization also offers opportunities for socialization, travel, and lifelong learning at their six community centers located throughout the county. In addition, COA offers programs to support the needs of local caregivers, providing counseling, education, support groups, and respite care.

As a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization, COA relies upon donations and sponsorships to support this important work.

“The St. Johns County community is exceptional in being there for our elders and caregivers,” explained COA Executive Director, Becky Yanni.  “We rely upon the generosity and good will of local businesses and members of the community to make this possible. Our annual Champions for Elders golf tournament is crucial to our ability to serve.” 

This year, local medical group Island Doctors is the Title Sponsor of the event.

“We are very excited to be able to help Council on Aging serve more seniors and caregivers in St. Johns County,” said Roy H. Hinman, II, M.D., Chief Medical Officer of Island Doctors MSO. “This event is a fantastic way to help our community’s elders.”

Caring Partner sponsorships are available with a donation of $5,500 and include a playing team foursome at the event. Participating team foursome sponsorships begin with a $2,500 donation. Non-playing event sponsorships are available starting at $250. All sponsorships include recognition at the event and online. To sign up online to participate as a sponsor and/or team, please visit https://bit.ly/IDCOA2022. For more information, please contact COA’s Sheri Brideson at coagolf@coasjc.org or 904-209-3697. The deadline to register to participate is August 15, 2022.

To learn more about COA’s extensive range of services for seniors and caregivers, browse our website at www.coasjc.org or call to speak with our receptionists at 904-209-3700.

Shelter from the Storm: Local Resident Inez McDonald Pledges to Improve COA Facility for Seniors

32 years ago, Inez McDonald left her desk in Washington D.C. and came directly to St. Augustine. After raising three daughters, she had enjoyed a successful career in public relations in the lobbying and nonprofit sectors in D.C.  When the time came to retire, Inez chose St. Augustine.

“It was the most laid back town you ever saw,” she remembered fondly. “It reminded me of the town I grew up in, St. Michael, Minnesota.”

Inez McDonald

In St. Augustine, Inez joined newcomers clubs and set about studying dance, a lifelong ambition. She studied all dance genres, and performed with a tap ensemble at assisted living centers and venues around town including at River House, Council on Aging’s lifelong learning center. She also took up ballroom dancing, and joined the Shores Riverview Club’s dance group, the St. Augustine Ballroom Formal Dance Club, and the USA Dance Club. Three years ago, she performed at the Romanza Festival at Lewis Auditorium in St. Augustine with professional ballroom partner, Michael Singleton.

“I have had the most wonderful retirement you can imagine,” Inez reflected. “I can’t believe I could have so much fun for this many years!”

At 97 years of age, Inez has set her sights upon another goal: to give back to the community she loves. She reached out to local nonprofit Council on Aging to find out how she could make a difference to seniors in the community.

Council on Aging (COA) has been serving the needs of seniors and caregivers in St. Johns County since 1973. At their headquarters at 180 Marine Street in St. Augustine, seniors have access to the Coastal Community Senior Center, one of six senior centers COA operates in the county, and the Sunshine Center, COA’s adult day care center. There participants are able to enjoy the company of friends, engaging activities, nutritious lunches, and in the case of the Sunshine Center, care in a secured environment for those dealing with Alzheimer’s, dementia, and other brain injuries.

COA also provides transportation for those who require it through their Paratransit bus service and Sunshine Buses. Paratransit buses are equipped to accommodate assistive devices such as wheelchairs and walkers, and are able to transport participants from the bus to the programs safely.

Since COA’s main building was not originally designed as a senior center, when participants arrive, they must travel through the open air to the entrance of the facility. Unfortunately, that includes during inclement weather, when participants are exposed to rain, wind, and the hot Florida sun. Those seniors who walk slower, or who have walkers or wheelchairs, are often exposed to the weather longer than they would like to be, especially if they have to enter or exit the bus via the chair lift.  

COA’s front entrance at 180 Marine St. in St. Augustine. Improvements will protect seniors from weather conditions while they enter and exit the building and access senior programs.

Aware of these adverse circumstances, Inez made a generous pledge of $100,000 to allow COA to initiate plans to improve the situation. These plans include the construction of a portico at the entrance to COA’s facility, a covered walkway along the length of the front of the building, and improvements to the front elevation of the building. Once completed, vulnerable seniors will no longer be subject to the elements while they access COA’s life-affirming programs.

“I am so happy to be able to help local seniors,” Inez shared. “Once the project gets going, I think it’s really going to be striking. It will be more in keeping with COA’s River House across the street.”

As part of the project, COA plans to screen in the Sunshine Center deck, so participants can enjoy the fresh air and beauty of the COA garden no matter what the weather.

To complement the improvements, COA also plans to add a shaded, outdoor seating area with a water feature on the southeast corner of the building, so that seniors who utilize the parking lot will have a place to sit and rest while walking to the front entrance. COA is also drafting plans to screen the Sunshine Center’s outdoor deck, so that participants might sit outside year-round in the shade and enjoy the views of nature in COA’s garden no matter what the weather. 

“We cannot thank Inez enough for her generosity and for her vision,” said Becky Yanni, COA’s Executive Director. “We are so excited to be able to create more comfort, more pleasure, and more joy for the seniors we serve.”

To see this vision fully realized will take the generosity of additional community members who want to help make life better for seniors in St. Johns County. COA is asking members of the community and local businesses to join in the effort.

“As in everything we do, it takes the entire community to serve our elders,” Yanni explained. “We hope Inez’s gift will inspire others to join us in seeing this wonderful vision through to its completion.”

If you are interested in getting involved, please contact COA’s Tom Torretta at 904-209-3700. Donations may be made directly at www.coasjc.org/donate, or mailed to COA at 180 Marine St., St. Augustine, FL 32084. Please include the note “COA Renovation Project” with donations.

Participant and volunteer Bob Clairmont arrives at the Coastal Community Center with COA Paratransit Driver Sharon Patrick.

For more information on the many programs and services COA provides to seniors and caregivers in St. Johns County, please visit their website at www.coasjc.org, or call 904-209-3700.

Council on Aging joins Meals on Wheels America and Subaru of America, Inc. in Sharing the Love this Holiday Season

The 14th annual Subaru Share the Love® Event will help deliver nutritious meals and compassion to St. Johns County seniors.

Council on Aging (COA) is excited to announce its participation in the 2021 Subaru Share the Love Event as a member of Meals on Wheels America – one of four national Share the Love charitable partners supported through the campaign. From November 18, 2021, through January 3, 2022, Subaru of America will donate $250 for every new Subaru vehicle purchased or leased to the customer’s choice of participating charities.

“This annual event allows us to help more homebound elders to receive the Meals on Wheels they need,” said COA Executive Director Becky Yanni. “We are very excited to get the word out to members of our community about this opportunity to help local seniors in a very meaningful way.”

By purchasing or leasing a new Subaru during the Subaru Share the Love Event and selecting Meals on Wheels as your charity of choice, you can help deliver nutritious meals and other important services to seniors right here in St. Johns County.

Participating Meals on Wheels America members such as Council on Aging will receive a share of the donations raised by Subaru in their state. COA has partnered with Subaru of Jacksonville, 10800 Atlantic Blvd., Jacksonville, FL, to raise awareness for the popular year-end sales and giving event, and drive support for Meals on Wheels. Members of the Subaru of Jacksonville team also plan to join COA Meals on Wheels drivers in delivering meals, pet food, newspapers, and welcome visits to local seniors.

“Meals on Wheels America is proud to partner with Subaru of America for the 14th consecutive year to enable more seniors to live with independence and dignity,” said Ellie Hollander, President and CEO, Meals on Wheels America. “Since 2008, the Subaru Share the Love Event has helped deliver more than 2.5 million meals and friendly visits to vulnerable seniors nationwide. We’re enormously grateful to Subaru and its retailers for their long-standing commitment to Meals on Wheels and the millions of seniors who depend on it for nourishment and companionship.”

Over the last 13 years, Subaru of America and its participating retailers have donated more than $200 million to its charity partners. This year’s Subaru Share the Love Event is on track to bring that total to over $225 million, proving there’s no limit to the amount of love we can all share.

For more information, visit www.mealsonwheelsamerica.org/sharethelove.

Council on Aging has been serving seniors and caregivers in St. Johns County since 1973. The nonprofit organization provides programs and services that help seniors manage the challenges of everyday life so that they may enjoy quality of life in their own homes for as long as possible. It also provides enrichment, education, and socialization opportunities at its six senior centers to help seniors stay active and connected in the community.  The services they provide include Meals on Wheels, Independent Living support services, case management, IMEP Integrative Memory Enhancement Program, Adult Day Care, caregiver support services, and more.

About Meals on Wheels America

Meals on Wheels America is the leadership organization supporting the more than 5,000 community-based programs across the country that are dedicated to addressing senior isolation and hunger. This network serves virtually every community in America and, along with more than two million staff and volunteers, delivers the nutritious meals, friendly visits and safety checks that enable America’s seniors to live nourished lives with independence and dignity. By providing funding, leadership, education, research and advocacy support, Meals on Wheels America empowers its local member programs to strengthen their communities, one senior at a time. For more information, or to find a Meals on Wheels provider near you, visit www.mealsonwheelsamerica.org.

About Subaru of America, Inc.

Subaru of America, Inc. (SOA) is a wholly owned subsidiary of Subaru Corporation of Japan. Headquartered at a zero-landfill office in Camden, N.J., the company markets and distributes Subaru vehicles, parts and accessories through a network of more than 630 retailers across the United States. All Subaru products are manufactured in zero-landfill plants and Subaru of Indiana Automotive, Inc. is the only U.S. automobile manufacturing plant to be designated a backyard wildlife habitat by the National Wildlife Federation. SOA is guided by the Subaru Love Promise, which is the company’s vision to show love and respect to everyone, and to support its communities and customers nationwide. Over the past 20 years, SOA has donated more than $200 million to causes the Subaru family cares about, and its employees have logged more than 63,000 volunteer hours. As a company, Subaru believes it is important to do its part in making a positive impact in the world because it is the right thing to do. For additional information visit media.subaru.com. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

For additional information visit media.subaru.com.

COA is partnering with Subaru of Jacksonville in the 2021 Share the Love Event to benefit COA’s Meals on Wheels program.

Columbia Restaurant 2021 Community Harvest Program to Benefit COA!

Support Council on Aging just by dining at any Columbia Restaurant in September!

Through its month-long 24th annual Community Harvest program, the Columbia Restaurant donates 5 percent of all diners’ checks to charities selected by the guests. Over the last 23 years, the Columbia Restaurant’s Community Harvest has donated more than $2.6 million to non-profit organizations throughout Florida.

Community Harvest involves each of the Columbia locations, including Ybor City in the historic district of Tampa, St. Armands Circle in Sarasota, St. Augustine, Sand Key on Clearwater Beach, Central Florida’s town of Celebration, the Columbia Cafe on the Riverwalk in downtown Tampa at the Tampa Bay History Center and the Columbia Restaurant Cafe at Tampa International Airport. All Columbia locations are open seven days a week for lunch and dinner. For more information, see www.ColumbiaRestaurant.com.

“We started this program as a way to help many of the worthy non-profit groups that are so important to our communities,” said 4th generation family member and president Richard Gonzmart.

Gonzmart said the process is simple: Choose a charity from a ballot that’s provided with the check. The restaurant calculates the 5 percent and provides the charity with gift certificates that can be used for up to 12 months. There’s no additional cost to the guest.

The St. Augustine Columbia Restaurant is open every day for lunch and dinner and is located at 98 St. George St., St. Augustine. To make a reservation, call 904-824-3341.

Council on Aging Joins Meals on Wheels America and Subaru of America, Inc. in Sharing the Love this Holiday Season

The 13th annual Subaru Share the Love® Event will help deliver nutritious meals and compassion to St. Johns County’s seniors.

Council on Aging (COA) is proud to announce that we will be participating in the 2020 Subaru Share the Love Event as a member of Meals on Wheels America – one of four national Share the Love charitable partners supported through the campaign. From November 19, 2020, through January 4, 2021, Subaru of America will donate $250 for every new Subaru vehicle purchased or leased to the customer’s choice of participating charities.

“We are very excited to get the word out about this opportunity for members of our community to help seniors in St. Johns County at no cost to them,” said COA Executive Director Becky Yanni. “Seniors have never needed our help more than they do today, and this is an easy way to help us meet their urgent needs.”

Participating Meals on Wheels America members like COA will receive a share of the donations raised by Subaru in their state. COA has partnered with Subaru of Jacksonville, 10800 Atlantic Blvd., Jacksonville, FL to raise awareness for the popular year-end sales and giving event, and drive support for Meals on Wheels.

“Meals on Wheels America is proud to partner with Subaru of America for the 13th consecutive year to enable more seniors to live with independence and dignity,” said Ellie Hollander, President and CEO, Meals on Wheels America. “Since 2008, the Subaru Share the Love Event has helped deliver more than 2.3 million meals and friendly visits to vulnerable seniors nationwide. We’re enormously grateful to Subaru and its retailers for their long-standing commitment to Meals on Wheels and the millions of seniors who depend on it for nourishment and companionship.”

Over the last 12 years, Subaru of America and its participating retailers have donated more than $176 million to its charity partners. This year’s Subaru Share the Love Event is on track to bring that total to over $200 million, proving there’s no limit to the amount of love we can all share.

By purchasing or leasing a new Subaru during the Subaru Share the Love Event and selecting Meals on Wheels as your charity of choice, you can help deliver nutritious meals and other important services to seniors right here in St. Johns County, FL.

For more information, visit www.mealsonwheelsamerica.org/sharethelove.

About Meals on Wheels America

Meals on Wheels America is the leadership organization supporting the more than 5,000 community-based programs across the country that are dedicated to addressing senior isolation and hunger. This network serves virtually every community in America and, along with more than two million staff and volunteers, delivers the nutritious meals, friendly visits and safety checks that enable America’s seniors to live nourished lives with independence and dignity. By providing funding, leadership, education, research and advocacy support, Meals on Wheels America empowers its local member programs to strengthen their communities, one senior at a time. For more information, or to find a Meals on Wheels provider near you, visit www.mealsonwheelsamerica.org.

About Subaru of America, Inc.

Subaru of America, Inc. (SOA) is a wholly owned subsidiary of Subaru Corporation of Japan. Headquartered at a zero-landfill office in Camden, N.J., the company markets and distributes Subaru vehicles, parts and accessories through a network of more than 630 retailers across the United States. All Subaru products are manufactured in zero-landfill production plants and Subaru of Indiana Automotive, Inc. is the only U.S. automobile production plant to be designated a backyard wildlife habitat by the National Wildlife Federation. SOA is guided by the Subaru Love Promise, which is the company’s vision to show love and respect to everyone, and to support its communities and customers nationwide. Over the past 20 years, SOA has donated more than $165 million to causes the Subaru family cares about, and its employees have logged more than 40,000 volunteer hours. As a company, Subaru believes it is important to do its part in making a positive impact in the world because it is the right thing to do.

For additional information visit media.subaru.com.

Christmas on the River 2020 – the “Non-Event of the Season”!

Join us for CHRISTMAS ON THE RIVER 2020, the “non-event of the season,” in support of COA’s Care Connection program! This year, due to COVID-19 concerns, we are kicking off the holidays and supporting COA’s Care Connection program from home.  By donating your ticket price and becoming a sponsor, you will be providing the resources necessary to operate COA’s Care Connection program, which provides crucial services to seniors in St. Johns County during the holidays and all year long! Ticket prices are $50 per person, and sponsorships start at $250. To participate, visit www.bit.ly/nonevent2020 or call 904-209-3700. Checks may also be mailed to COA at 180 Marine St., St. Augustine, FL 32084.

COA’s Care Connection program, the event’s beneficiary, supplies services that many elderly adults need to continue to remain in their own homes enjoying their independence. From minor home repairs, lawn services and assistive devices, to the construction of wheelchair ramps, these services are not covered by current funding sources. Yet, they help make the difference between seniors being able to remain comfortably at home rather than being compelled to enter assisted living.  The program is 100% donor-funded and almost entirely volunteer-driven. 

Because there are no other sources of funding available to keep this critically important program running, each year COA holds Christmas on the River as its dedicated fundraiser.

“Providing these services to our seniors is crucial to their independence and their happiness,” Becky Yanni, COA’s Executive Director, explained. “I can’t think of a better way to bring the community together during the holiday season than in support of a such a worthy cause!”

Council on Aging is a 501(c)3 non-profit, charitable organization that has been serving the seniors of St. Johns County for over 47 years.  We are dedicated to leading and advocating for the dignity, independence, health and community involvement of older St. Johns County residents. For more information on COA’s services, visit our website at www.coasjc.org or call us at 904-209-3700.

Columbia Restaurant’s Community Harvest Program to Benefit Council on Aging

Throughout the month of September, diners at Columbia Restaurant are invited to let their appetite do the giving while they support local non-profits including St. Johns County Council on Aging (COA).  For the 23rd year, Columbia Restaurant is offering its Community Harvest program to benefit local non-profit organizations.  All seven Columbia restaurants are participating, including the St. Augustine location at 98 St. George Street.

Through the program, Columbia Restaurant will donate 5 percent of all guests’ September lunch and dinner checks to the charitable organization chosen by their customers from a ballot provided with the check. There is no additional cost to the guest.

Over the past 22 years, the Columbia Restaurant Community Harvest has donated more than $2.6 million to non-profit organizations throughout Florida.  All Columbia locations are open seven days a week for lunch and dinner. For more information, visit www.ColumbiaRestaurant.com.

The Columbia Restaurant in St. Augustine is located downtown at 98 St. George Street. For more information, call 904-824-3341, or visit their website at www.ColumbiaRestaurant.com. 

“We started this program as a way to help many of the worthy non-profit groups that are so important to our communities,” said 4th generation family member and president Richard Gonzmart. “With the devastating effect of the coronavirus on the economy and overall decline in charitable donations, it’s even more important this year.”    

NEW: Strengthen your brain and combat memory loss with IMEP™ AT HOME!

COA’s Integrative Memory Enhancement Program, IMEP™, is a dynamic and innovative response to memory loss. A structured, research-based program, IMEP integrates the mind, body, and brain connections to boost cognitive reserve and minimize the progression of memory loss or dementia. IMEP employs specific cognitive and physical exercises designed for seniors, and utilizes healing modalities that support overall brain and body function.

Now it is easier than ever to participate in this powerful program which addresses memory health, early memory loss and dementia with IMEP™ AT HOME!

For more information, visit our IMEP™ page by clicking here: https://www.coasjc.org/imepsjc/. Individuals and couples who would like to participate in IMEP™ AT HOME may contact Michele Sanchez at msanchez@coasjc.org or 904-209-3700.

To find out how your organization can implement IMEP™ at your facility and begin helping those experiencing early memory loss and dementia, visit www.imeprogram.com.

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