How will you spend your time once you are retired? Will you stay at home and chill? Are you planning on doing as much travel as possible? Will you stay in California or relocate to a less expensive community? Determining your retirement lifestyle is an important decision to make within the financial planning process. That decision will flow through your entire retirement budget. Let’s break it down.
Envisioning Your Retirement Lifestyle
There are some important questions to consider as you are planning for retirement. What will your retirement lifestyle look like:
- How active will you be in retirement and how will you spend your time? Consider the hobbies, leisure activities, and travel plans you wish to enjoy during retirement, as these can significantly impact your budget. How much is your annual travel budget? Did you want to have a big one-time trip to kick off retirement?
- Where do you want to live? The cost of living varies significantly depending on your location, so decide whether you plan to stay in your current home, downsize, or relocate to a different city or country. Stay in California or relocate to a less expensive area?
- Do you plan to work part-time or volunteer? Some retirees choose to work part-time or volunteer, which can provide personal fulfillment, social connections, and potential income.
- What does your ideal day-to-day routine look like? Think about your daily life in retirement, including dining, entertainment, and socializing preferences, as these factors influence your budget.
Make a Retirement Budget
Once you have a clear vision of your desired retirement lifestyle, categorize your expenses into three main groups:
- Essential Expenses: These are the basic costs of living, such as housing, utilities, food, transportation, and healthcare.
- Discretionary Expenses: These expenses are related to your lifestyle choices and may include travel, dining out, hobbies, entertainment, and memberships.
- One-Time or Infrequent Expenses: These are non-recurring expenses, such as home repairs or a new roof, major purchases like a car, or financial gifts to family members.
Analyzing Your Retirement Expenses
Now that you’ve categorized your retirement expenses, it’s time to estimate the costs associated with each category:
- Housing: Factor in mortgage payments or rent, property taxes, insurance, and maintenance costs. If you plan to relocate, research the cost of living in your desired location. Will you stay in your current residence or downsize?
- Healthcare: Medicare premiums, supplemental insurance, out-of-pocket medical expenses, and long-term care should be considered when estimating your healthcare costs during retirement.
- Travel: One of the biggest expenses we see in financial planning is people’s travel budget in retirement.
- Food and Dining: Estimate your food costs, including groceries and dining out, based on your desired lifestyle during retirement. Cooking at home can be a great money saver.
- Transportation: Car payments, insurance, maintenance, and gas, or public transportation expenses should be included in your retirement budget.
- Insurance and Taxes: Include life insurance premiums, property taxes, and income taxes in your retirement expense projections.
- Gifts and Charitable Contributions: Estimate any planned gifts to family members or charitable donations you wish to make during retirement.
Closing the Gap on Your Retirement Budget
After estimating your retirement expenses, compare the projected costs with your anticipated retirement income. You can make changes to your retirement plan to increase your probability of reaching your retirement goals.
- Increasing Savings: Boost your retirement account contributions or invest in additional income-generating assets.
- Delaying Retirement: Postponing retirement can allow you to save more, give your retirement assets more time to grow, increase your Social Security benefits, and potentially reduce your retirement expenses.
- Reducing Expenses: Review your retirement budget and identify areas where you can reduce expenses, such as downsizing your home, cutting discretionary spending, or relocating to a more affordable area.
- Working Part-Time: Consider taking on part-time employment during retirement to supplement your income. We see many people working part-time in retirement to get health insurance through work until they reach Medicare age at 65.
Reassessing Your Retirement Plan & Budget Regularly
It’s essential to review your retirement financial plan and budget regularly, as life events, market conditions, and personal circumstances can change over time. Ideally, you should reassess your retirement plan at least once a year or whenever you experience a significant life event, such as a job loss, marriage, divorce, or the birth of a child.