Just as following a budget is important during your working years, so too is it crucial when you're on a fixed income. And for many retirees, that's exactly what they're looking at. Here's how to create an accurate retirement budget so that it serves you well during your golden years.
1. Understand your healthcare costs
Healthcare is a major expense for seniors, even those without major medical issues. The average 65-year-old man today will spend an estimated $189,687 on healthcare in retirement, while the average 65-year-old woman is looking at $214,565. And while there are steps you can take to lower your medical costs, researching what they'll likely entail will help you budget for them appropriately.
So take a look at things like Medicare premiums, prescription drug costs, and other such items that apply to you, and aim to arrive at a reasonable estimate. Of course, without a crystal ball, there's no way to predict what turn your health will take and what it will cost you, but having at least a basic idea of what you're in for will help you better plan.
2. Leave ample room for maintenance and property taxes if you own a home
Even if you're planning to enter retirement mortgage-free, there's a good chance your home will continue to monopolize a large chunk of your income. The reason? As homes age, they tend to require more work -- work you may have no choice but to outsource if you're physically incapable of doing it yourself. Furthermore, property taxes tend to rise over time, and all it takes is a single reassessment of your home to send your bill upward. Therefore, make sure to leave some wiggle room in your budget for an uptick in housing costs -- because chances are, you'll experience one at some point or another.
3. Assume you'll spend a lot on leisure
One benefit of retirement is having the time and opportunity to do the things you enjoy the most. But unless your hobbies are largely low-cost by nature, there's a good chance leisure will eat up a large portion of your income. And frankly, that's the way it should be. Just be sure to plan for it so you're not stressed down the line. It's estimated that nearly 60% of adults don't budget for leisure in retirement, and that's a mistake you can't afford to make.
4. Don't forget about taxes
The money in your nest egg will likely provide a large amount of your retirement income. But unless you're housing your savings in a Roth account, your withdrawals will be taxed year after year. And depending on your income, so might a large chunk of your Social Security benefits.
When you sit down to calculate how much income you'll have available to pay the bills each month in retirement, keep in mind that the amount you receive may not be yours to keep in full. So rather than get caught off guard by taxes, budget for them. Look at the current tax brackets at play, try to figure out where you fall based on your expected income, and set money aside for the IRS to cover your share.
Having a budget can help you avoid stress in retirement, provided you go about creating yours the right way. Follow these tips, and with any luck, your budget will help you stay on track financially so you can enjoy your golden years to the fullest.
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