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4 Expenses That Can Eat Into Your Retirement Savings

By Maurie Backman – Nov 19, 2018 at 2:03AM

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Watch out for these budget-busters.

Many people expect their overall living costs to go down in retirement, but in reality, there's a good chance yours will mostly stay the same. Some expenses, in fact, might go up during your golden years. Here are four you need to plan for carefully.

1. Healthcare

The burden of healthcare can intensify once retirement kicks in, in part because Medicare offers only limited coverage, and in part because as we age, medical issues tend to arise. The typical 65-year-old man who lives an average lifespan is expected to spend $189,687 on healthcare in retirement, while the typical 65-year-old woman will spend $214,565. This data comes from HealthView Services, a cost-projection healthcare software provider.

Senior couple at laptop looking at papers


To prepare for the whopping expense that is healthcare during your senior years, know how Medicare works and what it will and won't cover. The premiums you pay for Part B and Part D -- which cover diagnostics and prescription drugs, respectively -- will eat into your budget, as will the cost of supplemental insurance, which you might need to bridge part of the gap between the services Medicare won't pay for and the services you need.

Another option you can look into is a health savings account (HSA). With an HSA, you can invest money to pay for future healthcare costs, thereby making them more manageable during your golden years.

2. Long-term care

It's estimated that 70% of seniors 65 and older will need some type of long-term care in their lifetimes, and the associated costs can be downright catastrophic. The average assisted-living facility in the U.S. now costs $48,000 a year, according to Genworth Financial's 2018 Cost of Care Survey. Meanwhile, a shared room in a nursing home costs an average of $89,297 a year, while a private one costs $100,375. Of course, these are just averages, and in some parts of the country, they can run even higher.

A good way to defray these costs, therefore, is to invest in long-term care insurance during the latter part of your working years. If your health is reasonably strong, the best time to apply for coverage is generally around age 60, and the younger you are when you take that step, the more likely you are to not only get approved, but also snag a long-term health-based discount on your premiums.

3. Leisure

The beauty of retirement is having control over your days. The challenge, however, is that it costs money to occupy all of that newfound free time, and if you're planning to travel extensively during your golden years or pursue expensive hobbies, you might start running down your savings sooner than expected.

To avoid that scenario, map out a budget in advance that accounts for your leisure spending. Figure out what you want to do with your days, what it will cost, and whether your savings can support that lifestyle. If they can't, postponing retirement for a few years and padding your nest egg might allow you to better enjoy your golden years without putting your finances at risk.

4. Taxes

Many seniors are surprised to learn that their retirement savings aren't free from the reach of the IRS. Unless you're housing your nest egg in a Roth IRA or 401(k), you can expect your retirement plan withdrawals to be taxed as ordinary income, meaning at the highest rate possible.

The only way to avoid paying those taxes is to move some or all of your savings into a Roth-style account, or fund a Roth directly. Roth IRAs come with annual income limits that ban higher earners from making contributions, but you can always put money into a traditional retirement plan and convert it to a Roth after the fact.

The last thing you want is to get caught off guard by retirement costs you can technically plan for. Beware of these major expenses and take steps to mitigate or manage them to keep your golden years as stress-free as possible.

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