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3 Tips for Managing Your Spending in Retirement

By Maurie Backman - Oct 25, 2019 at 7:06AM

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Here's how to avoid running out of money at a time when you can't afford to.

Running out of money in retirement is a major concern for seniors, and understandably so. Market downturns can result in substantial losses for retirees, who have no choice but to withdraw from their savings to cover their living expenses, while unplanned bills can render even the most frugal seniors cash-strapped. If you're worried about depleting your nest egg prematurely, here are a few tips for keeping your spending in check later in life.

1. Know your costs

Some of the expenses you'll face as a senior may be relatively easy to predict. For example, if you pay off your home before retirement, you can take the average cost of property taxes, insurance, and maintenance to determine what it'll take to continue putting a roof over your head. And if you currently pay $120 a month for cable, chances are you'll pay something similar for that service once you retire (keeping in mind a slight uptick due to inflation).

Older man at laptop with concerned expression putting arm around woman with concerned expression


But some of the expenses you'll face during your senior years may be less obvious -- namely, healthcare. In fact, the average healthy 65-year-old couple retiring today is expected to spend $387,644 on healthcare in retirement, according to HealthView Services, a cost-projection software provider. And this figure doesn't even include long-term care, which is a separate whopping expense.

The takeaway? Do your research or consult with a financial advisor to get a sense of what retirement will really cost you. That way, you'll be better equipped to assess your savings and make lifestyle choices that lower your risk of depleting your cash reserves.

2. Follow a budget

It's crucial to stick to a budget during your working years, and it's even more important during retirement. That budget should be based on your existing costs, but also on your personal priorities.

For example, if living in a larger home is important to you, you may need to scale back on travel and leisure to afford it. Or the opposite might hold true: You may choose to invest more money in your personal entertainment and live in a more modest space. The choice is yours, but following a budget will help ensure that you don't go overboard on spending.

3. Establish a safe retirement savings withdrawal rate

Sometimes, the best way to keep your retirement spending in check is to figure out what a safe withdrawal rate is from your savings, and then work backwards from there. Financial experts frequently advocate a 4% withdrawal rate initially, with subsequent adjustments for inflation. But that may be too aggressive a withdrawal rate if your savings are heavily invested in bonds or you're dealing with a longer retirement than the typical senior.

Therefore, assess your personal situation, and then find an online calculator that will help you arrive at the right withdrawal strategy. A financial advisor can also help in this regard.

Spending wisely during retirement can help you avoid a world of financial stress during your senior years. And when you've put in your time in the workforce, you deserve that peace of mind.

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