As you're preparing for retirement, there are a lot of costs you'll need to consider -- like your everyday living expenses, travel, and any new hobbies you want to pick up during your golden years.
There are a few costs, though, that many people don't consider that could put a major strain on your budget. And if you're not preparing for these expenses, it could potentially wreck your chances of enjoying a comfortable retirement.
1. Long-term care
When you're just entering your golden years, the thought of moving into a nursing home is probably far from your mind. But approximately 70% of older Americans will need long-term care at some point in their lives, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, so it's important to plan ahead.
Long-term care can be incredibly expensive. In fact, the average semi-private room in a nursing home costs more than $6,800 per month, the Department of Health and Human Services found. Also, among those who do need long-term care, the average stay is around three years. At $6,800 per month, that adds up to close to a quarter of a million dollars over that three-year period. You'll likely need to pay for those costs out-of-pocket, too, as Medicare typically doesn't cover long-term care.
To prepare for long-term care expenses, one option is to simply build these costs into your budget before you retire. That can be tough considering you don't even know for sure whether you'll need long-term care, let alone how much it will cost. But setting aside at least some money to cover these potential costs can make it easier if you do eventually need long-term care.
Another option is to invest in long-term care insurance. The trick to buying long-term care insurance is to enroll sooner rather than later, because if you wait too long, you'll either be denied coverage altogether or charged extremely high premiums. And while coverage isn't cheap (even if you enroll relatively early, you'll still likely pay a couple thousand dollars per year in premiums), it can prevent you from paying hundreds of thousands of dollars out-of-pocket down the road if you end up needing long-term care.
Unless all your savings are stashed in a Roth IRA or Roth 401(k), you'll need to pay income taxes on your retirement account withdrawals. You may be subject to both federal and state taxes on your Social Security benefits as well, depending on where you live and how much you're earning.
If you're not factoring taxes into your retirement budget, you may end up withdrawing more than you should each year from your retirement fund -- which puts you at risk of running out of money too soon.
The exact amount you'll pay in taxes depends on how much you're withdrawing. If you don't expect to be spending much more or less in retirement than you are now, you probably won't see a dramatic shift in your tax rate. But if you're going to splurge in retirement and spend far more than you're spending now, you may need to account for paying more in taxes.
It's also a good idea to consider how much of your Social Security benefits may be taxed. The good news is that 37 states currently don't tax benefits, but the bad news is that you'll likely need to pay federal taxes on your monthly checks. The Social Security Administration looks at your combined income, which is half your annual benefit amount plus any other retirement income you have. If your combined income is more than $34,000 per year (or $44,000 per year for married couples filing jointly), you'll need to pay taxes on up to 85% of your benefits. If you're depending on this money to make ends meet in retirement, you'll need to make sure taxes won't ruin your retirement plans.
Even if you're enrolled in Medicare, you'll still face some out-of-pocket healthcare costs in retirement. You'll still be responsible for all premiums, deductibles, co-pays, and coinsurance, and if you're enrolled in Original Medicare (or Parts A and B), you'll also have to pay out-of-pocket for all dental and vision expenses because those services are not covered.
The amount you pay for healthcare in retirement will depend on several factors, such as the type of insurance plan you have and what your overall health looks like. For more expansive coverage, you may opt for a Medicare Advantage plan. These plans are similar to what you'd receive through your employer, and many of them cover prescription drugs, as well as dental and vision. Although premiums vary depending on the options available in your area, some of these plans can be more expensive than Original Medicare. However, although the premiums may be higher, you might face fewer out-of-pocket expenses overall when you have greater coverage.
Regardless of whether you choose to enroll in Original Medicare or a Medicare Advantage plan, it's important to incorporate healthcare costs into your retirement budget. Healthcare could cost you thousands of dollars per year even with insurance, and if you're not budgeting for it, it could take a big bite out of your savings.
It can be tough to prepare for retirement when you don't know exactly what costs you'll face. But some expenses are more dangerous than others, and if you're not preparing for them, they could quickly drain your retirement fund. By understanding all the expenses you may face in retirement, you can create a more thorough financial plan and ensure you're saving as much as you need.