Retirement should be an enjoyable time in your life, but it won't be if you aren't financially prepared for it. Unfortunately, a substantial number of Americans are likely going to be in for a huge financial shock when they leave the working world -- and the surprise they're facing could leave them struggling to make ends meet in their later years. 

There are two huge expenses Americans aren't planning for

For most retirees, there are two huge expenses that aren't optional and that can drain their nest egg. And, according to disturbing new research from Edward Jones, an estimated two-thirds of Americans planning to retire within the next decade have "no idea" what they are. Those two big expenses: Healthcare costs and long-term care costs in retirement.

Binder labeled Retirement Savings Plan with calculator and glasses sitting on it.

Image source: Getty Images.

It's a major problem that these expenses are going to come as a huge surprise for most Americans, because it's all but inevitable that you'll be paying thousands (or even hundreds of thousands) of dollars for them. 

After all, while most retirees can get insurance coverage through Medicare at age 65, it's common to retire before these benefits become available -- which means you could owe thousands of dollars in insurance premiums early in retirement. Medicare also doesn't cover everything you might need, and there are premiums and coinsurance costs to think about. The price tag for out-of-pocket care can be so high that seniors who claimed Social Security at 62 often end up spending as much as 60% of their monthly benefit checks on medical services. These bills are shocking if you aren't prepared for them.  

It's also more likely you'll end up needing long-term care than many people realize, with around 70% of people who reach the age of 65 ultimately requiring some kind of nursing home or home healthcare services. Unfortunately, Medicare won't pay for any portion of this care in most circumstances. And while Medicaid covers nursing care, it does so only after you spend down a substantial percentage of your assets. If the high probability you'll need nursing home care, along with the price tag and lack of coverage for it, come as a surprise, this can lead to serious financial pain. That's especially true for those who are forced to drain their joint nest egg to provide care for a spouse, and who are then left with little to live on for the rest of their own retirement.

Planning for these expenses should be a part of your retirement goals

Covering both medical and long-term care costs can be difficult under the best of circumstances, but it can be devastating if the costs come as a shock, since only those who prepare in advance are likely to have the financial resources they need.

For those who are eligible, preparing could involve maxing out annual contributions to a health savings account, while for others it could mean investing more in a 401(k) or IRA after factoring in the costs when setting retirement goals. For still others, buying comprehensive insurance, including long-term care insurance and Medigap or Medicare Advantage plans, could make sense -- although premiums will need to be budgeted for. 

The important thing is, you can't afford to be caught off guard -- so if you're one of the two-thirds of Americans with no clue what these expenses might cost, it's time to change that.  

Don't get caught off-guard by retirement and long-term care expenses

No retiree deserves to leave work and see the nest egg they've spent their whole life building disappear within months or years because of medical needs or long-term care costs.

You owe it to yourself to prepare for these expenses by making sure you have money earmarked to cover them and the right insurance to mitigate them. Now that you won't be surprised by them, you can start making your plans today so these huge costs won't derail your entire retirement and leave you struggling.