Ups and Downs of Retirement Expenses: What Do You Need?

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We loathe calculators in our household -- because we only use them when we have to figure out what large sum of money we need to save to accomplish a goal. And when we recently decided to calculate how much we'd need to save for retirement, we thought our trusty electronic device was broken when it spit out a seven-digit number. We ran the numbers a second time and sure enough, the result still topped $1 million.

After collecting ourselves and analyzing the numbers a little more closely, reality began to set in. Living for 25 years with only your only outside income being a small stipend from Social Security requires a huge chunk of savings.

When it comes to understanding why retirement is so costly, my husband and I like to think of it this way: How much money do we need to get by in a month? Then we take that number and multiply it by 12, which is how much we'll need over a year. Finally, we multiply that number by 25 (supposing our retirement lasts from age 65 to age 90), and that's roughly how much we'll need for retirement -- without factoring in inflation on the one hand, or investment growth on the other.

Some Expenses Will Decline

While there's no question we'll need a large nest egg to survive (let alone thrive) in retirement, some of the expenses we have today may no longer be a factor once age 65 rolls around for us. It's important to keep these in mind so we don't overestimate how much we'll need come retirement age.
  • Mortgage: Most Americans have paid off their mortgages by age 65. If you haven't kissed your mortgage goodbye and don't own your home outright, then you'll want to factor in more money to help you get to that point. But if your countdown until tear-up-the-mortgage day is on track to arrive before your retirement date, that's a big monthly bill you can cross off your planned expense list.
  • Child-related expenses: From the cost of back-to-school shopping to keeping a growing teenager clothed and fed, the costs of raising children will likely no longer be a part of your budget.
  • Food and entertainment: Although you'll still be out and about, the rate at which you go and do is likely to slow down some as your retirement progresses. You'll have fewer mouths to feed, and extravagant nights out may also lessen. And if you're still living on a budget, this is an easy category to put on the chopping block when times get tight.
  • Taxes: Because of your retirement status, your tax bill could dip significantly. While a large chunk of your earnings go to taxes right now, you'll probably be giving substantially less to Uncle Sam once you leave the workforce, especially if you've been putting money into investments that have tax-free disbursements in retirement, such as a Roth IRA or Roth 401(k).
Other Expenses Will Go Up

Overall, your day-to-day lifestyle will likely cost less than it currently does. Your life should be more settled and simplified, and fewer unexpected expenses should pop up. And while most of your spending will continue going to everyday living expenses, as mentioned above, there are a few new things you'll want to save for in retirement.
  • Health care: One major expense worth factoring into your budget is the possibility you'll need long-term care in-home care, or assisted living. At some point in retirement, those possibilities have a strong likelihood of becoming your expensive reality. According to a recent study, half of all people who buy a long-term care policy at age 60 (of the type that pays out immediately for eligible claims) will at some point use that policy.
  • Adult children needing financial help: You'll want to decide in advance what to do in the case that your adult offspring need help financially. If you do have some extra retirement savings, you may have opportunities to help them when they're in a financial pinch.
Retirement is no small expense, and it's important to start saving now, and investing that money in ways that will grow our money over time -- hopefully, faster than inflation eats away at it. When it comes down to it, we can't know the exact number we're going to need for retirement. But we do know that we're going to try to save as much as we can.

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Patty Coleman

Planning for retirement is one of the key in having a comfortable and financially stable life after retirement. It's true that there are some expenses that will decline such as your mortgage, taxes and expenses concerning your children but other expenses will arise. This goes to show that planning ahead and making sure that you will not outlive your retirement income are imperative.

Experts say that around 70% of people who are 65 and above will require long-term care which is expensive in nature. Its cost is also steadily increasing, the reason why people should consider buying long-term care insurance. Long term care insurance policy is described by as an insurance product that covers assisted living facilities, nursing home, home care, adult day care and other facilities. This is a good option in paying for your future care needs but there are also other ways to handle your expenses like life insurance and through government programs.

If you want to have the peace of mind, protect your nest egg and spare your family from caregiving responsibilities, it's recommended to buy long-term care insurance.

July 26 2014 at 3:31 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Those folk who are retiring and are concerned about either maintaining their "current" way of life or improving on it during their retirement years… are failing to take into consideration the fact that their life will greatly slow down during those years, and the need for a significant income will be greatly reduced. I can assure you that after being retired for 10 years, your costs and interest in certain activities will greatly diminish over what it was when you initially retired.

July 20 2014 at 7:43 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


It's the party of plutocracy who wants to give the working person less so that the 1% can take more.


First of all Somey for you to post a remark like that you should first have a job. It is about time you stop expecting others to pay your way dear. And secondly rich people like President Obama and the rest of us rich liberals are always looking for ways to steal more out of the pockets of the working people in the form of tax increases darling.

July 11 2014 at 10:01 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

After reading a bunch of misogynist comments I realize how lucky I am to have married my wife. We just went out to dinner at a local Mexican place and the bill was $11.00. My wife loves the place. This morning I realized our kitchen breakfast set bench had a crack and replacing it would cost $60-100 dollars. My wife suggested I try to fix it. I bought some wood dough and will tackle the project this weekend. We are retired and debtless. Thank God I married a cheapskate.

July 11 2014 at 1:28 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

One lucrative yet often overlooked retirement strategy is investing in a home solar PV system. It's actually an incredibly low-risk/high-reward investment that will save you more and more money over time, will raise your home value, and can even be a source of income. Check out this blog to see how solar energy can work as a retirement plan for you -

July 10 2014 at 4:49 PM Report abuse -4 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to energysageinterns's comment

Thank you, a voice of reason...

July 11 2014 at 1:38 AM Report abuse -4 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to mac2jr's comment

Oh my, and you are the authority on what is a voice of reason? I hardly think so dear.

July 11 2014 at 9:56 AM Report abuse rate up rate down

Get job with the government preferably run for office and you will never have to worry about retirement

July 10 2014 at 3:36 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

#1. Don't date if you are single. Women are spendthrifts and will get you to spend everything you have. It is easy to spend hundreds on just one date. If they get you to marry them they want a new car and a million dollar home with granite countertops and stainless steel toilets. They never can have enough. They get bored and want a stable of horses, pool boys etc


July 10 2014 at 3:33 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

What if you don't have anything to save with because you were disabled since you were a teen and all you have is disability money to live on?

July 10 2014 at 2:40 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

"key to retiring successfully "

A) Do not get married.

B) Do not have children

C) If you do marry, Do NOT Divorce..

D) If you do divorce, stay out of the Court System

July 10 2014 at 2:34 PM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to mac2jr's comment

A) Do not get married.******* Yeah, that's working well for the black population…..

July 10 2014 at 6:42 PM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply

This is the best advice to a young person just getting out of school.... Chance are you will either sacrifice early in life or late in life... If you are like Ferebot, you will sacrifice late in life after blowing 40 years of being stupid. If you are like me, you will sacrifice early in life and live off of your investments... So here are my tips...

1) If you can't live with your parents for free, then buy a very cheap RV and do what they call Boon Docking. Which is parking the RV in public places at night, like a Walmart parking lot, or a rest area, or at a friend's house. If your parents won't let you live with them, maybe they will let you park the RV out in front of their house and let you do your laundry there. Most parents will help their kids be successful as long as the child isn't just drinking up their money and being stupid. But, living in an RV eliminates the cost of housing, electricity, water, trash, and property taxes to make saving money very easy. That is why you see a lot of 70 and 80 year old people living in RVs. With age comes wisdom. So, it is better to live in an RV when you are young for 2 reasons.. 1. starting out in life your income is lower than it is later in life and 2. a young healthy body doesn't need sound quiet sleep like a old person does. So living in an RV and being mobile is doable.

Next, don't listen to gossip or get advice from other people, that includes financial advisors/mutual fund salesmen... Read books on investing like the Intelligent Investor, a guide to value investing and see if you can figure out what the author means by a post-war economy.

July 10 2014 at 1:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to socioeconomist1's comment

So by living in an RV you eliminate water and electricity expenses?? Maybe if you're plugging into your parent's or friends electrict supply and hooking up to their water supply. There is also the minor problem of disposing of your human waste, I'm guessing your parents don't have a human waste site that you can connect your toilet line to or for that matter a sewer line that you can hook up your city drain line to. These facilities are also not available in a Wal-Mart parking lot. That's probably why RV parks charge a nightly, weekly, or monthly fee to park your RV at thier park, because they supply the water, electricity, disposal services and usually a cable TV hook up. From reading your post it's pretty clear that you've never lived in or owned an RV

July 10 2014 at 1:46 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

@ socioeconomist --- Your RV living plan has some serious flaws in it.

Notice how few of those big RV's you are seeing on the road, this Summer??? That is because those gas guzzlers get about 5-6 mpg. At nearly 4 bucks a gallon for fuel, you are looking at some serious $$$ to fill up the fuel tank.

Also, sooner or later, you will need repairs and/or maintainance on that big monster. EVERYTHING service and repair-related on an RV costs 5-6 times more than it does for an average-sized car or truck. Even something as simple as an oil change requires digging into your pocket to pay a bill of over $100.

And forget about parking it in Walmart's lot (or any other large parking lot). They all have signs in those lots, now, reading: No Overnight Parking. (This is because the current crummy economy has resulted in so many homeless people living in their vehicles.) Those parking lots are regularly patrolled, and you will risk a big fine if you figure you can park there, anyway.

Yes, there are a lot of elderly people living this life --- mostly in travel trailers parked in mobile home parks or KOA campgrounds, etc. They're paying thru the nose for a space to park those vehicles, and life in that small cramped space gets old in a hurry. Nearly all of these people wish they could unload that RV, but dealers don't want to buy these and are reluctant to even take them as a trade-in.

Does't sound like such an ideal life, any more, does it??? That's because it is not.

July 10 2014 at 5:27 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply