As often as retirement is referred to as one's "golden years," it’s usually depicted as a bleak, austere phase in an investor’s life. Thoughts of small apartments, frugal meals and slowing down come to mind. But is that really the case?
In reality, retirees often find themselves living richer, fuller — and more expensive — lives during retirement than they ever imagined. Unfortunately for many, this often leads to an increase in expenses and a sharp dip in the retirement account.
Are you prepared for a full life in retirement? Are your investments? Read on to find out. (For further reading, see: Life After Retirement: Is Money Really the Priority?)
Filling Up Time Costs Money
Many people that retire are surprised to find that their days are suddenly wide open. Hours that were once spent at work are now at home, and people who don’t want to become couch potatoes need to find other ways to fill their time. “Once you enter retirement, your weekend is now seven days a week instead of two, which gives you triple the amount of free time to make spending decisions,” said CFP Chris Teofilak of the Index Fund Wealth Group.
Finding hobbies, attending events and traveling all cost money — more than retirees may have budgeted for. “Oftentimes, clients who have sizable wealth (and therefore have come to an advisor) have been working hard for years, and have been putting off their dreams,” said financial paraplanner Adam Piplica of Magical Penny. “They were going to go traveling 'someday' or build an extension on their house (or other high ticket items) when they had the time to enjoy it.”
Teofilak said a qualified advisor should help clients figure out a budget to help them enjoy their new free time without overdrawing their retirement account. This will allow them to make more informed decisions in their retirement planning and know that they can afford to take trips abroad or play golf every week. (For further reading, see: You're Retiring: Should You Sell Your House?)
Healthcare Costs Add Up
Even though retirees are eligible for Medicare, they may still experience a deluge of healthcare-related costs in their later years. Expenses such as long-term care can be especially expensive, particularly for those needing full-time care. According to the 2015 Retirement Health Care Costs Report, the average cost for healthcare expenses from age 65 until death comes in around $463,849.
CFP Aaron Hatch of Woven Capital said these costs are most keenly felt in the last few years of life, but it’s impossible to guess how much and when retirees will need to pay the majority of their medical bills. “Getting old can be very expensive, which is why it is important to make good financial projections before you retire, and to revisit those projections often,” Hatch said.
Premium rates for Medicare may also go up every year, which could come as a surprise to retirees living on a tight budget. Long-term care insurance may alleviate some of the costs of a nursing home or rehab facility, and it may be worthwhile to buy a policy years before you’re ready to retire. Advisors should help clients project healthcare-related expenses every year so they are prepared. Dealing with health issues is hard enough — don’t allow financial issues to spring up on top of that.
The Bottom Line
Retirement can come with a host of surprising expenses. But it's still good to plan for a full and exciting life in retirement — if you’re still worried about making ends meet, talk to a financial advisor. He or she can help organize your investments to prepare accordingly, and sooth any unnecessary anxieties you may be feeling. (For further reading, see: Penny Pinching: Your Best Weapon vs. Retirement Uncertainty.)