Retirement requires an enormous amount of planning, affecting not only how much money to put aside for old age but how to spend and maintain it.
Retirement Tip of the Week: When planning for retirement, especially if you plan to retire soon, make a list of expenses you expect to have — as well as any other variables that will affect your financial picture. Compare it to your income.
Anything can happen in retirement, especially since for many of us this chapter of life could span decades. Near-retirees know they need to spend money on the basics — housing, utilities, groceries, medicine — but preparation far exceeds those figures. The small details are what can make or break a comfortable old age.
Budgeting isn’t for everyone — some people don’t like to be restricted to a certain amount of money for expenditures like clothes shopping, subscription services or takeout dinners. Others may be too focused on the dollar figure, and not enjoy the lives they built. Still, having a rough estimate of what expenses to expect in retirement, and knowing if it aligns with income in retirement, is critical.
Those who do not like to budget should jot down some expectations for this chapter instead.
Here’s a list of important factors to account for when budgeting for retirement to get started, inspired by planning tools created by financial planning company NewRetirement. (The tools, which include calculating retirement income, withdrawals and Social Security strategies, are available in partnership with MarketWatch on MarketWatch’s website .)
Have a question about your own retirement concerns? Check out MarketWatch’s column “Help Me Retire”
MarketWatch also has its own tool to help narrow down where to retire, which features inputs for taxes, lifestyle choices and climate conditions.
First, it’s important to know what money you’ll have to spend. Here’s an abbreviated list to help collect that information.
Retirement savings and investments
Social Security, including when to claim and how that will affect benefits
Pensions, annuities and other retirement benefits for individuals and their spouses
Any other potential income in retirement, including rental properties, side gigs and inheritances (though the latter should not be relied on as it is subject to change)
Also see: Will Medicare pay for my ambulance ride?
Then, run down the list of what expenses you can reasonably expect to pay for in retirement. Here are a few big-ticket considerations to get started:
Housing, including mortgage payments or rent (as well as potential rent increases)