If you have ever sat down with a financial planner, you know that one of the main questions that comes up is, “How much income do you think you’ll need when you retire?”
When I was asked this question, the first answer that popped into my head was, “Hardly any!” In the retirement scenario in my mind, my kids were independent and my home was paid off, leaving few financial obligations. When pressed, I acknowledged that I might need some money for taking fun vacations with all that free time I’ll have, and for buying gifts for my grandchildren.
While it’s true that a lot of the big expenses of our working lives have ideally been paid off by retirement, retirees still face a lot of financial obligations. Retirement is not all learning to paint or strolling on the beach — despite what prescription drug ads may lead you to believe. A 2016 study by the U.S. General Accounting Office found that retirees on average spend 77 percent of what they spent while they were working, with spending declining decade by decade as retirees age. (See also: 9 Unexpected Expenses for Retirees — And How to Manage Them)
Let’s go through some of the retirement expenses you may not have accounted for, and how to deal with them.
1. Health care
While other expenses shrink after retirement, medical care spending increases. In the present day, the increase is modest. The same U.S. General Accounting Office report found that retirees ages 65 to 79 spend an average $5,000 a year on health care, compared to $3,900 for workers aged 50 to 64. But predictions for future health care expenses in retirement are dire.
HealthView Services’ 2017 Retirement Health Care Costs Data Report predicts that medical costs will rise 5.47 percent per year for the foreseeable future — meaning that today’s 65-year-old may be spending $10,000 or more per year on health care by age 75, on top of Medicare coverage.
“Health care will be one of the most significant retirement expenditures; however, the savings required to cover this expense may be modest — especially if one has been utilizing an income replacement ratio (IRR) of 75% to 85%,” warns the report.
HealthView recommends talking to your planner not just about income replacement, but also about what you expect medical expenses to be based on your current health. Look at optimizing your retirement portfolio to address those needs. For example, some advisers recommend saving for retirement medical expenses using a health savings account — although these are only available to workers who have high-deductible health plans. (See also: How an HSA Could Help Your Retirement)
Managing health conditions proactively can also make a big difference in expenses over a lifetime.
“A 50-year-old male with type II diabetes can save (an average of) $5,000 per year in pre-retirement health expenses by shifting from Poorly Managed to Well Managed care,” the report says.
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