Will you spend more in retirement, or less? While some retirees do go a little crazy in the first few years of retirement with travel and other luxuries, once things settle down most people find to their surprise that they’re spending considerably less than before. Last year we read this article from USNews that lists ten areas where the average retiree will be able to save significantly, and we’re bringing it back for your consideration. If you’re planning ahead for retirement, or just starting the journey, this article might provide some helpful food for thought. It might also be a good list to review with your financial planner.
Ten Spending Categories That Might Decrease or Disappear in Retirement
“Many retirees are tempted to spend more money on leisure activities in retirement,” writes USNews senior editor Emily Brandon. “Health care costs also tend to increase as people age. But there are many costs that decline in retirement, and a few you can eliminate entirely.”
Brandon goes on to list ten expenses you might no longer have – or will have to a lesser degree – in retirement. Take a look and see which ones apply to your lifestyle.
Cutting Expenses by Paying Off Your Mortgage
This is one place where, as Rajiv Nagaich often says, a housing issue becomes a financial issue, and vice versa. “Paying off your mortgage eliminates one of your biggest monthly bills,” says the article. You’ll be saving all that interest, and you can stop worrying about late fees. “While you will still have to pay for insurance and property taxes and continue to maintain your home, these costs are likely to be a fraction of what you were paying for your mortgage. Keeping your housing costs low will help your fixed income stretch further. There’s also a big emotional payoff when you own your home mortgage-free.”
Cutting Expenses by Eliminating Commuting Costs
This may seem obvious, but the actual saving can come as something of a surprise, even though the COVID pandemic already upended many people’s commutes. “Gas for your car or train fare is a big expense for employees with long daily commutes to work,” says USNews. “Commuting also puts a lot of wear on your car that could necessitate more frequent repairs and maintenance or even a new vehicle. In retirement, all your driving is for personal errands or pleasure.”
The article adds that cutting your miles driven might also qualify you for a lower rate on your auto insurance. You’ll certainly find that your stress level behind the wheel is reduced because retirees typically enjoy planning their outings to avoid peak travel times.
Cutting Expenses by Getting Rid of a Second Car
“Dual-income married couples often need two cars to get to their respective jobs,” the article observes. “If you’re willing to coordinate your respective schedules, you might be able to get by with one car in retirement.” This dramatically cuts your insurance and car maintenance costs. One idea: sell the second car and put some of the money into a “Local Travel Fund” to pay for the occasional taxi or for ride-share services like Über and Lyft.
Cutting Expenses When You No Longer Need Professional Clothing
“Some jobs require expensive professional attire, stylish haircuts and makeup, and formal clothing for special events,” says USNews. “Dry cleaning and professional tailoring cost even more. Retirees get to trade in their suits for jeans and don’t have to keep up with the latest fashion trends unless they want to.” (Of course, these days with the coronavirus, a lot of that expensive clothing is already gathering dust in the closet – but we get the point.)
Cutting Expenses Because You Have More Time for Life’s Daily Chores
It’s often impossible for time-strapped working people to take care of basic chores like shopping, cooking, and yardwork themselves. They end up paying plenty for basic services that retirees can enjoy doing themselves.
As USNews puts it, instead of “buying expensive convenience food because you don’t have time to cook and outsourcing household chores so you don’t have to spend your weekends doing them,” retirees can spend time and energy “comparison shopping for good deals and taking on the home improvement chores they used to pay someone else to do. Cutting your own grass and cooking at home takes time but could save you money.”
Cutting Expenses Because You’re No Longer Working in an Office
There are hidden costs to the typical office environment that have little to do with nice clothes and long commutes. “Being involved in office social life comes with some costs,” says the article. “You might pay for lunch out with coworkers, chip in for gifts for colleagues or get drawn into the office pool. These costs are often a necessary part of team building with coworkers, but retirees don’t have to pay them.” No more overpriced coffee or happy hour drinks with col-workers you don’t really want to spend time with. Instead, retirees can shift their spending to gatherings with close friends they actually prefer to see.
Cutting Expenses with Senior Discounts
“One of the major benefits of growing older is qualifying for senior discounts,” says USNews. “The senior discounts available for travel, hotels and car rentals are well-known. But you may also qualify for discounts at restaurants, retail stores and even grocery stores.” It may not be obvious which places offer senior discounts – sometimes you have to ask. Senior discounts at many places start at age 55 or even 50. If you search on Bing or Google for “senior discounts,” you’ll find limitless options and lists, including this one called the Senior List.
Cutting Expenses with Off-Peak Travel
When you were working full time, a one-week vacation often meant Monday-through-Friday, forcing you and your family to travel on the busiest travel days of the week. “Many working people cram their travel plans into long weekends and national holidays, and parents tend to vacation during school breaks,” says USNews. “Airlines and hotels know this and set prices accordingly.” But when you retire, you can travel during weekdays and off-peak seasons, when the prices are lower and the crowds are smaller. Retirees with a flexible schedule may also be able to take advantage of last-minute deals on cruises, RV rentals, and other vacation packages.
Cutting Expenses by Ferreting Out Unnecessary Investment Fees
This idea might be something you always meant to do, and now that you’re retired you can finally accomplish it. “Take the time to review your investment portfolio, with the goal of reducing your investment costs,” the article advises. “Make a note of the expense ratio of each fund, and challenge yourself to find a lower-cost fund that meets your investment needs. Take care to learn the rules for taking penalty-free retirement account withdrawals. You could be retired for several decades. Don’t allow your investment returns to be dragged down by unnecessary costs.”
Cutting Expenses Thanks to a Lower Tax Rate
“Many people drop into a lower tax bracket in retirement,” says USNews. What’s more, seniors often benefit from more generous tax breaks including a bigger standard deduction, and in some locales, they get a break on property taxes. “Take steps to further reduce your taxes by carefully timing retirement account withdrawals,” the article advises. “Retirees who continue to work can defer paying income tax on more money in a 401(k) than younger employees. Charitably inclined retirees can avoid income tax on IRA required minimum distributions by making a qualified charitable distribution.”
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(originally reported at https://money.usnews.com)