“Budget.” It doesn’t exactly conjure up images of the carefree retirement you’re planning for, does it? So let’s discuss your “spending plan” instead, and focus on managing expenses and finding a balance between the money you have and the lifestyle you’re dreaming of when you retire. Rather than confine you, a spending plan can allow you to spend money on the things you really want.
Look at the variables
When you’re creating a spending plan, you’ll want to consider what your fixed and variable expenses are now and what you estimate they’ll be in retirement. Your fixed expenses will include your mortgage or rental payment, weekly groceries and any other consistent payments you make. These will be easier to plan for than the variable ones. Here, you’ll have to be creative. Will you be traveling, taking your grandchildren to baseball games or picking up new hobbies when you retire? Think about the activities you do now, how much they cost and whether that cost will increase when you have more time to do them. We like to call this: understanding your Needs, Wants and Wishes for Retirement.
Make your pre-retirement budget a retirement spending plan
Pull out your existing budget. Take a look at your expenses and estimate which ones will go up and which ones may go down. Some may go away completely, like employment-related expenses. Others may need to be added, like health insurance if you’ll no longer be covered through your employer. Detail all of your expenses, but don’t forget to detail income sources such as Social Security, retirement accounts and pensions too. It is also important to note whether your income sources are pre-tax (you will still need to pay income taxes) or after-tax (you do not owe income taxes and will be able to spend the entire amount). Our budgeting (we mean spending plan) worksheet is a helpful tool.
Plan on having a good time
Taking the time to create a realistic spending plan can give you a sense of certainty. It can help provide you more freedom to spend money on what you want, without breaking the bank. And isn’t that what retirement’s about?
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