After decades of diligent saving, it’s time to finally kick back and enjoy your retirement. But old habits die hard, and it can be tough to start spending when you’ve been living frugally for years.
If you’ve saved enough for retirement, you shouldn’t be worried about drawing down assets now that the golden years are here. However, you shouldn’t completely abandon your frugal mindset either! It’s all about striking a balance between being conservative and enjoying your newfound freedom.
Here are some ways you can balance an enjoyable lifestyle with a financially secure retirement:
Concerns over long-term care is one big reason that retirees are hesitant to spend their savings. Long-term care costs are high and rising by the year. As of 2018, GuruFocus reports that median annual costs range from $18,720 for adult day care services to an astounding $100,375 for a private room in a nursing home. Because long-term care care services aren’t covered by Medicare, retirees must pay these expenses out of pocket.
The problem is, there’s no way to know how much long-term care you’ll need. Even if you’re healthy today, a diagnosis of cancer or dementia could dramatically change the outlook of your future.
While it’s wise to think about long-term care, you shouldn’t sacrifice happiness today for a future that may or may not happen. Instead of counting every penny, make a plan for how you’ll handle the worst case scenario. Some seniors purchase a long-term care insurance policy, others buy annuities and others still look to assets like life insurance policies and real estate.
If you plan to sell your home to finance long-term care, make sure your home’s value will stretch far enough. In a high-priced city like Boulder, Colorado, selling a home could finance eight to 15 years of long-term care — more than enough for most seniors. But if you live in a city with lower home prices, your home might only fund one or two years of care. In that case, you’ll need a Plan B in case your long-term care needs extend beyond a couple of years.
Housing is by far the largest expense faced by retirees. Fortune reports that housing, including repair and utility costs, accounts for 47 percent of the average retiree’s budget. If you’re not experiencing life because all your money is going toward a mortgage, it’s worth reconsidering your living arrangements.
Downsizing to a smaller, more affordable home is the best way to slash housing costs. Many retirees also find a downsized home fits their empty nester lifestyle better than a large family home. Not only is there less home to clean and maintain, but purchasing a smaller single-family home or condo can put you closer to city center where all the amenities are right outside your door.
Traveling the world is one of the most popular ways to spend the retirement years, but as any jetsetter knows, travel isn’t cheap. However, just because you can’t afford to spend half the year on tropical islands doesn’t mean you can’t afford to travel. There are plenty of ways to experience travel and adventure on a modest budget.
If you value travel but are wary of spending thousands of dollars on international flights and cruises, plan road trips instead. Now that you have ample time for travel, you can afford to spend extra time getting to your destination. And when you take the scenic route and plan interesting stops along the way, the journey is just as enjoyable as the destination!
It’s good to be frugal, but remember: You can’t take your retirement savings with you when you go. Rather than being too thrifty at the expense of your happiness, take stock of your retirement budget. You may realize you have more flexibility and freedom than you imagined.