How to Build a Retirement Budget
Are you concerned that retirement will force you to pinch pennies? That probably isn't the picture you had in mind 30 years ago. Lounging on the beach, traveling the world, or spending time with people you love is what retirement should look like. If you're concerned about having enough money for retirement, it may be time to consider a retirement budget.
For those already in retirement, there are still a few levers you can pull today to increase your quality of life on a retirement budget.
Here are some steps on how to build a budget in retirement:
1. Document Your Retirement Expenses
The first step to figuring out what your retirement budget looks like is to take inventory of your income and retirement expenses. This will allow you to make better financial decisions.
When creating a budget in retirement, categorize your expenses by fixed and variable. Fixed expenses are your mortgage or rent payments, car note, mobile phone, and cable TV. These are expenses that do not change each month. In other words, you can predict with high accuracy what each expense will be. Variable expenses are tougher to track. You can often determine a range per month that is spent on variable expenses. This will include purchases like groceries, eating at restaurants, and buying clothes.
2. Adjust Your Spending
Now, it's time to make some adjustments. You can start decreasing your variable expenses by cutting back on eating at restaurants and not buying as many new clothes. When it comes to groceries, keep track of what's going to waste every month. As for utilities, try turning your heat down and wearing warmer clothes in the winter, and vice versa in the summer. Fixed expenses can be decreased as well. For example, do you need every channel in your cable TV package? Are you using all of your cell phone data? These are just a few suggestions, but try to figure out what you aren't using, then see how you can cut it out of your spending.
3. Determine Your Income
Many seniors are finding that they enjoy part-time work. This is a great way to stay active, be around people, and increase your income. Plus, if you find the right job, it can be a lot of fun! Just be sure to keep in mind that if you're employed after receiving Social Security benefits, eligibility for full payment becomes a little complicated. Alternatively, you might want to consider making one of your dreams a reality and start a small business. You have a lifetime of knowledge and experience in at least one area. Check your local community for business resources such as SCORE to help start your business.
You can also reach out to and consider speaking with a financial advisor to see if there is a way to maximize income from your retirement investments. You may not be taking full advantage of income investments such as dividend-paying funds.1
If you haven't retired yet, use our retirement calculator to see what your monthly income from savings should be.
4. Consider Relocating
While not for everyone, another option that falls under both income and expense adjustments is relocation. Moving to a more affordable area comes with its fair share of advantages.
First, if you're selling a home and have equity, you can pocket that cash for your move. This could create a fairly significant cash buffer. Plus, if done properly, your move should decrease your overall living expenses while your income remains the same. Moving into a more affordable home doesn't have to mean going far away either. If living expenses in your current area are already within your retirement budget, you can downsize to a smaller home without having to change towns or states.
However, there are tax implications on both sides of the coin. You could owe taxes on the sale of your existing house if you have a large enough gain. Alternatively, there are also tax breaks if you finance part of your new home.
Choose a Convenient and Helpful Financial Partner
If you still feel like you need some help building your budget for retirement, you can schedule a financial wellness review to ensure you’re on the right path. Whether you relocate to a more-affordable home or your current bank is no longer conveniently located once you stop working, consider opening a checking account with Key.
It can be a challenge to create a retirement budget that you're comfortable with. But by adjusting your spending and looking at additional sources of income, you can increase your overall standard of living in retirement. By creating this smart retirement budget, you can have peace of mind.