Don’t Make These Early Retirement Mistakes

You probably anticipate living on a fixed income in retirement. However, you may not expect how much your spending will fluctuate. Many individuals tend to shell out more money at the outset of retirement, due to lifestyle adjustments or travel.

Starting retirement with a bang can make a big dent in your nest egg, no matter how big it is. However, there are ways to protect yourself, says CNBC in the article “Here’s what could take a big bite out of your retirement nest egg—and how you can control it.” A study from J.P. Morgan Asset Management looked at five million Chase accounts and found that people tend to spend more in the beginning years of retirement.

The transition into retirement is much bigger than even the experts expected. The surge in spending was greater than they had thought it would be. It’s big enough that the traditional measure of how much is needed during retirement may need some adjusting.

The early years of retirement are when big changes begin. People are adjusting to a new lifestyle that is very different. That’s likely to be the time when they go on “bucket list” trips, renovate their homes, or relocate. However, this is not the time to let spending go unchecked.

Once you move from an income-based budget to a fixed-income budget, inflation becomes more of a financial factor. If you neglect to factor it into your retirement spending, those middle to late years of retirement may become shaky.

A better solution is to consider changing needs over time and inflation on a category-by-category basis, like food, housing, transportation and travel.

Be mindful of how much equity risk you have in your portfolio when you reach retirement and as you move through your retirement years. You should also be aware of the tax consequences of the withdrawals that you do make.

Spending will fluctuate throughout your lifetime. However, remember that medical costs could increase dramatically at any time, without warning. If you are still living in a single-family home, over time houses need expensive fixes, if they are to retain their market value.

One expense not to skimp on: having an estate plan in place. The cost of not having a will, power of attorney or health care power of attorney could take a big bite out of your retirement savings or take an even bigger bite out of your children’s inheritance. A health care power of attorney for you and your spouse will avoid your having to go to court for guardianship proceedings, if one or both of you become incapacitated.

A last will and testament must be properly created with the help of an estate planning attorney, so that your assets are distributed as you want when you pass. Estate planning also helps with preparing to minimize taxes and may include Medicaid planning, if one or both spouses may need long term care.

Reference: CNBC (Sep. 4, 2019) “Here’s what could take a big bite out of your retirement nest egg—and how you can control it”

Suggested Key Terms: Retirement, Nest Egg, Estate Plan, Power of Attorney, Will, Inheritance, Law Will and Testament, Medicaid Planning

About the author

Bob Brumfield

Attorney Bob Brumfield has been practicing law since 1984 and regularly receives the “Top Lawyers in California” award as well as the “Client Distinction” and “Client Champion” awards from Martindale-Hubbell.

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