Everyone dreams of the day they can stop working for good. But worries about finances can cloud the sunniest visions of retirement. How will you cover daily expenses when you no longer can count on a regular paycheck? Fortunately, some costs shrink significantly — or even disappear — once you retire. The following is a look at significant expenses that will cost you less during your golden years than they did during your earning years.
The daily grind can wear away at a worker’s wallet. When you exit the workforce, the money you otherwise would have spent on getting to and from work will remain in your pocket. Indeed, U.S. households overall spend an average of $9,826 a year on transportation — costs such as vehicles, gas, and insurance — according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ latest data on annual consumer spending in 2020.
However, households led by someone 65 or older spend an average of $6,221 per year on transportation.
- Retirement contributions
Millions of American workers desperately pinch pennies to save money for retirement, often in a tax-advantaged investment account such as a 401(k) or an individual retirement account (IRA). But once you stop earning income, you can start reaping the benefits of all those years of saving for “the future.” Instead of contributing to your retirement accounts, you will be withdrawing from them. That means you will no longer have the “expense” of contributing $20,500 to a 401(k) or $6,000 to an IRA each year. And those amounts don’t even include so-called “catch-up contributions” that those age 50 and older can make to their retirement accounts.
- Life insurance and disability
Workers purchase life insurance to protect their families if the earner passes away and leaves dependent loved ones without income. Similarly, disability insurance replaces a worker’s pay should they become ill or injured and unable to work. But if you are retiring from work, the chances are that you plan to live off your savings, investments, and Social Security benefits. In other words, if you have enough money to retire, you probably no longer need to insure your income. So while life or disability policies can still make sense for some retirees, others can say “so long” to these forms of insurance — and their associated costs.
Housing costs — from mortgage and rent payments to insurance and maintenance — are the single most significant type of expense for the average U.S. household and the average older household. But they are lower each year for the latter. Households led by someone 65 or older spend an average of $17,435 per year on housing expenses, compared with an average of $21,409 across all families, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The chances are good that your household will be smaller in retirement than it was when you were younger, with children likely growing up and moving out. That means fewer mouths to feed, which means lower food costs. Households headed by those 65 and older spend an average of $5,698 per year on food, including the cost of food eaten at home and eating out. That’s compared with an average of $7,316 spent across all U.S. households.
Once upon a time, you were dressing up five days a week. So a large percentage of the clothing budget goes toward work-related attire.
When you finally retire, you can trade those fancy suits and other attire for T-shirts and jeans. And as your wardrobe becomes more modest, your apparel costs likely will follow suit. Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows that households led by someone 65 or older spend an average of $821 per year on apparel and related services, such as dry cleaning and alterations. That compares with an average of $1,434 per year across all households in the U.S.