When that magic retirement day arrives, will you suddenly spend less, while reaping the benefits of your social security, pensions or investments? Yes, you’ll spend a little less, but the hard truth is: The less you have, the less you spend. Most retirees have less.
According to the Census Bureau, out of 100 people who started working at age 25 and retired by 65, about 63 percent are dependent on Social Security, friends, relatives and charity. Just 4 percent have saved enough to pay for their retirement. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Expenditure Survey shows that spending drops 14 percent immediately after retirement. Retirees spend less on work related items and food. Up to 53 percent of retirees experience some drop in spending at retirement. But 47 percent spend the same — or more.
The reasons are simple: Retirees who imagine they will be better off at retirement are sometimes worse off and their spending goes way down. Retirees, whose investments give them an equal income, spend more. They want to travel, shop, play golf, and pursue their hobbies. All of that costs money that you did not spend while working. Add the cost of those activities to inflation, and after the average retirement length of 18 years, savings will be stretched thin.
A paid-off house can ease the strain of retirement economics, but the number of homeowners paying off their houses is dwindling. For all retirees, housing and related expenses are the top spending category. According to the Federal Reserve Board, about 25 percent of families headed by someone 75 or older still had a mortgage in 2010. In 1989, just 5.8 percent of the same families had a mortgage.
Finally, don’t assume you can continue to work into your 70s and save money for retirement. You might not be healthy enough and, in fact, about 25 percent of retirees are forced out of the workforce for health reasons.