How Should I Budget for Retirement?

Everyone pictures retirement differently. For some, it’s the opportunity to travel the world and experience new things. For others, it’s helping with the grandkids and staying close to home. No matter how you picture your own retirement, however, one notion will always ring true – every day is a Saturday.

In fact, many people don’t realize that expenses can easily rise in the first few years of retirement. For that reason, it’s important to adequately prepare for your retirement and develop a budget that will allow you to experience the things you were forced to put off during your working years while still spending in a responsible way.

No one wants to outlive their money so – whether you intend to spend your last penny on your last breath or leave as much as possible to your heirs – budgeting for retirement is critical for stability and contentment. Therefore, abiding by a few simple tips can greatly enhance how well your budget will serve you throughout your retirement years.

Get Organized

A reliable retirement budget is one that’s built on solid and useful information. The first step in creating your retirement budget should be to gather all pertinent information, including your account statements, bills and anything else that might be of use. Go back at least six months, if not a year, to get a good idea of what the average figures are so your budget isn’t skewed.

From there, create a budget spreadsheet that will organize all the information into a concise and insightful document, preferably on a computer or digital device for ease-of-use, but paper will suffice.

Have a Heart-to-Heart Conversation with Yourself

As the old adage goes, there’s a big difference between needs and wants. During retirement, when income is constrained, it’s important to differentiate between what you absolutely need versus what you would prefer. In other words, water, electricity and healthcare are fixed, indispensable expenses but you don’t necessarily need the sports package from your cable provider.

Of course, after a lifetime of work, retirement should be a time for you to enjoy life and not constantly pinch pennies. Therefore, sit down and prioritize any extravagances you don’t necessarily need but would enjoy. Those are the types of items that should be included within your retirement budget for entertainment and general enjoyment.

Prepare Your Budget

Once you’re properly organized and have both identified as well as prioritized extraneous but important expenses, start preparing a simple budget with your income and fixed expenses. Consider the resulting amount the flexible portion of your budget that can now be devoted to savings or spent on traveling, hobbies, entertainment or however you deem fit. Once you have a working template in place, remember that your budget should be continually revisited to make sure it’s accurate, informative and based on the most current data possible.


About Jeremy

Jeremy Wallace is founder and chief investment officer at Wallace Hart Capital Management, an independent financial services firm committed to offering comprehensive advice and customized services. Jeremy has 20 years of experience in the financial industry and is passionate about helping clients preserve and enhance their wealth so they can pursue their passions. Jeremy graduated from Emory University with a degree in international economics and a certificate in financial planning. Outside of the office, Jeremy spends most of his free time with his wife, Julie, and their three children, Isabel, Lincoln, and Reid. He is an avid Chicago Cubs baseball fan, and  he enjoys golfing with his wife and traveling with his family. Learn more about Jeremy by connecting with him on LinkedIn.