Retirement Answer Man

One of the biggest assumptions you can make in retirement is in your spending. Spending is one of the greatest financial pieces of retirement planning. On this episode, we’re talking about spending. How do you track your spending? How do you know how much you will spend in retirement? Will your spending change after you retire? Listen in to hear how to break free from your retirement assumptions so that you can not just survive retirement but rock retirement. 

Americans want to keep working remotely

American views are changing amid this Corona disruption. According to a recent study done by IBM, 54% of Americans would like to continue working from home and 70% would like to retain the option to work at home. Major events like the one we are experiencing accelerate social trends. We are all learning a new rhythm of life and many of us like it. If you are enjoying working from home it’s time to consider, what does this make possible? Would working from home give you access to more time freedom? Would it cut down on your wardrobe and commuting costs? Listen in to brainstorm with me how you can use this new trend to perhaps extend your working life. 

You can’t rely on averages to plan your own spending

There is a rule of thumb in retirement spending. People who make close to $50,000 per year spend about 70-80% of that in retirement. But conversely, as your wages go up your retirement spending goes down. Those making over $100,000 per year spend only about 55% of that in retirement.

Another generalization about spending in retirement is household spending by age group. People under 55 spend about $57,000 per year. Ages 55-64 spend approximately $59,000 each year. But then the numbers begin to go down once people reach ages 65-74. This demographic spends $47,000 and finally those in their golden years who are 75 and older only spend $35-37,000 per year. 

We can look at averages and facts and figures all day long but they don’t mean anything. These averages aren’t yours. The data is a good place holder to use as you plan far into the future but in the short-term, the only figures you should be concerned with are your own.

We all have different categories of spending

Everyone has different ideas about what essential spending entails. I like to customize retirement spending into 3 categories: needs, wants, and wishes. Obviously the needs category includes food, clothing, shelter, and healthcare. But it is important to include a bit more than the basic rice and bean budget. Your needs category is your firewall. You want to make sure that you can really live your life on this level. The wants category may include more travel and discretionary spending. The wishes category is where you get to dream big. I encourage you to create different retirement budgets based on these 3 categories. 

Two ways to estimate your budget

There are two approaches to create a retirement budget. If you are still a way out from retirement, one easy way to project your spending is to do a top-down budget. A top-down budget is where you estimate all of your income sources and then subtract the money you save. This will give you a ballpark figure for your current budget. 

As you get closer to retirement you’ll want to create a more accurate model. You can do this by forming a bottom-up budget. This is where you will get a real handle on each category of your spending. This type of budget takes a lot of work, but it’s important to be as accurate as you can as you approach retirement. 

One way you can really dial in your budget is to live on your projections for a year and see how that works for you. 



  • [1:21] Americans want to keep working remotely


  • [10:45] Spending assumptions
  • [15:56] You can’t rely on averages to plan your own spending
  • [17:20] Health care costs vary per age as well
  • [23:45] We have different seasons of life
  • [35:36] Healthcare assumptions
  • [39:35] Two ways to estimate your budget


  • [43:49] An asset dedication question
  • [47:41] An IRMAA correction
  • [49:02] RMD’s for 2020


  • [52:33] Revisit your retirement cost assumptions

Resources Mentioned In This Episode

Jasnon Aten’s article in Ink magazine

Rock Retirement Club

Roger’s YouTube Channel - Roger That

BOOK - Rock Retirement  by Roger Whitney

Work with Roger

Roger’s Retirement Learning Center


Direct download: RAM325.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am CDT