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Our Retirement Expenses: Where Does the Money Go?

Welcome to Can I Retire Yet. You'll find ideas here to accelerate your retirement, analyze whether you can retire, and generate retirement income. For more on me, click Darrow. Click here for free updates by email.

What will it cost you to live in retirement? You may be asking this question as you plan your future. You could try to answer it by looking at national statistics on living expenses. The Consumer Expenditure Survey from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is widely cited. But truly, you are the only one with the key to the riddle. And the best answer will come from tracking your own actual expenses….

To get you started, I’m going to review our major retirement expenses by budget category, below. Maybe our lifestyle is similar to yours; maybe not. But it can be helpful to hear how others live and then compare their experience with yours. So, I offer this view into our financial life. Take it for what it’s worth: an example, but not a prescription — by any means.

Spending is a very personal area. No doubt some will be surprised at what we do, and don’t, spend money on. But the details of our own finances aren’t the important point here. Use these numbers, and the following discussion, as reference points to assess and challenge your own living expenses.

For starters, do you know what those expenses are? Are you comfortable that they reflect your true priorities in life? And, do you, or will you, have enough saved to fund them in retirement?

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Y2K and Black Swans: Investing for the Next Crisis

Black Swan

It was late 1998 and I had traveled across the country to present at a software conference. In the lobby of the hotel was a group handing out literature on the impending "crisis" that would become known as "Y2K" (Year 2000). I hadn't heard of it, so … [Continue reading]

What Will You Do When You’re Retired?

Looking up RSB

"If all the year were playing holidays, To sport would be as tedious as to work." --Shakespeare Mention "retirement" at the office. Most people will be conjuring visions of sun-drenched beaches, lush golf courses, soaring mountains, or shimmering … [Continue reading]

Review: The Pralana Retirement Calculator

PRC scenario

The reviews of free retirement calculators here have been some of the most popular posts on the site. There are certainly some useful free calculators available. And since no one calculator has a corner on predicting the future, it's nice to have the … [Continue reading]

Do-It-Yourself Estate Planning

Mountain biker silhouette at sunset

Benjamin Franklin famously noted that "in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes." Death and taxes. Two of our least favorite topics -- also two of the most inevitable. In keeping with the generally upbeat mood … [Continue reading]

My Income Taxes: 2014

Velociraptor

Are taxes going to be your single biggest financial concern in retirement? A ravenous velociraptor stalking your financial security? Many pundits say so. Or, are taxes just another expense, and by no means your largest one? Despite their … [Continue reading]

Shopping Obamacare: Good Deal for Retirees?

Stethoscope over dollars

Open enrollment under the new health care law closed for 2014 at the end of March. There won't be another opportunity to apply for coverage until late in the year. There is nothing like a deadline to move someone to action. So, even though we are … [Continue reading]

Frugal Home Renovation: Kitchens, Bathrooms and More…

Building tools

Home expenses might be your single most important decision variable on the road to financial freedom. Buying and maintaining a home that's bigger or more luxurious than you need, is one of the most common detours along that road. The amount … [Continue reading]

Asset Classes for Early Retirement

Multicolor toy blocks

Asset allocation is the most important variable in your portfolio. The way you allocate your money to different asset classes will dictate the risk you take on. And it will likely prescribe the long-term returns you achieve. That's conventional … [Continue reading]

My Investment Portfolio: 2014

Stock certificates - 2

How do you actually manage your investment portfolio in a real-world retirement? Nearly every prospective or current retiree has this question. And there are lots of answers out there.... The article I wrote at the end of 2012 disclosing my … [Continue reading]

Having Kids vs. Retiring Earlier

Learning to ride

How does raising children impact the journey to financial independence? If you choose to have a family, does that mean you'll be working forever? Does electing to have no kids, or fewer kids, supercharge your way to wealth? And, should the desire for … [Continue reading]

My Retirement Fears

Lighthouse in storm

Reading my story on this blog, you might think I've got it made. Thanks to a high-paying job and relatively frugal lifestyle, I managed to save a large sum by the time I was 50, and retire early. Since then I've pursued new interests, … [Continue reading]

Retirement Withdrawal Strategies

Automated teller machine

You've worked and saved for years, most of a career. Maybe you're looking at a traditional retirement in your 60's, or you're one of the fortunate few who are able to consider earlier retirement. Either way, you've amassed a sizable nest egg. Your … [Continue reading]

Moving West – Part 2

Southwestern sunset

We've arrived. We've left our empty nest, downsized, and relocated from the southeast to the southwest. For the first time in five months, we, our vehicles, and our possessions, are all in one place. It's been a dramatic change in venue, and we're … [Continue reading]

Moving West – Part 1

Van-POD-Prius

Blogs are unique because they include personal experience, in addition to the facts. The backstory for this blog over the last six months has been our downsizing and relocation. So here is the first part of our moving story, plus a few financial … [Continue reading]

Renting vs. Buying: The True Cost of Home Ownership

Rent vs Buy Two-Way Street Sign

Rent or buy? We're about to choose a new home in a new location. So the question of renting vs. buying has come to the foreground for us again. Whether you're newlyweds starting out, a middle-age couple downsizing, or seniors contemplating … [Continue reading]

Should You Pay for a Retirement Calculator?

Calculator displaying RETIRE

There are lots of retirement calculators. Naturally, people want to know which ones to use and trust. The reviews I've written of free retirement calculators have been some of the most popular posts on this site. There aren't too many side-by-side … [Continue reading]

Early vs. Traditional Retirement

Hourglass

"Retirement" is a slippery concept. Yes, that R-word is commonly used, and that's why I chose it for this blog. But it can describe radically different situations: a 20-something Internet tycoon; an extremely frugal 30-something software engineer; a … [Continue reading]

The Ideal Retirement Location

Tropical beach hut mountain

What is your ideal retirement location? Do you dream of beaches or of mountains? Of your home state, or exotic international locales? Of urban skylines or of rural landscapes? Do you like snowy winters, hot dry summers, or moderate temperatures year … [Continue reading]

Short-Term Housing

Modern apartments

I've always been leery of owning two homes at once. I've heard too many stories of people stretched thin between two properties -- trying to sell their previous home while setting up life in the new one. The costs of maintaining a second, empty … [Continue reading]

Living Efficiently in a Small RV

Dinner in Van

Travel is a big part of retirement for many, but it can be expensive. Owning a small RV is one good solution for traveling relatively cheaply in retirement. House swapping and off-season journeys are others. However you do it, developing your own … [Continue reading]