5 unexpected retirement expenses

January 06, 2023

When planning for your retirement, it’s wise to expect the unexpected. Careful planning can help you overcome potential financial hurdles and make the unexpected more manageable.


In retirement, unexpected medical bills or even cost-of-living expenses can be a surprise. Here are five expenses that have the potential to disrupt your plan and how you can better prepare for them.


1. Inflation rate increases

While inflation has been abnormally high the last two years, consider at least an average annual inflation rate of 3%. At that rate, $50,000 today would be worth just $23,880 in 25 years, due to diminished purchasing power.

How to prepare: Diversify your investments

Account for inflation as you plan your retirement income. Additionally, diversifying your portfolio with exposure to U.S. stocks, bonds and real assets such as commodities may help you shield your money against inflation. However, diversification and asset allocation do not protect against losses or guarantee returns.

Read more about how inflation can affect your investments.


2. Underestimating your expenses

A person 65 years or older spends an average of $49,872 a year.1 Underestimating your retirement living expenses may make surprise expenses harder to deal with.

How to prepare: Plan your essential and discretionary expenses

Estimate your expenses as realistically as possible. Start with essential expenses (housing, taxes, utilities, groceries and insurance) followed by your discretionary expenses wishes (travel, hobbies or entertainment).

Read 4 steps to take when planning your retirement income.


3. Medical bills

It’s projected that healthcare spending will rise 5.4% on average from 2019 to 2028.2 As we age and our health declines, healthcare costs become more significant.

How to prepare: Consider a Health Savings Account

A Health Savings Account (HSA) could help you cover unexpected medical expenses. You can contribute pre-tax or tax-deductible income to an HSA account, earnings grow tax-free, and funds aren’t taxed when you use them to pay for qualified medical expenses.

Read more about using HSAs in retirement.


4. Long-term care

Almost 70% of people turning 65 today will need long-term care at some point in their life.3 Expenses from conditions that are chronic and require extensive healthcare, such as Alzheimer’s, are generally not covered by Medicare.

How to prepare: Increase your savings and insurance

Boosting the amount you contribute to your retirement savings annually, or whenever you have extra cash, may help prepare your nest egg for significant expenses. Long-term care insurance might help ease some of the financial strain of future illnesses.

Here are 7 things to know about long-term care insurance.


5. Longevity

The average age of retirement in the U.S. is 63 for women and 65 for men, and the average length of a person’s retirement is 20 years.4 It’s important to consider that you could live longer.

How to prepare: Save as much as you can, when you can

The earlier you start saving, the more compounding interest can help you reach your retirement goals. And as you approach retirement, consider moving toward a more conservative investing approach.


Financial professionals can help

One way to have more confidence and clarity in retirement is to work with a financial professional that can help plan for your expected—and unexpected—expenses.


Learn how we can help you plan for retirement.

Related content

Is a Health Savings Account missing from your retirement plan?

3 types of insurance you shouldn’t ignore

7 diversification strategies for your investment portfolio

1 “Consumer Expenditure Survey, 2021.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
2 “NHE Fact Sheet.” Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
3 “How Much Care Will You Need?” U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
4 “Average Retirement Age in the United States.” The Balance.
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