After a career focused on maximizing earnings, saving diligently, and spending prudently in preparation for retirement, new retirees often find it to be an adjustment to start drawing on their nest egg.
For some, that transition is a mere bump in the road. For others, it’s tantamount to driving on the wrong side of the street—contrary and a little scary.
For this latter group, this fear can lead to underliving in retirement.
Spending Can Be Hard
Saving and spending habits engrained during the working years can be hard to shake in retirement.
Research from investment giant Blackrock and the Employee Benefit Research Institute indicates many wealthy retirees are loathe to touch their retirement portfolios.1 Whether it’s a fear of inflation, longer lifespans, or a desire to leave a sizeable inheritance, retirees are skeptical their portfolios will support them the rest of their lives.
They endeavor to live on Social Security and minimum required distributions (RMDs), which can unnecessarily stunt their standard of living.
The result? After 20+ years of retirement, the same research found many retirees still retain 80% of their pre-retirement savings.
These considerations are so prevalent, in fact, wealthy retirees tend to spend less than half the annual amount they can afford to spend in retirement.
And when researchers asked whether these individuals would feel uncomfortable drawing down their assets to maintain their lifestyle, 75% answered yes.2
Your Nest Egg Was Built To Be Used
In our experience guiding many clients through the transition into retirement, we’ve found it can take a few years before clients really get comfortable with the idea of drawing from their portfolio—and trusting they’ll be okay.
Here are a few tips for overcoming a reluctance to spend in retirement:
Reframe portfolio withdrawals: On a practical level, it might help to reframe your monthly distribution as a “paycheck” you’re “earning” from the years of hard work that is disciplined saving and investing.
Determine your distribution rate. While the “4% rule” is familiar to many, we’ve long considered clients’ unique circumstances and goals when determining a personalized withdrawal rate that both minimizes shortfall risk and maximizes lifetime spending.
Put inflation in perspective. While annualized inflation hit a four-decade high of 9% last year, some may be surprised to learn it has been just 2.6% over the past decade. Headline inflation will rise and fall but is likely to be a constant headwind. That’s why our portfolios and financial plans are constructed for “times like this.”
Fully Live Your Life
When advising retirees, our number one job is to make sure you don’t run out of money. But we’re also going to push you to live a richer life.
Whether it’s travel, vacationing with family, getting more philanthropic, dining out, or hiring a tutor to learn a new language, expanding your horizons and networks often means getting comfortable with dipping into that nest egg.
Retirement can be a fine balance between overspending and underliving.
We’re here to help you find that balance.
1 Blackrock. “To Spend or not to spend?” December 28, 2022.
2 Walter Updegrave. “How to Prevent Fear of Spending From Spoiling Your Retirement.” Money. November 10, 2016. Retirement: Don’t Let Fear of Spending Crimp Your Lifestyle | Money