How to Budget for Travel in Retirement

travel in retirement

A lot of people anticipate that their retirement years will be a great time to travel. With more freedom and less time constraints, retirees can spend their days seeing the places they have always wanted to see. On the other hand, it can be hard to see the world on a fixed income. Luckily, jet-setting during your golden years is very possible if you take steps before retirement to budget appropriately for it.

First, you’ll need to be able to answer this question: What are your travel goals?

A budget for one yearly vacation is going to be very different from a budget for extended, more frequent travel to many different areas of the world. This is why it is crucial to determine what your travel goals are. Doing so will help you to plan accordingly. Make a list of places you want to see and get an estimate for how much it will cost to travel to each place.

In planning your retirement travel goals, you’ll need to make sure you don’t leave out any important travel costs. Remember to research costs for:

  • Flight tickets
  • Car rentals
  • Train tickets
  • Taxis/buses/subway fare
  • Dining
  • Tipping
  • Lodging
  • Sightseeing (guided tours, etc)
  • Travel gear
  • Souvenirs/other purchases

It’s a good idea to talk to other retirees who also have the “traveling bug” to see what their recommendations are or if they know of any good travel deals.

After you know your travel goals and approximate costs, you can figure this into your retirement plan. Before retirement, this may mean setting aside some of your savings into a travel fund with the goal of reaching a certain specified amount by the time you retire. Typically, it is considered safe to spend 4% or less of your total retirement savings per year without having to worry about running out of money. This 4% should also take into account everyday living expenses like taxes, food, health care and insurance. After retirement, you may continue to receive some kind of monthly income from Social Security, property you own and rent or investment proceeds. Make sure this income is calculated into your budget.

Look over the list of places you want to visit and put them in a list in order of priority. Next, create a timeline for your travels. This will not only give you concrete things to look forward to, but will help you figure out how much money you will be putting towards travel and when. This can give you a better idea of how travel will fit into your yearly budget. Maybe you will skip traveling a few years in a row to go on a dream trip. You may find your budget in retirement changes year to year depending on your travel plans. Be aware of the impact travel will have on your budget and plan accordingly. Maybe this will mean moving into a smaller house, eliminating a second vehicle, or even just spending less money eating out or on other unnecessary “luxury” activities.

During retirement, it is important to make every dollar count. Thankfully, with less time constraints, it is easier for retirees to stretch a dollar. Scheduling a trip during the off season is a great way to lower your overall cost. Take the time to watch airline deals online with sites like Expedia and Fly.com. Flexibility with when you travel (which will be possible in retirement) will allow you to take trips when they are most cost-effective. The longer you stay in one hotel, the more likely it is that you can negotiate a lower lodging rate. Combining long trips into one big trip can help you save on airfare.


Remember to always look for any senior travel discounts and do not be afraid to take advantage of every single one!


As with any kind of budget, you’re never going to be able to perfectly calculate exactly how much everything will be ahead of time. This is why one of the most important aspects of travel budgeting is leaving yourself a buffer. Spur-of-the-moment excursions, taxis, tips for staff and meals can sometimes exceed your planned allowance. A buffer will cover these extra expenses so you aren’t caught unprepared. Going with this rule, it is a good idea to get travel insurance. While it will make your trip slightly more expensive, it can save you big later if your travels are disrupted or a health issue forces you to cancel your trip.

Traveling can be a rewarding opportunity to have meaningful experiences in your golden years. If you are still preparing for retirement, now is the ideal time to assess where you are in achieving your retirement goals. Don’t let poor budgeting hold you back from living your retirement dreams!

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Budgeting in Retirement: Living Well in Your Golden Years

budgeting in retirement

Having a well thought-out budget is the best way to start your retirement on the right foot. Retirees must plan to have a form of steady income and create a budget that fits their expected lifestyle. In retirement, financial priorities will change with your changing lifestyle. It can sometimes be hard to determine what kind of retirement budget is realistic until you have entered retirement. While some people overestimate their expenses in retirement, some people struggle to adapt to life on a fixed income. For these reasons, it is a good idea to revisit your budget several times a year.

Retirement involves a lot of big changes, but one of the biggest changes is how most people get paid. Instead of receiving a weekly or biweekly paycheck, retirees typically rely on income that pays out once a month. On top of this, many people find their monthly income reduced in retirement. It can be a big mental shift for people entering retirement to suddenly adjust to all of these changes. Sometimes the best way to adjust your budget in retirement is to go back to basics. Here is how you can take one month to monitor and analyze your retirement budget:

Throughout the month, keep all receipts, payment confirmations, and a tally of any cash spent. It is best to record these expenses daily so you do not accidentally leave something out. Use a spreadsheet, notebook, or app to track your expenses. In tracking spending for a month, you can get a good idea of where your money is going. At the end of the month, sort your expenses into categories: groceries, dining out, entertainment, phone, utilities, housing, insurance, transportation, etc. Be sure to factor in irregular expenses like holidays and birthdays. Your expenses in December are likely to be a lot different than your expenses in June, for instance.

Next, analyze the results. This analysis is meant to be a realistic assessment of your lifestyle as it relates to your spending and income. Where is your money going each month? If your monthly budget was based on your pre-retirement lifestyle, you may see some significant differences between your expected spending and your actual expenses. Maybe you spend less on transportation and entertainment, but you spend more on eating out and medical expenses. Pay attention to these shifts in spending and make sure you are adjusting your budget accordingly.

After you have identified the trends in your spending, figure out where you can cut expenses. Determine which expenses are needs (like bills, housing, transportation, etc.) and which expenses are wants (like entertainment, hobbies, and gifts). In retirement, your “needs” may change. While you may have needed two cars when you and your spouse were working, is this still a necessary expense? Are you eligible for discounts to your cell phone or insurance plan? While you want to make sure you cover your essential expenses first, finding ways to make cuts to necessary spending will give you more financial freedom in general.

Finally, it’s time to put all these insights into your finances to create a new plan for your budget. Identify five goals that make sense for your income and expected expenses. Goals help you align your budget with the intention of getting the most out of your income. Make your goals specific and give yourself deadlines. Find ways to keep yourself accountable. Sign up for auto-pay, use an envelope system to categorize your spending, or get your spouse or partner to join you in your strides to reach your goals. A budget is only as good as your ability to stick with it!

You can do this financial check-in every six months or whenever your budget seems to be spread too thin. Sticking to a budget will help you feel more secure and relaxed so you can enjoy your golden years. Get your finances back on track by taking a fresh look at your retirement budget as we move toward the New Year!

Affordable Housing Options for NJ Seniors

NJ seniors

With the first wave of baby boomers turning 65 in 2011, the number of senior citizens in the United States is increasing. According to the US census, by 2030 the number of people 65+ will reach nearly 71.5 million. Most seniors live on fixed incomes and sometimes retirement savings or programs like Social Security can’t support their housing expenses. Because many of these senior citizens will need affordable housing options, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has been increasing their initiatives to help seniors manage their cost of living in retirement.

 

Reverse mortgages are an increasingly popular option for seniors who still have equity in their current home and are looking to supplement their retirement income. If you are 62+ and have paid off your mortgage or paid off a significant amount of the loan, you may be eligible for a reverse mortgage. Under a reverse mortgage, instead of making monthly payments to the lender, the lender actually makes payments to the borrower. The borrower must still make regular payments on property taxes and homeowners insurance. This allows retirees to use the wealth they have accumulated in their homes to help cover their cost of living.

 

There are, however, a lot of reverse mortgage scams to watch out for. Some companies will outright lie to sell their services to unsuspecting and desperate seniors. The only reverse mortgage insured by the U.S. Federal Government is the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM). Through the HECM program, you will be able to withdraw some of your home’s equity. The amount available for withdrawal will vary from person to person and depends on the age of the youngest borrower, the current interest rate if your mortgage is not paid off, and the value of your home.

 

If you find it is impossible to stay in your current home, HUD also provides help for seniors looking to move into lower-income housing through senior housing vouchers, Section 202 supportive housing, and public housing.

 

The Housing Choice Voucher Program (HCVP) allows seniors to look for housing in the private sector amongst specific properties run by local public housing agencies including single-family homes, townhouses, and apartments. There are two kinds of vouchers: tenant-based vouchers, which move with the renter – and project-based vouchers, which are assigned to specific units and are not transferable. Typically, rent and utilities are calculated at 30% of the monthly adjusted gross income and the voucher will make up the difference in expenses. In order to find out if you or your loved one qualifies for this program, you will need to contact your local public housing agency.

 

Established in 1959, the Section 202 supportive housing program is the only HUD program specifically created to provide housing for seniors and those with disabilities. This program is designed to help seniors live as independently as possible while also offering assistance with daily living. Assistance can include dressing, bathing, housekeeping, and transportation. In this program, HUD provides loans to private and nonprofit organizations to finance the building and management of supportive housing services along with rent subsidies for residents. Typically, seniors that are 62 or older and have a very low household income (the average yearly income for Section 202 residents is $10,000/year) are eligible for this program. To apply, you will need to contact the individual housing community you are interested in.

 

Public housing for seniors includes high-rise apartments and duplexes that are operated by the local public housing agency. In this program, seniors will typically spend about 30% of their household income for rent and utilities. It is important to note that due to the limited resources available to HUD and local housing associations, there are typically long waiting lists for public housing. That is why is it important to be proactive and get in touch with your local public housing agency in order to determine your eligibility and explore all of your housing options.

 

Veitengruber Law is ready to offer expert advise on housing solutions for NJ seniors. Our goal is for you or your loved one to age in comfort and security. If you are looking for housing options for yourself or an aging parent or relative, it is important to know what resources are right for you. Call us today for your free consultation.