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How Inflation Silently Robs Your Retirement

Even with careful retirement planning, one risk that is often not planned for well-enough is inflation. Inflation alone can hit retirement assets the hardest. The budget retirees begin with will change easily within the first 5-10 years—even 20 years down the road. It is most likely that inflation, assuming a rate of 3-4%, will cause daily living expenses to double within 20 years. Retirees should plan for this because, according to life expectancy statistics, folks live 20-24 more years.

That said, the following things should be taken into consideration when planning the silent killer of retirement:

1. With aging comes more health concerns and more medical bills. Given that inflation will increase day-to-day life, it is predicted that health care costs and services will increase, too.
2. Social Security benefits will increase for retirees. In 2020, benefits went up by 1.6% which was an additional $24 paid out; accounted when considering cost-of-living adjustments. However, the extra money from SS is offset by huge cost increases across the board. For example, medical services and cost go up; as does Medicare costs. SS should only be considered a baseline for retirement funds.
3. As mentioned, living expenses are predicted to double within 20 years due to inflation. With inflation, spending power for retirement assets could drastically be reduced if not accounted for properly.

Tacking this silent killer and its concerns takes careful planning and risk managing.

With life expectancy, family medical history and personal medical concerns need to be discussed. Family history of heart disease and cancer will affect your life expectancy. This in turn will determine how long your funds will need to last. If your family members are known to pass away early on or live well into their 90s, this will also factor into how long your funds will need to last. Longer life expectancy means a longer time inflation will affect cost and standard of living.

Reviewing medical history in advance will also allow for the retirement budget to account for any major medical expenses that could arise. For example, a history of knee injuries could mean a knee replacement in your early 70s. Your occupational hazards could cause late-life conditions. If you spent your working years in a steel mill, you have a higher risk for COPD. Planning for these major medical expenses in advance will allow for inflation to be accounted for, for the money to be there if necessary. In retirement, folks spend $250,000-300,000 in medical costs alone.

To account for inflation a realistic budget plan should be set. This includes daily expenses, monthly bills, and additional spending such as travel and hobbies. Factoring into this budget, would be those said medical costs, too. Once a budget and cost-of-living expenses are decided, it is important to review how high inflation rates and the historically low interest rates affect other return rates and income during retirement.

Have a strategy addressing inflation in place. Begin with small withdrawal rates and increase as cost-of-living and inflation go up. During retirement, the small withdrawal rates will be a huge part of your income. Larger withdrawal rates will make deplete retirement funds much sooner—potentially running out of money before running out of retirement. If possible, during working years, saving more will go a longer way. Investing your future retirement younger will also help offset inflation. Consider different income sources: Annuities, long-term care policies, life insurance policies.

​Creating an income strategy and working with a Retirement Risk Advisor is key to a safe and secure retirement. Discussing options that can reduce inflation and provide the best management for retirement will save you money and time and give you peace of mind.

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