Retirees, don’t overlook the surprising risk of underspending in retirement

Spending too much money in retirement is a common fear. Yet, some retirees struggle with the opposite challenge – they spend too little. Read on to find out why and what you can do if you’re too frugal in retirement.

Underspending once you give up work may be more common than you think. It’s easy to see why some retirees adopt this approach. As many retirees are responsible for managing their income and ensuring it lasts, there is a real danger of overspending and facing a shortfall in your later years.

In fact, interactive investor’s The Great British Retirement Survey found 40% of retirees worry about running out of money.

However, underspending can be dangerous in a different way. It could mean you don’t get the most out of your retirement despite working hard to achieve financial security later in life.

Striking a balance to sustainably use your assets in retirement is just as much about your mindset as it is about wealth.

Switching from a saving to a spending mindset

One of the key challenges for some retirees is that they need to change how they view and use money when they enter retirement.

For decades, you may have prioritised building your wealth. From adding to an investment portfolio to contributing to a pension, a saving mindset may have been important to reach your goals.

However, many people start to deplete the assets they’ve built up in retirement. Even though you’ve diligently saved so you can use your assets now, it can be difficult to switch to a spending mindset. After all, you may have developed positive saving habits over the years that are difficult to break.

You may also have heard of “rules” about using your wealth that could curb your spending.

Perhaps you’ve read that you shouldn’t withdraw more than 4% each year from your pension. While this may be a useful guide, keep in mind that what is a sustainable income for you will depend on a whole range of factors, from the age you retire to other assets you may have.

So, creating a plan that’s tailored to you can give you the confidence to enjoy your retirement while considering long-term security.

4 reasons why financial planning could help you spend more in retirement

While you may think of financial planning as focusing on growing your wealth, it’s about creating a plan that helps you reach life goals. For some retirees, that plan could be to increase their spending. There are several ways financial planning could help, including:

  1. Assessing how long assets need to last

One of the difficulties of knowing how much to spend in retirement is that it’s impossible to know how long your assets need to provide an income.

Considering life expectancy is a key part of a financial plan. This means you can understand what spending is sustainable for you and provide peace of mind if you’re worried about running out of money.

  1. Demonstrating how the value of your assets could change

A useful financial planning tool is cashflow forecasting. It can help you visualise how different decisions will affect the value of your assets.

Cashflow forecasting works by inputting information and making certain assumptions, such as estimated investment returns. While the results cannot be guaranteed, it’s an effective way to see the potential outcomes of different scenarios.

So, you could see the effect on your assets if you increased the income you take from your pension by 20% throughout retirement. Or whether you could afford to double your outgoings for three years to tick off bucket list goals, before returning to a lower income.

If you’re frugal in retirement because you’re worried about the long-term effects, cashflow forecasting could demonstrate how your decisions will affect your finances in the short and long term.

  1. Creating a reliable income if it’s right for you

Some retirees struggle with the uncertainty of their retirement income. For example, if you use flexi-access drawdown to access your pension, investment returns could affect its value. You may worry about what would happen if the markets experienced a downturn.

There are ways to create a reliable income and some will find this provides peace of mind.

For example, an annuity is something you can purchase, which would then deliver an income for the rest of your life. If you know the income from an annuity will cover your essential expenses, you may feel more comfortable spending other assets on things you enjoy.

What’s appropriate will depend on your circumstances and priorities. You can speak to us about ways you could create a reliable income in retirement.

  1. Giving you someone to turn to

Even with a financial plan in place, there may be times when you still need some reassurance. Perhaps you’re not sure if investment volatility will affect your income sustainability. Or you want to withdraw a lump sum to spend on a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but don’t understand how it’ll affect your finances long term.

Once you have a financial plan in place, regular reviews with your financial planner can help you keep it up to date.

Want help understanding your retirement income? Contact us

If you are retired or nearing the milestone and aren’t sure how much you can sustainably spend, please contact us. We’ll help you review your finances and goals to create a plan that reflects your needs.

Please note: This blog is for general information only and does not constitute advice. The information is aimed at retail clients only.

The Financial Conduct Authority does not regulate cashflow planning.

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