When planning for retirement people often focus a lot on income—how much to save, what to invest in—and not as much on expenses. However, knowing how much money will be going out is just as important as knowing how much money will be coming in.
They key to figuring out what you’ll be spending is to create a detailed, well-thought-out retirement budget. Here are 10 online resources that can help:
Before you actually dive in and start working with numbers it’s worth taking a step back and thinking about what a retirement budget actually is. If you give these three articles a quick read you’ll get a general sense of what to consider.
SmartMoney: How to Set a Retirement Budget
About.com: How to Make a Retirement Budget
EHow.com: How to Create a Retirement Budget
Worksheets & Templates
Once you’re ready to create a budget it can be helpful to start with an established template. Below we’ve selected four examples, though there are thousands more out there.
One thing to keep in mind is that different budget templates take into account different things. Our advice is to look at a lot of them, cherry pick the items that are relevant, then build your own.
Consumerreports.org: Retirement Budget
Transamerica: Retirement Budget Worksheet
Microsoft Excel Templates: Retirement Budgets
Bankrate.com: Budget for Retirement
For those who want to understand some of the nuts-and-bolts of how budget templates are built, this article by The Incidental Economist is an interesting read.
Accounting for Unexpected Expenses
No budget is perfect, but some are more imperfect than others. To find the flaws in yours, we recommend doing a little research to figure out what you may have not taken into consideration. These two articles are a good starting point:
Secondact.com: Take the Retirement Budget Test
Bankrate.com: 5 Unforseen Expenses That Ruin Retirement
Beyond the Web
Even if you’ve built your budget and checked it a few times, it’s very possible that you still may have missed something.
Ultimately, online tools are great but they still can’t replace talking with a knowledgeable financial advisor. If at all possible, we recommend taking your budget to someone for an unbiased opinion.
Many employers and community organizations offer free or discounted access to a financial planner. It’s a resource worth taking advantage of. If you’re looking to find one on your own, a good place to start is the Certified Financial Planner official website.
Photo by Tax Credits via Flickr.