Retirement & Financial Planning Report

The potential for unexpected costs is a major factor in retiree spending patterns, most clearly reflected in reluctance to spend down assets, says the Employee Benefit Research Institute.

In a survey of retirees, it found that only 14 percent expect to spend down all their assets during retirement and another 29 percent said they expect to spend a significant portion of them. Another 14 percent said they expect to grow their assets in retirement and the remainder said they expected to reduce them by only a small amount or not at all.

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The most commonly cited reason for not spending down assets, it said, was “saving for unforeseen costs,” out of the seven possible responses from which those surveyed could pick as many as applied. That was cited by 38 percent, about the same as the 37 percent who said it wasn’t necessary. Desire to leave as much as possible to heirs, the security of having the assets and fear of running out of money were the next most common.

The most commonly cited reasons for spending down assets included maintaining their lifestyle in retirement, discretionary spending, health and medical insurance and housing repairs and renovations. At the bottom were purchasing a new home, financing education for children or grandchildren, and supporting other family members.

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