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1. Financial support (without boundaries) for adult children

It’s not uncommon for retirees to support their adult children financially in some capacity.

In some cases, “empty nesting” is interrupted as adult kids boomerang back home. Thirty-one percent of adults between the ages 18 to 34 live with their parents — that’s 50% higher than in 1960 and more than the percentage of those who currently live with a spouse, according to a Merrill Lynch study from 2020.

The same study also found that one-quarter of older Americans are willing to take on debt and pull money from retirement funds to support their adult children.

While helping out loved ones may seem like a noble cause, you don’t want your generosity to come at the expense of your own retirement — that won’t help you or your adult children down the road. It’s important to configure financial support for adult children into your retirement budget and set boundaries from the outset.

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2. Expensive travel

It can be tempting to jump head-first into bucket-list goals, like travel — but that means taking more money out of your investments earlier in your retirement years.

That, in turn, could impact the growth of your investments for the following 20 to 30 years, and you’ll have less to live on in the later years of retirement — and at a time when your medical costs could rise.

Consider that the average cost of a one-week vacation in the U.S. is $3,982 per week for two people. This price tag doesn’t necessarily include travel insurance, transfers, excursions, meals, etc. Plus, you may have to pay someone to house-sit (or to put your pet in a kennel) while you’re away.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t travel, but it’s important to budget in those extra travel fees and expenses.

3. Dream homes

Some retirees want to move into their “dream” home to live out their golden years, but with the current cost of housing — and rising interest rates — they could end up with high mortgage payments at a time in their life when they could be living mortgage-free. Unexpected renovations, repairs and maintenance could also eat into those retirement savings.

At the same time, living in the same house could also create unnecessary expenses. If you’re an empty-nester living in a three-bedroom house with a two-car garage and a large backyard, you still have to pay the bills — such as heating and cooling — for a home that may no longer suit your needs.

While a one-bedroom condo may not be your “dream” home, it could help to stretch your retirement savings — and live much more comfortably throughout your retirement.

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4. Luxury ‘toys’

Some retirees want to reward themselves after decades of hard work with a luxury car, yacht or some other toy with a hefty price tag.

While these types of purchases come with a high upfront cost, they also rapidly depreciate in value over time. They can be expensive to insure, maintain, operate and store when not in use.

If you decide to splurge on that high-end item, though, be sure to budget in the extra expenses that come along with it.

5. Not saving enough for medical care

While you’ll likely never regret spending money on health care, retirees may wished they had saved more.

Even if you have Medicare and private insurance, health care could become your biggest expense in your retirement years. Think about all the unexpected procedures and prescriptions that could come your way.

Another consideration is long-term care, which is only covered if you have a specific policy for it. The average monthly cost of a private room in a nursing facility was $9,733 in 2023 (for a private room), according to Genworth’s Cost of Care Survey. Even in-home care averaged $5,720 for homemaker services.

It could be worth sitting down with an insurance specialist to make sure you’ll be able to cover your medical and long-term care expenses in retirement.

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Vawn Himmelsbach Freelance Contributor

Vawn Himmelsbach is a journalist who has been covering tech, business and travel for more than two decades. Her work has been published in a variety of publications, including The Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, National Post, CBC News, ITbusiness, CAA Magazine, Zoomer, BOLD Magazine and Travelweek, among others.

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