9 Big Expenses That Could Ruin Your Retirement Plan

You might spend more money in retirement than you expected to, but planning for these big expenses could salvage your financial security.
Updated May 8, 2024
Fact checked
senior man looking away with mouth wide open in surprise

We receive compensation from the products and services mentioned in this story, but the opinions are the author's own. Compensation may impact where offers appear. We have not included all available products or offers. Learn more about how we make money and our editorial policies.

Most people put in a lot of effort and save a lot of their hard-earned cash every month for years in order to retire. The quality of that retirement can depend on how much money you save and end up spending.

Costs in retirement are not fixed, and some expenses could ruin your retirement if you're not prepared for them. So while the ability to build wealth is important, knowing what expenses to prepare for is vital.

Here are nine expenses that you can't afford to ignore as you prepare for retirement.

Eliminate your late tax debt

Each year, the IRS forgives millions in unpaid taxes. If you have more than $10,000 in tax debt, or have 3+ years of unfiled taxes, you could get forgiveness too. You might be eligible to lower the amount you owe, or eliminate your tax debt completely.

Easy Tax Relief could help you lower or get out of your tax debt for good. They’re well respected in the industry and have been recognized for their ethical standards when dealing with tax debt. While most tax companies just put you on a payment plan and file your taxes for you, Easy Tax Relief talks to the IRS directly. They can help you pay off your tax debt faster while potentially reducing what you owe.

Important: Not everyone will qualify. To take advantage of this special program you must owe more than $10,000 in past-due taxes.

Fill out this form to get started

Health care (Medicare isn’t free)

Tinashe Njaku/peopleimages.com/Adobe nurse wearing blue scrubs explaining to senior lady on tablet

While contributions to Medicare have been deducted from your paycheck all of your working life, you’ll still have to move past uncovered expenses when you enroll in Medicare.

Medicare pays for many medical bills, but you should still expect to pay some costs out of pocket, including premiums and deductibles.

Medicare Part B enrollees can expect to pay a standard monthly premium of over $160 in 2023, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Inpatient hospitalizations for Medicare Part A enrollees are more costly, with a $1,600 deductible in 2023.


twinsterphoto/Adobe back shot of senior couple standing in front of porch of house

According to the Consumer Expenditures Survey, housing is the number one expense for seniors, running $1,573 per month on average.

Besides a mortgage payment, you'll also need to factor in property taxes, repairs, insurance, utilities, homeowners association fees, and other expenses.

Fortunately, you can take steps to keep housing costs under control during retirement. If possible, consider paying off your mortgage before you stop working. Living in a state with low property taxes and downsizing to a smaller home can also help keep costs to a minimum.


Studio Romantic/Adobe senior couple ready for travelling standing with suitcases

Without the need to work every day, you’ll want to find something to do with your time. Entertainment purchases include more than movie admission or a round of golf.

One of the largest entertainment costs for seniors is travel. This may be a regular expense if you relocate away from family and friends.

Average domestic airfare in 2022 was nearly $400, which was surpassed in the summer of 2023. Plus, you’ll need to pay for hotel stays and other travel-related expenses.

Earn $200 cash rewards bonus with this incredible card

There's a credit card that's making waves with its amazing bonus and benefits. The Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card(Rates and fees) has no annual fee and you can earn $200 after spending $500 in purchases in the first 3 months.

The Active Cash Card puts cash back into your wallet. Cardholders can earn unlimited 2% cash rewards on purchases — easy! That's one of the best cash rewards options available.

This card also offers an intro APR of 0% for 15 months from account opening on purchases and qualifying balance transfers (then 20.24%, 25.24%, or 29.99% Variable). Which is great for someone who wants a break from high interest rates, while still earning rewards.

The best part? There's no annual fee.

Click here to apply now.


Viacheslav Yakobchuk/Adobe senior couples enjoying food at restaurant

Food is a necessary and ongoing expense, and one of the bedrock rules of frugal living is to eat at home.

However, high inflation rates in 2022 affected all kinds of consumer goods, particularly grocery bills. Food prices rose 10.8%, more than they had in 40 years.

Saving money on groceries before you retire and finding ways to supplement your income can help ensure your budget allows for rising food costs in the future. 


ponsulak/Adobe wearing sunglasses driving car

Transportation expenses include gasoline, car payments, car insurance, and maintenance. If you don't have a personal vehicle in retirement, it could mean bus fare or taxi services.

Besides traveling to and from doctor’s appointments, you might want to go grocery shopping or out just for fun. Recent increased costs of gasoline affected more than a car fill-up. Higher prices meant that transportation services increased their fares as well.

You can better prepare yourself for transportation costs by entering retirement without an auto loan and factoring in these costs when you plan your budget.

Long-term care

nelzajamal/Adobe stethoscope on notebook with long term care note

Medicare doesn't cover most long-term care for seniors. However, many seniors will need long-term care at some point. This usually happens when you can no longer live and care for yourself independently.

If you have a high-deductible health plan, you can open a health savings account (HSA). An HSA works much like a (401)k, allowing you to contribute pre-tax funds to use toward qualified medical costs.

Another option is long-term care insurance, which is sold by private health insurance companies. The younger you are when you take out a policy, the lower your premiums will be.

Child in financial need

digitalskillet1/Adobe man giving advice to a teenager

Adult children sometimes run into financial difficulty. Helping them with a hundred dollars here and there might not ruin your retirement, but supporting them financially for extended periods of time can.

Even $100 a month adds up to $24,000 over 20 years. That's a lot of extra money to add to your retirement fund, especially when you factor in your own costs of living and inflation.

Helping them with larger expenses can make that number significantly larger, especially as they have a whole household to take care of. 

Loss of a spouse

LIGHTFIELD STUDIOS/Adobe sad senior man leaning on cane in room

Losing a spouse is emotionally draining, but it can also drain you financially.

If your partner was still working at the time of their death, you could lose an additional income and face a higher tax rate filing as a single. If you were both retired, you will lose their Social Security benefits.

You can financially prepare yourself for the unexpected loss of a spouse by making sure your life insurance is up to date, you have adequate savings, and you're an equal account holder on lines of credit. These steps can lessen the burden in such a crisis.


insta_photos/Adobe senior couple sitting on table reviewing documents

Whether or not you plan to work after retirement, you’ll need to pay income tax. Besides tax on your income and retirement account withdrawals (unless all of your money is in a Roth IRA), you might need to pay tax on your retirement benefits as well.

Some states tax retirement benefits, even from Social Security. Knowing the tax laws in the state you plan to retire to will help you create the best financial plan.

Take advantage of historically high rates to grow your wealth

Are your savings just sitting around, not earning much interest? It's time to make a change and put your money to work for you! With CloudBank 24/7, you can earn more interest on your money today ... while keeping your cash OUT of the stock market.

Here’s their secret: CloudBank 24/7 amplifies your money by doing what many banks refuse to do … paying you a rare 5.24% APY (annual percentage yield)12 on your cash.

When you deposit your money into this high-yield savings account, you can supercharge your emergency fund, short-term savings, return on cash, and more with interest income generated from their high 5.24% APY payout.

The best part? There are no fees, you can withdraw your money at any time, and opening an account takes as little as 3 minutes. CloudBank 24/7 is FDIC-insured through Third Coast Bank SSB and cybersecurity is a top priority, ensuring your data is kept safe.

Limited Time Bonus: Earn up to $2,000 when you refer friends and family to Raisin. Visit site to learn more.

Click here to open a CloudBank 24/7 online savings account

Bottom line

pikselstock/Adobe senior woman writing something on paper

With the average life expectancy in the U.S. approximately 79 years, there's no way to know exactly how long your retirement savings will need to last.

Financially preparing for retirement is complicated. There are many factors, including inflation, you need to take into account, and no way to accurately predict all the costs you may incur.

You can avoid throwing away your money by managing your expenses in retirement. But saving as early as possible, making a solid retirement plan, and creating a budget can also help you have a comfortable retirement.

Lucrative, Flat-Rate Cash Rewards


Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card

Current Offer

$200 cash rewards bonus after spending $500 in purchases in the first 3 months

Annual Fee


Rewards Rate

Earn 2% cash rewards on purchases

Benefits and Drawbacks
Card Details

Author Details

Katelyn Washington Katelyn Washington is a writer with a passion for finance and business. She put herself through business school as a single mother of three and has had pieces commissioned by national magazines. When she’s not writing, she enjoys spending time with her family and editing manuscripts for indie authors.

Want to learn how to make an extra $200?

Get proven ways to earn extra cash from your phone, computer, & more with Extra.

You will receive emails from FinanceBuzz.com. Unsubscribe at any time. Privacy Policy

  • Vetted side hustles
  • Exclusive offers to save money daily
  • Expert tips to help manage and escape debt