Q&A: Budgeting for health care in retirement

November 21, 2008

I'm planning to retire soon and obviously want to avoid common financial mistakes that many retirees or soon-to-be retirees make. What are some common retirement-related missteps?

Q: I'm planning to retire soon and obviously want to avoid common financial mistakes that many retirees or soon-to-be retirees make. What are some common retirement-related missteps?

A: It may be a bit of a cliché, but it's never too early to start thinking about retirement. The first thing to do is create a realistic budget and compare it with the amount of money you expect to have available. That said, let's focus on one common (and big) mistake that retirees often make: underestimating health-care costs. Just because you work in the health-care industry doesn't mean you won't make the same mistake. You're no doubt familiar with the troubles facing Medicare and Social Security as more baby boomers retire-not to mention the sheer cost of health care, which has sometimes risen by more than 10 percent in recent years. A 65-year-old couple retiring in 2008 will need $225,000 just to cover medical costs in retirement, assuming no employer coverage, according to an estimate from Fidelity Investments. That figure has risen 41 percent since Fidelity published its first annual estimate in 2002.

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