Here’s How Much Retiree Households Spend in a Year

A senior couple pays bills
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How much does it cost to get by in retirement? Pretty close to what it costs to live before retirement.

U.S. households led by someone who is 65 or older spend a whopping $50,220 a year. That’s according to the latest federal data on consumer spending, which is for 2019. By comparison, the average across all households is $63,036.

So, where is all that money going every golden year? The biggest expenses for older households are many of the same as those for younger Americans.

1. Housing

A whopping one-third of older-household spending is related to housing. That translates to an average of $17,472 per year, which compares with $20,679 for the average U.S. household.

That spending includes rent and mortgage costs as well as hidden homeowner costs such as property taxes, insurance, maintenance and repairs. It does not include utilities — which are detailed in section No. 5.

2. Transportation

Commuting expenses might shrink when you retire, but that doesn’t mean all transportation costs will.

Older households spend an average of $7,492 per year on transportation costs such as vehicles, gas and insurance. That compares with an average of $10,742 for all households.

3. Health care

Now, here’s an example of an expense that increases in retirement. Older households spend an average of $6,833 on health care annually — compared with $5,193 for all households.

The bulk of consumers’ health care spending — for both older households and the average household across all ages — is on insurance. The rest is on medical services, medical supplies and drugs.

For a more detailed breakdown, check out “How Much Does the Average Senior Spend on Health Care?

4. Food

Members of older households spend an average of $6,599 per year on food, including both the food they eat at home ($4,063) and eating out ($2,536). That’s lower than the total of $8,169 spent by the average household.

5. Utilities and public services

Older households spend an average of $3,810 per year on utilities like natural gas and electricity, and services such as phone and water. By comparison, the average spent across all households is $4,055.

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