Saving at Any Stage: Living in Retirement


Senior couple walking on beach, rear vie If you’re currently retired, you may think your days of saving money for future goals and making financial plans are behind you. But you need to keep monitoring your savings and watching your savings even in retirement. Many of us will live 20, 30 years or more in retirement, with women living even longer than men.

1. Be honest about your retirement.

As with your savings and spending goals during your working years, your retirement is a very personal thing. You can give yourself a leg up by being as honest and specific as you can about how you want to live in retirement. For example, many people say they want to travel, but what does that look like for you? Road trips across the U.S. in a camper? Guided safaris? Four-star hotels in European capitals with massages twice a day? These all have very different financial implications. To help your retirement dreams come true, put some numbers down and make sure that they’re realistic, with a clear idea of what you want and what it costs.

2. Understand how your spending may change.

Once you retire, some items fall off the monthly budget. For example, if you worked in a corporate setting, you won’t have to spend as much on dress clothes or dry cleaning. You’ll likely save money on commuting costs like mass transit or wear and tear on your car.

Another area of savings—and one that many people don’t consider—is that you no longer have to put money away for retirement. After all, you’re already there. This can have a significant impact, especially if you were smart and set aside a decent chunk of your take-home pay each month. If you have more retirement coming in than you can spend, you may consider saving in a managed account or after-tax annuity, or sharing your money with family today by funding accounts such as 529 college savings plans and IRAs for children and grandchildren.

You can also face certain new expenses once you retire. You may have enjoyed employer healthcare insurance through your job, and now have to pay for Medicare supplemental insurance out of your own pocket. An advisor can help you work through your new budget and create a spending and saving plan.

3. Look into long-term care.

It’s likely that you’ll need help at some point. As with other aspects of retirement, different people make different choices. Some might need a nurse to come to their house for a few hours, while others will want 24-hour care, or a live-in facility. Those options can cost significantly different amounts. To protect your retirement account from being drained by a prolonged period when you need help, investigate long-term care options. This means exploring the various policies, determining how comfortable you are with their offerings, and assessing whether your finances can handle the worst-case scenario. Visit for a long-term care buyer’s guide.

4. Continue to adopt a save-first mentality.

As with all phases of life, you have to be smart about money during retirement. You’ve established a foundation of good savings habits over the years, like tracking your spending, using insurance and other planning tools to protect you from life’s bumps, and understanding how your dreams and your financial reality line up. These are universal characteristics of being a smart saver, and just as they helped you when you were younger, they’ll help you throughout your retirement as well.

Need Financial Help?

Phone ringing Call us 800-842-2888

Phone with arrowSchedule a callback

Circular people graphicAttend a meeting or seminar

Experiencing a Life Event?

We understand life happens. Choose from among eight common and not-so-common Life Events in the main Advice & Guidance menu to find helpful articles.

When you retire, your money can keep working with TIAA-CREF. Learn more

Tools & Calculators

See all 

Are you taking advantage of Direct Deposit?

Your pension payments, dividends, government benefits can be deposited directly into a TIAA Direct® Interest Checking or High Yield Savings account.

Learn more