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Biggest Retirement Surprises

Published on: Feb 15 2017

This is an unscientific survey from The Wall Street Journal. One of its columnists, Glenn Ruffenach, recently answered a reader’s question about the biggest surprises he found in retirement. He then asked readers to submit their biggest retirement surprises and received a lot of responses. You might need a subscription to read the article.

Some surprises were good, while others weren’t. The topics included finances, health and wellness, relationships, and more. The story didn’t contain much that would be new to readers of Retirement Watch.

All that said, a number of readers complained about two disagreeable financial surprises: steep Medicare premiums and household expenses that were larger than anticipated.

With regard to Medicare, several readers said they simply didn’t realize how sizable and/or sudden changes in their income (example: taking a buyout) can make them vulnerable to Medicare “surcharges,” the larger-than-normal premiums that some individuals pay for Medicare Part B and prescription-drug coverage.

“The same change [in premiums] can result from the sale of stocks, bonds, etc.,” notes Elizabeth Gillette, a retired communications manager in Ossipee, N.H. “This was something we had never heard about.”

As for household budgets, some readers told us that one of the best-known rules of thumb in retirement planning—expect to spend about 80% of your preretirement income in retirement—is, well, hogwash.



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