Relating to “guidelines” for budgeting in retirement, I put aside $100,000 in what I name my “Stuff Occurs” account. It’s designed to get me by means of 5 years of surprising and one-time bills. My buddies have adopted the identical method.

Clearly your mates know a good suggestion once they hear one.

These feedback, from

Roger Bretting,

a retiree in Houston, had been amongst many we acquired in response to my recent column about what I name my “$400 rule,” a family budgeting method that I’ve adopted in retirement. The rule says that on common a retired couple will spend $400 a month greater than they count on. This has proved right in my case. In my column, I invited readers—retired or about to be—to share with me any guidelines, suggestions or methods they’ve developed or embraced to fine-tune their very own spending and saving habits.

My due to all who took the time to jot down. What follows are among the most useful concepts we acquired—beginning with a warning.

Plan to be stunned

Curiously, nearly each reader requested me to warn folks approaching retirement: Your spending in retirement possible will equal, or exceed, what you’re spending whereas working. Put one other approach: Take the traditional knowledge about needing 70% to 80% of your preretirement revenue to keep up your lifestyle in later life and junk it.

“My spouse and I spend 50% extra in retirement than we did when working,” says

Bob Bailey,

77, a retired promoting govt in Evanston, Sick. “There are two causes. First, we now have time for journey, particularly worldwide journey. Second, we now have volunteered in our group and found many wants; as such, our charitable giving has considerably expanded.”

Spending in Retirement

Annual common family spending by age, amongst partially and absolutely retired households* with investable property of $1 million to $3 million:


Kevin Baughman,

68, a retired pharmaceutical govt in Santa Rosa, Calif.: “I couldn’t see how I might spend much less in retirement, provided that I’d have extra free time. So I focused 90%. As I bought nearer to retiring, I moved it to 100%. My actuality turned out to be nearer to 110%.”

The one exception to this pondering among the many feedback we acquired: a pair who retired to a small city in Alabama. Their technique:

“We anticipated the price of residing right here to be decrease than that in a third-tier metropolis. Nevertheless, we didn’t count on it to be considerably decrease. We dwell higher than we did within the metropolis, in a nicer residence, have interaction in way more actions, and spend much less. We might advise anybody planning retirement to think about transferring to a small city for each high quality of life and monetary causes.”

Maintain budgeting

If you happen to develop a family finances for retirement—nice. However a lot of readers informed us: This isn’t, or shouldn’t be, a one-time train. It’s crucial, they stated, to refine your finances yearly.

“My spouse and I consciously analysis methods to ‘price cut back’ every year,” writes

H.L. Singer,

76, a retired chief govt officer in Melbourne, Fla. Amongst their steps, small and huge: reviewing and, as mandatory, altering (or just canceling) streaming companies and journal/newspaper subscriptions; reserving journey a 12 months prematurely; fixing extra meals at residence; making higher use of programmable thermostats; researching purchases after which ready for gross sales and coupons.

Mr. Singer says: “We’ve discovered that by consistently searching for methods to decrease bills and shopping for sensible we are able to do a greater job of constructing our retirement financial savings and pension go additional.”

Go away wiggle room within the finances 

In my earlier column, I set out my private retirement rule: Calculate a family finances for the 12 months—after which add $5,000 (roughly, $400 a month) for out-of-the-blue payments. That complete might be nearer to the revenue you’ll really want. A number of readers informed me my math wouldn’t work for all components of the nation (learn: high-cost areas) and provided a greater answer: merely add 10% to no matter finances you first produce.

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“It appears nearly each month there’s an ‘extraordinary’ expense that blows the finances,” writes

Michael Arvanetakis,

69, in Cypress, Texas. “My spouse and I’ve encountered this our entire lives. Our rule is add 10% to your finances—at all times.”

Ronald Londe,

76, a retired energy-stock analyst in St. Louis, made an identical level. His rule: “Throughout December every year, I work up an estimated household finances for the approaching 12 months. On the full anticipated spending, I add 5% for inflation and 10% for unknown occasions. I then modify my revenue ‘bucket’—primarily high quality dividend shares—to generate the required annual money.”

Begin a rainy-day account 

One other technique to deal with the surprising: rainy-day cash. Mr. Bretting, on the high of this column, is one in all a number of retirees who say they squirreled away a bit of cash expressly to cowl unanticipated payments early in retirement, when nest eggs are at their most susceptible. His “Stuff Occurs” account, he writes, has been a “psychological lifesaver.”

“Within the 2½ years that I’ve been retired, I’ve paid $8,500 for frozen-pipe harm; $3,500 for my partner’s dental points (no dental insurance coverage); $25,000 for my youngest needing an additional semester of school to graduate; $1,500 for 2 unintended drownings of cellphones; and $5,000 in flood harm to our sprinkler system and panorama.”

He concludes: “I do sleep higher at night time realizing there’s nonetheless some cash out there for the following ‘Stuff Occurs’ occasion.”

Fluffy and Fido? Possibly not


Bruce Woods,

a retiree in Seneca, S.C., has greater than a dozen monetary methods for retirement, however one rule jumps out:

“In case you have pets, don’t exchange them,” he says. “My spouse and I journey much more in retirement, and the payments for kennel care had been over $1,000 a 12 months. Get out the photographs of them and revel in hair-free furnishings. You received’t miss the fixed selecting up and cleansing up after them.”

Mr. Ruffenach is a former reporter and editor for The Wall Road Journal. Ask Encore examines monetary points for these eager about, planning and residing their retirement. Ship questions and feedback to askencore@wsj.com.

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