What Is The Monthly Cost Of Retirement?

What Is The Monthly Cost Of Retirement?

If you ask how much it costs per month during retirement, the answer is almost always: “It’s complicated”. Rather, there is no real definite answer as everyone will have a different life and financial situation to take into consideration. 

What if you haven’t met your financial goals? How about if you overachieved it instead? Do you know the kind of retirement are you looking for? Will you start a business, go on vacation every year, or maybe go back to school?

According to the Malaysian Employee Provident Fund (EPF), the basic savings target for most Malaysians should be around RM240,000, which translates to approximately RM1,000 a month for 20 years of retirement. However, this certainly does not take into account things such as private savings and retirement lifestyle.

For a more specific look, we will go over the average household income of the B40, M40, and T20 groups and from there, determine how much each income group might need for retirement.

B40

The B40 income group had an average of RM3,401 in 2022, according to the DOSM. The basic rule of thumb for calculating retirement income is that you need at least 2/3 of your last drawn income per month to maintain your current lifestyle. As such, the estimated cost of retirement for B40 for 20 years is as follows:

Last drawn incomeRM3,401
Monthly retirement incomeRM2,267 (2/3 x 3,401)
Annual retirement incomeRM27,208
Required savings for 20 yearsRM544,160
Required savings for 20 years (adjusted for 2% inflation rate)RM808,593

As you can see, someone within the B40 group may need an estimated RM544,160 to retire with the same lifestyle for about 20 years while spending about RM2,267 per month. Adjusted to the average Malaysia consumer price inflation (CPI) of 2% in the last 10 years, that amount can be as high as RM808,593 for 20 years, or about RM3,369 per month.

M40

According to the DOSM, the average household income of the M40 in 2022 was at RM7,971. Using the same calculation as the B40 group, M40 retirement income would looks something like this:

Last drawn incomeRM7,971
Monthly retirement incomeRM5,314 (2/3 x 7,971)
Annual retirement incomeRM63,768
Required savings for 20 yearsRM1,275,360
Required savings for 20 years (adjusted for 2% inflation rate)RM1,895,118

Based on the calculations above, we can estimate that an M40 household will need about RM5,314 per month in retirement for 20 years, or about RM7,896 per month, adjusted for inflation.

T20

The DOSM puts the average household income of the T20 group at RM19,752 in 2022. As such, the retirement income is as follows:

Last drawn incomeRM19,752
Monthly retirement incomeRM13,168 (2/3 x 19,752)
Annual retirement incomeRM158,016
Required savings for 20 yearsRM3,160,320
Required savings for 20 years (adjusted for 2% inflation rate)RM4,696,069

Based on this, the estimated amount that a T20 household will need per month for 20 years is RM13,168. Adjusted for inflation, the amount is closer to RM19,567 per month. 

A minimalist approach to retirement

The best way to plan for retirement and calculate your costs is to try and maintain your current lifestyle. This makes it easy to estimate your overall costs as it is what you have been doing for years. Regardless, some retirees opt to go for a more minimalistic approach. This tends to involve things such as downsizing on lifestyle costs. For example, you might want to move into a smaller house after retirement.

Just like planning out a good budget, the key to a minimalist retirement is to list out everything you are paying for and see what you can cross off the list. Some of the more common lifestyle adjustments you can make include:

  • Eating out less
  • Downsizing your home to pay less for upkeep
  • Switching to a more fuel efficient vehicle
  • Cutting down on entertainment costs
  • Limit your vacations to cheaper or local areas

Now let us make some ballpark predictions as to how much you might need per month for retirement. This assumes that you have no outstanding debt at the time of your retirement.

CategoriesEstimated cost per year
Housing (upkeep, utilities, sinking fund ,etc.)RM6,000
Transportation (fuel, repairs, servicing, etc.)RM3,000
FoodRM3,500
Life and medical insuranceRM5,000
LeisureRM6,000
Holiday (once per year)RM5,000
Emergency fundRM2,000
Total annual costRM30,500
Estimated monthly costRM2,542
Total annual cost in 20 years 2% (CPI)RM45,321
Total monthly cost in 20 years 2% (CPI)RM3,777

Do note that, if you have a partner, you might be paying a little extra, or in some cases double, in a few of these categories.

Starting a business in retirement

After spending several decades working to reach retirement, the last thing on your mind would be to get back to work, right? Well, there are plenty of retirees who go on to start their own small businesses, be it to earn some extra cash or to chase a passion project.

Regardless of the reason, starting a business, even a small one working from your home, requires a good amount of thought and planning. You will have to determine what your skills can offer to potential clients and calculate the potential cost and profits.

Point 1: Minimise risk

At this stage of your life, you should minimise risks to not endanger your remaining income. Starting capital should be kept low and you should not be in a hurry to expand quickly.

For example, here is the estimated cost of running a cake baking business out of your own home:

Costs for a home-made cake business
UtensilsRM150 - RM250
Baking OvenRM500 - RM1500
PackagingRM10 - RM50
IngredientsRM100 - RM300
Cake baking classesRM500 - RM1000
Estimated low-end totalRM1,260
Estimated high-end totalRM3,100

As you can see, you can get everything you need to get started with a few cakes for just around RM1,260.

Point 2: Supplement, not replace income

If you are more ambitious, you can get some high-end utensils, ingredients, and lessons, but it will likely bump your costs up to around the RM3,100 range.

Depending on the type of cakes you make, you could probably sell them for around RM30 to RM100. If you can fulfill two orders a week, you can make around RM240 to RM800 a month. This isn’t the greatest figure, as this would likely barely cover the cost of your ingredients per month, but it definitely is a decent way to supplement your retirement income. 

Besides, if you can gain a good reputation and fulfill more orders, you will likely see your business become profitable one day.

Travelling and going back to school

As mentioned previously, many see retirement as their golden age, where people can finally do what they want with their life after decades of hard work and savings. Many often take retirement as an opportunity to finally achieve life-long goals, chief among them might be to travel the globe or to go back to school and learn what you couldn’t.

Unfortunately, the harsh reality is that dreams do cost money. That dream vacation or education is going to have to come out of your retirement fund, and you will have to plan accordingly to ensure that you have enough to achieve said aspirations without jeopardising your retirement.

If we take the standard rule-of-thumb which states that you need two-thirds of your last drawn income per month to maintain your current standard of living, we can estimate how much you will need to maintain your retirement. Let us assume that your last drawn income was RM5,700:

Last drawn incomeRM5,700
Monthly retirement incomeRM3,800 (2/3 x RM,5,700)
Annual retirement incomeRM45,600
Required savings for 20 yearsRM912,000 (RM45,600 x 20)
Masters Of Business Admin (Universiti Malaya)RM28,000
Required savings for 20 years (including education)RM940,000

As you can see, you will need to start planning early to accommodate for the additional costs of studying. The same goes for planning vacations. You will need to determine how much you plan to budget for holidays, as well as how often you plan to take vacations, before adding them into your budget.

Conclusion

As you can see, there is no right answer when it comes to determining how much you will need per month for retirement. Everything will depend on your savings, your lifestyle, and how much you will need to spend each month. Any extra activities will naturally add to your monthly costs, so it is imperative to plan well in advance about what you will want to do in your golden years.

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