May 9, 2023

2022 Spending in Retirement Survey: Understanding the Pandemic’s Impact

By Bridget Bearden, Ph.D., Employee Benefit Research Institute

The second Spending in Retirement Survey was fielded during the summer of 2022. Nearly 2,000 American retirees between the ages of 62 and 75 were surveyed to assess how spending patterns and retirement well-being have changed since 2020.

Some of the key findings include:

• Overall, more than half retired earlier than expected. The most common reasons for retirement were the ability to retire from an affordability standpoint (29 percent) and having a health problem or disability not related to COVID-19 (21 percent).

• Similar to 2020, 7 in 10 said Social Security is a major source of their income.

• Approximately half of retirees said they spend less than $2,000 each month, while 1 in 3 spend between $2,000 and $3,999 each month. Sixteen percent spend between $4,000 and $6,999, with only 3 percent spending $7,000 or more each month.

• On average, retirees reported that nearly a third of their monthly income goes towards housing expenses. The second largest reported expenditure was food.

• Retirees were more likely to report that their spending is much higher or a little higher they can afford in 2022 (17 percent in 2020 vs 27 percent in 2022). Black and Hispanic retirees, as well as those in the lower annual household income brackets and those with poor self-reported health status, indicated their spending is higher than they can afford.

• Among those who decreased either their essential or discretionary spending since the pandemic, the most common reason cited by roughly 9 out of 10 retirees was concern about inflation.

• Overall, approximately 7 in 10 retirees said they have three months of emergency savings. Black and Hispanic retirees, those in lower annual household income segments, those with low financial knowledge, and those with poor self-reported health status were less likely to report they have three months of emergency savings set aside.

• On average, retirees rate their satisfaction in retirement as 7.0 in 2022, compared with 7.4 in 2020 (on a scale of 1 to 10). Similarly, retirees rated their alignment of life in retirement with expectations with an average 6.4 in 2022, down from an average of 6.8 in 2020.

• Retiree segments who reported lower senses of well-being across the measures of standard of living, alignment, and satisfaction included those without defined benefit or other annuity income, those with low financial knowledge, those not using a financial advisor, those who are not married, and those who are female.

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