Budgeting for retirement spending based on your retiree type

silhouettes of retirees

Canadians have been told to estimate that they will need about 70 percent of their final income to maintain their lifestyle throughout retirement. Frederick Vettese, the chief actuary of Morneau Shepell and author of Retirement Income for Life, feels that number may be too high and not the best way to plan for retirement. He suggests that each of us consider the kind of expenses we will have and how our spending habits are affected by the type of retiree we will become. 

Expense buckets when you retire

Work-related expenses will disappear but other expenses in retirement generally fall into three buckets. Allocating some money to each is a step in the right direction toward a stable and predictable retirement.  

Bucket What's in the bucket
Regular Spending These are regular and repeatable expenses including groceries, clothing, utilities and home maintenance. 
Rainy Day Spending Big-ticket expenses including major dental or medical bills or an urgent request for money from a grown child.
Bequest This is entirely discretionary and could include bursaries, scholarships, and direct gifts to relatives in your Will. 






How much do I need to retire?

How much money you’ll need to fill your expenses buckets will vary according your Retirement Type. Vettese believes that most of us will fall into one of these four categories. 

The Mainstream Retiree

Mainstreamers turn a routine occupation or career into a typical retirement with adequate or above-average income. They have enough money to deal with most rainy-day events and feel confident that they can leave some money behind. 

The Cleavers 

Named in honour of “Leave it to Beaver,” this group is old enough to remember the 1950’s tv show and relate to the parents, Ward and June Cleaver. Like the Cleavers, they have accepted that they will likely need to support their children for many years and possibly beyond the grave. 

Super Savers

No one is worrying about these folks because they are unlikely to run out of money. They have saved more than they likely need. If there’s a downside to being a Super Saver it may be that they never got to fully enjoy their money because they saved it all. Be nice to them and get your name in the Will. 


“You Only Live Once” they say. The line offends grammarians who point out that it should be written; You Live Only Once. YOLOs don’t care about grammarians. They plan to have fun in retirement and perhaps spend a little more than they should. Their prime objective is to experience life to its fullest. 


To sum it up, who you are affects how much you are likely to save and what you can do with it in retirement. A good decumulation strategy maximizes the portion of your income that is stable and predictable. This is a sure-fire way of allaying your financial anxiety after retirement. The chart below summarizes the relative importance of each spending bucket by retirement type.

  Bucket 1 Regular Bucket 2 Rainy Day Bucket 3 Bequests
Mainstreamers High Low to medium Declines over time
Cleavers Medium Medium High
Super Savers High High Depends
YOLOs High Low Low


Your Lawyers Financial Advisor can help you determine your retirement needs and create an effective decumulation strategy. Book an appointment with your Advisor and request your free copy of Retirement Income for Life – Getting More Without Saving More by Frederick Vettese. 

Not sure who your specific Advisor is? Get started” or call our Client Experience team at 1.800.267.2242.

In the meantime, you can also use our calculator to help plan your retirement.

Retirement Planning Calculator