Tuesday, March 9

Social Security benefits got a 2.8% boost. Here are steps to take.

While Social Security cost-of-living adjustments are aimed at helping all retirees keep up with rising costs, your personal expenses may be going up or down at a different rate.

“Everybody’s inflation rate is personal,” said Scott Thoma, investment strategist at Edward Jones.

To find out how your personal costs are changing, start by tracking your budget. Then, do a check-up annually to see where you are spending more or less.

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Health-care costs are one area that consistently take up a chunk of retirement benefits for many retirees. Also take a look to see if other expenses — such as utilities or food — are taking up more of your budget.

You may spend less on discretionary areas such as travel as you age, Thoma said.

Knowing how your spending needs change will help you better allocate the money that comes in and your investments, Thoma said.

The good news for retirees this year is that Medicare Part B premiums likely won’t eat up the Social Security cost-of-living adjustment in 2019.

“The Social Security COLA is going to be more than, or should be more than, what the increases in their Part B premiums are going to be in dollar terms,” Thoma said. “There will be a little more money in their pockets than before.”

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