The simple truth is, you may need to spend less

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LauraSome of life’s simplest truths are also its most challenging. If your pants have grown too tight (or the numbers on your bathroom scale too large), you probably need to cut back on the French fries. When your alarm clock sounds, you really should roll out of bed. And, in a challenging investment climate, sometimes you need to cut back on your spending.

With bonds stagnant due to low interest rates, and equities stuck in a range, the prospect for large growth and high yields remains limited. To protect principal, it is imperative that some investors reign in their spending.

Many people in the withdrawal stage of retirement need to contain their spending to no more than four percent in order to make their money last through retirement. With the three main threats to your retirement  – longer life expectancy, rising health care costs, and inflation – still looming, it is time to take stock.

Are you overspending? Take an honest look at your budget and your recent expenditures.

Review your retirement accounts, total them up, and see what percentage of them you’re spending annually. That number is important. If it’s five percent or more, you should evaluate your accounts and you may even need to cut back.

Of course, it’s reasonable to factor in your own life expectancy and estate planning goals. And no one wants extreme frugality to make their life unnecessarily miserable. But you still need to be disciplined.

Are you wondering if you will run out of money? The truth is, unless you control your spending, you might. The scale doesn’t lie and neither does a ledger. If you’re spending without regard to consequence, you could be in trouble.

Eventually, the equity and bond markets will recover and you can loosen your purse strings a little.

Until then, though, do yourself a favor. Control your spending because nobody wants to outlive their money.