Many of life’s largest milestones constitute a leap into the great unknown. It’s hard to truly understand what it’s like to be married until you tie the knot. It’s a challenge to know what it’s like to be a parent until your first child is born.

The same thinking applies to your retirement as well. You won’t know truly what retirement will be like until you’re there.

We’ve had the privilege of living vicariously through many of our clients’ retirements throughout the years, and we’ve seen firsthand some of the surprises they’ve experienced during their golden years. Here are three of the most common surprises we’ve seen.

Medicare won’t pay for all of your health care expenses.

Becoming eligible for Medicare at age 65 will certainly help make health care planning easier for you, and it will help lower your out-of-pocket spending on health care expenses. However, just because you’re on Medicare doesn’t mean your health care costs vanish. You’ll still have premiums and deductibles for your care, and that’s before considering the additional premiums you’ll face if you opt for a Medicare supplemental policy. Add to that the fact that long-term care, perhaps the biggest health care expense you may face in retirement, isn’t covered by Medicare at all and it becomes clear you need to have a plan in place for these costs.

You’ll likely still need money invested in the stock market.

Depending on how early you retire, it’s not unreasonable to expect your retirement to last 15-20 years (or even longer). To help you keep up with inflation and better maintain your standard of living throughout retirement, you may need to have exposure to growth, and that means keeping a portion of holdings in the stock market.

This need for long-term growth is why we advocate a bucket strategy for managing your investments. These buckets vary based on the time horizon that you’ll need to spend the money. Shorter-term buckets contain cash and other investments with very low volatility while investments that offer a greater potential rate of return—but also a greater risk of loss of principal—is in a longer-term bucket to better ride out any downswings in the market.

Transitioning from being a saver to being a spender can be harder than you think.

After years of saving for retirement, the shift to becoming a spender can be emotionally challenging. Think about it: Watching your account balances vary as you draw down your savings, as opposed to growing as they were during your working years, can make some retirees feel guilty when it comes to spending the savings they’ve worked so hard to accumulate. If you were a diligent saver, remember that it’s okay to spend down your savings (after all, that’s what that money is there for). Just make sure that your spending levels can be sustained throughout the duration of your retirement.

No matter how much you plan, retirement will find a way to surprise you—that’s just a fact of life. Hopefully, though, the planning you do will help mitigate any potential downsides from those surprises while helping you cherish the joyful ones.

This article originally appeared on March 13, 2016 in the St. Paul Pioneer Press. You may view the article here.

Bruce Helmer

Bruce Helmer

Co-Founder, Financial Advisor and Author, Speaker and Host of the "Your Money" Radio Show

Series 7 & 63 Securities Registrations,1 Series 66 Advisory Registration, † Insurance License Bruce has been in the financial services industry since 1983 and is one of the founders of Wealth Enhancement Group. Since 1997, he has hosted the “Your Money” radio show, a weekly program that focuses on delivering financial advice in a straightforward, jargon-free manner. Bruce also hosts with the "Mid-Morning" crew on WCCO-TV each Tuesday morning to...Read More