Broker Check
How Long Will My Money Last (With Retirement Calculator)

How Long Will My Money Last (With Retirement Calculator)

| April 15, 2024

Many retirees often wonder, "How long will my money last?" as they navigate their financial journey post-employment. Retirement is a significant milestone in life, but it's also a time when many people worry about their financial security. One of the most common concerns among retirees is whether their savings will be enough to last throughout their retirement years. As a financial advisor, I frequently encounter clients wrestling with this question. Assessing how long your money will last in retirement requires careful planning and consideration of various factors. In this article, we'll explore key factors that impact the longevity of your retirement savings and strategies to help ensure your money lasts as long as you do!

A retirement calculator can give you a quick synopsis of how long your money will last. Check out our retirement calculator here.

Understanding Your Retirement Timeline

Retirement isn't just a one-time event; it's a journey that spans several decades for many individuals. Understanding your retirement timeline is crucial for planning purposes. Consider factors such as your anticipated retirement age, life expectancy, and desired lifestyle in retirement. By mapping out your retirement journey, you can better estimate how long your money needs to last and adjust your financial plan accordingly.

Calculating Your Retirement Expenses

Estimating your retirement expenses is a crucial step in determining how long your money will last in retirement. It involves a comprehensive evaluation of both essential and discretionary expenses to ensure you have a realistic understanding of your financial needs during your retirement years.

Essential expenses encompass the necessities of daily living, including housing, healthcare, groceries, utilities, transportation, and insurance premiums. These costs are typically non-negotiable and must be accounted for in your retirement budget. Healthcare expenses, in particular, can be a significant financial burden in retirement, as medical costs tend to increase with age. It's essential to factor in potential healthcare inflation, which often outpaces general inflation rates due to factors such as advances in medical technology, rising drug prices, and increased demand for healthcare services among aging populations.

In addition to essential expenses, retirees often have discretionary expenses associated with lifestyle choices and leisure activities. These may include travel, dining out, hobbies, entertainment, and charitable contributions. While discretionary expenses are not essential for survival, they contribute to your overall quality of life and should be factored into your retirement budget. However, it's crucial to be mindful of your spending habits and prioritize expenses based on your financial capacity.

One critical factor to consider when estimating retirement expenses is inflation. Inflation refers to the gradual increase in the price level of goods and services over time, resulting in a decrease in the purchasing power of money. Historically, the average rate of inflation in the United States has hovered around 2% to 3% per year. However, inflation rates can fluctuate due to various economic factors, including changes in consumer demand, monetary policy, geopolitical events, and supply chain disruptions.

Understanding inflation is essential for retirement planning because it directly impacts your purchasing power and the cost of living. Failure to account for inflation can lead to underestimating future expenses and potentially running out of money in retirement. For example, a retirement budget based on current expenses may not adequately cover future costs if prices rise significantly over time.

While inflation rates typically remain relatively stable over the long term, they can vary from year to year and may rise or fall below the historical average. Factors such as economic growth, employment levels, government fiscal policy, and global events can influence inflationary pressures. For example, periods of economic expansion and strong consumer demand may lead to higher inflation, while economic recessions and subdued consumer spending can result in lower inflation rates.

As a retiree, it's essential to consider potential fluctuations in inflation when planning your retirement budget. While you can't predict future inflation rates with certainty, you can take steps to mitigate its impact on your finances. This may include investing in assets that historically provide a hedge against inflation, such as stocks, real estate, and inflation-protected securities. Additionally, regularly reviewing and adjusting your retirement budget to account for changes in inflation can help ensure your financial security throughout retirement.

Assessing Your Retirement Income Sources

As you transition into retirement, your sources of income may shift compared to your working years. While you may no longer receive a regular paycheck from employment, there are several common sources of retirement income to consider. These include Social Security benefits, pensions from employers or government agencies, distributions from retirement accounts such as 401(k)s and IRAs, annuity payments, and income generated from investments such as dividends and interest. Each of these income sources comes with its own set of considerations, including reliability, longevity, and tax implications.

It's crucial to evaluate the reliability and longevity of each income source to ensure it can sustain your financial needs throughout retirement. Social Security benefits, for example, provide a guaranteed income stream for eligible retirees, but their longevity may be subject to changes in government policies or funding. Pensions, if available, offer a steady income stream for retirees but may be subject to the financial health of the pension fund. Retirement accounts and investment income can provide flexibility and potential for growth, but their reliability depends on market performance and withdrawal strategies. Additionally, consider the tax implications of each income source, as taxes can significantly impact your net income in retirement. Understanding the amount and reliability of income you can expect during retirement is essential for assessing your financial security and estimating how long your savings will last. By carefully evaluating your income sources and planning accordingly, you can create a sustainable retirement income strategy that supports your lifestyle and long-term financial goals.

Determining a Sustainable Withdrawal Strategy

A critical aspect of retirement planning is establishing a sustainable withdrawal strategy for tapping into your retirement savings. The traditional rule of thumb is the "4% rule," which suggests withdrawing 4% of your retirement portfolio in the first year of retirement and adjusting subsequent withdrawals for inflation. However, this rule may not be suitable for everyone, particularly in periods of market volatility or prolonged retirement. Working with a financial advisor can help you develop a personalized withdrawal strategy tailored to your unique circumstances and goals.

Managing Investment Risk

Investment risk is a critical consideration when it comes to the longevity of your retirement savings. While higher-risk investments often promise the potential for greater returns, they also expose your portfolio to increased volatility and the risk of significant losses. As you near retirement, it's essential to reassess your investment strategy and consider shifting your portfolio's focus to prioritize capital preservation and income generation over aggressive growth.

One key strategy for managing investment risk in retirement is diversification. Diversifying your investment portfolio involves spreading your assets across different asset classes, industries, and geographic regions to reduce exposure to any single investment or market downturn. By diversifying, you can mitigate the impact of volatility in any one sector or asset class on your overall portfolio performance. Additionally, asset allocation is another crucial component of managing investment risk. This involves determining the appropriate mix of asset classes, such as stocks, bonds, cash, and alternative investments, based on your risk tolerance, investment goals, and time horizon.

As you transition into retirement, your investment strategy should evolve to reflect your changing financial needs and priorities. While growth-oriented investments may have been suitable during your working years, capital preservation and generating a reliable income stream become paramount in retirement. Working with a financial advisor can provide valuable guidance and expertise in developing an investment strategy tailored to your retirement goals, risk tolerance, and time horizon. By implementing prudent investment strategies such as diversification and asset allocation, you have the opportunity to effectively manage investment risk and safeguard your retirement savings for the long term.

Planning for Longevity and Healthcare Costs

With advances in healthcare and increased life expectancy, retirees are living longer than ever before. While longevity is a positive development, it also means that your retirement savings need to last longer. Additionally, healthcare costs tend to rise with age, posing a significant financial challenge for retirees. Incorporating provisions for healthcare expenses, long-term care insurance, and potential longevity into your retirement plan is essential for ensuring your financial security throughout retirement.

Regularly Reviewing and Adjusting Your Financial Plan

Retirement planning isn't something you can set and forget; it demands continual monitoring and adjustments. Life circumstances, financial markets, and economic conditions can change over time, impacting your retirement outlook. Regularly reviewing your financial plan with your financial advisor allows you to assess your progress, identify any gaps or challenges, and make necessary adjustments to stay on track toward your retirement goals.


The question of how long your money will last in retirement is a common concern among retirees, but with careful planning and strategic decision-making, you can help ensure financial security throughout your golden years. By understanding your retirement timeline, estimating expenses, assessing income sources, implementing a sustainable withdrawal strategy, managing investment risk, planning for longevity and healthcare costs, and regularly reviewing your financial plan, you can navigate retirement with confidence and peace of mind. A retirement calculator can give you a quick estimate of how long your money will last, but a financial advisor has access to advanced software and techniques that can develop an in-depth analysis of all the factors that contribute to a successful financial plan. Remember, retirement planning is a journey, and working with a trusted financial advisor can provide valuable guidance and support every step of the way.

Bill Parrish has been a registered financial advisor for over 20 years. If you would like to talk more about retirement planning and solutions, get in touch with us on our Contact page!