The ultimate goal for most retirees is making sure their assets last as long as they live. And because of increased longevity, managing cash flow is more critical than ever. While many variables come into play, there are a number of planning moves that can help retirees live within their means and make appropriate adjustments in response to changes in income and expenses.
Tools for the Task
If you are retired or about to retire, you will need to clarify your current financial situation, as well as any significant changes you expect. Two sources will provide this information:
- A net-worth statement, which provides a snapshot of your assets, debt, and cash reserves.
- Your monthly or annual budget, with itemized breakdowns of your income and expenses. If you haven’t retired yet, it’s a good idea to prepare a projected budget of your retirement income and expenses.
Even with reasonable assumptions about investment returns, inflation, and retirement living costs, it is likely you will encounter numerous changes to your cash flow over time. Experts often recommend a monthly review of your budget, as well as a comprehensive annual review of your financial situation and goals.
What to Look For
What should you look for as you monitor your finances? Following are potential developments that could affect your cash flow and require adjustments to your plan.
- Interest rate trends and market moves may result in an increase or decrease in income from your savings and investments.
- You may also encounter changes in federal, state, and local tax rates and regulations. Watch for changes in Social Security or Medicare benefits or eligibility, as well as new rules affecting employer-sponsored retirement benefits and private insurance coverage.
- Inflation and health care costs are two other variables that can have an impact on living costs and, hence, your retirement planning assumptions.
- Life events such as marriage, the death of a spouse, and the addition or loss of a dependent may also affect your cash flow. In addition, cash flow is impacted by both small and significant choices you make over the course of your retirement, such as how much you spend on travel and entertainment and whether you live in a lower-cost or a higher-cost locale.
It is worth paying close attention to cash flow, making sure you budget carefully, monitor income and expenses frequently, and take action whenever you believe that significant changes may be necessary.
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