Retirement Cash Flow Planning for Women

Retirement Cash Flow Planning for Women

4-minute read

Cash Flow After Retirement: Getting the Basics Right

Women, on average, live longer than men.1  So planning for retirement, and managing retirement cash flow, are crucial aspects of a comfortable financial future. The crux of it: you want your assets to last as long as you do.

Cash flow is nothing new. You’ve been managing cash flow your whole life — it’s the income coming in and the expenses going out. But at retirement, the “ins” come from different and sometimes multiple places. The amounts of the “outs” you’re used to can change dramatically. And there can definitely be some surprises.

So, while you’ll recognize the foundation of cash flow, it gets more nuanced in retirement. 

Managing Your Cash Flow After Retirement

Your total income inflow can come from Social Security, pensions, annuities, retirement and other investments, and miscellaneous income like real estate or even part-time work.

We think of cash outflow — your expenses — as either essential or discretionary. Essential expenses are housing, food, transportation, insurance, taxes and basic household bills. Discretionary can run the gamut, but would include entertainment, travel, gift giving and recreation.

Your total cash flow is your total income minus your total expenses.

It’s important to explore your current financial situation and create a baseline for yourself and your family. You’ll need a net-worth statement, which will include your assets, debt and cash reserves; and a monthly or annual itemized projected budget. The more details you account for, the more precise your estimate will be.

Prepare for What You Don’t Know

Do your research. Talk with friends or family members who have retired. Continue reading. Knowledge is power. Did you know:

  • You can assume higher health care costs than you saw as an employed person2
  • You can only expect Medicare to cover about two-thirds of the cost of health care services during retirement3
  • You may require expensive home renovations in order to age in place
  • You must plan to pay taxes on withdrawals from retirement accounts
  • You may need to financially support family members in the future
  • You’re likely to need a replacement car in your future

Will you be able to cover these expenses?

Another important consideration: Can your retirement handle inflation? Inflation is the rate of increase in prices over a given period of time. As prices continue to rise in the U.S., the impact of inflation on managing cash flow after retirement must be factored into your future planning.

One tip from United Bank Senior Fiduciary Wealth Advisor, Jane T. Sargent, Certified Trust Fiduciary Advisor, Senior Vice President, is "if you work, it's vital to contribute the maximum allowable into your 401k plan."

Keeping Your Cash Flowing in Retirement

How Much Do You Need?

You may have heard that the rule of thumb is to plan to spend 75% to 80% of your working income in retirement. But it turns out that higher-income, higher-saving households may need 60% or less when factoring in their pre-retirement income, savings rates and reduced taxes. And for the same reasons, lower-earning, lower-saving households may need closer to 90%.4

Says Sargent, “The most tragic issue I see is lack of estate planning. This has impacted several of my clients. They thought their spouse had everything in order in the event of death, but unfortunately that was not the case. Many people think they don’t have enough of an estate to have a proper estate plan developed, but everyone should have a Will, Power of Attorney documents, both financial and medical, at the very least.”

Cash Flow Strategies for Retirement

Adjusting Along the Way

In planning, it helps to understand that your decisions on what to spend may change as you move through different stages of retirement. There is a concept called the “retirement spending smile.” 5 In the beginning of retirement, people spend near their pre-retirement levels, with more discretionary expenses like travel and dining out. As they continue to age, they slow down and spend less. However, that’s the point that health expenditures tend to spike, completing the other side of the “smile.”

Understanding that these three different stages exist can help you adjust (and make sense of) your future plans.

How much you really need depends so much on personal preference and even where you live or plan to live. Are you in a high-cost city? You might want to downsize and move to an area with a lower cost of living. Do you love to travel, and retirement now affords you the opportunity to go when you want, where you want? You may spend more than the average person scratching that itch.


Ready for more personal, nuanced information?

With so many options, decision-making can get complicated, so keep your goal at the forefront: making sure your assets last as long as you do. Some decisions will be easy; some will be tough. But you don't have to go it alone. It's okay to ask for help from professionals.

We’re here to help. 

1 V;, Ginter E; Simko. “Women Live Longer than Men.” Bratislavske Lekarske Listy, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2013,
2 Benz, Christine. “7 Steps to Estimating Your in-Retirement Cash Flow Needs.” 7 Steps to Estimating Your In-Retirement Cash Flow Needs, Morningstar, Inc., 7 June 2022,
3 “Projected Savings Medicare Beneficiaries Need for Health Expenses Spike in 2021.”, Employee Benefit Research Institute, 13 Jan. 2022, p13,
4 Fontinelle, Amy. “Retirement Costs You May Not Have Considered.” Investopedia, Investopedia, 26 Oct. 2022,
5 Pfau, Wade. “What Is the 'Retirement Spending Smile'?” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 24 Sept. 2018,

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