Whether you’re nearing retirement, or you still have a few decades to go, it’s absolutely crucial to know how long your retirement savings will last. Regardless of your weekly paycheck contributions, there are many unexpected expenses that can send your budget awry. Find out what you need to know to prevent squandering your savings and make them last as long as you can.

What can go wrong?

Medical expenses, surprise taxes, and withdrawal fees, or underestimating your future living costs can all impact the balance of your post-career bank account. While you qualify for Medicare in your sixties, Fidelity Investments estimates the average 65-year old couple racks up over $280,000 of their own money in medical costs.

Impulse celebratory retirement purchases and the failure to budget out life without your normal paycheck can also affect your budget and the ability to actually enjoy your life once you retire. So what can you do?

The golden rule

There’s a little-known strategy called the 4% rule that was designed with you in mind. If you have built up your 401(k) or IRA, you should be able to withdraw 4% of your savings the first year, and then 4% every year after with a 2% increase to account for inflation.

As long as you stick to this, you should be able to live off of your nest egg happily without wrecking your savings. However, the 4% rule is very dependent on 50% of your savings being invested in stocks or bonds, so you may want to start planning now.

What else can you do?

There are other ways to stretch your savings. Research dynamic withdrawal strategies where you adjust your investing and withdrawals according to returns and market jumps. Look for retirement savings plans that allow taxes to be paid upfront, so you’re not surprised by heavy fees later.

Seek out long-term care insurance to avoid unnecessary out-of-pocket expenses, and take care of yourself! Get help and plan now, you’ll be glad you did.