For Mark Roberts’ Use: The average retiree lives on a fixed income, which can sound scary as you’re looking toward the future. With careful planning, it is possible to enjoy a generous budget in retirement. But even the most confident retirees and pre-retirees should keep an eye on these four factors, because they can significantly impact your lifestyle in the future.

The stock market. Favorable stock market conditions can help us build sizable retirement funds. But it’s important to remember that the stock market can and will change. Right now we may be seeing a peak in the stock market, with a possible decline in the future. No one can predict when this decline will happen or how severe it will be. But as you get closer to your anticipated retirement date, it might be wise to consider switching to more stable assets.

Changing interest rates. Right now, interest rates remain historically low, which generally makes bond investors happy. But like the stock market, interest rates can fluctuate. A rise in interest rates could affect your bond values, so this is something to consider. But since interest rates change more slowly than the stock market, there is no reason to panic. Simply keep an eye on interest rates and be ready to respond to any trends you might see.

Inflation. Inflation, or the rise in prices of goods and services, occurs very gradually over many years. You might not notice a big change in the price of milk from this month to the next. But inflation will indeed make a large difference in your purchasing power over the course of several decades. With the average retiree expecting to live 20 to 30 years on a fixed income, it’s important to remember that your budget will change significantly during that time.

Personal risk factors. Depending upon your individual situation, you may face other risks. Are you heavily invested in the real estate market, or have you focused your retirement planning around the equity you hold in your home? Remember that the real estate market can change drastically, as we all learned in recent years. Another unknown factor is your health. With the cost of health care increasing dramatically, none of us can be too certain of our future budgets.

With one in five people expected to live past age 90, you could be looking at a long retirement. Schedule regular consultations with your financial advisor to be sure your retirement strategy is on target with your life expectancy and goals.