When you retire, one of the biggest challenges is giving up your regular paycheck. A lot of investors try to replace that monthly check with high-yield stocks. But a big yield isn't the only thing to look for; you also want to make sure you keep up with inflation. That's why Enterprise Products Partners L.P. (NYSE:EPD), Holly Energy Partners, L.P. (NYSE:HEP), and Buckeye Partners, L.P. (NYSE:BPL) are three limited partnerships to help you make money in retirement.

1. The giant

Enterprise Products Partners is one of the largest midstream energy partnerships in the country, with a vast collection of pipelines, storage, processing facilities, and even a fleet of ships. The vast majority of its business is fee based, which means demand for the oil and natural gas that moves through its system is more important than the price of the commodities and their byproducts. The company is basically a toll taker.

A man welding a pipe.

Image source: Getty Images.

The distribution yield is currently around 6.1%, with first-quarter coverage of 1.3 times. That leaves plenty of room for Enterprise to increase the distribution again, something it's done every quarter for 51 consecutive quarters. That's an impressive streak that's just shy of 13 years. But that's not the only streak going, since Enterprise has increased its distribution every year for 20 years. The best part is that the average increase over the past decade has been around 5%, more than historical average increase in inflation (around 3%).  

A big yield, large diversified business, and a history of rewarding investors with regular, inflation-beating "pay" hikes. Not bad! And the outlook for more hikes looks pretty good, given that Enterprise has around $8 billion in growth projects lined up over the next two or three years to help keep that distribution growing.   

2. Smaller, but with a dedicated parent

Holly Energy Partners isn't as big or diversified as Enterprise. Its main focus is petroleum product and crude oil transportation, terminalling, and storage. But like Enterprise, its business is based on a toll-taker model, with 100% of its revenues coming from fees and 80% under long-term contacts. Demand for its services and expansion of its midstream assets are where growth will come from.  

Before I discuss the positives, let's get some negatives out of the way. Holly Energy has a general partner, independent refiner HollyFrontier (NYSE:HFC), that runs its business and collects fees and incentives. That increases operating costs compared to partnerships that don't have a general partner, like Enterprise and Buckeye Partners. And debt at Holly Energy is elevated today, at roughly 75% of the capital structure.

Holly Energy's general partner is HollyFrontier

Holly Energy has a strategic partner in HollyFrontier, even though it raises costs. Image source: Holly Energy L.P.

Let's address those negatives. Having a general partner does raise costs, but it also means Holly Energy has a partner ready (and incentivized) to sell it assets so it can keep increasing its distribution -- a mixed blessing at worst. And the debt load should go down over time as recent acquisitions get absorbed, but the level should be manageable based on the company's fee-based business. Now for the good stuff!

Holly Energy has increased its distribution for 50 consecutive quarters -- every quarter since it went public in mid-2004. The distribution yield is a pleasing 7.7%, with an annualized 10-year average increase of around 6%. A big yield, growth that's double the historical level of inflation, and a long history of regular increases -- now that's something to get excited about, and perhaps it's even enough to let you overlook a couple of negatives.  

3. A bit of diversification

Buckeye Partners is last on this list because the partnership's distribution growth has lagged behind those of Enterprise and Holly Energy. At an annualized 4% (or so) over the past decade, it's more than kept up with inflation, but not to the same degree as the other two names mentioned here. That said, Buckeye's annual streak is the longest of this trio, at 22 years and counting. It's also got the highest yield right now, at 7.8%, backed, like the others, by a largely fee-based business.  

The other interesting thing about Buckeye's storage-focused business is that it has significant foreign exposure, something the company has purposely focused on over the last seven years. International terminals account for roughly 40% of its EBITDA, domestic terminals come in at a little more than 50%, with marine services making up the balance. That really sets it apart in the midstream space and makes it an interesting way to diversify your portfolio a little. 

Buckeye Partners has been diversifying its business internationally.

Buckeye Partners has been growing its foreign business. Image source: Buckey Partners, L.P.

I wouldn't expect Buckeye to wow you with distribution growth, but paired up with another partnership (like Enterprise or Holly Energy), it could help to round out what could otherwise be a very domestic-heavy portfolio.

Create a new paycheck

If you've pulled the trigger and stepped out of the working world, well, congratulations! If living on a fixed income scares you a little, then look at adding companies that help you make money in retirement, like Enterprise, Holly Energy, and Buckeye. But remember it's not just about the yield -- it's about regular distribution increases that are large enough to keep your income stream growing faster than inflation. This trio is a good starting point.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.