Spending Down in Retirement

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About Roy Snarr

CFF®, CLTC®, LACP, NSSA®
“Throughout my career I have helped hundreds of families and business owners create strategic plans that identify personal and business goals. I make it my priority to deliver beyond my client’s expectations by helping them strategize the best solutions based on their needs.” Roy Snarr My dedication and passion has enabled me to build a successful and recognized business and to become a part of the most pristine association of financial professionals, the Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT). An international organization consisting of the top 1% of licensed financial professionals. As a part of my ever-growing financial education I serve as a local Board member for the Society of Financial Services Professionals (FSP). I hold an LACP designation; Life and Annuity Certified Professional.

Retirement marks a significant shift in how you manage your finances. Instead of building your nest egg, the focus turns to using your savings to cover your living expenses. This concept is called “spending down,” and understanding it is crucial for making your retirement funds last.

What Does “Spending Down” Mean?

Spending down your retirement savings means strategically drawing from your accumulated assets to create income during your retirement. Unlike other retirement philosophies focused on preserving a significant portion of your nest egg, the core idea is utilizing your savings to meet your living expenses and lifestyle needs.

Why Choose to Spend Down?

There are several compelling reasons to consider spending down your retirement assets:

  • Enjoying Your Hard-Earned Money: You’ve worked diligently to build your retirement fund. Spending it within reason allows you to experience the rewards of your labor and pursue your passions.
  • Avoiding Unintentional Bequests: Leaving a large inheritance might be well-intentioned, but if it comes at the cost of sacrificing your comfort and enjoyment during retirement, it might be worth reconsidering.
  • Reducing Worries about Outliving Your Savings: Spending down strategically helps ensure your needs are met throughout your lifetime.

Strategies for Spending Down

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to spending down in retirement. Here are some common strategies:

  • The 4% Rule: This popular guideline suggests withdrawing approximately 4% of your retirement assets in your first year of retirement and adjusting that amount annually for inflation. It’s a good starting point, but individual circumstances may warrant adjustments.
  • Flexible Spending: Rather than a fixed percentage, flexible spending involves evaluating your income needs year by year. This lets you adjust your withdrawals based on market performance, unexpected expenses, or changing desires.
  • Bucket Strategy: This method divides your assets into different “buckets” based on time horizons. Short-term needs are covered by cash and less volatile investments, while longer-term buckets can include stocks that offer growth potential.
  • Annuity Income: Purchasing an annuity provides a guaranteed income stream for a specified period or even for life, offering peace of mind against outliving your assets.

Factors to Consider

Before you start spending down, consider these essential factors:

  • Life Expectancy: Your projected lifespan influences how aggressively you can draw down your savings.
  • Inflation: Factoring inflation into your plan ensures your purchasing power is maintained over time.
  • Market Volatility: Market ups and downs can significantly impact your portfolio. Be sure your spending down strategy accounts for potential downturns.
  • Unexpected Expenses: Healthcare costs, long-term care, or home repairs can arise. Have some flexibility in your budget to address these potential expenses.

The Importance of Planning

Careful planning is vital for a successful spending down strategy. Consulting with a trusted financial advisor may provide tailored guidance and help you create a comprehensive plan. They can analyze your income sources, expenses, risk tolerance, and goals to help you determine the best approach for your unique situation.

Spending down your retirement savings allows you to make the most of your retirement years. By understanding the concept, employing thoughtful strategies, and seeking professional advice, you can create a fulfilling and worry-free retirement experience.

Many people have learned about the power of using the Safe Money approach to reduce volatility. Our Safe Money Guide is in its 20th edition and is available for free.  

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About Roy Snarr

CFF®, CLTC®, LACP, NSSA®
“Throughout my career I have helped hundreds of families and business owners create strategic plans that identify personal and business goals. I make it my priority to deliver beyond my client’s expectations by helping them strategize the best solutions based on their needs.” Roy Snarr My dedication and passion has enabled me to build a successful and recognized business and to become a part of the most pristine association of financial professionals, the Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT). An international organization consisting of the top 1% of licensed financial professionals. As a part of my ever-growing financial education I serve as a local Board member for the Society of Financial Services Professionals (FSP). I hold an LACP designation; Life and Annuity Certified Professional.

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Content in our posted articles is deemed to be accurate but topics, facts and laws can change. It is always a good idea to verify facts before making decisions. Always seek authorized and professional advice regarding financial decisions which includes investing, annuity purchases, tax planning, changes in a financial portfolio and retirement planning.

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