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Many baby boomers are facing the challenge of how to maintain their lifestyle once they retire, as Social Security benefits typically only replace about 40% of a worker’s pre-retirement income. Annuities may help provide another source of guaranteed income, but many people do not seek those products when they retire due to their complexity and difficulty selecting among the various options. TIAA has launched a new metric to show why the 4% rule combined with an annuity can provide a higher amount of income than just using the 4% rule alone. For example, if a retiree has $1 million in total savings, the 4% rule would provide them with $40,000 in their first year of retirement. However, if the same retiree converts a portion of their savings to an annuity, they may boost their income significantly.

The first-year withdrawal of the annuity strategy could be 32% higher than just using the 4% rule, providing retirees with more predictable income. Financial advisors may not recommend annuities often, but they can be applicable in certain circumstances for investors seeking guaranteed income during retirement. Annuities may provide income certainty for retirees, allowing them to know exactly how much they can spend each month. While annuities may not be suitable for all investors, they can be a valuable tool for those looking for guaranteed income in retirement.

Retirees may also look to Treasury Inflation Protection Securities (TIPS) as another option for guaranteed income. A TIPS ladder of bonds with varying maturity dates can provide steady income and protection against inflation. The 4% rule has its limitations when applied to today’s retirees, as it may not account for other income streams like Social Security or provide enough spending flexibility. Retirees who rely on savings for essential expenses may want to take a conservative approach, while those who can withstand market fluctuations may have more flexibility with withdrawal rates.

The 4% rule may provide outdated recommendations for retirees who can handle higher withdrawal rates, as it may be too low for those retiring at a reasonable age. While the 4% rule can be useful to gauge needed savings at retirement, it is not meant to be an ongoing distribution framework. Different tax rates, risk profiles, and cash flow needs make the application of the 4% rule challenging for every individual. Withdrawal strategies can be more complex and varied than simply withdrawing 4% of the portfolio each year, as retirees may require different approaches based on their individual circumstances.

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