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What is the 4 Percent Rule and Can it be a Plausible Choice?

Retirement planning is crucial to have a secure lifestyle in old age. Spending your nest egg should have a pattern, so you don’t run out of money.

The 4 Percent Rule can be a plausible solution to the concerns of many senior citizens.

If the term boggles your mind, you are not alone. Many retirees often get confused to hear that. They simply think of it as a fixed withdrawal rate from their fund.

But, this isn’t as simple as that. So, Let me now unravel every in and out of this 4 percent rule for better understanding.

What is the 4 Percent rule?

The 4% rule of thumb states that a retiree should spend only 4% of their savings on the first year of retirement. Therefore, this retirement withdrawal strategy shall offer the retiree a comfy way of expenditure. What’s interesting, it keeps the fund balance in a reasonable situation.

Moreover, the rule also tells you how much you should withdraw in the subsequent year. Normally, you have to adjust the inflation rate with the fixed rate. This slight adjustment ensures the same living standard for you in case the inflation rates rise or fall.

What is the 4% Rule and Can it be a Plausible Choice?


Who is the mastermind behind this concept?

A financial advisor named Bill Bengen is the man behind this idea. He collected historical data on stocks and bond returns from 1926 to 1976. He roughly estimated the withdrawal rates to be 5% at that time.

His research showed how a 5% yearly withdrawal plan keeps the retirement portfolio realistic. He suggested a 4% rate only in the bad economic downturn.

Later, other experts have found the 4% withdrawal rate to be a more plausible option. Because, with the 4 percent rule, you can expect a 30-year long financial security even in the worst-case scenario.

How does the 4% rule work?

The working system of this 4 percent rule is easy and simple. To figure out the expected money you can spend, you just need to know the 4% rule retirement calculator.

Lemme give you an instance to give you a better idea. If your savings is $10000, you can spend (10000*4/100)=$400 in the first year of your retirement. But, in the following year, you cannot expect the price of every product to remain the same,

That’s why you need to adjust to inflation. For example, if the inflation is 2% a year, you need to withdraw roughly $408. And in the next year, you should follow this amount as your base to adjust.

In this way, you can calculate your yearly cost and retirement savings. Pretty simple, isn’t it?

The Benefits of choosing 4% rule

The 4% rule for retirement might be a silver lining or a gloomy cloud for you. It can be an optimal choice for you only when you have a simple living style and a steady marketplace.

The rule gives you an estimate of your yearly cost. So, you won’t run out of bucks in senile years. Moreover, it is a simple strategy to follow. Finally, the safe withdrawal rate allows you to modify the cost of inflation and other financial crises.

To a certain extent, social security and financial freedom are the best things I found about this concept. So, if you are sure about the market conditions, you can definitely choose the rule for your advanced years. In addition, historical data shows that the rule survived in events like the Second World War and the great economic depression.

No one wants to run out of money when they retire, so you have to figure out which plan works for you!

What are the drawbacks of this concept?

The 4 percent rule and retirement planning are not without drawbacks. It was popular in the 90s. The marketplace back then was quite steady. But nowadays, things have changed a lot, and predicting the market data is no longer an easy-peasy task.

Moreover, this rule assumes you have your asset allocation in 50% stocks and 50% bonds. But everybody doesn’t invest in this proportion. So your investment portfolio will be different in varied investing scenarios. For example, if your stocks are 40% and bonds are 60%, then it may not work well in the end.

And what about stocks down? You cannot guarantee the stocks to be rising all the time. It may go down at any moment. Think of the recent Russia-Ukraine War and its impact on Europe’s economy.

Another major drawback is the taken-for-granted rate of expenditure. You might want to spend more a year and less on the next. But, it isn’t flexible enough to adjust that.

What’s more disturbing is the taken-for-granted life expectancy. People retiring at 60 can live up to 90 or even less. A report from the social security administration shows that the normal life expectancy in the US is less than 80. So 5% rule withdrawal might have been a good choice here. Moreover, people living up to 95 may find they have run out of money. Overall, it can be a risky venture.

Depending on how you plan and balance your timing, you might be able to retire early!

Is the 4% rule outdated?

There is a recent drop in interest in 4% rule investing. Stock returns have changed and the marketplace can be unpredictable at any moment. But still, it can give you some plausible estimation.

Bill Bengen has shown that historical scenarios like the World War and the subsequent crisis couldn’t alter the expected retirement fund that much. Therefore, it’s still a reliable approach for many.

Is there any 4% Rule alternative?

Yes, there are a few options. The 4 percent rule retirement is not the only option. It is best to modify it according to necessity. But how? Let’s see.

Varying Withdrawal

You can begin the withdrawal at the 3 percent rule if you retire earlier. According to Bengen’s research, with 50% of bonds and stocks investment, the retirement fund can last 50 years or more.

At the 5% retirement withdrawal from your nest egg, you can expect up to 25 years of service. And at the 6% rule, the fund may end up to 20 years. Therefore, you can choose a particular rule of thumb that helps to deal with risk tolerance.

Stock Reduction

According to some research, changing the asset allocation can also be a better alternative. If you reduce the stock percentage to 20-30, marketplace fluctuation won’t affect your balanced portfolio much.

Bonds and cash can replace the stock market risk. An excellent mixture of these three will serve you best in old age.


Another dynamic strategy is RMD or required minimum distribution. It tells you what amount of money is left and what to withdraw from IRAs. It takes into account life expectancy. You can easily estimate the best amount to withdraw through the RMD calculator.

All these can be good 4% rule alternatives. But if you don’t want to follow any cookie-cutter strategy, you can simply spend according to your situation. It is better to consult a financial adviser to find out the best possible way for you.

You have to consider a bunch of different factors to see if this plan is going to work for you.

Things to consider before choosing a plan

There are several contributing factors that you should note before finally choosing a plan. Your nest egg might run out badly if you forget to consider them. What to consider then?

1.      Expected age After retirement

No man can live the same, and death is always a tantalizing what-if. But there should be a general idea about your lifespan. If you’re healthy and strong even at old age, you might get the chance to live long.

In that case, the 3% or 4% rule is not a bad choice. But with fragile health, your asset might outlive you in the future.  That means you have to regulate your retirement portfolio as per your expected lifespan.

2.    Lifestyle

Well, lifestyle is crucial for opting for a plan. Some fella with an extravagant lifestyle can never be satisfied with the limited withdrawal rates. On the other hand, if you are prone to spend a lot in your youth, the propensity can stay forever. In that case, the 4% or 5% rule cannot make your days smooth. And in the worst-case scenario, you might outlive your asset. Running out of money isn’t a good option for most retirees.

3.   Medical Expenditure

The more you grow old, your expenditure on health rises. As a result, a large chunk of savings will be spent on medical issues. Unfortunately, the expected expenditure can never be rightly estimated. So, along with the inflation adjustment, you should consider the other expenses here.

Among other things, you should consider the possible market volatility, and lower bonds and stock returns. Don’t forget to count the taxes as well. If you can take these factors into account, a sudden economic downturn cannot affect your savings much.

You will want to be able to retire with confidence and enjoy your time with your loved ones.

To Sum it Up

It is a good idea to plan for future expenditure. You can choose the 4% rule after assessing your situation and requirement. It is an easy-breezy rule of thumb to follow. Or, it is also better to have dynamic plans.

Whatever rule you might end up with, make sure to monitor the economic situation and adjust accordingly. Let your retirement research be dynamic and practical from the early years.


How long does my money last with the 4% rule investing?


Well, you can withdraw your retirement savings for up to 30 years with this rule. However, it may vary according to the lifestyle changes. Early retirement from a job will necessitate a few more years of retirement savings. So, you need to save money from early years then.


How long will $500,000 last after retirement?


If you choose the 4% rule example, you can comfortably spend $20000 in a year. With a stable market, your retirement fund can suffice for 30 years. With the 3% rule, or $15000 a year, the fund will suffice for nearly 45+ years. However, the little amount of money might not improve your living standard.


How much do I need to retire?


The amount may vary according to your retirement income, Social Security, and expenditure rate. But, there can be enough The amount may vary according to your retirement income, Social Security, and expenditure rate. But, there can be enough variation in unpredictable moments.

However, financial planners suggest that you should save 80% of your annual income when you retire. That means, if your final service year’s earning is $50000, your savings should be 50000*80/100= $40000.


No one wants to have to go back to work after they retire – make sure your plan is a solid one.

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Originally posted 2022-03-17 03:02:15.

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