Testing the 4%-a-Year Retirement Rule

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The next five years could determine whether a rule of thumb for retirees’ withdrawals from their portfolios remains valid in these turbulent times, says Bill Bengen, a financial planner in Southern California.

Mr. Bengen is the creator of the 4% rule for retirement withdrawals.

In a study published in 1994, he said that if retirees withdrew 4% of their nest egg in the first year, and then increased the dollar amount by the inflation rate every year, their savings would easily last 30 years. He assumed that the portfolio was held in a tax-deferred account and was evenly split between large-company stocks and U.S. Treasury bonds.

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