Texas Tech University

Make Your Money Last a Lifetime


September 14, 2015

Fidelity - These days, protecting your savings as you approach retirement -- with the goal of making it last as long as you do -- is like navigating between a rock and a hard place. Now in its seventh year, the bull market is one of the longest on record. That means by most standards that a bear market is overdue. Interest rates are almost certain to go up in the coming years, and bond prices fall when interest rates rise. "I see risk at both ends of the spectrum," says David Blanchett, head of retirement research at the investment consulting branch of Morningstar.

One problem: Those formulas rely on historical market returns and don't reflect future returns, which are likely to be lower. To avoid lowering your living standard and to keep from running out of money, you'd have to save 33 times preretirement expenses (rather than 25) and drop your initial withdrawal rate to 3% or less, according to a 2013 study by Blanchett, Pfau, and Michael Finke, a professor at Texas Tech University. For instance, if your annual gap between income and expenses is $24,000, you'd need $600,000 ($24,000 x 25) to cover the gap at the 4% withdrawal rate and $792,000 ($24,000 x 33) to cover it at the 3% rate.

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