Wade Pfau’s book is an exhaustive examination of sustainable withdrawals from investment portfolios. Written in lucid prose, and accompanied by copious and illuminating charts and tables, Pfau investigates the topic from every conceivable angle.
How much can you spend in retirement? Naturally, this is an essential question for those approaching this important life transition. Essentially, if you wish to retire one day, you are increasingly responsible for figuring out how to save during your working years and convert your savings into sustainable income for an ever-lengthening number of retirement years. The nature of risk also changes in retirement, as the lifestyle of retirees become more vulnerable to the impacts of market volatility, unknown longevity, and spending shocks. Retirees have one opportunity to build a successful plan. It is not an easy task, but it is manageable. This book focuses on sustainable spending from investments, which is an important piece of any retirement plan. People want to know if they have saved enough to be able to fund their lifestyle in retirement.
In this book, I explain the findings of a large body of financial planning research regarding sustainable spending from investment portfolios in the face of a variety of retirement risks. That body of research tends to begin with the 4 percent rule of thumb for retirement spending. I explain how and why it was developed, what it means, and when it may or may not be appropriate for retirees. William Bengen’s 1994 study gave us the concept of the SAFEMAX, which is the highest sustainable spending rate from the worst-case scenario observed in the US historical data. The Trinity study added portfolio success rates from the historical data for different spending strategies. Both studies suggest that for a thirty-year retirement period, a 4 percent inflation-adjusted withdrawal rate using a 50-75 percent stock allocation should be reasonably safe.