The 3 Stages of Retirement Income

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In real life, retirement cash flow is not as simple as the pundits would have you believe.

Try a typical retirement calculator, and you’ll be prompted for a single expense number: How much would you need to spend from savings to live in retirement each year? But research shows that your gross expenses will change, likely declining as you get older. The assumption of constant retirement withdrawals simply isn’t realistic.

But this post is about the flip side of the retirement balance sheet: For many of us, retirement income will also change over time. As the years go by, we’ll need to take action to ensure regular payments keep coming in, and perhaps adjust our lifestyle if they aren’t enough.

Based on my experience living in retirement, I’m seeing three irreversible stages of retirement income. Once you leave each one behind, you’ll be fully dependent on only what’s left….

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How Much Should You Leave to Your Kids?

vintage chest and key

How do you feel about legacy giving? Chances are, you see the issue differently from your own parents. We're experiencing a generational change in views on inherited wealth. Parents of today's baby boomers, having lived through a World War … [Continue reading]

Mountain Vacation Towns of the West


Even once you're retired, you'll still probably go on vacation from time to time. What is a vacation but a change of scenery and routine from everyday living? And you still need that stimulation and respite occasionally, even when you are no longer … [Continue reading]

Getting Organized for Financial Independence


You can get to financial independence well enough even if you're disorganized. As long as you're also smart and creative. But, you'll reach financial freedom much faster by being organized about your intentions. Sloppiness with your money is no … [Continue reading]

Tools for Financial Independence

Three old pickaxes on wooden background

The path to financial freedom involves accumulating and managing assets. You need to have more resources coming into your life than going out. And you need to grow those resources. To accomplish that, it helps to have tools and a system. You'll reach … [Continue reading]

Accepting and Managing Risk

Leading at Lemmon

A recent review of my new book grabbed my attention: "Consistent with his background as an adventurer, Kirkpatrick never oversimplifies things by labeling them “safe” or “risky.” He emphasizes that every decision you make has risks, which must be … [Continue reading]

Staying Fit in Retirement

Chromed dumbbells

Use it or lose it. As my wife and I ease into the back half of our 50's, our house has gradually transformed into a gymnasium. It seems like every spare corner and surface holds exercise or physical therapy equipment now. I've been into … [Continue reading]

A Surprising Contender for Tax-Efficient Retirement Saving…

Office windows

Samuel Foote, famous British comedic actor of his time, was chatting with a member of the royal court. The entitled aristocrat complained bitterly of having been thrown out a second-floor window for cheating at cards. Foote's advice? "Don't play so … [Continue reading]

Maximizing Retirement Spending: Is That Really What It’s All About?

Trail over handlebars

Mainstream retirement planning these days is all about maximizing your spending in retirement. And that seems sensible, on the surface. The theory is you want to spend as much as possible in retirement, subject to the whims of the stock … [Continue reading]

Is Your Retirement Calculator Designed for Accuracy?

Working on blueprint with divider, ruler, calculator

Earlier this year, the Wall Street Journal published an article titled "New Study Questions Retirement Planning Calculators’ Accuracy." It reported on an academic study of 36 retirement planning tools. The research concluded that "in most cases, the … [Continue reading]

Can I Retire Yet? — The Book

Can I Retire Yet cover

Three years in the making, my second book is available now. You can get it on Amazon, in paperback or Kindle. Can you retire yet? I've been studying this tricky question for a decade, and this book is my answer. It captures the best of this … [Continue reading]

Book Excerpt: Buckets and Your Retirement Paycheck

Buckets of dollars

My second book, Can I Retire Yet? -- How to Make the Biggest Financial Decision of the Rest of Your Life, is coming soon. It should be available on Amazon, in paperback and Kindle, in just a few weeks. To celebrate, I'm publishing another excerpt … [Continue reading]

One Retirement Number You Can’t Afford to Get Wrong

numbered blocks

I've long promoted using free retirement calculators, easily available on the web, to get a better handle on your retirement trajectory. These tools give you a sense for how much you need to save to retire, providing much-needed perspective and … [Continue reading]

Book Excerpt: Do You Need a Financial Advisor?

Businessmen talking on homemade can phone

Finally, I can talk about my second book, titled "Can I Retire Yet?" More than three years in the making, the text is in final draft. I expect it to be available on Amazon by early summer. Subtitled "How to Make the Biggest Financial Decision … [Continue reading]

My Retirement Income Taxes: 2016

Form 1040 with pen and glasses

On April Fool's Day I completed and filed my returns for the 2015 tax year. Normally I’m proactive about financial matters. But, for taxes, I wait until a few weeks before the mid-April deadline. That reduces the chances that a late-breaking 1099 … [Continue reading]

Dealing with Uncertainty in Retirement Calculations

Question mark on sticky notes

Remember the game of Telephone? Players whisper a secret message down the line from one to the next. When the message reaches the end of the line, it's repeated aloud to the group. And, without fail, it's been mangled beyond … [Continue reading]

The Best Retirement Withdrawal Strategies: Digging Deeper

gardening tools

A couple of months ago I published new research here. The topic was retirement withdrawal strategies. I was trying to answer a question that had long puzzled me. It's one that I hadn't seen addressed elsewhere: What is the best way to liquidate the … [Continue reading]

Retirement Health Care: What Are Your Options?

Stethoscope on laptop computer keyboard

For years, health insurance in the U.S. was a major roadblock to early retirement. If you dared to leave work before age 65, when Medicare starts, you were on your own for retirement health care. In my case, our assets were closing in on financial … [Continue reading]

My Favorite Retirement Calculators

Calculator on red heart

I've used many retirement calculators. More than 80 at last count. I relied on these tools to plan my own retirement trajectory, culminating in early retirement at age 50. Then I started a blog and began reviewing retirement calculators. Over time, … [Continue reading]

The Next Bear Market: How Bad Could It Get?

Grizzly bear

In November of 1972 the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at a little above 1,000 points. Then it went down, and stayed mostly down, for the next ten years. While the Dow sat still, life went on.... The first U.S. space station and shuttle … [Continue reading]

My Investment Portfolio: 2016

stock certificates

It was another dull year for my investment portfolio. Until last week. In all of 2015, I made a single investing move. Then came the first week of 2016: Questions swirled around highly respected financial firms. I did some long-overdue portfolio … [Continue reading]