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Four Percent Rule


The Four Percent Rule is a rule of thumb used by financial advisors in retirement planning. It states that a retiree can withdraw 4% of their retirement savings in the first year, and adjust the amount each subsequent year for inflation, which should prevent depletion of the retirement savings for at least 30 years. The rule assumes a balanced investment portfolio of stocks and bonds.


The phonetics of the keyword “Four Percent Rule” would be: /fɔːr pəˈsɛnt ruːl/

Key Takeaways

1. `Definition:`

The Four Percent Rule is a financial guideline that suggests a retiree can safely withdraw 4% of their retirement savings annually without running out of money.2. `Application:`

This rule generally applies to retirees who have most of their retirement savings invested in a well-diversified retirement portfolio, offering them a reasonable assumption of being able to provide a steady income stream without substantially depleting their savings during their retirement years.3. `Limitations:`

The Four Percent Rule does not take into consideration unpredictable economic circumstances, inflation rates, and individual health or lifespan. Therefore, it’s essential to consider personal circumstances before applying this rule.


The Four Percent Rule is a fundamental principle in finance and retirement planning which suggests that one can withdraw 4% from their retirement savings annually to fund their living expenses, without risking substantial depletion of their funds over a 30 year period. This rule is significant because it helps retirees create a sustainable living income, ensuring that they don’t exhaust their savings prematurely. It also provides a benchmark for retirement saving goals. However, individual circumstances and market variables must be considered, as the rule doesn’t account for inflation or changing personal needs over time.


The Four Percent Rule serves as a key strategy in retirement planning and helps determine the amount of funds to withdraw from a retirement account each year. The primary purpose of this rule is to provide a steady income stream for retirees while also maintaining an account balance that keeps income flowing through retirement. It’s designed to safeguard individuals from a significant likelihood of outliving their savings by carefully managing withdrawals from their portfolio.This rule is typically used by retirees, who have accumulated a certain amount of savings and want to make it last throughout their retirement years. The Four Percent Rule helps in determining how much they can safely withdraw each year without depleting their retirement savings prematurely. The calculations are based on historical market returns and inflation rates, but they should also consider the individual’s lifespan, withdrawal rate, and the composition of their investment portfolio. It’s important to understand that while this rule can serve as a helpful initial guideline, modifications might be needed based on personal circumstances and changing economic conditions.


The Four Percent Rule is a guideline developed by financial planners to help people determine the amount they should withdraw from their retirement savings each year.1. A retired couple has saved $500,000 for their retirement. According to the Four Percent Rule, they would withdraw $20,000 (or 4% of $500,000) in the first year of retirement and then adjust that amount each year to account for inflation.2. An individual has invested $1 million in a retirement account. With the Four Percent Rule, they would start by withdrawing $40,000 per year for their living expenses. This is expected to allow the remaining fund to last for their retirement span of approximately 30 years, assuming at least a part of the fund is invested at a return higher than inflation.3. An investor saves $2 million for their retirement. They start to withdraw 4% annually, which is $80,000, to cover their expenses when they retire. This withdrawal rate is thought to provide a balance between maintaining a steady income stream and ensuring that the retirement portfolio lasts for a long time.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is the Four Percent Rule?

The Four Percent Rule is a widely used rule of thumb in the realm of finance and retirement planning. It suggests that if you withdraw 4% of your retirement savings annually, your funds can last approximately 30 years.

Who proposed the Four Percent Rule?

The Four Percent Rule was proposed by financial advisor William P. Bengen in 1994.

How does the Four Percent Rule work?

The Four Percent Rule assumes you maintain an investment portfolio of 60% stocks and 40% bonds. According to the rule, you withdraw 4% of your retirement savings in the first year and then adjust that amount for inflation each subsequent year.

Is the Four Percent Rule foolproof?

Although the Four Percent Rule provides a basic guideline, it’s not foolproof. For instance, it cannot account for market volatility, inflation changes, increased expenditures, or unanticipated financial emergencies.

How does inflation affect the Four Percent Rule?

According to the Four Percent Rule, you should adjust your withdrawals to account for inflation annually. This means if inflation is high, you might have to withdraw more, which can deplete your funds quicker than intended.

Can I use the Four Percent Rule if I have other income sources in retirement?

Yes, the Four Percent Rule can still be applied even if you have other income sources. It’s primarily a guide to help ensure you don’t withdraw too much from your retirement savings and run out prematurely.

I am a high spender. Can I still use the Four Percent Rule?

The Four Percent Rule is based on average spending needs and may not suit high spenders. If you spend more annually, you may need to adjust the percentage you withdraw to ensure your funds last throughout retirement.

Does the Four Percent Rule work for every type of investment?

The Four Percent Rule is based on a portfolio composed of 60% stocks and 40% bonds. If your portfolio differs significantly from this composition, the rule might not work as effectively for you.

Is the Four Percent Rule suitable for everyone?

It’s not necessarily suitable for everyone. It depends on several factors including your lifestyle, spending habits, life expectancy, portfolio size, and risk tolerance. It’s recommended to consult with a financial advisor to create a personalized retirement plan.

Related Finance Terms

  • Safe Withdrawal Rate
  • Retirement Savings
  • Investment Portfolio
  • Inflation Adjustments
  • Retirement Planning

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