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Financially Speaking

Securing Income for Life

A bucket investment strategy may help savings last longer

If your investments are mainly in a 401(k) or individual retirement account, it's easy to switch between stocks and bonds. If not, you'll have to consider taxes when you make a change or use new savings to bring the stock or bond bucket to the right size.

What makes this three-bucket strategy low-risk? First, your bonds secure your grocery money for at least 15 years. Second, if the market crashes when you first retire, you have only a modest amount in stocks and can afford to wait for a recovery. (People who sold after the 2008 crash came to regret it.)

Focus on growth

Wyatt Lee, portfolio manager for the mutual fund group T. Rowe Price, agrees that relying on "safe" investments won't work. "You need a substantial amount of equities to maintain your income for life," he says. Assuming a 30-year retirement, you'd spend half your money in the first 15 years and half in the second 15 years. The later money should be invested for growth.

Lee takes a more familiar approach — reduce your exposure to stocks as you age. But he starts out high. At age 65, he advises a stock fund allocation of 55 percent. Your 4 percent withdrawals would come from both stocks and bonds. At 75, you'd still have 42 percent in stocks. If a bear market hit just when you retired, you'd take a larger loss than with Kitces' approach. You'd gain it back but might be more tempted to sell.

Follow Kitces or Lee. Either way, you can't give up on stocks.

Jane Bryant Quinn is a personal finance expert and the author of Making the Most of Your Money NOW.

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