Bogleheads® retirement planning start-up kit

From Bogleheads

Below is a suggested list of topics for retirement planning.

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Preparing for retirement

Creating a spending plan

Pre-retirement spending

  • Planning large pre-retirement expenditures

Spending considerations post-retirement

  • Retirement spending — Links to more detailed wiki pages that cover various aspects of retirement spending

Determining your retirement income sources

Individual retirement plans

Employer-provided plans

Separate wiki articles address plan details; just click on the provided link. IRS (Internal Revenue Service) and DOL (Department of Labor) references are also provided.

Tip: Use page Contents to see how the plans are structured.


Taxable investments

  • Taxable account — Account for which the default IRS tax rules apply; no tax deferral or other special benefits


If your employer offers a choice between "all at once" (lump sum) or every year (annuity), see: Lump sum vs pension.

Reverse mortgages

  • Reverse mortgages — Allows some homeowners to withdraw a portion of home equity as income or a line of credit

Withdrawal rates and life expectancy

Asset allocation effect on withdrawal rates

  • Asset allocation — Dividing an investment portfolio among different asset categories

Calculating withdrawals

When it is time to start taking withdrawals from your retirement portfolio, there are several withdrawal methods you can use:

  • Constant dollar
  • Constant percentage
  • Variable percentage
  • Spending only the dividends
  • Alternative methods, such as glide path and 1/N

Asset allocation adjustments as you age

When you take money out of your portfolio, you should consider more than just the method of withdrawal. Consider your current asset allocation between stocks and bonds, and decide if your allocation will be changed during the withdrawal phase.

  • Constant-dollar (age in bonds)
  • Constant-percentage (age in bonds)

Taking withdrawals

Determining the date to take withdrawals during each year

The year you turn age 72 (73 if you reach age 72 after Dec. 31, 2022) is your first Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) year. You may take your RMD as early as January 1 of that year, and as late as April 1 of the following year. This is the only time you can use the April 1 extension. You must take your RMD for the following year before the end of that following year, and similarly you must take subsequent year's withdrawals before year end.

It is better to take the RMD no later than several weeks before your deadline, just in case something unexpected comes along. It is even possible for the stock exchanges to close under certain conditions. If you fail to take an RMD you face a very high tax penalty: 25% of the amount not withdrawn; possibly 10% if the RMD is timely corrected within two years.[1]

The special first RMD year option does not require you to defer the entire first RMD to the second year. You can can choose to defer all, none, or any part of it. Your other income and deductions in each year can vary, so that you might minimize tax rates across those two years by taking some or all of the first RMD in the first distribution year.

If you choose to delay your first RMD until the following year, you would then be taking two annual withdrawals in that following year, and paying tax on both of those amounts. Many retirees should take your first withdrawal in their first RMD year, because taking two withdrawals in the same year would push your income into a higher marginal tax rate.

For others, not equalizing the RMD amounts might lower your tax on Social Security payments. For example, it could be that something like 75% of your Social Security will be included in your AGI if you take the RMDs each year in the usual fashion, but if you defer more of the first year it will result in no Social Security inclusion in year one and 85% in year two. In this case, deferring a larger amount might actually reduce your total tax over both years.

If you plan on doing any Roth conversions in any RMD year, you must first satisfy the RMD before converting. And if you are considering a Qualified charitable distribution (QCD), you must do the QCD first if you want it counted toward your RMD. The sequence of events therefore is QCD first, then any remaining RMD if needed, and then conversion if desirable.

Other considerations

Other considerations are:

  • Selecting accounts for taking withdrawals
  • Considering fund distributions
  • Considering tax implications of taking withdrawals
  • Processing withdrawals

Taxes in retirement

Considerations include:

  • Taxes on investment gains compared to taxes on earned income
  • IRA taxation
  • No payroll taxes (Social Security, Medicare)

See also


  1. "Retirement Plan and IRA Required Minimum Distributions FAQs". IRS. Retrieved February 21, 2023.