Outline of retirement planning

From Bogleheads

The following outline is provided as a topical overview of retirement planning:

Retirement planning involves saving for retirement, primarily by means of employer provided plans and personal retirement savings plans. Retirement planning also includes the retirement phase of the life cycle when the retiree is withdrawing an income from savings, taking Social Security, and securing health insurance.

Retirement saving

Employer provided plans

A pension plan is an employee benefit plan established or maintained by an employer or by an employee organization (such as a union), or both, that provides retirement income or defers income until termination of covered employment or beyond. There are a number of types of retirement plans, including the 401(k) plan and the traditional pension plan, known as a defined benefit plan.

Employer plan basics

Contributory plans

Thrift Savings Plan

Plan features

Plan transfers


Personal savings plans

Personal retirement plans include Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRA)s, annuities, and some forms of charitable split-interest gifts.

IRA accounts

An individual retirement arrangement, or IRA, is a personal savings plan which allows you to set aside money for retirement, while offering you tax advantages. You may be able to deduct some or all of your contributions to your IRA. Amounts in your IRA, including earnings, generally are not taxed until distributed to you. IRA's cannot be owned jointly. However, any amounts remaining in your IRA upon your death can be paid to your beneficiary or beneficiaries.

IRA withdrawals

Roth conversions

IRA transfers

Inheriting an IRA


Deferred annuities

Deferred annuities are used to accumulate assets. Funds will grow at a rate that can be either fixed or variable.

  • Fixed annuity: The money you put in a fixed annuity earns interest at a rate that is guaranteed for a specific period of time—ranging from one to five years or more, depending on the terms of the contract. When that period ends, a new rate may take effect—or the old rate may be offered again.
  • Variable annuity: With a variable annuity, your money is put in subaccount investments that are similar to stock and bond funds. The return on your investments is subject to the risk of market fluctuation. Your total account value depends on how much risk you take, the performance of the subaccounts, and what charges and fees are deducted.

An Equity-indexed annuity, also referred to as a fixed indexed annuity, is a type of fixed annuity where earnings accumulate at a rate based on a formula linked in part to a published equity-based index, such as the Standard & Poor’s 500 Composite Stock Price IndexTM (S&P 500). An indexed annuity provides a guarantee of a minimum accumulation value, and may also offer death benefit protection and a variety of payout options. The index used, the formula that determines the indexed rate and the guaranteed minimum value, can vary from insurer to insurer.

Immediate annuities

Immediate (Income) annuities are used to convert a lump sum into an income stream (regular payments), typically for the life of the annuitant. If the income stream is fixed, it is considered a fixed immediate annuity; also known as a Single Premium Immediate Annuity (SPIA). Some fixed immediate annuities are offered with inflation-adjusted payments or graded payments that rise at a fixed rate, of for example, 3% annually. However, these options reduce the initial payment received but with the anticipation that payments will grow steadily over time. If the income stream is variable, it is considered a variable immediate annuity. Like deferred variable annuities, your money is put into subaccounts. These subaccounts can be invested in stock or bond funds. Payments will fluctuate based on the underlying subaccounts. With funds invested in stocks, it is possible that payments could grow at a rate higher than can be achieved by fixed immediate annuities.

Vanguard annuities

Charitable split interest plans

A split-interest gift is any gift in which a portion is assigned to charity and a portion benefits the donor or his/her designee. Charitable gift annuities, pooled income funds, and charitable remainder trusts are all varieties of split-interest gifts.


Withdrawal methods

Social Security

Health Insurance

Retirement spending