Weekend Reading: The Mysterious Order... of Asset Withdrawal

This article appears as part of Casey Weade's Weekend Reading for Retirees series. Every Friday, Casey highlights four hand-picked articles on trending retirement topics and delivers them straight to your email inbox. Get on the list here.
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Weekend Reading

Which accounts do you pull from first when it comes to your retirement income stream? It’s a question many retirees stress over, but in the grand scheme of things, might not be worth all the worry. Read the article from The Street below.


As the author states, there is no “right” way when it comes to withdrawal order. Your personal preference and unique financial situation will determine what works best for you, but if you’re wondering where to begin, here are three strategies:

📌The Standard: As the most recommended method, spend down occurs in this order: taxable accounts, tax-deferred accounts then Roth IRA accounts. The pro here is that your tax rate stays low during early retirement years, but the con is leaving a large amount of tax-deferred dollars to non-spouse heirs.

📌Flip the Standard: With this method, withdrawal order is as follows: Tax-deferred assets, taxable accounts, then Roth (or combining Roth and tax-deferred). The pros include spending down tax-deferred accounts before RMDs hit, and paying taxes for non-spouse heirs’ inheritance ahead of time.

📌Pro-Rata Withdrawals: This strategy includes spending out of each asset bucket in proportion to your entire investment pool, and allows you to hedge bets on evolving tax laws.

My thoughts: Complexity can add value to a retirement plan, but overcomplexity can lead to overwhelm and inaction. Don’t complicate your strategy, or life, for that matter, for pennies; especially if you know you have a tendency to procrastinate.