Retirement Answer Man

How do you pivot from a moderately aggressive portfolio in the accumulation stage of retirement planning to the decumulation stage? In today’s episode, we tackle two listener questions about the mechanics of decumulation in retirement planning. You’ll also hear a question about using QLACs to reduce RMDs. If you are wondering about the details on how exactly you are going to make this retirement thing work then be sure to press play. 

Retirement plan live is coming soon to a podcast near you! 

In January we’ll be hosting the next edition of Retirement Plan Live. Retirement Plan Live is an extremely popular series that we run each year where I walk out the logistics of creating a retirement plan over the course of 4 episodes with a listener. At the end of the series, we host a live webinar where we analyze whether that particular plan is feasible. Our last Retirement Plan Live series dealt with Trish and her unexpected retirement. 

If you would like to be the next subject of RPL, make sure you are signed up for the 6-Shot Saturday newsletter so that you can access the link to the application form. We’ll choose one listener from the dozens of applications we receive. We will make sure to change the name and details of your situation while at the same time keeping the generalities in check. Listen in to hear the details. 

How to get the most bang for your buck in your retirement portfolio

Steve has invested moderately aggressively, but as he turns 65 and enters retirement he is looking to become more conservative while at the same time getting the most bang for his buck. He is trying to figure out how to structure his portfolio conservatively while providing a bit of growth and income through dividends.

The best way to approach this or any retirement planning question is to take a top-down approach. If you start at the bottom and work your way up you miss out on how your question fits into the big picture. 

Retirement planning starts with your overall goals for retirement. Then you need to understand how this particular question fits into your retirement plan. Once you have a feasible plan, then you can build a cash flow model which plans out your spending over the next 5 years and beyond. Once you have this cash flow model in place then you can make that model resilient. This is where your question comes in. How would you make your plan resilient? 

Do you want to optimize your portfolio for more money and higher returns or do you prefer to have a high level of confidence in your spending no matter the market? Rather than getting the most bang for your buck, consider what kind of outcome you would prefer to secure. 

How to simplify retirement accounts without taking a huge tax hit

Karen is planning on retiring at age 61, but before she does she would like to simplify her retirement accounts. Currently, she has over 50 different investments. She wants to simplify the accounts into as few funds as possible and rebalance them without taking a huge tax hit. 

Once again, we must approach this problem in an organized way. When you consider what you are trying to accomplish by simplifying your accounts then you can see how this exercise will fit into your overall retirement plan. How would you approach this question? 



  • [1:30] News on the show


  • [6:25] Using QLACs in retirement planning to reduce RMDs
  • [11:35] Rita is interested in another series on long term care
  • [12:46] Steve’s question getting the most bang for his buck during decumulation
  • [30:20] Karen’s question about simplifying her portfolio


  • [40:14] Go beyond the normal thankful things--think about the things that warm your spirit

Resources Mentioned In This Episode

Retirement Plan Live 2021 - start here

Decumulation series - start here

Rock Retirement Club

Roger’s YouTube Channel - Roger That

BOOK - Rock Retirement  by Roger Whitney

Work with Roger

Roger’s Retirement Learning Center

Direct download: RAM410.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am CDT

We often have monthly themes to guide the topics of this show, but this month on Retirement Answer Man we are doing a bit of a mishmash. Today I want to share some thoughts I had on retirement in general and answer a few retirement questions. As you listen, think about which topics apply to you and your situation and see if you can come up with actions that can get you closer to your retirement goals. 

Overcoming frugality can be a challenge

After decades of saving your money and delaying gratification, suddenly letting loose to spend money on the things that make you happy may not come easy. If you have been a diligent saver over the years, you may find it challenging to shift from a saving mindset to a spending mindset especially when that mindset shift is timed with the loss of income from your human capital. 

The good news is that shifting to a spending mindset doesn’t need to happen like flipping on a light switch. This is a gradual change that can occur slowly. One way to help yourself become more open to spending is to construct a framework to help you make decisions.

Becoming a new version of yourself takes time. Give yourself grace and time to make change happen. 

Retirement planning is complicated

If anyone ever tells you that they have all the answers to retirement planning, run in the other direction. This is because no one can ever have all the answers to something so complicated as retirement planning. The way I like to go about planning is by organizing decisions under 3 separate categories. 

  1. Are your dreams feasible? Consider the life you want and whether it is feasible given your resources. This means that you need to consider your values and what you really want. Next, you’ll want to discuss it with your spouse if you are married and run the numbers to see if your dreams are truly feasible.
  2. Is your plan resilient? The winds of change will come and they could take many forms. They could come in the form of inflation, uncooperative markets, death, or healthcare bills. Having a resilient plan will help you stay the course that you set. Ways that you could make your retirement plan resilient could be through cash flow planning, matching your assets, and managing your risks in an organized way. 
  3. Can your plan be optimized? Optimization is a way to enhance your journey. Tax planning, asset allocation, Roth conversions, ACA credits, and Medicare decisions all fall under the category of optimization. These are ways that you can enhance your plan to improve it. However, it is important to remember that these are the extras, not the plan itself. 

Organize your retirement planning to stay on track

By organizing your retirement planning under these 3 pillars you can ensure that you aren’t letting the tail wag the dog. Having an organized way to deal with your retirement plan will ensure that you aren’t missing out on an aspect of retirement that could have a major impact on your life. 

Make sure to stick around for the listener questions segment of the show. You’ll hear me answer questions on how to calculate modified adjusted gross income to include capital gains and I’ll even respond to a recent critique that I had from one listener. 



  • [4:35] Overcoming frugality is a challenging thing for many recent retirees
  • [6:50] Retirement planning is complicated


  • [13:07] Modified Adjusted Gross Income 
  • [16:33] My response to Janet’s critique
  • [18:57] Otto’s comments on a recent question I answered


  • [22:28] Think about something that you need to undo

Resources Mentioned In This Episode

Rock Retirement Club

Roger’s YouTube Channel - Roger That

BOOK - Rock Retirement  by Roger Whitney

Work with Roger

Roger’s Retirement Learning Center

Direct download: RAM409.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:21am CDT

Ever since listeners enjoyed our Retirement Tax Management series with Andy Panko we have received an influx of questions surrounding taxes. I’ll answer several questions today about filling up your tax buckets. 

I’ll also respond to queries about planning when to take Social Security when you will have excess RMDs and how to incorporate balanced funds into your asset allocation. Don’t miss this episode if you still have burning tax questions left over from last month’s series on retirement tax management. 

The Rock Retirement Club has so much to offer

The Rock Retirement Club recently hosted the Retirement Rodeo Round-Up in Fort Worth, Texas. I was so impressed by the levels of motivation and excitement that I saw from the participants. Everyone who attended was excited to share their knowledge and learn from each others’ journeys so that they could make the most out of their retirement. 

Have you considered joining the Rock Retirement Club? If so, or even if you just want to learn more about it, check out the virtual open house that we’re having on November 16. At the open house, you’ll get a sneak peek of the Club’s Retirement Master Class and preview member tools like Everplans and the New Retirement Planner Plus calculator. The open house will be a great way to decide whether the RRC is right for you. Register for this event at

Are you having trouble overcoming frugality?

One common concern from the participants at the Retirement Rodeo Round-Up conference was the challenge of overcoming frugality. Like many Retirement Answer Man listeners, RRC members are amazing savers, but after saving and delaying gratification for so many years it is hard to break the habit. 

There is a mental shift that must take place to switch from saving to spending and shifting your mindset can be difficult. Instead of watching your accounts grow, you now see them stay stagnant or decrease over time and this can set off alarm bells in your mind. Have you experienced difficulty navigating this change? What did you do to shift your mindset from saving to spending?

When should Jenny claim Social Security?

Jenny has been a diligent saver and will end up having excess RMDs. This issue has caused her to think about the most beneficial time to claim Social Security. She is considering taking Social Security at age 62 to lower her income, but I have another strategy for her to consider. Listen in to hear my thoughts on what you should do if you have substantial projected RMDs. 

How to fill up your tax bracket bucket in retirement

One of the strategies that Andy Panko and I talked about last month in the Retirement Tax Management series was filling up your tax bracket. When filling up your tax bracket you'll want to take funds from your IRAs or other tax-deferred accounts and either spend that money, invest it in after-tax assets, or convert it to a Roth IRA. Work out the best situation for you by creating a retirement plan of record and then test different outcomes. Have you created a retirement plan of record yet? 



  • [2:40] It takes a big mental shift to stop saving and start spending
  • [4:01] How much to allocate to asset allocation if you have balanced funds in your portfolio?
  • [7:05] How Social Security works with RMDs
  • [13:10] How to fill up the tax bracket bucket
  • [15:15] What to do with the money that you fill up your tax bracket with
  • [16:26] Scott really enjoyed the episodes with Tanya Nichols


  • [17:10] Calculate your projected income for 2021

Resources Mentioned In This Episode

Register for the Rock Retirement Club’s virtual open house at

Tanya Nichols with Align Financial

Check out Tanya Nichols in the Women in Retirement series - Start Here

Rock Retirement Club

Roger’s YouTube Channel - Roger That

BOOK - Rock Retirement  by Roger Whitney

Work with Roger

Roger’s Retirement Learning Center

Direct download: RAM408.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am CDT

Do you wish you could find a comprehensive guidebook to help you plan your retirement? If so, you won’t want to miss this interview with Dr. Wade Pfau. Wade is the founder of the Retirement Researcher website and a retirement income professor at the American College. He is also the author of several books and his newest, the Retirement Planning Guidebook, was recently published. This book is the most detailed retirement guide that you will find, so don’t miss out on this interview to hear what to expect from Wade’s guidebook.

There is no one way to plan for retirement

Unfortunately, there isn’t a simple answer to how to plan your retirement. The way that works for you may not be ideal for your next-door neighbor. This is why it's important to come up with a strategy first. That way you can build your retirement plan according to your strategy. If you can come up with a flexible solution then you can make iterations based on changes in the world around you. Retirement planning is all about preparing for uncertainty. With the right strategy, you can make educated decisions to carry you through those uncertain times. 

Retirement choices cause a ripple effect throughout other areas

The choices you make in retirement have a ripple effect in many areas and one decision can create unexpected consequences in another part of your retirement plan. This makes it challenging to make any choices and can lead to analysis paralysis. 

Let’s see how one decision could lead to a domino effect. Say that you are trying to diversify your portfolio. If you sell a major position that you hold then you could end up with capital gains which could push you into another tax bracket which could eliminate the possibility of using ACA credits and so on. 

Rather than be paralyzed by the fear of making the wrong decision, you need to think in an organized way about what problem you would like to solve. If you are trying to lessen your market risk you will need to sell to diversify your portfolio. However, if you are trying to focus on getting ACA credits the decision to diversify all at once may not be the best strategy. 

How much should we consider tax policy in retirement planning

Taxes are one of the great unknowns in retirement planning. No one can say for certain how tax policy may change in the future. So how much should you try to predict tax policy changes when planning for retirement?

It is always good to start with a basis and then test different outcomes. The current tax rates are a good starting point for building your retirement plan of record. Once you build this foundation, you can tease out different outcomes as you learn more information. 

Retirement tax planning isn’t made on a yearly basis, rather you should plan to try and reduce your overall lifetime tax bill.

Learn how to utilize Social Security, plan for the unknown, and lower your lifetime tax bill on this episode of Retirement Answer Man with Wade Pfau. 



  • [3:30] One decision you make in retirement affects others
  • [10:21] There is no one way to plan for retirement
  • [13:31] How much should we consider tax policy in retirement planning?
  • [16:45] Social Security considerations
  • [25:53] Consider the premium cliffs that are out there
  • [31:31] How to factor in a cognitive decline
  • [34:58] How to navigate the lump sum vs. lifetime income decision

Resources Mentioned In This Episode

BOOK - Retirement Planning Guidebook by Dr. Wade Pfau

Retirement Researcher website

The American College

BOOK - How to Decide by Annie Duke

BOOK - Because a Little Bug Went Ka-Choo by Rosetta Stone

Rock Retirement Club

Roger’s YouTube Channel - Roger That

BOOK - Rock Retirement  by Roger Whitney

Work with Roger

Roger’s Retirement Learning Center

Direct download: RAM407.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am CDT

Do you understand what you need to do to build a happy retirement? My guest today has studied the data to tell the story of happy retirees in his new book, What the Happiest Retirees KnowWes Moss is not only an author of multiple books, he is the host of the live radio show, Money Matters, and the Retire Sooner podcast. Learn the habits to develop now to create a happy retirement by listening to this interview with Wes Moss. 

Are you retiring to something or away from something?

The real-world data shows that 70% of people don’t like their job and 20% of people actively hate their job so much that they want to hurt the company they work for.

These sad statistics lead to people thinking that retirement is the answer to their unhappiness. However, it isn’t enough to retire away from something. We must retire towards something to find happiness in retirement. Is your objective to retire away from your job or towards happiness? Think about what you would like to retire towards. 

Do pre-retirees have misconceptions about what a happy retirement really is?

Most people have a preconceived notion about retirement. They believe that once you reach a certain level of financial security, you’ll stop working and then the skies will open up and the world will become a happy place. They feel like retirement will be some version of heaven.

However, the reality is much different. There is a period of transition and not an instant magical change. Preparing well in advance will help to create a happy retirement and avoid disappointment. 

It only takes $75,000 per year to be happy

One of the biggest worries in retirement is having enough money, but research shows that it only takes between $70,000 and $80,000 per year to create a happy life. Having more money won’t increase levels of happiness. 

It doesn’t take as much as you think to avoid an unhappy retirement. Even though many people feel the loss of a sense of purpose and increased loneliness once they retire, with a bit of preparation, anyone can create a happy retirement.

Habits to develop to create a happy retirement

Wes describes ten categories in his book that contribute to happiness in retirement. These habits include: 

  • Money habits
  • Curiosity habits
  • Family habits
  • Love habits
  • Faith habits
  • Social habits
  • Home habits
  • Health habits
  • Investing habits

Within these categories, only a few areas actually have to do with money. If you can build up a solid foundation of healthy habits before you retire, you will have a greater chance of creating a happy retirement. 

What the Happiest Retirees Know can even be used as a workbook. As you read through, find the habits that you want to improve and see how you can stack them to work on 3 or 4 together at the same time. Listen in to hear how golfing is a way that I habit stack areas that I am actively working on in my own life. What are you working on to ensure that you create a happy retirement? 



  • [2:30] The data tells the story
  • [3:55] Do pre-retirees have misconceptions about what a happy retirement really is?
  • [11:54] It only takes $75,000 per year to be happy
  • [15:14] If your base is in place then you don’t need to worry so much about money
  • [21:45] How to use Wes’s book as a workbook

Resources Mentioned In This Episode

BOOK - What the Happiest Retirees Know by Wes Moss

BOOK - You Can Retire Sooner Than You Think by Wes Moss

Retire Sooner podcast

Money Matters

BOOK - The Top Five Regrets of the Dying by Bronnie Ware

Rock Retirement Club

Roger’s YouTube Channel - Roger That

BOOK - Rock Retirement  by Roger Whitney

Work with Roger

Roger’s Retirement Learning Center

Direct download: RAM406.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am CDT