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6 Strategies to Protect Your Retirement Income


Retirement planning aims to ensure a steady stream of income that could sustain your lifestyle after leaving the workforce. To protect your retirement income you first need to have a clear idea of the different sources that will be available for your retirement, such as Social Security or your own personal investments. You would then implement different strategies to grow and maintain your nest egg.

If you need help saving for retirement, a financial advisor can help you create a personalized plan for your goals.

Types of Retirement Income

Retirement income is the culmination of years of saving, investing and planning, designed to replace the steady paycheck that ceases upon retirement. A robust retirement income ensures that individuals can cover basic living expenses, afford healthcare and engage in leisure activities without the stress of financial insecurity. To best prepare for this stage, let’s take a look at four common types of retirement income:

  • Social Security: Social Security, a program funded by payroll taxes, is often the foundation upon which retirees build their income structure. It is designed to provide a steady, although not always sufficient, stream of income based on an individual’s earnings history.
  • Pensions: Pensions, once a prevalent feature of retirement planning, offer fixed payments to retirees and are typically employer-sponsored.
  • Retirement savings plans: These include 401(k)s and IRAs, among others, and have risen in prominence, offering tax advantages and the potential for growth through investment.
  • Personal savings and investments: Additionally, personal savings and investments, including equities, bonds and real estate, provide supplementary income and the flexibility to adapt to changing market conditions.

To boost your retirement income, consider employing strategies that leverage investment growth, compound interest and employer contributions. Diversification across asset classes can yield substantial returns over time, albeit with increased risk exposure. Here are six common strategies to protect your retirement income:

1. Diversify Your Retirement Income

Diversifying your retirement income sources can potentially help you grow your nest egg by spreading investment risk, optimizing tax efficiency and ensuring a more stable and sustainable income stream throughout retirement.

You can diversify your retirement income sources by incorporating a mix of pension benefits, Social Security payments, investment portfolios, annuities, rental income and part-time employment. These can be tailored to your financial goals, risk tolerance and retirement timeline.

2. Create an Effective Withdrawal Strategy

Creating an effective withdrawal strategy can help you grow your nest egg by optimizing tax efficiency, minimizing portfolio depletion and ensuring sustainable income streams throughout your retirement. In doing so, you can preserve and potentially increase the value of your investments over time.

An effective withdrawal strategy comprises several key elements, including determining withdrawal rates, asset allocation adjustments, tax considerations and flexibility to adapt to changing financial circumstances. Many financial experts often recommend the 4% rule as a starting point for a safe withdrawal rate, but that can have its limitations and each withdrawal strategy needs to be adjusted for your specific retirement.

3. Plan Ahead for Healthcare Costs

A senior and her daughter reviewing retirement income strategies.


You can help preserve your retirement nest egg by your nest egg by incorporating healthcare savings strategies, such as health savings accounts (HSAs) or long-term care insurance, which can not only mitigate the risk of healthcare expenses but also free up funds for investment and potentially increase your overall wealth accumulation over time.

HSAs allow tax-free contributions to be used for qualified medical expenses. Additionally, with the rising costs of long-term care, long-term care insurance can help cover services that Medicare typically does not, such as assisted living and in-home care.

4. Consider an Annuity

An annuity is a contractual financial product, typically issued by an insurance company, that is designed to accept and grow funds from an individual and then, upon annuitization, pay out a stream of payments at a later point in time. Annuities are primarily used for retirement purposes, allowing individuals to receive a steady income stream in their post-working years. This can be particularly valuable for retirees looking for predictable income as part of a broader retirement strategy, which might also include Social Security benefits, pension income and other investments.

Fixed annuities guarantee a specific interest rate, making them a stable, low-risk investment that provides a predictable income. Variable annuities, on the other hand, allow individuals to invest in various securities, such as stocks and bonds.

5. Plan to Live Longer Than You Think

Considering longevity for your retirement plan can help you ensure that you have enough financial resources to support a long lifespan and guard against the risk of outliving your savings. You can address longevity risk in your retirement plan by increasing savings, optimizing investment allocations, purchasing longevity insurance and adding guaranteed income solutions such as an annuity to help you provide a reliable income stream throughout your retirement years. 

6. Prepare for Inflation

Inflation refers to the gradual increase in prices and the corresponding decline in the value of money. It can eat into the purchasing power of your retirement savings over time and potentially reduce your standard of living. Therefore, you will need to plan carefully to make sure that your income can keep pace with rising costs throughout retirement.

You can protect against inflation in retirement by investing in assets that historically outpace inflation, such as stocks and real estate, use inflation-adjusted income sources like Social Security or pensions, and consider inflation-protected securities such as Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS) in your investment portfolio.

Bottom Line

A senior adjusting her retirement income strategies.

Strategies to protect your retirement income can include diversifying your investment portfolio with assets that historically outpace inflation, such as stocks and real estate; allocating a portion of your portfolio to inflation-protected securities like Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS), considering annuities that offer inflation-adjusted payouts, regularly reviewing and adjusting your retirement plan to account for changing economic conditions, and maintaining an emergency fund to cover unexpected expenses and mitigate the impact of market downturns on your retirement income.

Tips for Retirement Planning

  • Financial advisors can help you with your retirement savings, providing expertise to guide your long-term plan. Finding a financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three vetted financial advisors who serve your area, and you can have a free introductory call with your advisor matches to decide which one you feel is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
  • To see how much you may need to save for retirement, consider using a retirement calculator.

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