Weekend Reading: For Retirees, When Inflation Arrives Is as Important as Its Magnitude

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

When it comes to the impact inflation can have on your lifelong savings, the biggest factor it comes down to is timing.


Early vs late: Unlike those who are many years away from retirement, individuals who are already retired simply cannot recoup losses as easily. High inflation followed by low inflation can be concluded as a wash for pre-retirees, but retirees will find themselves in a different boat. As referenced in the graphs shown here, high inflation that occurs early in retirement results in compounded higher withdrawals over time. On the other hand, high inflation that occurs later in retirement still results in higher withdrawals, but significantly less than in comparison to when inflation spikes early.

Moral of the story? The hit inflation can take to your retirement nest egg has more to do with the time value of withdrawals, in relation to where you are at in retirement, than anything else. At the same time, this isn’t to say that retirees who experience early inflation are doomed.

My two cents: Don’t obsess over the impact of inflation on your retirement strategy. Instead, put a plan in place that will succeed, regardless of the conditions we may see in the future.