Trying to figure out how much of their savings to withdraw each year perplexes many retirees. A Vanguard research paper looked at the problem and recommended a hybrid approach that mixes two common methods of calculating spending.

The two traditional strategies rely on withdrawing a fixed percentage of a portfolio each year. Vanguard's analysis found long-term problems with each method.

The paper first looked at the so-called 4 percent rule. A retiree using this strategy would withdraw that percentage of the amount in their retirement funds at the beginning of each year. Because a portfolio's assets would rise and fall with the markets, this strategy makes it difficult to plan spending. The upside to this method is that assets would never be depleted.

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