"I divide assets into two different portfolios -- either fixed-interest obligations, bonds or something else that would have a guaranteed income stream, perhaps an annuity," he says. "My research has indicated that the optimal time you want to set this up for and have the ability to draw income, should be for 10 or 12 years."
"So, if we have an income stream that we can depend on for 10 years, we can then have the rest of their savings put toward growth and let it stay there until we've hit a predetermined amount of money," says Garrett.
For example, an investor with about $1.2 million could conceivably generate $48,000 of inflation-adjusted income per year for 30 years or more by funneling about 48 percent of their savings into fixed-income investments, one percent into high-yield dividend producing stocks and then pouring the rest into a diversified portfolio geared for growth.
A portfolio geared for income and growth
Profits are adjusted for inflation and then rolled into the income portion which is set up for about 10 years, though if possible, Garret says, "we do fudge a little bit when we first set it up, adding two extra years, maybe even more, to pad for potentially slower growth."
Though it seems like a straightforward method of just reversing the process of a lifetime of saving, withdrawal strategies rely on variables that change from situation to situation. And the strategies also vary from one financial adviser to another. Some, for example, set aside an income portion designed to last two years rather than 10 or 12 years. It might be best to get free consultations from a few advisers before you commit to a particular strategy.
When Social Security was first introduced, the average life expectancy of the American male was 60 years, says Garrett. "And you couldn't touch it until you were 65 years old, so you had to be dead for five years before you could get Social Security."