Safe Withdrawal Rate Calculator

SWR Strategy
Safe Withdrawal Rate Strategy: Select the strategy that best suits your personal retirement goals. Detailed information about each strategy can be found in the Strategies section below and throughout the website.
Withdrawal Rate
Sets the percent of the portfolio that is taken out for withdrawals. The most important setting in the calculator.
Starting Balance
Sets that starting amount of the investment portfolio. In other words, the total amount of money saved upon the start of the SWR retirement process.
Starting Withdrawal
Sets that amount of money you want to be able to withdraw per year from your portfolio as your yearly budget.
Investment Portfolio
Select the makeup of your portfolio diversification based upon your risk/reward profile.

Note: See below for Investment Portfolio details.
Market Performance
Sets the length of the retirement plan in number of years (or the length of the simulation).
Starting Year
Sets that starting year for the simulation.

If set in the past, will return real numbers when the Historical Simulation Model is selected.
Simulation Model
Sets the method of determining the market performance for the calculator.

Note: See below for details on each Simulation Model.
Withdrawal Inflation
Sets the inflation rate of the yearly withdrawals. The default setting is to track the economy's inflation rate in order to maintain your yearly buying power.

This could also be called "Yearly Raise" because it determines the yearly increase for your budget.
Suppress Returns
Helps you set more conservative expectations by suppressing the yearly returns. Any real world returns that exceed these projections can be counted as a happy bonus. Each year's returns are subtracted by this value.
Portfolio lasted for all 30 years
Investment Performance
Total Investment Returns$5,530,409
Total Withdrawals$3,164,585
Average Investment Returns$178,400
Average Withdrawals$102,083
Annualized Return11.05%

Detailed Breakdown

YearStarting BalanceWithdrawal AmountInvestment GainInvestment ROIEnding Balance

Safe Withdrawal Rate Strategies

Four Percent Rule: The original Safe Withdrawal Rate strategy. In short, the strategy is based upon withdrawing 4% of the portfolio's value in hopes that the rest of the portfolio will continue to grow at a rate that would compensate for the amount withdrawn.

Endless Income System: Make your money last forever with the Endless Income System. By focusing on both safety and growth, this is considered the best safe withdrawal rate strategy for creating a long lasting income stream.

Three Percent Rule: A conservative modification to the Four Percent Rule for people who want to play it on the safer side and give their portfolio more space to absorb market downturns.

Five Percent Rule: An aggressive modification of the Four Percent Rule for people with a higher risk appetite or a shorter time horizon.

Inflation Buster: Don't want to be effected by the dangerous effects of inflation? The Inflation Buster strategy turns inflation on its head and allows you to use it to your advantage.

Magnet Strategy: A withdrawal strategy that attaches your withdrawals to the balance of your portfolio by always taking a percentage of your current portfolio balance. There is more volatility, but it also allows you to reap the rewards of a growing portfolio.

Investment Portfolios

Portfolio Options

The calculator allows six options of portfolio makeup broken down by stock and bond allocations.

Stocks Only100% Stocks
Growth80% Stocks, 20% Bonds
Classic60% Stocks, 40% Bonds
Balanced50% Stocks, 50% Bonds
Defensive25% Stocks, 75% Bonds
Bonds Only100% Bonds

Generally speaking, more stocks equals more risk and more reward, while more bonds equals less risk and less reward.

Of course, this isn't always true. Some people prefer to hold a portfolio of stocks for the long term in hopes that any big dips will be recouped over the long run. Others prefer to have a more steady portfolio of mostly bonds that will usually protect against any big dips, but may degrade over time as you withdraw from it.

The default portfolio for the calculator is the "Balanced" (50% Stocks, 50% Bonds) because it is the one used in the Trinity Study which originally came up with the Four Percent Rule.

Data Sources

The data sources selected for the Stock and Bond historical performance are broadly diversified funds to give a representative outlook for historical performance.


The stocks portion of the portfolio is made up of the S&P 1500 Composite Stock Market Index. This takes a widely diversified selection of stocks of all sizes, including representative samples from large-cap, mid-cap, and small-cap. It is a cap-weighted index, meaning that most of the value is tied to the largest stocks. This ultimately means that it tracks pretty closely to the famous S&P 500 index, but it will have more exposure to the stock market as a whole due to the fact that it also consists of medium and small sized companies.

From 2001-Present, the S&P 1500 figures are pulled from the SPTM ETF which tracks the S&P 1500 index with a minimal expense fee.

From 1920-2000, the S&P 1500 figures are pulled from Robert Shiller's book "Market Volatility" (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press) with some pre-1927 historical projections from Cowles and Associates' book "Common Stock Indexes" (2nd ed., Bloomington, Ind.: Principia Press, 1939).


The bonds portion of the portfolio is made up of intermediate term U.S. government Treasury bonds.

From 2010-Present, the bond figures are pulled from the VGIT ETF which is a Vanguard product which invests primarily in U.S. intermediate term U.S. Treasury bonds.

From 1920-2009, the bond figures are pulled from the same Robert Shiller book mentioned above.


Inflation data is CPI-U which is the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers. This inflation metric is measured by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a U.S. government agency, which calculates the average cost of goods in 20 large U.S. cities.

Future Data

If the simulation term extends in time periods beyond the end of the previous market year, then all future years consist of the "Randomized (Realistic)" model, as described in the Simulation Models section, which attempts to give a realistic projection of what future returns could look like if they continue to resemble historical performance.

Simulation Models

The Safe Withdrawal Rate Calculator gives you six different simulation models to choose from that help you project out what your retirement could possibly look like. Each one brings a different approach to visualizing the life of your retirement plan.

Historical Simulation Model

The Historical model is the real market performance from history.

When using the historical model and the date range contains dates from before the current year, then the historical dates are presenting the real numbers of how stocks, bonds, and inflation performed throughout those years.

If the simulation extends beyond the historical figures into future years, then the remaining time will default to the "Randomized (Realistic)" simulation model.

Set Average Simulation Model

This selection allows you to specify an specific stock market return.

When selecting this option, a new field will appear that allows you to type the ideal return you want to plan for.

Note that the specified value only applies to the stock return portion of the market performance. The other values are set to recent history averages as follows:

    Stock Return (Value set by user)
    Stock Dividend (1.75%)
    Bond Return (0%)
    Bond Dividend (2.5%)
    Inflation (2.5%)

Randomized (Realistic) Simulation Model

The aim of the Realistic model is to provide realistic projections of what future returns could look like if they continue to resemble historical performance

By processing over a century of previous U.S. market data, this models calculates randomized returns that behave similarly to how the market has performed in the past.

The model does not seek to provide a smooth average (for a smooth average, see the "Set Average" model), but instead seeks to provide numbers with realistic volatility and growth.

In summary, the chart for this model should look very similar to real historical charts, even though they are merely projections for how the market could behave if it continued to behave as it has before.

Randomized (Volatile) Simulation Model

The Volatile model takes the Realistic model as its core but doubles the standard deviation of the numbers to create twice as much volatility while still providing similar average returns over the long run.

This helps simulate how the portfolio would perform during eras where high volatility would occur.

The biggest risk to a safe withdrawal strategy is high volatility in the early years leading to large drops at the beginning of the withdrawal period. If your portfolio can ride out the first few years and string together a few years of growth, then it will be in a good position to thrive in the long run.

Randomized (Stable) Simulation Model

The Stable model takes the Realistic model as its core but cuts the standard deviation in half in order to decrease volatility while still giving similar annualized returns of the long run.

This helps simulate how the portfolio would do during eras of low volatility.

Randomized (Historic) Simulation Model

The Randomized Historic takes a random year in history and injects the year's real number into the simulation.

This models ensures that every year in the simulation is precisely the way that the market behaved in the real world during a certain year.

The randomization is done every single year, so Years 1-3 of your simulation could have the performance of 2013, 1929, and 1971 respectively.


How does the Safe Withdrawal Rate Calculator work?

Whenever you change a value or setting in the calculator, it will automatically recalculate and update the simulator. The calculator will combine all the input data to process how the specified retirement scenario would play out. After processing, the calculator will clearly display whether or not the safe withdrawal rate strategy was a success by determining if the portfolio lasted throughout the entire intended duration.

Pro Tip: For most numerical fields, you can use the up and down arrow keys on your keyboard, when focused in the field, to automatically adjust the numerical value up and down.

How does the inflation rate factor into a Safe Withdrawal Rate strategy?

If you don't increase, or inflate, your yearly withdrawals, then the money that you withdraw at the end of retirement will be able to buy less things than the money you withdraw at the start of your retirement.

In order to help you preserve your buying power throughout the life of the plan, some strategies choose to increase their yearly withdrawals at the same rate as inflation.

So, the inflation rate only directly effects your plan when you select a strategy that tracks the inflation rate when determining the yearly increase of your withdrawals.

This setting is called "Withdrawal Inflation" and is found in the "Advanced Settings" section of the calculator.

For a more consistent increase in your yearly withdrawals, you can select a set percentage, such as 1% or 2% per year, and you will automatically get an easily calculable raise each year without having to take the overall economy into count.

What are the mathematical and logical assumptions in the calculations?

Withdrawals: For the purposes of the calculator, withdrawals are taken out once per year on January 1st of each year. The market performance of that year only applies to the portfolio balance that remained after the withdrawal. In practice, you could have better performance by spacing out your withdrawals quarterly or even monthly in order to capture more market growth throughout the year.

Market Performance: Performance calculations are based off of yearly performance figures. Monthly and daily volatility would slightly change numbers in a very small way, but this allows us to process the calculations incredibly quickly while still maintaining a very high degree of precision. Ultimately, this calculator processes the data with incredible speed while only sacrificing a negligible amount of accuracy. Additionally, because the calculation assumes we are only withdrawing one time per year, the volatility throughout the year does not directly effect the portfolio balance until the next withdrawal, which would be where the market number is updated for the start of the next year. In summary, the assumption made in the historical calculations is that the strategy started on January 1st of the specified year. If the strategy had started on a different date, the result could look different.

U.S. Focused: Stocks, Bonds, and Inflation data are all figures based in the United States. An investor making investments in international funds may see different results. Additionally, an investor residing in a different country will have similar, but different, forces of inflation acting on their buying power. See the Data Sources section for detailed descriptions on where the calculator's data was sourced from.

Annualized Return: The Annualized Return statistic in the Investment Performance panel of the calculator is based off of yearly stock market return rates. It does not factor in precise portfolio balances in each individual year. Instead, this figure is meant to give a picture on how the stock market performed throughout the course of the simulation's time period on an annualized compounding basis.

Are there any cautions that should be made when using the Calculator?

As with all investment planning, it is important to remember that past performance does not guarantee future returns. Just because the market worked one way in the past, does not mean that you can count on it to repeat itself in the future. That is why we suggest using a more conservative strategy that will give you more cushion in case the market does not perform as well as you would wish.

Therefore, choose from the more conservative options. It is always better to have more money leftover than you expected, rather than running out of money that you were relying on.