In Discussions, Investing, Money, Retirement

What does living off your investments mean?

I have googled this extensively and failed to find a clear answer.

What does living off of your investments/ having income producing investments mean?

Does this mean that I only have dividend bearing stocks or rental properties?

Does it mean that I sell 4% of my stocks yearly ( won’t that reduce the principal?)?

I do not live in North America and therefore will have to live off of my stock investments during retirement.

How do I invest so as to live off of said investments?

You are exactly right – it means any and all of it actually.

In a pure sense, it means you sell 4% of your stocks yearly and use that money to live. That’s what a 4% withdrawal rate means.

It absolutely means you are drawing on the capital and reducing the principal, BUT it is assuming you are earning 7% on that money, so whatever you are withdrawing, you’re really only skimming off 4% of that earned average 7% a year — with 3% of those profits accounted for inflation/future value.

Of course, some years, you make 25%! … but you don’t take out all of the profits! You only withdraw a disciplined 4%, and leave the other 21% untouched to grow and compound for future years when you might LOSE 25%, and need that money then.

Sort of like budgeting and rolling over the amounts, except to an uncertain future.

The key is just even, steady, consistent, 4% withdrawals, weathering ups and downs in the market, because it is an AVERAGE of 7% over a long-term period.

If you don’t want to draw on the capital, then you need dividends or some other form of passive income coming in to cover your expenses, otherwise you need to divest your investments each year.

My partner is already retired, and starting a new career path as a professor (or so he says, who knows), and each time he needs to pay the bills, he picks a stock or two, and sells some of it, and uses that money to pay for his half.

If he had dividends coming in, he could literally just take the dividends instead of reinvesting them, and live of that money – which is my plan actually, to use dividend proceeds as my living, and to NEVER TOUCH THE CAPITAL.

But, that’s only really feasible if you have enough invested that it produces enough to live on (assume 4% dividend yield, so $1,000,000 invested at 4% would give you $40K a year – which is part of my overall life goal actually).

For more information on how much you need to have saved in retirement to produce a certain income, click here.

If you had rental properties, you could just live off the rental income and never sell a place. Also ideal, but requires a lot of capital, and paid off places.

I know a landlord who plans on divesting a property quite soon, and just living off the proceeds, and slowly selling off places bit by bit to fund his and his wife’s retirement.

Hope that helps!

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  1. GYM

    I don’t want to be doing the 4% rule (even though data shows it works), I’d rather not have to withdraw my money and would feel more comfortable not touching the capital but just taking the income.

    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      Me too. I don’t want to withdraw any money to be honest with you, but …. ! If I have to, I will. Hence why I am building up my dividend income instead.

  2. SP

    To be totally specific, the “rule” is 4% of the initial balance at retirement, adjusted upwards for inflation. I think that is what you meant anyway? Then, per the trinity study, your money should last, based on past market performance. This is pretty true for a normal age retirement.

    Here is an update with some longer retirements, and some other withdrawal rates.

    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      Yes 🙂 Thanks for the extra content/clarification.

      (We are all such PF geeks)

  3. emy

    Interesting post about retirement.

    I’d like to add something about your blog.
    I see that you tag your posts at the end, which is great, but does your blog also have a “Tags” page, where I can see all your tags and read what interests me at a given time? I couldn’t find it.

    Also, a “Categories” menu would also be nice, but this in addition to the Tags page (where you can categorize your posts in more detail).

    You have lots of articles, 243 pages so far, so if you plan on adding many other posts to your blog, more categorization would be important, both for your readers, and very likely also for yourself (income generation when readers can have a good view of all of your posts and jump easily to what interests them.) Nobody clicks through 200 pages, but would likely read more articles in a given category or tag if all the corresponding posts were listed there.

    The more you add/write, the greater the effort will be to (re)organize everything.

    There are WordPress themes for sale, which can be had for little money and offer customer support and lots of customization options and features (Tags, Categories, etc.) – everything a site or blog needs. You can have a look at these on a well-known specialty site called ThemeForest. (Look at the category Web Themes & Templates > WordPress > Popular Items.)

    Otherwise, you can use these themes for inspiration and edit your actual site. Both solutions need work anyway.

    Just an idea. Good luck!

    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.


      I had actually customized my Best Posts page to be exactly this but not by tags – I do Categories and Sub-categories but then it didn’t seem like it was useful for anyone.

      The original Best posts link went to this: Best Posts, and there you can see categories, broken down into subcategories.

      I don’t have a tags one yet, but I should probably spend money revamping this page and others….

      The new Best posts link, is just a short page of quick starter posts which is also my IG Bio link.

      I’ve added them both back in. Thank you so much for the advice / comment! I will have to put this into play sometime in 2020.

    2. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      Great point, thank you! I may redo the site as well 🙂 I’ve been thinking about it

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