Dave Ramsey’s 8% Retirement Rule Receives Pushback — Critics Say He Is ‘Deeply Wrong’

Jun 9, 2024

Financial guru Dave Ramsey continues to stir controversy, advising that many think only the wealthy are equipped for it. This time, it’s his 8% retirement rule. On an episode of “The Ramsey Show,” Ramsey rants about the “moronic” advice that financial experts are telling people to withdraw only 4-5% of their investment portfolios.

Ramsey firmly believes that retirees can safely withdraw 8% of their portfolio’s starting value each year, adjusted for inflation, without depleting their principal. However, many critics almost unanimously agree that this advice is unrealistic and potentially dangerous.

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The primary critique is based on the assumption that retirees have a consistent 12% annual return on investments and that the average annual inflation rate remains at 4%.

While the average inflation rate over the last decade has remained just under 3%, the last few years have seen higher inflation trends (7% in 2021, 6.5% in 2022, and 3.4% in 2023) due to global events. So, it can be risky to expect inflation rates to remain at 4% given the unpredictability of the current global economic climate.

Many also argue that Ramsey’s approach is ‘out of touch with reality,’ noting that an 8% withdrawal rate is unsustainable for most retirees due to the stock market’s volatility and historically lower average returns With the S&P 500’s average rate of return of around 10.5% (or 6.6% when adjusted for inflation), achieving a consistent 12% return feels unlikely.

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Ramsey’s rule also assumes that retirees have accumulated a substantial nest egg, which isn’t the case for the average American.

According to Vanguard, the average retirement savings Americans currently have are:

  • Age 25-34: $30,017

  • Age 35-44: $76,354

  • Ages 45-54: $142,069

  • Ages 55-64: $207,874

  • Ages 65+: $232,710

Under Ramsey’s rule, a retiree with $232,710 would withdraw $18,617 in their first year of retirement. Coupled with the average monthly Social Security benefit of $1,776.73 as of April 2024, this amount may be insufficient to cover living expenses for many retirees.

Financial experts are wary that this advice could result in retirees outliving their savings. Relying on an 8% withdrawal rate could face significant financial strain if investments underperform or if there are long periods of inflation during retirement. Plus, investing 100% in equities exposes retirees to substantial market risk, especially during economic downturns.

This doesn’t mean following Ramsey’s advice is impossible. For those who have a substantial investment portfolio, particularly during the decades before retirement, this advice can significantly enhance their financial future.

However, most financial experts are more cautious and less idealistic than Ramsey regarding their clients’ portfolios. They emphasize the importance of having a diversified investment portfolio while utilizing a more conservative withdrawal strategy to ensure financial security throughout retirement.

The best approach is to consider one’s unique circumstances. Talk to a trusted financial advisor to help determine the best withdrawal rates and investment opportunities based on your individual needs and situation.

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This article Dave Ramsey’s 8% Retirement Rule Receives Pushback — Critics Say He Is ‘Deeply Wrong’ originally appeared on Benzinga.com

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