Philadelphia Chapter Website

Christine Benz
Director of Personal Finance

How Does the Bucket Strategy Work in Practice?

The bucket strategy for retirement portfolio planning involves building your portfolio based on your expected withdrawals from it. The overarching goal is to build enough of a bulwark in safe securities at the front end of your portfolio to ensure that you never have to spend from any asset when it’s in a trough. But implementation questions abound. How much can you withdraw each year, and where should you withdraw it from? How do you maintain a bucket system on an ongoing basis, and what happens if your portfolio consists of multiple silos–traditional, taxable, and Roth? Morningstar’s Christine Benz talks about bucket portfolios, the benefits they offer and the challenges they pose. She’ll also share the results of some “stress tests” she has conducted of her model bucket portfolios on

How the bucket approach can help retirees source their needed in-retirement cash flows
How to implement a bucket regimen in practice, including tax considerations, bucket “maintenance,” and withdrawal-rate sustainability
How a basic bucket portfolio would have performed since 2000


Christine Benz is director of personal finance for Morningstar and senior columnist for, focusing primarily on retirement planning and investment portfolio strategies. Benz is the author of “30-Minute Money Solutions: A Step-by- Step Guide to Managing Your Finances” (Wiley, 2010). In addition, Benz is co-author of “Morningstar Guide to Mutual Funds: 5-Star Strategies for Success,” a national bestseller published in 2003, and author of the book’s second edition which was published in 2005. Before assuming her current role in 2008, Benz also served as Morningstar’s director of mutual fund analysis.] Morningstar Inc.