Understanding the Retirement Bucket Strategy

by | Retirement Planning

Planning for a sustainable income in retirement is a crucial aspect of financial stability. One effective approach to achieving this goal is the retirement bucket strategy. This method divides your savings into distinct categories or “buckets” based on their time horizon and purpose, helping to manage risk and ensure a steady income throughout retirement. Let’s delve into how the bucket strategy works and why it might benefit your retirement planning.

How the Bucket Strategy Works

The bucket strategy involves dividing your retirement savings into three distinct buckets, each with a different investment approach tailored to specific time horizons:

  • Short-Term Bucket (0-5 Years): This bucket is designed to cover your immediate expenses and should contain very safe, low-risk investments such as money market funds, cash, and short-term bonds. The primary goal is to ensure that these funds are not affected by market volatility, providing peace of mind and financial stability for the initial retirement years.
  • Intermediate Bucket (6-10 Years): The intermediate bucket is slightly more aggressive and aims for a moderate return. Investments in this bucket include large-cap stocks, blue-chip companies, bonds, and long-term deposits. The focus is on balancing growth and stability, ensuring you have funds available for the medium term.
  • Long-Term Bucket (11+ Years): Given the potential for a longer retirement, this bucket is crucial for combating inflation and ensuring long-term growth. Investments in the long-term bucket can be more aggressive, including stocks and other growth-oriented assets. This bucket allows you to take advantage of the market’s long-term upward trajectory and helps maintain your purchasing power over time.

Benefits of the Bucket Strategy

Protection Against Sequence Risk

One of the primary advantages of the bucket strategy is its ability to protect against sequence risk. Sequence risk refers to the danger of experiencing negative returns early in retirement, which can significantly deplete your savings. By having a short-term bucket filled with low-risk investments, you can avoid withdrawing from your more volatile assets during market downturns, thus preserving your portfolio’s longevity.

Tailored Risk Management

Each bucket’s investment approach is tailored to its time horizon, providing a structured way to manage risk. The short-term bucket prioritizes safety, the intermediate bucket balances growth and stability, and the long-term bucket focuses on maximizing growth. This structured approach helps mitigate the risks associated with different stages of retirement.

Flexibility and Peace of Mind

The bucket strategy offers flexibility and peace of mind. Knowing that your short-term expenses are covered allows you to take on more risk in your long-term investments. Additionally, regularly reviewing and adjusting the allocations between buckets based on market conditions and personal needs ensures that your retirement plan remains robust and adaptable.


The retirement bucket strategy is a versatile and effective way to manage your retirement savings, balancing the need for immediate income with the potential for long-term growth. By dividing your assets into short-term, intermediate, and long-term buckets, you can create a sustainable income stream while managing risk effectively.

If you have questions about the bucket strategy or want to discuss your retirement planning in more detail, contact us at SFA Wealth. Our team is ready to help you develop a comprehensive plan tailored to your needs.

Contact us at 615-216-1048 or email us at info@sfawealth.com to schedule a consultation.