Cracking Retirement Drawdown Strategy Sunset

Our Drawdown Strategy

We are already retired, so maybe it’s a bit late to be talking about our Drawdown Strategy. But the answer is, if we had not had a Drawdown strategy then we would have been foolish to retire.

Retirement Money Strategy

When we did the initial sums for early retirement about 8-10 years ago, we had a broad strategy.

  • Year 1 – take my company pension a couple of years early and pay the 5% p.a. actuarial discount (aged 56). This would be enough to meet all our needs for the next 3 years.
  • Year 3 – take husband’s company pension (aged 65). Delay state pension, which would grow at 10% p.a. for a maximum of 5 years.
  • Year 8 – take husband’s state pension (aged 70), because it couldn’t be deferred past that
  • Year 10 – take my state pension (aged 66)
  • Year 12-15, consider starting drawdown depending on inflation etc
  • The above plans included a couple of long trips each year, they allowed for maintenance to our home and a replacement car every 5 years.
  • Each year we would move money into tax efficient investments to minimise any long term tax impact. e.g. even though I am not earning, I can put £2,880 (instantly becomes £3,600 with tax back) into a pension. We each have an ISA allowance this year of £20,000. (When we first retired this annual allowance was about £11,000)

Retirement Money – Actual

Six years in, the reality didn’t quite match the planning

  • Year 1 – husband briefly stopped work, then a few months in, he got an invitation he didn’t want to refuse, which was to work part-time, in his own time, on his own terms, working remotely. Result: additional income we weren’t expecting
  • Year 1 – we also discovered we didn’t need as much as we thought to live on. Result: more money to save
  • Year 3 – we took husband’s company pension as expected. Result: even more income
  • Year 5 – following a discussion we took a long hard look at the Opportunity Cost of not taking husband’s state pension, and worked out that we really should take it. Then tax raised it’s ugly head. Because of the pensions and part-time salary, husband was in danger of moving into a different tax-bracket. Result: Husband’s salary is now being put away into his pension fund. This is very tax efficient in the UK because it all gets put away net of tax.
  • Year 6 – (now). We still effectively live on my pension. The rest gets saved. Our plan is to initiate drawdown sometime around 2022-2025 depending on when inflation starts to bite. In the meantime, I have discovered how to be ‘careful’ on a day to day basis. We don’t seem to want ‘stuff’. It doesn’t affect our day to day living, but it means we are able to save far more than we expected. Hence all good so far, because we are nowhere near initiating drawdown at this stage.

Retirement Investment Portfolio

Broadly our investments fall into the categories below

Cracking Retirement - Drawdown Strategy

  • Cash 4%
  • Short term investments are mainly equities, with some 5 year cash deposits 10%
  • ISA’s are UK tax-free accounts. All withdrawals are free of tax. Mainly invested in Vanguard / Fidelity 45%
  • Pension funds are the UK equivalent of Roth IRA’s. Ours are Low Risk balanced investments. 41% All withdrawals are subject to tax, but the first 25% are tax free, thereafter withdrawals are charged at your usual tax rate. (There is an additional benefit to these, if we do not touch them, they can be left to our children free of inheritance tax)

Retirement Drawdown Strategy

Our Drawdown Strategy is straightforward. When it becomes evident that our income is not matching our spending needs

  1. cash is the first area to be used, but we will still leave an emergency fund
  2. we will liquidate any short term investments
  3. then ISA’s will be used
  4. finally and only when most of the above have been used will we start on our pension funds.

If the planning is correct, we will never get to the pension funds unless we need long term care. If we start lifting 3-4% p.a. in 2022, it should easily last until I am 100, so I think we should be OK. However, I do worry about high inflation like we had in the mid 1970’s because it will eat into our savings. (I know our savings will grow at the same time, but by enough to keep pace? I know my pension won’t because it is limited to 3%…)

The big difference in the UK, to those of you in the US, is that we don’t need to factor in healthcare costs, but we do need to factor in long term care options, hence why a lot of our drawdown strategy takes effect towards the back end of our lives

The #Drawdown Strategy Chain

I’m taking part in a initiative on Drawdown Strategies started by a few bloggers, mentioned in the chain below, I am now one of the official links…

Anchor: Physician On Fire: Our Drawdown Plan in Early Retirement
Link 1: The Retirement Manifesto: Our Retirement Investment Drawdown Strategy
Link 2: OthalaFehu: Retirement Master Plan
Link 3: Plan.Invest.Escape: Drawdown vs. Wealth Preservation in Early Retirement
Link 4: Freedom Is Groovy: The Groovy Drawdown Strategy
Link 5: The Green Swan:  The Nastiest, Hardest Problem In Finance:  Decumulation
Link 6: My Curiosity Lab:  Show Me The Money: My Retirement Drawdown Plan
Link 7: Cracking Retirement: Our Drawdown Strategy
Link 8: The Financial Journeyman: Early Retirement Portfolio and Plan 
Link 9: RetireBy40: Our Unusual Early Retirement Withdrawal Strategy1
Link 10: Early Retirement Now: The ERN Family Early Retirement Captial Preservation Plan
Link 11: 39 Months: Mr. 39 Months Drawdown Plan1
Link 12: 7 Circles: Drawdown Strategy – Joining The Chain Gang
Link 13:Retirement Starts Today: What’s Your Retirement Withdrawal Strategy?
Link 14: Ms. Liz Money Matters: How I’ll Fund My Retirement
Link 15: Dad Dollars Debt: DDD Drawdown Plan – Part 1: Living With A Pension
Link 16: Penny And Rich: Rich’s Retirement Plan2
Link 17: Atypical Life: Our Retirement Drawdown Strategy1
Link 18: New Retirement: 5 Steps For Defining Your Retirement Drawdown Strategy
Link 19: Maximise Your Money Practical Retirement Withdrawal Strategies Are Important!
Link 20:  ChooseFI:  The Retirement Manifesto – Drawdown Strategy Podcast


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Cracking REtirement Drawdown strategy


  1. It’s great hearing from someone who is actually executing on the drawdown strategy and can provide an update on how it’s been going. Nothing ever goes completely according to plan!

    I love the conservative approach you’ve undertaken. That’ll be our intent as well. Kudos to you on a great retirement so far and thanks for joining the drawdown chain gang!

    1. Thanks Green Swan – conservative is probably a good word to use for me! I like to make sure everything is ‘safe’. We’re looking better than we might, because we really didn’t plan on my husband continuing to work. But he wants to (he’s an engineer and he loves doing all the maths – he says it keeps his brain active!), and it doesn’t stop us travelling.
      I’m really interested on how the Drawdown Chain Gang progresses. A great idea, and I am delighted to be taking part

  2. Erith, what a wonderful surprise to be 6 years into retirement and still saving money. Congratulations on your great achievement, and thanks for joining the #DrawdownStrategy chain! You’re in, officially, as Link #7!!

    1. Thanks Fritz, I am so pleased and surprised to be where we are. Long may it last! And I am delighted to be part of the Drawdown Chain Gang. It’s a great idea

  3. Ditto Fritz and JW — excellent job! You’re still building a nest egg and being conservative — but you’re enjoying yourselves, too. And having several pensions is a wonderful blessing. Congrats, Erith.

    1. Thanks Mrs Groovy. Pensions are indeed a wonderful blessing! It is enforced saving, and we are reaping the benefits now! However I am very glad we also built a substantial nest egg against the day when the pensions aren’t enough. They weren’t designed to keep us for 40 years! Hence the Drawdown Strategy!

      It will be so interesting how the #Drawdown Chain Gang works out. Looking good so far…

  4. Hi Erith, this is fun and educational reading – we left the UK 19yrs ago and it is fascinating to compare the drawdown perspective across different countries. We occasionally wonder how our lives, including retirement, would have mapped out had we stayed in the UK.

    I am a big fan of the Monevator blog so do understand some of the terminology in this post. ISA’s are a good deal for sure. Nice!! I have a pension through work – will pay an annuity starting at age 51 when I pull the plug. This will be s solid income floor for us.

    Where are you based in the UK? I am from Scotland (born in the southwest, then 7 yrs at Glasgow Univ for degree and Ph.D. ) and my wife is from Nottingham.

    All the best,

    Mr. PIE.

    1. Hi Mr PIE

      ISA’s for those in the UK are fantastic. (They might have been around in your day as PEP’s, but only just!)
      Effectively you can put Shares and/or cash up to an annual limit in the account, (it has been gradually increasing), and then all growth is tax free, as are all withdrawals! We have had the first few ISA millionaires, sadly I am not one of that happy band!

      You are lucky to get a pension annuity at 51, the age limits here moved a few years ago to 55, so that was a good call! It must be quite good fun to play the ‘What If’

      I am based in Edinburgh, although initially from NI, and husband is from Leicester – it’s a small world.

      Like you I follow Monevator …

  5. […] 7: Cracking Retirement: Our Drawdown Strategy […]

  6. […] Link 7: Cracking Retirement: Our Drawdown Strategy […]

  7. […] myself have followed suit; PlanInvestEscape, Mr. Groovy, The Green Swan,  My Curiosity Lab, Cracking Retirement, The Financial Journeyman, Retireby40 , EarlyRetirementNow, Mr. 39 Months , 7 Circles , Ms […]

  8. […] Our Drawdown Strategy by Cracking Retirement […]

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