You'd think that when you reach retirement, the most logical step in the world would be to begin drawing on your retirement account.
Not so fast. Planning your income stream in retirement is a complicated endeavor. Moreover, it's a brand-new skill. You spent your working life accumulating assets. Now it's time to draw them down in a sensible way that ensures they last until you die, maximizes your Social Security, minimizes your taxes and, if possible and if you so desire, transfers a remainder to your heirs.
"Most people are not able to easily convert stock to flow," said Charles D. Ellis, an investment management expert and author of the classic "Winning the Loser's Game." He added, "We are just not in practice at it."
He told the story of a friend who occasionally calls for investment advice on how to make her assets last. Though she assured him she was only spending a little bit, he kept asking for specifics.
"I asked, several times, how much are you actually spending?" he remembered. "Finally, she said, 'just 10 percent.'"