Retirement reasons to be thankful: lifetime retirement income

Welcome to day 3 of my week-long series on retirement reasons to be thankful -- an optimistic antidote to all the dismal news on retirement planning.

So far, we've seen these retirement reasons to be thankful:

Thankful reason #3: we know how to generate retirement income for a lifetime

It's a big challenge to generate income that lasts for the rest of our lives, no matter now long we live and no matter what happens in the economy. Fortunately, there's been a substantial amount of academic research done on how exactly how to achieve this goal.

We know about strategies to claim our Social Security benefits to maximize our expected lifetime payouts, both for ourselves and our spouses.

Boost your Social Security payout by $100,000

Social Security strategies: how to get $90,000 more for your spouse

Experts have told us how to invest our savings and draw it down systematically to reduce the odds of outliving our assets, starting with the landmark research on the four percent rule by William Bengen and following up with subsequent articles that refine Bengen's insights. There's readily available research that illustrates the power of efficiently purchased immediate annuities and hybrid strategies that combine the best of both of these solutions. And we can shop for low-cost mutual funds and immediate annuities through the internet.

Don't die broke!

Tips to make the four percent rule work

Maximize retirement income with immediate annuities

Research has shown how low-cost, passively managed investments outperform expensively managed active portfolios, as so eloquently described by CBS MoneyWatch bloggers Allan Roth and Larry Swedroe.

How to play this volatile market

How to view the current economic situation

In prior generations, retirees and their financial advisors were "winging it" when it came to the management of their investments and retirement income, and retirees often outlived their retirement savings and spent their last few years in poverty -- or they moved in with their children. It was the equivalent of navigating by the stars, without radar, sonar, or radio, and running into icebergs. Now we have modern technology that helps us safely arrive at our destinations -- both with transportation and with managing our retirement resources.

Stay tuned tomorrow, for my fourth retirement reason to be thankful.

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    Steve Vernon helped large employers design and manage their retirement programs for more than 35 years as a consulting actuary. Now he's a research scholar for the Stanford Center on Longevity, where he helps collect, direct and disseminate research that will improve the financial security of seniors. He's also president of Rest-of-Life Communications, delivers retirement planning workshops and authored Retirement Game-Changers: Strategies for a Healthy, Financially Secure and Fulfilling Long Life and Money for Life: Turn Your IRA and 401(k) Into a Lifetime Retirement Paycheck.