In this era of increasingly rare defined benefit pension plans, retirees have to deal with the struggle to turn a lump sum of money in their 401(k) plans into a lifetime income stream. While there are a number of insurance companies pitching annuity products, this NY Times article points to a service from Financial Engines, a 401(k) advisor, which is a great idea. Essentially they manage your payouts from when you retire up until age 85, trying to keep pace with inflation and stabilize payments for market volatility. Payments could go up and down depending on market conditions but the service as described here aims to minimize them. At 85 they would recommend an immediate life annuity suggesting several different competitive companies. Hopefully at this point, inflation won’t be a problem for what remains of your life. They charge for this service but the fees seem reasonable for what you get. It seems that there is more flexibility than I’ve described here but I’ve tried to cover the fundamentals as I understand them. Of course if you are relatively knowledgable, you can do this on your own without any fees but in my experience a lot of people will be happy to turn this over to a professional for a reasonable fee.