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Different folks approach this differently. Myself, I have an allocation for my portfolio. My actual IRA investment are heavier in mutual funds that throw off cash. The 2018 RMD depends as you know on the value of your account on December 31, 2017. I go into my IRA and move all available cash into VMFXX to cover my RMD. Never enough - so I sell enough of something in early January to "fund" by RMD and put the cash in VMFXX.

The argument against my approach is you can miss the returns by selling early. True. But I also avoid selling more of my IRA than the RMD percentage.

Lets say my RMD divisor is 25.0 -- 4% of my year end value. Set the year end value at $100K

If the value of my IRA in 2018 goes up by 15% and say VMFXX earns nothing. Also say I take my RMD as late as possible 12/31/18. What is the difference vs leaving the funds in the higher returning portfolio? A total of $600.

Now lets say the portfolio goes down 15% - the amount of your RMD is still $4,000 - the end of year values for sell early vs sell late is again $600. But here selling early has the $600 advantage.
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