Join Early Retirement Today
Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Are Ray's Buckets of Money fatally flawed?
Old 02-12-2009, 08:25 PM   #1
Moderator Emeritus
Rich_by_the_Bay's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: San Francisco
Posts: 8,827
Are Ray's Buckets of Money fatally flawed?

Some of you know I'm a fan of Lucia's buckets of money for the most part.

But if I were, say 11 years into it as of 2 years ago I would have been some 75-80% in equities going into the recession (assuming moderate withdrawal rate of 4%, usual returns til that time, modest inflation). I would be eating Alpo now and quite close to selling low in the near future.

Ray tap dances around this possibility in his books and on his show, but says maybe you should rebalance a little bit along the way only when stocks are well higher than their presumed returns, etc. Of course the more you do so, the less you are adhering to the principle of leaving your stocks to grow for 14 years or more.

This current mess, rare as it may be historically, has me thinking that maybe Armstrong's withdrawal strategy might be better -- certainly is now for anyone already deeply into Lucia's pure Buckets approach. (Armstrong basically says rebalance annually, distributing your annual SWR from whichever bucket has done better than year - stocks v. bonds/cash (no longer than short term).

Am I getting this right?
__________________

__________________
Rich
San Francisco Area
ESR'd March 2010. FIRE'd January 2011.

As if you didn't know..If the above message contains medical content, it's NOT intended as advice, and may not be accurate, applicable or sufficient. Don't rely on it for any purpose. Consult your own doctor for all medical advice.
Rich_by_the_Bay is offline   Reply With Quote
Join the #1 Early Retirement and Financial Independence Forum Today - It's Totally Free!

Are you planning to be financially independent as early as possible so you can live life on your own terms? Discuss successful investing strategies, asset allocation models, tax strategies and other related topics in our online forum community. Our members range from young folks just starting their journey to financial independence, military retirees and even multimillionaires. No matter where you fit in you'll find that Early-Retirement.org is a great community to join. Best of all it's totally FREE!

You are currently viewing our boards as a guest so you have limited access to our community. Please take the time to register and you will gain a lot of great new features including; the ability to participate in discussions, network with our members, see fewer ads, upload photographs, create a retirement blog, send private messages and so much, much more!

Old 02-12-2009, 08:34 PM   #2
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso) Give me a forum ...
REWahoo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Texas Hill Country
Posts: 42,107
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rich_in_Tampa View Post
But if I were, say 11 years into it as of 2 years ago I would have been some 75-80% in equities going into the recession...
Rich, I'm a self-made 'bucketeer' but not a follower of Ray Lucia. I say that as background for the following statement: I don't see how anyone could be comfortable in retirement (sans pension, annuity, etc.) with that much exposure to equities. If that's what Lucia's bucket strategy advocates I can understand your concern. It's nuts.
__________________

__________________
Numbers is hard

When I hit 70, it hit back

Retired in 2005 at age 58, no pension
REWahoo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-12-2009, 08:45 PM   #3
Moderator
ziggy29's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Texas
Posts: 15,612
I think the buckets idea is a sound one but I wouldn't enter it unless I had at least 15-20 years of less volatile investments. And I'd want to make sure I used a strategy that had me replenishing the safer buckets any time the market had an above average return. Even in the bust since early 2000 there would have been a chance to take a little off from 2003 to 2006. That could have extended the life of the "safer" buckets by a handful of years.

But I'm with REW -- Personally, I can't imagine entering retirement with more than about 50% equities. (A little over a year ago I would have said 60%.) I think a lot of the recent conventional wisdom about what is "survivable" may have to be re-evaluated when all is said and done here. As will be a lot of asset allocations.
__________________
"Hey, for every ten dollars, that's another hour that I have to be in the work place. That's an hour of my life. And my life is a very finite thing. I have only 'x' number of hours left before I'm dead. So how do I want to use these hours of my life? Do I want to use them just spending it on more crap and more stuff, or do I want to start getting a handle on it and using my life more intelligently?" -- Joe Dominguez (1938 - 1997)

RIP to Reemy, my avatar dog (2003 - 9/16/2017)
ziggy29 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-12-2009, 09:12 PM   #4
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
dex's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 5,105
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rich_in_Tampa View Post

This current mess, rare as it may be historically, has me thinking that maybe Armstrong's withdrawal strategy might be better -- certainly is now for anyone already deeply into Lucia's pure Buckets approach. (Armstrong basically says rebalance annually, distributing your annual SWR from whichever bucket has done better than year - stocks v. bonds/cash (no longer than short term).
Recessions are not a rare event - look back to 2000, 1981 and other times in history.
__________________
Sometimes death is not as tragic as not knowing how to live. This man knew how to live--and how to make others glad they were living. - Jack Benny at Nat King Cole's funeral
dex is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-12-2009, 09:14 PM   #5
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 11,615
Quote:
Originally Posted by ziggy29 View Post
I think the buckets idea is a sound one but I wouldn't enter it unless I had at least 15-20 years of less volatile investments.
20 years worth of less volatile investments doesn't leave much for that last, high-growth bucket thimble.

I've not read Lucia's books, just the synopsis of his plan. It seems that, to be better than simple annual rebalancing to the same overall allocation, Lucia is counting on markets recovering before the cash-bucket runs dry. If this happens, then his method comes out a winner. If the down market outlasts your cash bucket, you lose the bet and pay a bigger price than if you'd been rebalancing all along.

That black swan--she's an ugly bird.
__________________
"Freedom begins when you tell Mrs. Grundy to go fly a kite." - R. Heinlein
samclem is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 02-12-2009, 09:19 PM   #6
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
dex's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 5,105
I don't know the bucket allocation you are referring to.
Does it recommend 3 - 4 years of expenses (net of pension and Social Security income) in cash equivalents?

If not it should. If not that is the flaw in the system. 4 years of net expenses in cash equivalents should bridge most of the recovery period.
If you had 4 years of net expenses you could live on that then determine what investment to withdraw the next year's living expense. After the recovery you build up the cash again to the 3 - 4 years needed.
__________________
Sometimes death is not as tragic as not knowing how to live. This man knew how to live--and how to make others glad they were living. - Jack Benny at Nat King Cole's funeral
dex is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-12-2009, 09:19 PM   #7
Moderator Emeritus
Rich_by_the_Bay's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: San Francisco
Posts: 8,827
For clarity, Lucia does not recommend you enter retirement with a high ration of equities. In fact, you start out at a level in the 40-50% range for most. What happens next is the rub: you burn through 7 years of cash, then 7 years of bonds and finally get to your stocks 15 years after you started.

At that time, there is a high historic probability that your equity holdings will be quite robust. I can buy that argument in general, but when I look where that would leave someone if that moment came during a monster recession, you'd be hosed.

Selling bonds and cash first is a well-studied strategy that is supported by academic studies. But it seems to me it takes a set of brass ones to keep the faith after what we are going through these days.
__________________
Rich
San Francisco Area
ESR'd March 2010. FIRE'd January 2011.

As if you didn't know..If the above message contains medical content, it's NOT intended as advice, and may not be accurate, applicable or sufficient. Don't rely on it for any purpose. Consult your own doctor for all medical advice.
Rich_by_the_Bay is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-12-2009, 09:27 PM   #8
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
Bikerdude's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 1,901
Bogle. 100 - age = equities. My plan going forward.
__________________
“I guess I should warn you, if I turn out to be particularly clear, you've probably misunderstood what I've said” Alan Greenspan
Bikerdude is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-12-2009, 10:33 PM   #9
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
DblDoc's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 1,224
Sounds like a flaw to me. You are increasing your risk until it reaches maximum 14 years into your retirement. If that fell in 2008 you would be most unhappy. I would think you would need some way of rebalancing and some way of belt tightening in bad times to make it work without severe loss of sphincter tone...

DD
__________________
DblDoc is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-13-2009, 01:52 AM   #10
Moderator Emeritus
CuppaJoe's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: At The Cafe
Posts: 6,866
Another thing I see as a flaw in Lucia’s plan is his over-emphasis on REITs. I had looked into my landlord’s financing as far as I could get and could see that my apt. bldg. is about 92% financed deep into a commercial REIT-style investment. I also know the guy is over-extended, is slow to pay contractors, and is dealing with multiple lawsuits, etc. I decided not to go with that part of the bucket plan. My rent is now going to the landlord’s bank.

Edit: BTW, according to Wikipedia, my landlord was CEO of a savings and loan that “was taken over by the Office of Thrift Supervision to prevent insolvency due to bad high-risk real estate loans in the savings and loan crisis of the 1980s.”
__________________
CuppaJoe is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-13-2009, 03:35 AM   #11
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 5,412
i think rays idea is to actually not wait until 15 years to rebalance but to do it each time stocks are up and rebalance by years of safe money left..

but even if you didnt, 15 years ago we stood at 4,000 so even if you waited until today it wouldnt be a case of selling stocks at a loss, you would be selling at 8,000 ... you just may not be as high as we once were but your still relativly okay to sell if needed..

your withdrawls would have all been based on what you set up 15 years ago, not on what you would have set up at the high a year and a half ago. the withdrawls would have all been inflation adjusted all those years but still based on the amount you had 15 years ago ....dont forget its all relative to when you started and with how much.....
__________________
mathjak107 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-13-2009, 07:14 AM   #12
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 5,412
no matter what plan you use if you dont achieve a 7% return as a long term average and inflation is still 3% then you have to reduce the 4% withdrawl rate..... with rays plan just refill all the buckets as if you were starting retirement today and thats your new withdrawl amount based on todays nest egg value...

whether you stick to the old withdrawl rate from 15 years ago and refill your buckets over the years or whether you wait until 15 years later the differences should sill be slight..... either way your selling stock when its higher, its just not as high and you may have to cut your withdrawl to match the nest egg value.... but thats true in any portfolio
__________________
mathjak107 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-13-2009, 07:21 AM   #13
Moderator
ziggy29's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Texas
Posts: 15,612
Quote:
Originally Posted by samclem View Post
20 years worth of less volatile investments doesn't leave much for that last, high-growth bucket thimble.
20 years is on the high end, but at a 3% withdrawal rate it's still a 40/60 allocation which isn't unreasonably "light" on equities for a retiree.

If you *need* 4%, then yes, it doesn't leave much room at all for growth. In that case 15 years in the less volatile buckets gets you at 40/60.
__________________
"Hey, for every ten dollars, that's another hour that I have to be in the work place. That's an hour of my life. And my life is a very finite thing. I have only 'x' number of hours left before I'm dead. So how do I want to use these hours of my life? Do I want to use them just spending it on more crap and more stuff, or do I want to start getting a handle on it and using my life more intelligently?" -- Joe Dominguez (1938 - 1997)

RIP to Reemy, my avatar dog (2003 - 9/16/2017)
ziggy29 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-13-2009, 07:36 AM   #14
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
donheff's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Washington, DC
Posts: 8,643
We have talked this over before and like Rich, I like the idea of a "bucket of cash" to cover periods like the one we are in now. But the idea that you draw down that bucket until empty and then refill regardless of market conditions seems suicidal. I intend to keep the cash bucket refreshed in good periods and draw on it in bad. If the bad period lasts long enough, the cash bucket will empty. If equities are still down then, I will already have entered plan B which includes drastically cutting expenses and selling the weekend house. If real estate is still a mess I will be in plan C, ...if...if.

For plan D, Isn't there some cheap food substitute you can buy for $.05/meal or something?
__________________
Every man is, or hopes to be, an Idler. -- Samuel Johnson
donheff is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-13-2009, 08:02 AM   #15
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
freebird5825's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: East Nowhere, 43N Latitude, NY
Posts: 9,017
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bikerdude View Post
Bogle. 100 - age = equities. My plan going forward.
Ditto to the nth power.
I recently rebalanced from a 50/50 AA (migrated to 45/55 in 2008) to a 40/60 AA (for proactive damage control for 2009). The main reason to adjust my AA ahead of time (age is 50) was my portfolio hit the upper limit of my comfort zone for maximum annual loss in 2008.
The exchange of half my stake in VFINX to VWINX (pssstt ) locked in my 2009 TLH in one simple move. Now I leave it alone for 2 years and revisit. DCA continues.

Re Lucia, I am aware of but never checked out his approach.

edited - had wrong ticker for Wellesley.
__________________
"All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them." - Walt Disney
freebird5825 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-13-2009, 08:08 AM   #16
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
Dawg52's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Central MS/Orange Beach, AL
Posts: 7,438
CD's baby. Actually, I'm more in the 100 rule camp as Bikerdude. But if I get lucky one day and recoup most of my losses, I'm gonna pretend I'm a 100 year old man.
__________________
Retired 3/31/2007@52
Full time wuss.......
Dawg52 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-13-2009, 08:08 AM   #17
Moderator Emeritus
Rich_by_the_Bay's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: San Francisco
Posts: 8,827
Quote:
Originally Posted by mathjak107 View Post
i think rays idea is to actually not wait until 15 years to rebalance but to do it each time stocks are up and rebalance by years of safe money left..

but even if you didnt, 15 years ago we stood at 4,000 so even if you waited until today it wouldnt be a case of selling stocks at a loss, you would be selling at 8,000 ... you just may not be as high as we once were but your still relativly okay to sell if needed...
I have heard Ray say maybe you should rebalance using "value averaging" where you sweep out 50% of earnings above the originally projected amount as those years occur. But that tweak has not been tested to my knowledge, and he is vague and inconsistent about it.

I hear you as far as the long holding period being a great way to mitigate the volatility risk. And 99% of the time, figuratively speaking, I'd guess that would cover it. But living through one of those 1% volcanic markets, I really don't think the original strategy quite does it for me. Even if you don't let your bucket 2 drift to near-zero (say you start rebalancing with 2-3 years left) you are still dangerously overweighted in stocks under today's conditions, and if the market stays down 4-6 years you are in your 70s with little cash and only social security to prevent you from selling low for quite a while. Ray hints that he's leaning toward a SPIA allocation (e.g. 15-20% of overall portfolio) as part of his recent thinking. Maybe that's why.

I still like the overall approach, and will stick with it but I think I will rebalance more often (maybe every couple of years). Or maybe rebalance to maintain a 7 year cushion, not 2 years. Sure, my returns may be a little lower overalll but I'll maintain a larger, longer cushion for times like this.

Gotta change with the times. If Ray or anyone else comes up with a better-documented revision, I'm all ears. Maybe even look at a SPIA when I'm in my 70s if interest rates are favorable.
__________________
Rich
San Francisco Area
ESR'd March 2010. FIRE'd January 2011.

As if you didn't know..If the above message contains medical content, it's NOT intended as advice, and may not be accurate, applicable or sufficient. Don't rely on it for any purpose. Consult your own doctor for all medical advice.
Rich_by_the_Bay is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-13-2009, 08:16 AM   #18
Moderator
ziggy29's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Texas
Posts: 15,612
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rich_in_Tampa View Post
Ray hints that he's leaning toward a SPIA allocation (e.g. 15-20% of overall portfolio) as part of his recent thinking. Maybe that's why.
For the right situation (particularly healthy people with a favorable family history of longevity), I see no problems with using an SPIA as *part* of an retirement income strategy (assuming a sound insurer), but the problem here for many is human emotion. It's precisely times like these (when the markets stink) that people want the guaranteed income you can't outlive aspect of an SPIA. But these are also the times when an SPIA is the worst deal going because interest rates are so pathetically low, and an SPIA's payout is largely tied to the long-term interest rates at the time the contract is set.

Often you get MUCH better long-term rates when stocks are flying high, inflation is moderate and you don't have a crush of money going after Treasuries -- but that's usually not the time people think "gee, I want to get some money out of stocks and cash some of my portfolio in for a guaranteed lifetime income stream." The financial markets give no free lunch.
__________________
"Hey, for every ten dollars, that's another hour that I have to be in the work place. That's an hour of my life. And my life is a very finite thing. I have only 'x' number of hours left before I'm dead. So how do I want to use these hours of my life? Do I want to use them just spending it on more crap and more stuff, or do I want to start getting a handle on it and using my life more intelligently?" -- Joe Dominguez (1938 - 1997)

RIP to Reemy, my avatar dog (2003 - 9/16/2017)
ziggy29 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-13-2009, 08:29 AM   #19
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
Bikerdude's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 1,901
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rich_in_Tampa View Post

I still like the overall approach, and will stick with it but I think I will rebalance more often (maybe every couple of years). Or maybe rebalance to maintain a 7 year cushion, not 2 years. Sure, my returns may be a little lower overalll but I'll maintain a larger, longer cushion for times like this.
I live on interest and dividends and add cash as needed to maintain lifestyle (within the 4% SWR). I usually have a 10 year cushion before I have to sell equities. I'm comfortable with that and it has served me well so far in this trying time.
__________________
“I guess I should warn you, if I turn out to be particularly clear, you've probably misunderstood what I've said” Alan Greenspan
Bikerdude is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-13-2009, 08:38 AM   #20
Moderator Emeritus
Rich_by_the_Bay's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: San Francisco
Posts: 8,827
Quote:
Originally Posted by ziggy29 View Post
For the right situation (particularly healthy people with a favorable family history of longevity), I see no problems with using an SPIA as *part* of an retirement income strategy (assuming a sound insurer), but the problem here for many is human emotion. It's precisely times like these (when the markets stink) that people want the guaranteed income you can't outlive aspect of an SPIA. But these are also the times when an SPIA is the worst deal going because interest rates are so pathetically low, and an SPIA's payout is largely tied to the long-term interest rates at the time the contract is set.
Yep, I think most of the regulars around here agree with that.

I'd just look at it line any other candidate investment for your diversification strategy. There is no other investment with the properties of a SPIA (yes, you can approach it with laddered CDs, etc. but differences remain). If conditions are right when decision time arises (including health, interest rates, carrier stability, inflation prospects, how my kids are doing re: estate needs etc.) I can see scenarios where it could be a plausible part of the big picture. Not rushing -- a SPIA has little appeal to me now.

I wonder where Lucia would put it: is it a Bucket 1 investment combined with a lower investment-based SWR? Is it a Bucket 2 for its stability? A separate Bucket altogether, maybe combined with other pensions and SS?
__________________

__________________
Rich
San Francisco Area
ESR'd March 2010. FIRE'd January 2011.

As if you didn't know..If the above message contains medical content, it's NOT intended as advice, and may not be accurate, applicable or sufficient. Don't rely on it for any purpose. Consult your own doctor for all medical advice.
Rich_by_the_Bay is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Buckets of Money Strategy AlanS FIRE and Money 46 02-20-2012 06:49 AM
Buckets of money rpow53 Life after FIRE 12 01-03-2009 09:15 PM
Buckets of Money Spreadsheet Alan123 FIRE and Money 2 05-31-2008 07:16 PM
Buckets of Money ala Ray Lucia -- please critique chinaco FIRE and Money 11 03-11-2007 06:25 PM
Ray Lucia...Buckets of Money ferco FIRE and Money 122 10-04-2006 06:15 PM

 

 
All times are GMT -6. The time now is 04:42 AM.
 
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.