The problem I had with planning for variable spending in retirement is that it requires a larger retirement portfolio to begin with.* For me, to plan for variable spending, I needed a retirement budget generous enough that life was still very tolerable, even after cutting back.* That is, the budget included a generous amount of discretionary spending to eliminate or reduce as needed still leaving a comfortable "living budget."* To finance this higher budget, I needed a larger portfolio and worked several years longer.* I finally made it to RE at 58 yo.
Approximately two months into RE, we feel like we made the right decision to work longer and save more.* Our withdrawal plans are conservative and if we reduced our budget, only truly discretionary items would be eliminated.* In my case, I didn't really mind my career and was able to get myself assigned to several interesting projects, including some international travel, during the final years.* Staying as long as I did wasn't a painful issue.* I can imagine that for someone who really hates reporting for duty everyday, it might be tougher deciding to take such a conservative retirement budgeting approach and work longer to support it.
I have also noticed that it's those retiring with the most that consider themselves best positioned to cut back.* Makes sense.* If your retirement budget is $120K a year, it's going to be much easier to cut back than someone getting by on $40K.* For those already planning a modest retirement lifestyle, it's going to be more challenging to cut back by 50%.
In the end, everyone's circumstances are different and we all have to decide for ourselves.* I did the exactly right thing for me.* That might be the wrong thing for you.
"I wasn't born blue blood. I was born blue-collar." John Wort Hannam