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Re: Explain the 4% withdrawal rate
Old 01-18-2006, 04:00 PM   #61
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Re: Explain the 4% withdrawal rate

Sorry for the confusion in my use of language. I meant that you could take 4% of your STARTING portfolio (which is your CURRENT portfolio the year you retire). But each year you COULD (and probably should) recalculate your withdrawal as if your then current portfolio is your new STARTING portfolio....you're simply taking into account what actually happened to your portfolio during the preceding year.
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Re: Explain the 4% withdrawal rate
Old 01-18-2006, 04:12 PM   #62
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Re: Explain the 4% withdrawal rate

understand. Thank you for the explination. Next question: according to the 4% rule
if you take the $40k out on the $1million portfolio, and the next year your portfolio is $960k for example...
you then take out $38000 (4%) plus increase it by approx $1140 (3% inflation).
so you would take out $39,140 the next year ?
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Re: Explain the 4% withdrawal rate
Old 01-18-2006, 04:15 PM   #63
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Re: Explain the 4% withdrawal rate

Quote:
Originally Posted by wstu32
understand.* Thank you for the explination.* * *Next question:* according to the 4% rule
if you take the $40k out on the $1million portfolio, and the next year your portfolio is $960k for example...
you then take out $38000 (4%) plus increase it by approx $1140 (3% inflation).
so you would take out $39,140 the next year ?
Nope -- remember the goal is to keep your spending constant.

So you take $40,000 the first year -- 4% of $1 mil.

The second year you take out $40,000 (the same 4%, since you are dealing with the portfolio as of the moment you retired) plus another $1200 (assuming 3% inflation), for a total of $41,200. Presumably, $41,200 will buy in the second year what $40,000 bought in the first year, so your lifestyle doesn't suffer.

Obviously, you don't want to run out of money by taking too much. This is what Firecalc is calculating -- and the approx 4% you get from Firecalc is what would be safe for the duration you entered.

As jerryo mentioned, what you ACTUALLY do down the road will probably take into consideration what has happened in the market, in your life, and so forth. But for planning and feasability testing, we're talking about a percentage of the number as of when you retire.
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Re: Explain the 4% withdrawal rate
Old 01-18-2006, 04:16 PM   #64
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Re: Explain the 4% withdrawal rate

wow...
now what is the assumed rate of return on the $1 million?
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Re: Explain the 4% withdrawal rate
Old 01-18-2006, 04:25 PM   #65
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Re: Explain the 4% withdrawal rate

Quote:
Originally Posted by dory36
Yes. That is the rate that would have been safe in the worst we have ever seen, so the 4% number, or $40,000, adjusted each year for inflation, is the commonly discussed safe withdrawal amount. That's what we mean by "safe".

Bonuses or raises? Now, there is another factor that doesn't get discussed all that much in calculations, although it probably gets implemented all the time when we use common sense in deciding how much to spend during our retirement. Let me try to give a logical description.

We are saying that 4% of the starting balance is safe, meaning that starting from any arbitrary point in time, we can initiate a series of ~30 annual withdrawals of 4% of the portfolio balance at that point in time, with adjustments for inflation.

We usually talk about this in the situation when the portfolio goes way down -- and the whole purpose of the safe rate discussions is to give us some comfort that if we stop our paychecks early, we can reasonably count on at least 4% of the balance at that point for the next ~30 years.

But look at the positive side. Let's say that in 5 years, the portfolio is at 1.2 million, after starting at 1 million. (Assume these are all inflation-adjusted dollars for this discussion.)*

What has happened?

One thing that has happened is that we have "lucked out", as the scenario that is worst for the survival of a portfolio is a large and lengthy market decline starting immediately after we decide to begin the withdrawals. Except for that scenario, the rate would be a good bit higher.

Another thing that has happened is passage of time. So now, instead of needing a $1 million portfolio to last for 30 years, we need it to last for only 25 years.

We can take advantage of our good fortune (timing retirement when we don't have an immediate bear market afterwards) and our new circumstances (more money and a shorter time to spend it) in a couple of different ways.

One -- we can start over. Just designate this new moment as the start of the withdrawal program, and take 4% of 1.2 million, or $48,000 instead of $40,000, for the next 30 years (or you could take ~4.2%, since you are now looking at 25 years instead of 30...), or,

Two -- we can take a $200,000 "bonus" to get the portfolio back down to $1 million, and continue drawing 40,000 for 30 years (or 42,000 for 25 years).

(This seems counterintuitive, but all that is happening is that we are reducing the amount that would have been left over at the end of the 30 year period, since we didn't get the bear market in the first 5 years.)

So... 4% sets your minimum withdrawal even in bad times, but you can adjust upwards following good years.

Hope this helps -- dory36
Dory, is your other name Dr. Pangloss? No wonder FireClac is popular -"Heads, I win, tails, I win." Gotta love it!

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Re: Explain the 4% withdrawal rate
Old 01-18-2006, 04:29 PM   #66
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Re: Explain the 4% withdrawal rate

Quote:
Originally Posted by wstu32
wow...
now what is the assumed rate of return on the $1 million?
Firecalc assumes nothing about the rate of return. What it does is to simulate what would have happened had you retired in 1871 with whatever split of stocks and bonds you specified etc., and assumes you withdraw some specific amount of dollars, adjusted for inflation, for 30 years (or however many years you specified.

Then it does the same thing for 1872, and again for 1873, and so forth, all the way to the most recent years for which we have data.

Every one of these simulated 30 year retirements that winds up with money left over is a successful year. *Every one that runs out of money before the end is a failure.

When Firecalc reports 96% success, it means that there were about 5 different simulated 30 year retirements that failed, and about 127 that succeeded.

Spending about 4% is where the results come in close to 100%, depending on your stock-bond split and other variables.
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Re: Explain the 4% withdrawal rate
Old 01-18-2006, 04:36 PM   #67
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Re: Explain the 4% withdrawal rate

Quote:
Originally Posted by HaHa
Dory, is your other name Dr. Pangloss? No wonder FireClac is popular -"Heads, I win, tails, I win." Gotta love it!

Ha
Usually I get yelled at because the safe rate isn't 10% or higher!

But a lot of folks confuse the whole safe rate stuff, thinking it is a spending plan. It isn't -- it's a safety plan, especially for the first few years.

If you dodge the bullet, then you didn't need the bullet-proof vest -- but you didn't know that before you walked into the firefight.

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Re: Explain the 4% withdrawal rate
Old 01-18-2006, 04:42 PM   #68
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Re: Explain the 4% withdrawal rate

Quote:
Originally Posted by wstu32
wow...
now what is the assumed rate of return on the $1 million?
The general assumption of a 4% SWR is that you will earn at least 7% on your money. 3% goes to inflation.
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Re: Explain the 4% withdrawal rate
Old 01-18-2006, 04:45 PM   #69
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Re: Explain the 4% withdrawal rate

And then and then - we have the 1/2 panic as opposed to the whole panic.

In the minor dip of 2002 - I just spent the div./interest (hint - less than 4%) BUT ala Bogle I stayed the course portfolio wise.

Now - I have all this stupid money - dented slightly post Katrina - but still not getting any younger - need to get up to 4%.

? But what if the other shoe drops

heh heh heh heh heh heh heh

12 years into ER - it's still an inside job -emotional/mental.

Running FireCalc is a lot cheaper than a shrink - and it does make me feel better.

Still think div.'s/interest per the Norwegian widow are real money.

Better get back to my taxes.
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Re: Explain the 4% withdrawal rate
Old 01-18-2006, 04:49 PM   #70
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Re: Explain the 4% withdrawal rate

some VERY good info today..thank you all...
7% on your money is kind of high though!
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Re: Explain the 4% withdrawal rate
Old 01-18-2006, 05:05 PM   #71
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Re: Explain the 4% withdrawal rate

Quote:
Originally Posted by wstu32
some VERY good info today..thank you all...
7% on your money is kind of high though!
I recall a year or so before I retired that everyone was saying that if you couldn't get 15-20%, you were incompetent. (This was on the Motley Fool Early Retirement forum, before they started charging to let us spout off our own wisdom and read the incoherent ramblings of everyone else.)

The Vanguard S&P 500 Index Fund had gone from about $40 a share to about $140 a share in the previous 5 years, without a dip or plateau of any significance. I think that is something like 28% annual growth. And this was the boring index funds. Technology stocks and funds were where the real action was.

That was only about 6 years ago . . . and in the 2-3 years after that, the S&P fund shares lost almost half their value. Tech stock owners were back to work.

So no, 7% isn't that high. Historically and very long term I think it's been over 10% per year.

And using that 10% long term figure, you have about 4% for spending, 3% for inflation as retire@40 says, plus another about 3% buffer for down markets in the early years.
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Re: Explain the 4% withdrawal rate
Old 01-18-2006, 05:08 PM   #72
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Re: Explain the 4% withdrawal rate

This thread reminds me of the little kid who asks his mom about sex, and gets the whole birds and bees story -- when all he wanted to know was what to put in that little spot in the id card that came with his new wallet. :
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Re: Explain the 4% withdrawal rate
Old 01-18-2006, 05:13 PM   #73
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Re: Explain the 4% withdrawal rate

10%...
what asset allocation is this assuming
how much in stocks?
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Re: Explain the 4% withdrawal rate
Old 01-18-2006, 05:16 PM   #74
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Re: Explain the 4% withdrawal rate

Quote:
Originally Posted by dory36
(... on the Motley Fool Early Retirement forum, before they started charging to let us spout off our own wisdom and read the incoherent ramblings of everyone else.)
I know I speak for a lot of posters when I once again say "Thank You, Dory" for setting up this board so we could continue to spout off our own wisdom and read the incoherent ramblings of everyone else free of charge (donations sincerely appreciated).

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Re: Explain the 4% withdrawal rate
Old 01-18-2006, 05:27 PM   #75
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Re: Explain the 4% withdrawal rate

Quote:
Originally Posted by wstu32
10%...
what asset allocation is this assuming
how much in stocks?
Below is a chart (the red line) of the average 30 year returns for the S&P 500 from 1931 - 2002. Below that is an allocation chart, from http://www.retireearlyhomepage.com/restud1.html

Attached Images
File Type: gif GDPvsS&PReturns1.gif (10.9 KB, 232 views)
File Type: jpg recht1.jpg (20.9 KB, 430 views)
Attached Files
File Type: gif_thumb GDPvsS&PReturns1.gif_thumb (14.6 KB, 4 views)
File Type: jpg_thumb recht1.jpg_thumb (12.7 KB, 2 views)
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Re: Explain the 4% withdrawal rate
Old 01-18-2006, 05:55 PM   #76
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Re: Explain the 4% withdrawal rate

One thing that I don't see mentioned often is that the SWR studies don't apply if your investments underperform the market. *They assume that you will earn returns just as good as the stock market, and if you don't, your SWR is lowered by approximately the amount that you underperform.

Most people (just like most mutual funds) do underperform the market. *There are many reasons, but the most common reason is paying loads, costs, fees and other overhead. * *If you pay 1% extra per year in fees or costs, your SWR drops from 4% to 3%. *If you pay 2% extra your SWR drops from 4% to 2%.

Another way that many people end up underperforming the market is by making emotional decisions, like pulling out of the market during a dip. *In order for the SWR to apply to you personally, you have to know yourself well enough to be sure that you could stick to your investment plans even when the going to rough. *There's no judgement here... many people sleep better pulling out of the stock market when it dips and those people should not count on the SWRs from these studies. * Making such emotional decisions that seem rational at the time can easily knock out a large percentage of your capital at the moment when you need it most, lowering your SWR significantly.

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Re: Explain the 4% withdrawal rate
Old 01-18-2006, 06:00 PM   #77
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Re: Explain the 4% withdrawal rate

fireme is correct.

From the "How it works" section in Firecalc:

Important: The model is only valid to the extent that your stock portfolio tracks the overall stock market, such as with Vanguard's Total Market Index.
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Re: Explain the 4% withdrawal rate
Old 01-18-2006, 06:03 PM   #78
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Re: Explain the 4% withdrawal rate

i am not clear again...what if you put 20% stocks in firecalc... doesnt that mean only 20% has to track the market

or are we back to the 4% rule
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Re: Explain the 4% withdrawal rate
Old 01-18-2006, 06:16 PM   #79
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Re: Explain the 4% withdrawal rate

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Originally Posted by wstu32
i am not clear again...what if you put 20% stocks in firecalc... doesnt that mean only 20% has to track the market

or are we back to the 4% rule*
Yes, only 20% needs to track the market in that case.

Your results may not be 4% in that case though. Using the default settings in Firecalc but changing the stock allocation to 20% gets a safe rate of only 2.73%, versus 4.19% when it's 75% stocks.

"4% rule" is just a shortcut for saying "assuming 30-35 years in restirement, stocks tracking the market and comprising 75% of your portfolio, under 0.2% expenses, etc etc etc, you can safely withdraw 4%." When you make changes to any of the assumptions, the safe rate changes as well.
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Re: Explain the 4% withdrawal rate
Old 01-18-2006, 07:08 PM   #80
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Re: Explain the 4% withdrawal rate

This has been a great thread. I'm happy to see a lot of the things I've been thinking about being posted, without me having to type them.

Personally I feel a lot more comfortable with the option of taking 4% of the current portfolio at whatever it happens to be that year - essentially, as Dory said, "starting over" with a current plan each year. This is more intuitive and more interactive - the 4% of original + inflation adjustment seems too robotic and possibly counter to logic.

If I get to a year where the 4% of existing is not enough to live on, I know I have a problem and better find alternate income sources. If my investments do great my 4% will give me a more comfortable life, and if I don't need it all I may not spend it or may save it for a major purchase if things continue to go well.

As many on this forum have often said, you must use some common sense with the formulas!
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