06-16-2014, 11:35 AM   #121
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Quote:
 Originally Posted by daylatedollarshort Joe retires in 2106, with \$1M and a planned 4% SWR for 30 years with a 94% rate and 75/25 stock bond mix. In 2017, the market crashes. Joe's portfolio drops 40% to \$600,000. Mary wants to retire in 2017 for 29 years with a portfolio of \$600,000, and a 75/25 mix and a 4% SWR, but Firecalc says she only has a 43% chance of success. Are Joe's odds still 94% or have they dropped now to 43%? If they are now 43%, what happened to the 94%? Can Mary retire anyway? Should Joe go back to work? Do they each have different odds of success because Joe pulled the plug one year earlier, even though goiing forward they now both have 600K portfolios, 75/25 AAs, 4% SWR and want to retire for 29 years into the future? Maybe I am just dense, but I really don't understand the logic in Firecalc at all, even if the future will be 100% like the past. And personally I would only give the future 50% odds of being like the past.
Joe's odds are less than 94% because he has hit one of the bad, though not necessarily fatal, scenarios. However, we have no way of getting FIRECalc to tell us how bad. You could go through all the historical data, pick out all the scenarios that were down 40% in the first year, and see what the results were. But you would have a very small sample size and a lot of work to compile all the data.

Mary's probability of success is better than 43% because of the two recessions in a row problem we've already discussed.

Here's how FIRECalc works:

It has something like 100+ years of stock and bond info. It takes your portfolio balance input and calculates how your portfolio would do if you retired in 1920 (with your expenses and retirement length). Then what if you retired in 1921, or 1922 etc.. The last year it can try, assuming it has 2013 data, is 1984, so that it has 30 years of data (1984-2013) to calculate your result. So if there were an even 100 years of data, you would have 71 scenarios that each started on a different year. FIRECalc then lets you know how many of the scenarios resulted in a positive portfolio value, the success scenarios.

FIRECalc runs the exact same scenarios whether you use a starting portfolio value from January 2000 or March 2009. But how well do those scenarios reflect the reality of 2000 or 2009? Many of the failure scenarios result from a market drop just after retirement. Is that a reasonable scenario when entering a March 2009 portfolio value? No. That's stringing two market dips together in a way that would be worse than anything in past history. Is it reasonable when entering a January 2000 portfolio value? Yes. What's more reasonable than a market drop right after a big gain?

So Joe is still in the clear, though maybe heading towards a bad scenario. And Mary needs to take her results with a big grain of salt.

No other calculators I know of solve this problem. The Monte Carlo versions will do the same thing, just with more scenarios. Plus they have to assume some distribution of market gains that have some distance from history and actual market behavior.
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06-16-2014, 11:36 AM   #122
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Quote:
 Originally Posted by daylatedollarshort Maybe I am just dense, but I really don't understand the logic in Firecalc at all, even if the future will be 100% like the past.
Your best bet is to keep working until you know, with complete certainty, you'll never run out of money. Let us know how you determine when that will be.
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06-16-2014, 11:42 AM   #123
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Quote:
 Originally Posted by REWahoo Your best bet is to keep working until you know, with complete certainty, you'll never run out of money. Let us know how you determine when that will be.
We don't work full time any more. We quit a few years ago. We have hobby businesses but I don't include that income in our retirement plan.

06-16-2014, 11:45 AM   #124
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Quote:
 Originally Posted by daylatedollarshort In 2017, the market crashes. Joe's portfolio drops 40% to \$600,000. .
But Joe didn't have \$1,000,000 in 2017. That's what he had in 2006 and he's been withdrawing and experiencing investment returns for those intervening years. Maybe in 2017 he had \$2,000,000. Then after the 40% crash, he still has \$1,200,000. Or maybe not. And what happened after the crash? Perhaps a quick recovery as we've had following the Great Recession? Your example vastly oversimplifies.

Do a FireCalc run and drop the Excel spreadsheets and print them out. Pour a cold, expensive craft beer. Sit in your recliner . Mellow out with the spreadsheets until you understand what's going on. Or, even better, use your laptop instead of a printout so you can fiddle with formulas and try what-ifs.
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06-16-2014, 11:47 AM   #125
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Quote:
 Originally Posted by youbet +1 You, I and I think ERD50 have spoken about the likely "roller coaster ride" we could experience financially during retirement, especially a long early retirement. And that's the way it is. If you're not willing to accept that there will be much going on financially that's out of your control and that even with your best efforts to be flexible and on top of things that your final financial results are basically unpredictable outside of broad parameters, then you better keep gathering more. I love retirement and living off passive income. Eight years in, I can say it's just been great despite the roller coaster ride so far. Retired at a bubble peak, rode out the Great Recession and now am enjoying a really nice ride back up. I expect even more volatility going forward and have no idea whether I'll die broke or worth tens of millions.
+1 This is why I am on this forum, for insight from people like you. It is only my 2nd month into this retirement gig and I have to admit to probably being overly conservative in my withdrawal plans. Spending more is more of a emotional barrier than one any number of calculations alone from past results will be able to overcome. On the other hand the bank account of the time I have left is constantly and immutably being withdrawn every day, every hour, every minute, every second. When that will get down to zero I have no way of knowing, but at that point the financial accounts won't much matter.
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06-16-2014, 11:47 AM   #126
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Quote:
 Originally Posted by daylatedollarshort We don't work full time any more. We quit a few years ago. We have hobby businesses but I don't include that income in our retirement plan.
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06-16-2014, 11:50 AM   #127
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Quote:
 Originally Posted by youbet But Joe didn't have \$1,000,000 in 2017. That's what he had in 2006 and he's been withdrawing and experiencing investment returns for those intervening years. Maybe in 2017 he had \$2,000,000. Then after the 40% crash, he still has \$1,200,000. Or maybe not. And what happened after the crash? Perhaps a quick recovery as we've had following the Great Recession? Your example vastly oversimplifies. Do a FireCalc run and drop the Excel spreadsheets and print them out. Pour a cold, expensive craft beer. Sit in your recliner . Mellow out with the spreadsheets until you understand what's going on. Or, even better, use your laptop instead of a printout so you can fiddle with formulas and try what-ifs.
+1

Good advice, but before you do the above spend some quality time reading and comprehending the information here: FIRECalc - How It Works
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06-16-2014, 11:54 AM   #128
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Quote:
 Originally Posted by youbet I love retirement and living off passive income. Eight years in, I can say it's just been great despite the roller coaster ride so far. Retired at a bubble peak, rode out the Great Recession and now am enjoying a really nice ride back up. I expect even more volatility going forward and have no idea whether I'll die broke or worth tens of millions.
Ditto...except I've been riding the roller coaster for an additional year. It's been a great ride so far.
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06-16-2014, 11:55 AM   #129
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Quote:
 Originally Posted by youbet See item #3 in my post about "padding" above!
We have a larger nest egg at 100 than we do now without the part time income in the Fidelity RIP.

The Fidelity RIP recommends we change to a more aggressive AA than we have now. One with a potential first year loss of 50%. Why risk losing half our nest egg when we have no need to? I just don't get the logic in doing that.

06-16-2014, 12:02 PM   #130
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Quote:
 Originally Posted by daylatedollarshort Joe retires in 2106, with \$1M and a planned 4% SWR for 30 years with a 94% rate and 75/25 stock bond mix. In 2017, the market crashes. Joe's portfolio drops 40% to \$600,000. Mary wants to retire in 2017 for 29 years with a portfolio of \$600,000, and a 75/25 mix and a 4% SWR, but Firecalc says she only has a 43% chance of success. Are Joe's odds still 94% or have they dropped now to 43%? If they are now 43%, what happened to the 94%? Can Mary retire anyway? Should Joe go back to work? Do they each have different odds of success because Joe pulled the plug one year earlier, even though goiing forward they now both have 600K portfolios, 75/25 AAs, 4% SWR and want to retire for 29 years into the future?
In your example, I think you mean Mary and Joe are both drawing 6.67% WR (\$40K/\$600K) after the market has crashed. And yes, FIRECalc will now say that Joe's chance is no longer 94%.

It's because FIRECalc does not know nor care whether we are at a market top or bottom. Nor do we, until the top or bottom has already been past. Once the market has dropped precipitously as in 2008-2009, we know that we are if not at a market bottom then very close to one. A retiree drawing 4% or even 6.7% in 2009 should be safe, although he did not feel it.

This is what photoguy mentioned earlier about conditional probability, which incorporates more info once it is available. Following is another example.

According to SSA, a man of 65 years of age today can expect to live till 84. So our friend Joe who is 65 can expect to live to 84, if there is no other information. But suppose he just got the bad news that he has cancer. Now, this sudden new info means that the previous statistics is no longer applicable. What is dominantly important now is the prognosis of his disease. And then, further info when it becomes available will narrow down his fate further, such as what stage of cancer he is at.

So, when we run FIRECalc, can we help not to make a guess as to where we are in the business and market cycle? Or is is even prudent to pretend that we do not know nor care?
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06-16-2014, 12:02 PM   #131
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Quote:
 Originally Posted by youbet Well, I won't disagree. A while back I listed a number of the "padding" factors commonly used here on the board by the nervous nellies. I can't remember them all now, but they included: 1. Withdrawal rate well below the FireCalc tested rate for 100% survival. 2. Large pot of cash held outside the retirement portfolio and not included in FireCalc calculations. "Just in case" money. 3. Ongoing part time work or business or spousal income which is not included in FireCalc inputs. 4. Substantial padding of expenses. 5. No accounting for the value of non-financial assets such as an expensive home, summer home, rental properties, antique car collection, millions of dollars of rare art, ownership of the Clippers, etc. 6. Assumed longevity where you're still spending big time at 135 years old. 7. Discounting future SS or not counting it at all. "It'll be gravy." 8. Etc. I'm most amazed at this type of conservative over doing when the poster, usually in other threads, mentions they don't like their job or their working life and are extremely anxious to quit and get on to a retirement lifestyle. Yet, they'll work extra years to go from a super conservative position to a super-super conservative position or perhaps even the coveted super-super-super conservative position. It's also interesting to observe how many folks do not look at the distribution of outcomes from FireCalc runs but only focus on the bottom, worse outcome, line. While I've done so many FireCalc runs that I don't do histograms too often anymore, I've done a bunch and they give important insight into the probability of your outcome (based on historical data anyway) given you AA and WR. To OP: Beginning withdrawals at a equity market peak is not "hard." It's just another number, another set of circumstances. Make your assumptions, do your testing and get on with life. I wonder if we're at an equity market "peak" now?
Great post. I loved your original post of this list and I love seeing it again. Recognize myself in much of this.

Thanks for your positive message about the journey which cannot be started until we take the first plunge into ER.
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 06-16-2014, 01:08 PM #132 Thinks s/he gets paid by the post   Join Date: Nov 2013 Location: Bay Area Posts: 2,160 Youbet, I agree with your posts and reasoning behind them. I feel comfortable to RE now or later (wherever market wants to be at the time, up or down from now). But market timing in me says I would feel more comfortable to RE if market is coming off of a major downturn. It's all in between my ears right now. __________________ Pura Vida
06-16-2014, 01:17 PM   #133
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Quote:
 Originally Posted by robnplunder Youbet, I agree with your posts and reasoning behind them. I feel comfortable to RE now or later (wherever market wants to be at the time, up or down from now). But market timing in me says I would feel more comfortable to RE if market is coming off of a major downturn. It's all in between my ears right now.
Ah, the market timing approach to retirement.

Have you determined how much downturn you will need to be sure it's a major downturn and not a head fake? How you will be able to determine the market is actually coming off the bottom and not playing "gotcha!"?
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 06-16-2014, 01:24 PM #134 Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)Give me a forum ...   Join Date: Jul 2006 Location: Pacific latitude 20/49 Posts: 6,132 I would take it really simple. With only \$600k, if I proceed to withdraw \$40k, I can only do that for 15 years before getting into trouble. Significant recovery of the markets would make it better. But my portfolio would have to gain 60% for the old calculations to apply. I would be looking to move to an extremely lower COL place for a while until the future began to look brighter! __________________ For the fun of it...Keith
06-16-2014, 01:48 PM   #135
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Quote:
 Originally Posted by robnplunder But market timing in me says I would feel more comfortable to RE if market is coming off of a major downturn...
So that you would feel more comfortable drawing 4% WR? But 4% after your portfolio has shrunk in a crash is less than 4% of its current value.

If so, how about retiring now on only 3% WR or less, so that when the downturn hits you will get closer to 4%?

Or, are you thinking of going to 100% cash, then when the market has tanked, going back in and ride the market back up while living on 4% of your portfolio value as it is now, but at the market bottom? That would be nice, but that takes perfect market timing!
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06-16-2014, 02:15 PM   #136
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Quote:
 Originally Posted by REWahoo Ah, the market timing approach to retirement. Have you determined how much downturn you will need to be sure it's a major downturn and not a head fake? How you will be able to determine the market is actually coming off the bottom and not playing "gotcha!"?
If I RE now with market hitting record highs, I will be doing it with 3 years of yearly expense in cash account. I also have \$300k+ house equity which I can draw from by downsizing. Those will tie me over for up to 6 year of market "stall." Sure, this is not conservative enough to some of your standard but it's a risk I will take when I RE.
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06-16-2014, 02:28 PM   #137
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Quote:
 Originally Posted by REWahoo Ah, the market timing approach to retirement. Have you determined how much downturn you will need to be sure it's a major downturn and not a head fake? How you will be able to determine the market is actually coming off the bottom and not playing "gotcha!"?
+1 Yes! That is the problem when you start to play the timing game.
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06-16-2014, 04:30 PM   #138
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Quote:
 Originally Posted by youbet Well, I won't disagree. A while back I listed a number of the "padding" factors commonly used here on the board by the nervous nellies. I can't remember them all now, but they included: 1. Withdrawal rate well below the FireCalc tested rate for 100% survival. 2. Large pot of cash held outside the retirement portfolio and not included in FireCalc calculations. "Just in case" money. 3. Ongoing part time work or business or spousal income which is not included in FireCalc inputs. 4. Substantial padding of expenses. 5. No accounting for the value of non-financial assets such as an expensive home, summer home, rental properties, antique car collection, millions of dollars of rare art, ownership of the Clippers, etc. 6. Assumed longevity where you're still spending big time at 135 years old. 7. Discounting future SS or not counting it at all. "It'll be gravy." 8. Etc. I'm most amazed at this type of conservative over doing when the poster, usually in other threads, mentions they don't like their job or their working life and are extremely anxious to quit and get on to a retirement lifestyle. Yet, they'll work extra years to go from a super conservative position to a super-super conservative position or perhaps even the coveted super-super-super conservative position. It's also interesting to observe how many folks do not look at the distribution of outcomes from FireCalc runs but only focus on the bottom, worse outcome, line. While I've done so many FireCalc runs that I don't do histograms too often anymore, I've done a bunch and they give important insight into the probability of your outcome (based on historical data anyway) given you AA and WR. To OP: Beginning withdrawals at a equity market peak is not "hard." It's just another number, another set of circumstances. Make your assumptions, do your testing and get on with life. I wonder if we're at an equity market "peak" now?
Ah yes... very accurate. Whenever DW expresses bitterness or anger at MegaCorp for deciding our date for us, I ask her whether in all honesty we would really have had the courage to leave at "our" date on our own impetus. In fact "our" imagined date was just two years later than "their" date... but in my heart I know I would have been a OMY man without the kick up the backside. It hurt then, but feels great now.

06-16-2014, 05:04 PM   #139
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This is a great discussion. There's no way I would have time for this without being fired.

Quote:
 Originally Posted by Animorph The double accounting is like this: You are at the bottom of the Great Depression. You take your portfolio balance at that time and enter it into FIRECalc. FIRECalc takes that balance and says, "OK, now what happens to this portfolio if the guy is retiring just before the Great Depression?" Then it proceeds to subject your portfolio to another Great Depression as one of its scenarios. That's not really fair. Two Great Depressions in a row?
Let me respond to your point with multiple comments as I think the discussion is get very nuanced.

1. Why not? People talk about double dip recessions all the time. How bad would things have gotten if the US had defaulted on its debt?

2. Technically your argument hinges on whether there is mean reversion in equity returns (a series of bad returns is much more likely to be followed by good returns and vice versa). As far as I can tell there are conflicting studies as to whether mean reversion actually exists.

Conflicting studies and no-consensus usually means either (1) that it doesn't exist or (2) it exists but is too weak to be practically significant. So I don't think there's any double counting of risk.

3. Even if mean reversion exists, it has to be strong enough to completely negate the extra risk of your equities having tanked 50%. I don't think anybody thinks it's that strong -- if it were it wouldn't be any doubt as to whether it exists.

4. Do the following thought experiment: Imagine FIRECALC existed in 1973 and retiree ran it and determined that a 4% withdrawal rate had a failure rate of 5%. As the years pass (the red line in the chart below) and the retiree sees the bad sequence of returns at what point should they update/increase their initial estimate of 5% failure rate? Is that 5% initial failure rate still good after 1 year? after 5 years when the portfolio is now 50%, after 10 years when the portfolio is roughly 1/3 the initial value?

5. I am not saying that the FIRECALC probability computed at the bottom of a bear market is a good estimate of success. Nor am I saying that my calculation method 2 is good either. Both are likely biased pessimistically (we know this from PE10 studies). I am saying that the initial estimate of the failure rate computed before the bear is likely too low now (qualitatively the failure rate should be increasing) given the additional information known.
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06-16-2014, 05:07 PM   #140
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Quote:
 Originally Posted by youbet But Joe didn't have \$1,000,000 in 2017. That's what he had in 2006 and he's been withdrawing and experiencing investment returns for those intervening years. Maybe in 2017 he had \$2,000,000. Then after the 40% crash, he still has \$1,200,000. Or maybe not. And what happened after the crash? Perhaps a quick recovery as we've had following the Great Recession? Your example vastly oversimplifies. Do a FireCalc run and drop the Excel spreadsheets and print them out. Pour a cold, expensive craft beer. Sit in your recliner . Mellow out with the spreadsheets until you understand what's going on. Or, even better, use your laptop instead of a printout so you can fiddle with formulas and try what-ifs.
I had a typo in my original post. I put he retired in 2106. I meant 2016, so 2017 could be 6 months away, and 2016 may have been flat or not great year as well.

I personally can't see the advantage of risking losing 40 - 50% of our life savings in year one of retirement with a high stock allocation, when my spreadsheets and the Fidelity RIP show we would have more than we started with in inflation adjusted dollars and would still be saving money past age 100 with very little in stocks. I personally would just rather just spend less and not take on a lot of risk. YMMV.

I like reading up on the different happiness studies that have been published lately and I do not think spending past a certain point would make us any happier, but stress over losing a lot of money in the stock market or not having enough to pay for medical bills or long term care would make us very unhappy.
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