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I have Numbers Fatigue
Old 08-06-2017, 05:59 PM   #1
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I have Numbers Fatigue

I'm suffering from Numbers Fatigue.

It is easy when one is "in the game" ~
Make money
Make a budget
Max retirement savings, if possible

Making those numbers work is another story, but they are still known entities.

It's not so easy now when we're "finishing the game" ~
Analyze AA (OK, not a biggie)
Make a retirement budget. ?? Yeah, right. Spending -- we still have kids at home for another two years so that's tricky (food is the biggie on that one). Health Insurance is up in the air (we may have retiree medical, maybe not, so no numbers for the budget), and Social Security? Sure, I can use the calculators, but with talks of a haircut that would go into effect just before DH can claim (I'm younger), I can't count on those calculators. So budgeting is nigh impossible.

Oh, heh, and if that isn't hard enough, we're wanting to leave our state for a different one so I can only budget based on our property taxes, insurance, etc, in this state. I know prop taxes are higher in our chosen retirement state, as is insurance (car & home), but again... I don't have numbers to go by.

If I can't figure out a budget, how can we decide when it's a good time to RE? It's enough to make one crazy! The savings part we're good on. It's the rest of the stuff that seems to be all variables!

On top of all of that is trying to figure out a withdrawal plan and messing around with tax brackets & income taxes and estate planning. Yeesh.

I can't remember whose sig line is "numbers is hard" but he's right!

I feel like I'm just going round and round and I have several different "what if" budgets out there. Don't get me wrong... I'm nerdy enough that I love all this number-crunching but goodness... I'd like come assurance of what health insurance and SS would be.

Is anyone else in this situation? Or, were you at one point and how did it work out?
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Old 08-06-2017, 06:00 PM   #2
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I can't remember whose sig line is "numbers is hard" but he's right!
...hand goes up...
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Old 08-06-2017, 06:23 PM   #3
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First thing first.. Take a big breath.. ... Yes, planning for retirement can be stressful and add in a early retirement with the current state of HC and SS can make you go crazy. I suffer form being a obsessive planner and thinking about things down to the nth degree. Before I ER'ed at 49 (4 years ago) I was holding off pulling the trigger mainly due to the unknowns with HC costs, SS benefits, inflation and future returns on AA. Then I realized that I have no control over these things and all I can do is have some risk mitigating backup plans to help deal with these potential issues down the road. There is no perfect (guaranteed) plan and you will need to decide how much risk you are willing to take to leave your j*b. I know this is not much help, but it made me feel better about pulling the trigger when I realized there are just some thing I will not be able to control in my ER plan... It will be (hopefully) a 44 year work in progress and we will adjust the plan as we venture forward...
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Old 08-06-2017, 06:40 PM   #4
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I found it best to just go ahead and put my best guess on the numbers in my spreadsheet, trying to err on the high side. Every so often, maybe every few months, I'd look at the spread sheet again. Some numbers became more clear, others did not. Sometimes I realized I was missing expense items. Home maintenance? Oh yeah, this house isn't always going to be new.

As time went on I was making fewer and fewer adjustments, and they were smaller. and I stopped adding items. This made it easier to run Firecalc, and see if I had ~30-33x annual expenses in my investment portfolio.

Sounds like you are early in the game I was in, and probably have more variables. Keep at it, you'll get there, and I think you'll have a good idea when you are there.
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Old 08-06-2017, 08:05 PM   #5
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I feel like I'm just going round and round and I have several different "what if" budgets out there. Don't get me wrong... I'm nerdy enough that I love all this number-crunching but goodness... I'd like come assurance of what health insurance and SS would be.

Is anyone else in this situation? Or, were you at one point and how did it work out?
I think most of us have been there, done that. For me, there were two choices: 1) Increase the stash beyond the "best guess" amount. That way most of the uncertainties should be covered by extra cash. This method is also referred to as One More Year Syndrome. 2) Outline back-ups to the main plan. These take the form of answers to the "what ifs" you mention. So what did I do? Both. YMMV
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Old 08-06-2017, 09:14 PM   #6
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...hand goes up...
Thanks for coming forward! There are a handful of posters I thought it could be and you were one of them.

And you were the first to reply to my thread... well done!
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Old 08-06-2017, 09:34 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by bradaz2488 View Post
I suffer form being a obsessive planner and thinking about things down to the nth degree.
You too? LOL.

I'm definitely not stressed about it. I'm more amused in a frustrated way. It's sort of like a perverse game of musical chairs (or, maybe musical numbers?). I never did like musical chairs... there was no way to plan!

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I found it best to just go ahead and put my best guess on the numbers in my spreadsheet, trying to err on the high side. Every so often, maybe every few months, I'd look at the spread sheet again. Some numbers became more clear, others did not. Sometimes I realized I was missing expense items. Home maintenance? Oh yeah, this house isn't always going to be new.

As time went on I was making fewer and fewer adjustments, and they were smaller. and I stopped adding items. This made it easier to run Firecalc, and see if I had ~30-33x annual expenses in my investment portfolio.

Sounds like you are early in the game I was in, and probably have more variables. Keep at it, you'll get there, and I think you'll have a good idea when you are there.
I guess I'm doing what is 'normal', then, based on your post and the others. DH is looking at another three years or so of working but the planner in me needs to be able to look at the numbers. I'm guessing high on the items that I have no clue about, probably absurdly so, but it doesn't really comfort me because I know they are made up.

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I think most of us have been there, done that. For me, there were two choices: 1) Increase the stash beyond the "best guess" amount. That way most of the uncertainties should be covered by extra cash. This method is also referred to as One More Year Syndrome. 2) Outline back-ups to the main plan. These take the form of answers to the "what ifs" you mention. So what did I do? Both. YMMV
I think DH is doing the OMY thing... I've told him he could retire next year but he won't. I think he's planning several OMYs, really. He says that once he quits, that's it... no going back to work for him. Between his OMYs and all of my what ifs, I feel like we should be covered. However, all of the uncertainties can be quite frustrating. This is definitely not anything I'm losing sleep over but I rather feel like a dog chasing its tail. It's a good thing I could use the exercise.
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Old 08-07-2017, 08:12 AM   #8
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In the 5 years before I retired I overdid the analysis thing, but that's what I needed to reassure myself, so I don't regret it. We're all different, some don't sweat the numbers as much, while others do. It also depends a great deal on whether your SIRE (100% COL pension funded) or FIRE (100% portfolio funded) or where in between. There will always be uncertainties, no way around it, so you make allowances for worst case if that's what it takes to let you sleep at night.

I recheck our situation annually now if that, and my AA quarterly at most. All that analysis showed me what I can and cannot control or predict, and our WR is pretty conservative so I no longer worry about it. Eventually you also realize worrying doesn't change anything, so why bother? Next big market downturn maybe I'll worry, we'll see...
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Old 08-07-2017, 08:23 AM   #9
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I suffer form being a obsessive planner and thinking about things down to the nth degree.
Me too. I think it's because I like to be in control. Hate surprises. Can't help it. There is nothing I like better than creating a new spreadsheet to analyse some financial question.
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Old 08-07-2017, 08:42 AM   #10
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I think just go with the "numbers" as they are today then adjust when they change.
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Old 08-07-2017, 11:08 AM   #11
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The last year I worked I came up with five different scenarios on both Net Worth and Budget:

Early Retirement (60)
Retirement at 62 (SS at 66.2)
ER (SS at 62)
WCS (loss of 1/3 of portfolio)
WCS (early SS)

After I retired I tracked expenses to budget each month. Nine month later I gave up. I told myself I would stop this obsession. So now I am just an easy going guy who will make changes to my spending as market change.
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Old 08-07-2017, 11:15 AM   #12
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I'm suffering from Numbers Fatigue.


If I can't figure out a budget, how can we decide when it's a good time to RE? It's enough to make one crazy! The savings part we're good on. It's the rest of the stuff that seems to be all variables!
Is anyone else in this situation? Or, were you at one point and how did it work out?
After a few months you will figure out a budget. Most of the threads in here now are asking if you carry a pen or a handkerchief. The financial stuff wears off. Once your on your way you will get un-fatigued. For the most part its on auto pilot. Gives you time to decide to buy jimmy choo's or close outs from DSW.
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Old 08-07-2017, 11:31 AM   #13
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As time went on I was making fewer and fewer adjustments, and they were smaller. and I stopped adding items. This made it easier to run Firecalc, and see if I had ~30-33x annual expenses in my investment portfolio.
I'm coming back to this part... the 30-33x annual expenses. I tried searching the site and didn't find exactly what I was looking for, so forgive me if it's there and I missed it.

When looking at that 30-33x number, do you take into consideration income like pension or SS? For instance, just using made up numbers.... if expenses total $50K and pension/SS brings in $25K, what number do I use when I figure out how many times my annual expenses is in the portfolio? $50K for total expenses or $25K for expenses after the pension/SS income?

I have been using the total expenses in case the pension DH will get goes 'poof' but it hit me this morning while drinking my coffee that if we use a pension or SS against expenses, that drastically changes the X amount our portfolio needs to meet that 30-33x number.


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Me too. I think it's because I like to be in control. Hate surprises. Can't help it. There is nothing I like better than creating a new spreadsheet to analyse some financial question.
I used to think I had a 'sickness' with my fascination (OK, obsession ) with running the numbers but now I just call it an inexpensive hobby. It keeps me amused for the mere cost of a few packets of notebook paper.

I am trying to learn how to use Excel, though, as all of my stuff now is on regular notebook paper. It drives my programmer DH nuts.
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Old 08-07-2017, 11:39 AM   #14
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On top of all of that is trying to figure out a withdrawal plan and messing around with tax brackets & income taxes and estate planning. Yeesh.
We retired in June 2017 (1 1/2 months ago) at age 57 after selling our business. We plan to claim SS at 70. Healthcare is the wildcard but we will deal with it (It wasn't going to stop us from ER). The financial calculations were driving me crazy as well. Our WR was low enough (2.52%)that I didn't worry about it. I have never kept a budget and figured that in the event market tanks...we'll adapt by reducing expenses. I decided to invest enough to cover 13 years living expenses before ss. Invested in short term bonds to cover 2 years' expenses, intermediate bond funds to cover 8 years' expenses and long term bonds to cover 3 years expenses. The rest is in equity funds. In the event market tanks and stays there for a long term we will just withdraw from bond funds.

But the issue I never planned on is now creating problem. My wife who never was interested in planning is stressing because she thinks we will run out of money and also become very restless because she misses the social part of work.

I guess one can never plan for everything ....just go with the flow.

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Old 08-07-2017, 11:48 AM   #15
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In the 5 years before I retired I overdid the analysis thing, but that's what I needed to reassure myself, so I don't regret it. We're all different, some don't sweat the numbers as much, while others do. It also depends a great deal on whether your SIRE (100% COL pension funded) or FIRE (100% portfolio funded) or where in between. There will always be uncertainties, no way around it, so you make allowances for worst case if that's what it takes to let you sleep at night.

I recheck our situation annually now if that, and my AA quarterly at most. All that analysis showed me what I can and cannot control or predict, and our WR is pretty conservative so I no longer worry about it. Eventually you also realize worrying doesn't change anything, so why bother? Next big market downturn maybe I'll worry, we'll see...
I think I'll be following the path as you. We're probably about three years out for DH to retire and I've been running numbers for about two years. He needs the reassurance now. Once he retires and sees that we are doing fine, I'll pull way back and need to find a new hobby.

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I think just go with the "numbers" as they are today then adjust when they change.
Thanks. The only one I really changed was health insurance. I assumed a "full pay" for what we have now. I'm afraid it's still drastically low, however.

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Originally Posted by Bir48die View Post
The last year I worked I came up with five different scenarios on both Net Worth and Budget:

Early Retirement (60)
Retirement at 62 (SS at 66.2)
ER (SS at 62)
WCS (loss of 1/3 of portfolio)
WCS (early SS)

After I retired I tracked expenses to budget each month. Nine month later I gave up. I told myself I would stop this obsession. So now I am just an easy going guy who will make changes to my spending as market change.
I have numbers for several of the scenarios you listed. The only one I didn't figure is a major downturn in the portfolio. I'll have to make one for that. One of my "what ifs" also compares us staying in this house and downsizing to one without an HOA, cheaper insurance, lower property taxes, lower utilities, etc.

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After a few months you will figure out a budget. Most of the threads in here now are asking if you carry a pen or a handkerchief. The financial stuff wears off. Once your on your way you will get un-fatigued. For the most part its on auto pilot. Gives you time to decide to buy jimmy choo's or close outs from DSW.
That's what I'm thinking. There is so much that is up in the air that there is no way to get a firm grasp on what our expenses will be and the guessing makes me nervous.

Auto pilot will feel good. We really don't spend much (other than on good food) and enjoy inexpensive fun things (day drives, people-watching) so DH doesn't have to worry about me looking for Jimmy Choos. It also helps that I hate clothes shopping. Purses, however, always fit and flatter....
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Old 08-07-2017, 12:13 PM   #16
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When looking at that 30-33x number, do you take into consideration income like pension or SS? For instance, just using made up numbers.... if expenses total $50K and pension/SS brings in $25K, what number do I use when I figure out how many times my annual expenses is in the portfolio? $50K for total expenses or $25K for expenses after the pension/SS income?
In your example you'd use the $25K ($50K-$25K) with the 30-33X but...it depends on whether the pension is cost-of-living adjusted or not vs $25K/year constant. Soc Sec is COLA'd. But you can model all that with FIRECALC, COLA is an option. If you want to do the calcs yourself, you'll have to use PV for a non COLA'd pension (it'll be less than significantly less than $25K).

The 25X number you see most often is just the reciprocal of the 4% SWR studies, which assumes a 30 year retirement among other assumptions. Some studies have suggested if you want to retire much earlier, the SWR is closer to 3%, or 33X. But these are just guidelines based on past history.
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Old 08-07-2017, 12:42 PM   #17
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I'm coming back to this part... the 30-33x annual expenses. I tried searching the site and didn't find exactly what I was looking for, so forgive me if it's there and I missed it.

When looking at that 30-33x number, do you take into consideration income like pension or SS? For instance, just using made up numbers.... if expenses total $50K and pension/SS brings in $25K, what number do I use when I figure out how many times my annual expenses is in the portfolio? $50K for total expenses or $25K for expenses after the pension/SS income?

I have been using the total expenses in case the pension DH will get goes 'poof' but it hit me this morning while drinking my coffee that if we use a pension or SS against expenses, that drastically changes the X amount our portfolio needs to meet that 30-33x number.

I personally use a present value my SS and pension since at least 7 years away, probably further, from collecting either. So if my investment worth was $750K, and my pension+SS has a PV of $250K, I'd call that $1M, so if I use a SWR of 3% (inverse of 33x), I have $30K. Before SS and pension, I take it all out of my accounts. After SS and pension, those make up part of my $30K and I make up the rest out of my account.

btw I reduce SS by 25% when calculating the PV because I think a cut back in the future is fairly likely.
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Old 08-08-2017, 01:31 PM   #18
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I used to think I had a 'sickness' with my fascination (OK, obsession ) with running the numbers but now I just call it an inexpensive hobby. It keeps me amused for the mere cost of a few packets of notebook paper.

I am trying to learn how to use Excel, though, as all of my stuff now is on regular notebook paper. It drives my programmer DH nuts.
My older brother used the backs of all kinds of thing. Free calendars from realtors were always a big source. Me I justify the power used by my laptop to update the spreadsheets as a low cost, low calorie hobby! Plus the storage is much more manageable!
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Old 08-08-2017, 02:50 PM   #19
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I am trying to learn how to use Excel, though, as all of my stuff now is on regular notebook paper. It drives my programmer DH nuts.
Get with the 90's girl. Seriously, excel will change your life, certainly did for me (only partially in jest).
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Old 08-08-2017, 03:05 PM   #20
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Get with the 90's girl. Seriously, excel will change your life, certainly did for me (only partially in jest).
Agreed. Even my limited Excel skills enabled me to build some awesome retirement planning spreadsheets. It's fun to plug in different variables,hit enter and watch all the numbers change.
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