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NW in ER - in 10, 20, or 30 years?
Old 11-11-2014, 09:58 AM   #1
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NW in ER - in 10, 20, or 30 years?

This is a tricky one.
Instead the questions about % of net worth for home, car, or other categories... which often depends on current age, how about a look ahead to where you expect to be when you are older... 60's, 70's or 80's.

In short, when you look ahead, do you expect to ever spend down your capital assets or your nest egg?

There is such emphasis on Safe Withdrawal Rates, that it makes me wonder if the worry about security in old age, is causing many to continue in unsatisfying jobs.

Those who have made the decision to retire early... and who post here... are obviously satisfied with their decision. Using a calculator takes much of the work out of planning, but that doesn't always represent individual situations or expectations.

Not to put too fine a point on the subject, but... planning could mean more than just estimating a percent of current expenses to plan for the future.
If the plan calls for 75% of needs for a current salary of $100K, then the plan usually estimates future needs (and subsequent to end of life years) at $75K.

So here's the thought. Instead of only planning this way, set up a spread sheet, with 1, 5 or 10 year brackets, to make educated guesses as to what and when conditions may change.

We did this early on, before retirement, and while there were individual variations, our current net worth (inflation adjusted) is almost 100% dead on, and that's 25 years later..
.................................................. ......
Down to the nitty gritty... expenses may go up and down, and adjustments to be made on a by-year or by bracket year basis.
College loans
Mortgage
Change in home value... downsizing
Change in cost of living by location ie. Boise = 70% of San Francisco
Commute expense
Auto Expense ... 1, 2, 3 vehicles?
Increased Travel
Entertainment
Social Security/Pension kick in year.
Healthcare cost reduction w/Medicare kick in
Investable assets from sale of house, land, other personal property.
Reduction in insurance costs... extra vehicles, lower house insurance and presumably the life insurance you don't need.
Initial celebration costs of new retirement travel, hobbies, resettling home expenses

The list can be long or short, but setting up a spreadsheet for total net worth worked for us... very simple, but not just a one time calculator result, but a by year estimate, that shows potential pitfalls or opportunities.

In our case, there were a number of changes that caused vast fluctuations over the first 10 years... starting from our our initial planning, and causing changes in plans as we varied from the original.

Selling my business and the house.
Moving to the campground.
One year of home search travel.
Buying in Florida community and 6/6 snowbirding
Initial increase in healthcost
SS @ age 62
Travel costs
Lowered cost of living than Naperville IL area... 25% less

Next 10 years... biggest part of plan change, buying a year round home
for cash.

And now...in the 25 to 30 year period of our planning, looking to divest of FL home and eventually our camp on the lake... so some more changes in cash position.

This wasn't a science, and no way a detailed day by day project. In truth, just a once a year look back to check if we're still on course.. The part that has left us in a comfort zone, is that we have a better feeling of where we've been and where we're going. As we look ahead, we have a "dollar picture" of what it will cost us for long term care and for a total of 35 years of retirement.

Back to the top... Spending down net worth. In my own case, using only a retirement calculator, would have led me to at least five more years of employment. Looking at an annual decline in Net Worth at our age, is not at all traumatic... It's exactly what we planned for.
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Old 11-11-2014, 11:23 AM   #2
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I have a spreadsheet like that also ! Assuming 0% real return my portfolio runs dry at age 89 (in 38 years). FIDO RIP gives me a 95% chance of my portfolio lasting to age 86, since it has taxes more accurately calculated once RMDs kick in.
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Old 11-11-2014, 11:25 AM   #3
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We do this already as well, both on our own, currently carried out through 2022, and all the way through our anticipated end of life dates via our financial planner. At the rate we are currently spending, it would appear we will be leaving our children and grandchildren very, very well off. But, as lifelong LBYM'ers, we're fine with that.

The way we approach this is not something I've seen posted/shared here as of yet. We base our budget on a 2.6% WR of our January 1 net worth each year, excluding the value of our home. We don't make adjustments for inflation, we just use a flat 2.6%. We plan to remain at that level even when a couple of pensions, Medicare, and then finally SS for us both come into play. That means our budget will actually go up substantially once DH, then myself, turns 65.

We have no idea what we'll do with the extra funds, which should start rolling in beginning in 2020. We're having fun thinking about it though, that is for sure!

Currently we're imagining we will indulge in some 'only in our dreams' type of trips, like a month long cruise around South America, and a cruise around the world. We also plan to initiate 'parent paid' cruises for our children and their families. We'll probably RV a little less and fly-and-stay a little more at that point, enjoying things like luxury class cruising and touring that we aren't indulging in just yet.

I would also like to take two years and live in 24 different places around the USA and world, one month per location.

Further down the road, I see selling our home and relocating closer to the ocean, a difference currently of less than 20 miles. This should be an even swap of less square footage for a 'better' location, which will preserve our property tax base based on current guidelines in our state, but we might end up with a fixer upper that we could then use our expanded cash flow to modify to our liking.

If there comes a point when our health forces us to slow down, or even to stop altogether, I have no idea what or where we'll redirect our discretionary funds. Since the funds themselves will not be an issue, I guess we'll figure that out if/when it occurs.

Edit: I should add that we are not holding off living out our current dreams until we reach 65. We pretty much do everything we want to already, including traveling about 50% of the year, we just do it a bit more modestly than we might once we start seeing these extra cash flows.
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Old 11-11-2014, 11:33 AM   #4
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Approaching the ten year mark of early retirement at age 58, our inflation adjusted net worth is approximately 85% of what it was when we retired. Considering the 'market unpleasantness' we weathered in 08/09, I'm very happy with where we are.
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Old 11-11-2014, 11:49 AM   #5
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Approaching the ten year mark of early retirement at age 58, our inflation adjusted net worth is approximately 85% of what it was when we retired. Considering the 'market unpleasantness' we weathered in 08/09, I'm very happy with where we are.
10 years in my spreadsheet has my portfolio at 87% of current balance.

20 years in it shows 66% of current balance; 30 years in I'm down to 36%. 8 years after that (38 years from now) I'm broke at the age of 89.
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Old 11-11-2014, 11:52 AM   #6
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With a family history of longevity, being financially conservative by nature, and having heard from childhood that one should never invade one's principal, it has never made any sense to me to spend down my portfolio to zero. I do understand that that is a goal of many here and I do not fault anybody for that, but my outlook differs from theirs.

For my first five years of retirement, my portfolio withdrawals have been less than my dividends and generally around 2%. My portfolio balance has been rising, not falling. However, the surging market has accentuated the trend.

I'd like it if my portfolio never fell below its total on November 9th, 2009, the day when I retired. However a repeat of the 2008-2009 crash might easily pull it down below that at some point, even if my WR remains the same.
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Old 11-11-2014, 12:10 PM   #7
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Before ER I played with several calculators and input different scenarios. I also developed my own spreadsheets and forecast several "what-if?" scenarios, with different stages, major purchases, bad portfolio returns, etc. Since ER I have had a financial plan done by a professional. All the indications are that I will not run out of money, unless market returns are negative for many years in succession or I get foolish in my old age and turn into a spendthrift while making bad investment decisions. My goal to date has been to keep inflation-adjusted spending below 3% of my portfolio at the time of ER. I also want to spend under 3% of current portfolio values. The financial plan projects that my net worth will increase in absolute numbers over the years, even adjusting for inflation. It has been fairly consistent with actual results so far, but long-term predictions are notoriously subject to error. The projections will need to be updated every few years.
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Old 11-11-2014, 12:22 PM   #8
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My plan is still evolving; so, some might say that I do not really have a plan. But, here is my current thinking for the first few years of my ER: Budget for less than 2% of my portfolio balance at the beginning of the year, similar to RetiredAndFree but with a lower %.

I am hoping my real return is higher than 2% and my actual spend is below my budget allowing for increased net worth over the next few years, providing more cushion for the long run.

While many here will likely find this approach too conservative, I cannot get myself comfortable with anything more aggressive. And, I am more and more ready to ER now which will hopefully give me many years of retirement to fund since I am in my 40's and in good health (as far as I know).

Assuming all goes well, I may adjust this approach in a few years when I no longer enjoy or am physically able to do all of the very low cost activities that I currently most enjoy: hikes, bike rides, primitive camping, etc.
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Old 11-11-2014, 12:36 PM   #9
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Well, I am not going to fully trust FireCalc or other similar tools and have my own spreadsheet, too. Using spreadsheet formula feature, I play around with various scenarios - WR, investment return rate, when to take SS out, inflation rate, spending down rate, etc.. If I retire now and keep my living stanadard, my calculation shows that my asset will stay flat or decrease slightly until I start withdrawing SS in 10 years at age 63.

year 0 = 2.1M
year 10 = 2.4M
year 20 = 3.0M
year 30 = likely dead, don't care. DW will have significant amount of money to burn or leave it to DS.
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Old 11-11-2014, 12:39 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by imoldernu View Post
...There is such emphasis on Safe Withdrawal Rates, that it makes me wonder if the worry about security in old age, is causing many to continue in unsatisfying jobs. ...Using a calculator takes much of the work out of planning, but that doesn't always represent individual situations or expectations. ... planning could mean more than just estimating a percent of current expenses to plan for the future.
I agree completely. I think it is likely that many people are delaying retirement based on online models and calculators, where the spending profile does not really capture the reality and complexity of individual retirement situations and expectations. For others, it may be providing a false sense of security. These models are an OK starting point, but the devil is in the details.

We have two versions of future retirement expenses: (1) based on current total expenses, increasing with an assumed average rate of inflation, with some modest "flattening" between ages 65 and 75; (2) based on detailed year-by-year planning for each category of expense, using specific assumptions about life events and their timing. The former is a predictable, smooth, upward sloping line. The latter is all over the map... roughly in-line with the former in early years, radically lower in the middle years, and quite a bit higher if we live past 85.

Obviously, it's impossible to know all the twists and turns in the future. But there are some significant items that we've made specific assumptions about, in an attempt to be as realistic as possible: downsize main home at age 67, decrease number of cars from 3 to 2 to 1, gradual decline in travel/entertainment/hobbies, phase down allowance for car replacement and home improvements, grandchildren and increased gifts, increased use of services (landscaping, household repairs, auto maintenance), increased medical, unique inflation rates for each category, as well as several what-ifs such as when to sell our rental properties, moving to Costa Rica at age 60, LTC at age 87, early demise of one spouse, and several others.

That's just the expense side of the equation. Obviously, there are just as many individual situations, assumptions, and what-ifs related to the portfolio: risk, rates of return, AA changes over time, withdrawal strategy, RMDs, tax optimization, annuitization, when to take SS, etc. I also think the online retirement calculators grossly oversimplify the myriad combinations of alternative ways to structure this side of the equation based on individual circumstances.

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In short, when you look ahead, do you expect to ever spend down your capital assets or your nest egg?
Using the first expense assumption (current high spending plus inflation), the answer is yes. The portfolio gradually declines to zero somewhere around age 90 (+/- depending on RoR assumption), and FIRECalc gives a high, but not 100%, success rate. Using the second expense assumption (detailed categories, life events, etc), the portfolio continuously rises and leaves the kids in great shape.
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Old 11-11-2014, 01:48 PM   #11
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imoderu - correct me if I'm wrong - but you've mainly invested in fixed income vehicles like CDs. Is that correct? It's much easier to make predictions using that, vs the roller coaster of the market.

I have a spreadsheet, I also use quicken lifetime planner (which is deterministic in portfolio growth, inflation, etc... )

Using those, with conservative growth estimations and fairly aggressive inflation estimations - my outputs are as follows:
10 years = 68% of original portfolio - but kids are out of college and 529's are drained.
20 years = 55% of original portfolio
30 years = 40% of original portfolio
40 years = pretty close to broke - but still have full equity in house and probably wan't be spending as much.

All of this assumes constant spending - but I suspect that the kids leaving home will free up some money and reduce spending.

Firecalc, which uses historical market returns which are, in general, more optimistic than the QLP. It gives me the following:
10 yrs - worst case=30% of original portfolio, average = 131%, best case=283%
20 - wc=42%, avg = 191%, bc = 466%
30 - wc=55%, avg = 250%, best=656%
40 - wc=52%, avg=381%, best=1459%

I'm a believer in planning for the worst, and hoping for the best. So even with a bad sequence of returns, I should be ok since the market will eventually recover. And the odds of me really kicking the bucket dead broke are fairly slim.

As far as passing on to my kids - they'll probably get the house, even if we spend the nest egg... and in this area, that's not insignificant.
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NW in ER - in 10, 20, or 30 years?
Old 11-11-2014, 02:11 PM   #12
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NW in ER - in 10, 20, or 30 years?

Haven't done a spreadsheet - seems like overkill.

For the next few years, our expenses should decrease in several areas: a vehicle payment, assisting our starving artist son occasionally (his requests keep getting fewer and for fewer dollars lol). I don't see these affecting our spending though, as we'll just use the money for something else - more travel, etc.

Firecalc not only gives us %100 success rate historically, but - on the average - suggests our portfolio, at current WD, could triple in amount over 25 years, but doesn't show the balance ever dipping below the initial balance. Didn't bother including SS in the calculations, either. Not including equity of home or potential downsizing, either. I don't expect to be here in 25 years, and DW may be in LTC at that time. But Firecalc uses a COLA'd WD figure, and I don't expect we'll need to increase the amount of our WDs due to inflation. At least not much. Most likely just rethink our spending.

We currently draw 2% - which is what I based the firecalc run at - but as we stop traveling as much, maybe in ten years, we'll probably reduce that rate. Travel is currently our biggest expenditure. In 15 years I may not be here, and our pensions are set up in such a way DW may not need funds from our investments, and can feed RMDs back into taxable investments.

We could actually live frugally now, and make no WDs, but that's not what we saved and invested for lol.

So my expectation is we'll leave our son a hefty multi-million dollar retirement plan of his own, even if DW would need $250k in LTC expenses.


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Old 11-11-2014, 02:18 PM   #13
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As far as passing on to my kids - they'll probably get the house, even if we spend the nest egg... and in this area, that's not insignificant.
IIRC rodi, you are the second generation of your family to live in the house. It would appear that the legislative framework and the housing market conditions in California favour multigenerational homesteads. How does that affect labour mobility?
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Old 11-11-2014, 02:29 PM   #14
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Nope, no spreadsheet for me. Anyone who runs FIRECalc knows the huge range of outcomes that we all face. Too many unknowns.

So, my goal is to at least maintain my net worth. I hate to see that number at the bottom of Quicken screen going down. If the market tanks, I will resign to the fact that it shrinks with time, but being as scroogy as I am, I may just reduce spending.
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Old 11-11-2014, 02:57 PM   #15
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OK- really dumb question, but how does one "create a spreadsheet"? Is this an excel thing?
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Old 11-11-2014, 03:50 PM   #16
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OK- really dumb question, but how does one "create a spreadsheet"? Is this an excel thing?
Not dumb at all. Yes, it is to create an excel (or L123, or Google docs) spreadsheet and attempt to map out all the data points listed in the OP, or some variation thereof. It helps to have lots of free time
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Old 11-11-2014, 03:54 PM   #17
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Nope, no spreadsheet for me. Anyone who runs FIRECalc knows the huge range of outcomes that we all face. Too many unknowns. ...
Exactly. That says it all.

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Old 11-11-2014, 03:55 PM   #18
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....how about a look ahead to where you expect to be when you are older... 60's, 70's or 80's.

In short, when you look ahead, do you expect to ever spend down your capital assets or your nest egg?....
No. I have an excel plan that goes out until we are 100 (we are 59 now). Retirement assets at 70, 80, 90 and 100 are 101%, 136%, 196% and 289% of what they are currently assuming ~5.5% investment rate of return (all nominal amounts). In real terms, assuming 5.5% investment return and 3% inflation (2.5% real return), retirement assets at 70, 80, 90 and 100 are 73%, 73%, 78% and 86% of what they are currently.

In our case the increases after age 60 result from a small pension coming online at 65 and SS coming online at FRA for DW and SS at 70 for me.
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Old 11-11-2014, 03:58 PM   #19
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IIRC rodi, you are the second generation of your family to live in the house. It would appear that the legislative framework and the housing market conditions in California favour multigenerational homesteads. How does that affect labour mobility?
You're correct that I benefit under prop 13/prop 58 rules here in CA.

The legislative framework does favor transferring ownership from a parent or grandparent to a child/grandchild. It was a huge factor in buying a house that was more than we wanted to spend. (I paid my dad market value at the time.)

Prop 13 basically freezes your property taxes and they can only go up a fixed amount (2% per year). So it allows for property taxes to be planned for - even in a rising market. The longer you own the home, the less you're paying, compared to a neighbor that just bought at peak market.

If you add on to your house, (add square footage) or significantly improve it (like a pool) - that portion of the addition will be added at the current market. So when we added our granny flat - our taxes tripled. But, going forward - it's limited to the same max increase per year.

If you move - you reset your property taxes to market value on your new house. Unless you are over 50 and buy a home that is of lesser value than the one you sell. That was an addition to Prop 13 to allow seniors and empty nesters to downsize - freeing up family size homes to younger families. That change was made under Prop 60.

The intergenerational transfer of the property tax rates is an addition to prop 13 called prop 58.

You cannot take advantage of both prop 60 and prop 58 - it's an either/or situation.


Now to your question about labor mobility. It is an issue, at least in theory. In theory people are much less mobile if they want to fix their costs in a rising housing market. In practice - it doesn't seem to apply. Having lived here most of my life I see people (under 55) moving up to larger houses/different neighborhoods. I see people moving from San Diego to the Bay area, and from the Bay area to San Diego. It might have some impact... but it's not immediately observable. Remember, CA is pretty "image" oriented, keeping up with the Jones, etc. So there's a cultural desire to have a bigger/better house, nicer car, etc. Most folks here in CA do *not* LBYM and try to fix costs at a lower point... it's all about consumerism. (Obviously this is just my opinion...)
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Old 11-11-2014, 05:57 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by rodi View Post
imoderu - correct me if I'm wrong - but you've mainly invested in fixed income vehicles like CDs. Is that correct? It's much easier to make predictions using that, vs the roller coaster of the market.

I have a spreadsheet, I also use quicken lifetime planner (which is deterministic in portfolio growth, inflation, etc... )

Using those, with conservative growth estimations and fairly aggressive inflation estimations - my outputs are as follows:
10 years = 68% of original portfolio - but kids are out of college and 529's are drained.
20 years = 55% of original portfolio
30 years = 40% of original portfolio
40 years = pretty close to broke - but still have full equity in house and probably wan't be spending as much.
..............
As far as passing on to my kids - they'll probably get the house, even if we spend the nest egg... and in this area, that's not insignificant.
Rodi... You have me pegged... and pretty close with the numbers too!

As to the spreadsheets... mine were made up by hand... pencil and paper... about 10 full pages on this exact type of pad. I didn't have Excel back in 1989...
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