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Once you have your "number" does anyone recommend double checking it
Old 08-28-2011, 03:16 PM   #1
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Once you have your "number" does anyone recommend double checking it

with a financial advisor? In other words, having a financial advisor run the numbers and confirm that your "number" will let you retire early.

If so, can you please provide advice on how to find a reliable financial advisor. Someone I can hire just to carry out this one task. Thanks,
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Old 08-28-2011, 03:21 PM   #2
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I like my advisor at Edward Jones. She knows me well (i.e. how conservative I am with my savings) and the monthly statements are very clear. No need for double checking.
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Originally Posted by Hiredgun View Post
with a financial advisor? In other words, having a financial advisor run the numbers and confirm that your "number" will let you retire early.

If so, can you please provide advice on how to find a reliable financial advisor. Someone I can hire just to carry out this one task. Thanks,
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Old 08-28-2011, 03:51 PM   #3
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If so, can you please provide advice on how to find a reliable financial advisor. Someone I can hire just to carry out this one task.
I have no personal experience in this at all, but I don't see how it would be possible. Even if you could find someone you could trust, there would still be the matter of competence. Consider that pension funds with billions in assets can pay for the exclusive services of a staff of advisers, yet some doubt that the funds actually get very good advice.
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Old 08-28-2011, 03:52 PM   #4
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I found mention of my number to be chumming the waters. I keep a low profile, now. My tax man said that I could FIRE. I want a better cushion.
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Old 08-28-2011, 04:07 PM   #5
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I'd use the Firecalc calculator (here) as well as the one from Fidelity. Then I'd post my numbers here and at Bogleheads. No way would I trust a single adviser, even if they do send me birthday cards.
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Old 08-28-2011, 04:20 PM   #6
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It was having a good handle on our projected retirement living expenses, and determining our retirement income (no pensions, or annuities) would exceed that number by a comfortable margin that led us to retirement. Everyone's margin of comfort is different - ours came to +20% income over expenses, but was comfortable with less. Our retirement pathway is not absolute, and nothing in our planning strategy is sacred - should it become necessary in retirement (i.e. sale of paid-off home is not part of retirement income strategy, but would be if necessary). Found it difficult at best to allow for specific control of the unknown down the path of life. Really came down to being determined to make it work with what we have available. Hard to ask someone to verify this for you from a 50,000 ft. flyover (and who has not actually gone though what you are planning to do yourself).
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Old 08-28-2011, 04:56 PM   #7
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There are enough anonymous financial forums that you can probably do much better than finding an advisor to check your number.

OTOH, suppose you find an advisor, you pay them to say your number is fine, then at some point in the future, you run out of money. Can you now sue them because they gave you the wrong advice? If not, then what good is getting that advice from an advisor? They would have no skin in the game and could say anything they wanted, couldn't they?
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Old 08-28-2011, 05:11 PM   #8
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Being a Fidelity client, I met with a Fidelity rep in early 2008 as the pieces of my ER plan were falling into place. I had begun inputting some numbers into Fidelity's Retirement Planner software but was puzzled by a few things so she finished it for me when we met.

I had not heard of this forum or Bogleheads yet but later in 2008 I discovered the lightly used REHP forum and posted some numbers in there to get some feedback.
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Old 08-28-2011, 05:15 PM   #9
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I like my advisor at Edward Jones. She knows me well (i.e. how conservative I am with my savings) and the monthly statements are very clear. No need for double checking.
I'm sure she wants to keep you working as long as possible. After all she gets 2% and you get 2% of your SWR so you'll need twice as much. Fair enough!
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Old 08-28-2011, 05:24 PM   #10
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Yes, I had an Ameriprise FA give me a second opinion. I also put some funds in to garner 'extra' interest. Not sure if I am better off with that or not (different story) , but the plan is working (throwing off extra income for traveling, ...etc.).
So you could say I am a happy camper.
He (FA) wanted to give me yearly 'tune ups' (for a fee), but I kept on declining until he stopped asking (a few years ago).
I still have funds there, but I am managing them myself.
I will admit, I am probably 'sub-optimal' in my management, but I am happy with how it's going, given the current environment.

I would do it again ... but maybe through a fee only FA.
I know there is a definite anti-Ameriprise bias on this forum

in the interest of full disclosure, this year they started to charge me 20 dollars a quarter as a fee for being a 'small' customer.
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Old 08-28-2011, 05:37 PM   #11
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I had a FA "run the numbers" a few years ago. The results were very similar to what I obtained from my simple excel spreadsheet or the planner in Quicken. Not worth it IMO.
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Old 08-28-2011, 05:56 PM   #12
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I wouldn't bother with an FA, broker, etc. either, they can't guarantee anything and they have a vested interest in selling you something. You can check for yourself various ways, you should find the various methods yield results that are similar enough to reassure you. FIRECALC is a great place to start as suggested above.

But there really is no right "number," whatever you calculate is just the product of many assumptions, none of which you can be completely sure of (future returns, sequence of returns, inflation, your longevity, your future expenses, future health care needs, future of your pension, future of Soc Sec, etc. - just to name some of the variables). We all have a different level of comfort, and build in a safety factor accordingly.

Many people here and at Bogleheads can give you feedback if you want but we'd have to know more which you may be uncomfortable providing. We can easily explain how to calculate based on the 4% SWR which is one of the most common rules of thumb. Best of luck, you can do this...
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Old 08-28-2011, 06:09 PM   #13
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........
I know there is a definite anti-Ameriprise bias on this forum..............
Right, they were just chosen at random to be our pinata.
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Old 08-28-2011, 06:28 PM   #14
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I agree with some. No single FA can be absolutely sure, and he has some hidden motive to sell you something. We never rely on anybody and do the study ourselves. By staying in this forum, you will have a feel when you can be FI.

Ours is simple, we try to save enough that when divided to yearly stipend, can last our reasonable life expectancy. If the money earns 1-4%/year, then, the better. Inflation, we tend not to worry too much, since we are frugal and absolutely buy only what we need and on sale too.

There will always be unknowns, like your health, inflation, insurance, SS, & medicare., and how long you live. Economic cycle i.e. downturn and upturn can and should affect your spending habits.
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Old 08-28-2011, 06:38 PM   #15
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A few years before I retired I did what you are proposing - paid a fee only financial planner to look at my portfolio and get a professional opinion on where I thought I was - which was on the road to FIRE and approaching the finish line. I got confirmation but I didn't learn much that I hadn't already been exposed to on the old Motley Fool forums and here.

It made me feel good at the time to have a third party agree I was on track, but in hindsight I don't think it was money well spent. As others have said, you can do just as well - maybe better - by using the resources available at Bogleheads, here and on a handful of other online resources.

No need to spend the money.
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Old 08-28-2011, 06:41 PM   #16
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Like Fritz said, the toughest thing is to have a real handle on your expected future expenses, including things like home maintenance, vacations, car replacement, health insurance, taxes, etc. An FA really can't help you with that. The best they might be able to do is to look at your budget and identify something you missed, but most likely they will be looking at your investment side so they can find something to make a commission on. IMO it's pretty simple math to add up the assets and pensions and social security (if you trust it'll be there) and multiply by 4% and factor in an appropriate buffer (or not).
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Old 08-28-2011, 08:34 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Hiredgun View Post
with a financial advisor? In other words, having a financial advisor run the numbers and confirm that your "number" will let you retire early.

If so, can you please provide advice on how to find a reliable financial advisor. Someone I can hire just to carry out this one task. Thanks,
If you hire a financial advisor, I say definitely go the fee only route. If you specify that you really only want that one task, to see if "your number" is sound, they should work with you.

I went through a similar situation back in fall of 2007. Under the radar from a hectic w*rk situation, took a personal day and met with a fee only advisor to see if I was RE ready. Yes I was and it was reassuring knowing that I was FIRE ready when returning back to the horrible w*rk setting.

Yes, you do have to find someone who you trust and have chemistry with. That helps a lot - kinda like finding a doctor or lawyer (or a plumber ) --want them to work with/for you.

Here's a link to fee only planners:

Find an Advisor - Locate a Fee-Only Financial Advisor

If you really feel you can't do it on your own, I say paying a qualified professional for the confirmation is worth it.
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Old 08-28-2011, 08:41 PM   #18
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Probably should have added a disclaimer....FIRE'ing with "The Number" confirmed or not is like deploying a parachute when skyjumping. You never know if the chute will deploy until you actually pull the trigger ....
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Old 08-28-2011, 08:56 PM   #19
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Thanks for the thoughtful replies. Looks like most people think it's not worth the time and $$$, and I get that. I'm trying to do the asset allocation and the investing on my own and I have learned alot from Bogleheads and books on personal finance (Random walk on Wall Street, Ray Lucia's Buckets, Work Less, Live More (Clyatt), Bogleheads Guide, etc.)

I invest mostly in Vanguard low cost funds and Fidelity for our 401Ks. I'm shooting for a 65% Overall Stocks (70% U.S. 30% Int'l (20 % of which is Emerg Mkts)) and 35% Bonds (VG Total Bond in 401Ks & Some VG Reits, VG Intermediate Munis outside 401K). I should be there within the next 2 years, leaning a bit heavy on stocks right now (80% Stocks and 20% Bonds right now). I hate to buy more munis right now, but I need to get to my ideal Asset Allocation. Although it seems stocks are the much better buy right now, I think AA is more important in the long run.

Expenses are conservatively estimated at $80,000 year after retiring. Shooting to retire in the next 24 months. End of 2013 at the latest. DW and I are 43 (soon to be 44).

I expect we will have around $3,000,000 by retirement and the Firecalc looks good. Just getting nervous and before pulling the plug would like to have additional affirmation, I guess. Also, I should have 2 years of expenses put away, so won't have to dip into the 3M until then. The only other wrinkle is about 2M will be outside of 401K and 1M will be stuck in 401K until we are the right age.

Outside of 401K is mostly stocks and munis. 401K is all bonds and a 15% Vanguard Reit fund.

Would appreciate any comments. I think we are about at the finish line, but of course there are no guarantees and doubts continue to make me fret. Thanks!
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Old 08-28-2011, 09:00 PM   #20
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...If you really feel you can't do it on your own, I say paying a qualified professional for the confirmation is worth it.
This was my situation back in 2002. I was very inexperienced at investing. I had 2 different retirement systems (CSRS and FERS) to get my hands around. I had no clue about how to estimate expenses in retirement, etc etc.
I knew what I didn't know.
I sought out and went to a CFP (fee only) with all sorts of data. I was very organized with retirement and medical insurance plan literature. I knew EXACTLY what services/analysis I wanted and did not want. We wrote up a fixed-fee contract with specific deliverables. I was a govt R&D program manager and knew how to negotiate the terms and cost of a contract.
To me, it was money well spent because I walked away a LOT smarter and had a better handle on the entire situation. I also was given specific actions to take to establish a solid estate plan (Will, Living Will, Health Care Proxy, PofA, etc). I contracted these out to an attorney.
I never consulted an advisor again until I needed help with paperwork, re-registering JTWROS accounts I had inherited. Again, specific services were agreed upon in writing for a fixed price, and the w*rk was done as agreed upon.
YMMV
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