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Safe Withdrawl Rate -- 6%
Old 03-18-2006, 06:42 AM   #1
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Safe Withdrawl Rate -- 6%

I think this forum gave too little attention to this article. It totally changes the rules for SWR. FIRE comes much sooner and lifestyles in retirement are enhanced.


http://www.fpanet.org/journal/articl...p0306-art6.cfm

The FIRE Calc website shows a 95% success rate for a nominal 4.4% withdrawl but it also shows a very large residual at the end of the plan (death). If the goal is to leave a large estate, that makes sense. This articles talks about being able to take initial withdrawls of about 6% from your portfolio and how to adjust for major market moves.

Is anyone considering using this? If not, why?
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Re: Safe Withdrawl Rate -- 6%
Old 03-18-2006, 07:10 AM   #2
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Re: Safe Withdrawl Rate -- 6%

"The paper concludes that initial withdrawal rates of 5.25.6 percent are sustainable at the 99 percent confidence standard for portfolios containing at least 65 percent equities. The 80 percent equity allocation provides greater purchasing power maintenance at slightly lower success rates, but with 50 percent equities, maximum initial withdrawal rates drop to as low as 4.6 percent."

Why not go for 100% equities and we'll be back to Peter Lynchs discredited 7% withdrawal from 10 years ago.

I doubt many retirees would want an 80% equity portfolio, unless maybe they had adequate cash flow from a pension to support them in down years.

Looks like about 4%, based on past U.S. history, is still holding up.
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Re: Safe Withdrawl Rate -- 6%
Old 03-18-2006, 07:17 AM   #3
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Re: Safe Withdrawl Rate -- 6%

Yes

Family history(males tend to go early), no heirs, 12 yrs into ER - 7 1/2 to RMD rules(good old IRS), and changed personal circumstances - up in expensive Yankee land.

Looking at some form of a simple 5-6% of portfolio each year(variable) until RMD clicks in at 70 1/2.

Sigh! I really enjoyed my years of cheap bastardhood.

Oh well - back in the burbs now. When in Rome and all that stuff.

Target Retirement 2015 (78% trad IRA) - damp the SD, take the money at 5-6% and pay the taxes. A little Roth(7%) in case I don't croak on time and individual stocks(15%) to keep the male hormones alive.

Subject to furhter analysis - of course.

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Re: Safe Withdrawl Rate -- 6%
Old 03-18-2006, 07:41 AM   #4
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Re: Safe Withdrawl Rate -- 6%

I'm considering it.

The historical SWR here is based on fixed 4% which leads to burnout if the port is at a high water mark and huge estates is the port starts at a low water mark. I've been playing with variable draws in combo with fixed and % of salary all with decay and growth factors. My un-official results show the 5% range with less failures, but some years with less in draws.

I'm coding the Guyton model now but am confused by some of the rules and how to implement. I also doubt if I would ever be able to model the monte carlo simulator so i'll need to convince myself my little data works.

Bottom line is I plan to use a model different than the strict 4% fixed, have yet to find the model and prove to myself it works.

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Re: Safe Withdrawl Rate -- 6%
Old 03-18-2006, 08:59 AM   #5
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Re: Safe Withdrawl Rate -- 6%

OK - to be HONEST, I was too lazy to really read the whole thing and get to the bottom line conclusions.

Thanks for posting the "gist" of it above.

I can see myself holding up to 65% equities, but I doubt that I would every go above that - I just couldn't sleep at night.

One of the ways I've dealt with the SWR and the uncertainties involved is NOT to use the "initial X% withdrawal rate" and then adjust for inflation every subsequent year. But instead use a fixed percent every year and be willing to spend less money in a given year if market conditions are poor. In this way you can avoid so severely depleting your portfolio that you run out of money before it can recover.

I think people naturally cut back on expenses when their portfolios have bad years. This is just common sense.

Wasn't it ESRBob who had some formula on how to cut back after a bad year and tested survivability? I forgot it already!!!

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Re: Safe Withdrawl Rate -- 6%
Old 03-18-2006, 09:22 AM   #6
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Re: Safe Withdrawl Rate -- 6%

The Firecalc assumption is that you want your lifestyle to remain the same, even if inflation goes haywire and in years following a portfolio decline.

The study linked above makes some major assumptions about your willingness (and ability) to cut your spending permanently in the face of inflation.

"The maximum annual inflationary increase is 6 percent." This means that even if inflation is over 6%, you can't increase your withdrawal by the inflation to pay your now-increased costs of living. *

Is that a real issue? Well, my crystal ball is no good, but looking back, there were 25 years when you'd have had to tighten your belt. Inflation as they define it was nearly 14% in 1980, 12% in 1981, and 8.5% in 1982, the worst recent years.

(Geez -- who cares about inflation when it's 1-2%?* You can easily absorb that -- but not when it's high enough to really matter.)


"Withdrawals increase from year to year in accordance with the inflation rule, except that there is no increase following a year where the portfolio's total return is negative."

Wow. This means that you would have to tighten your belt and get no "pay raise" despite inflation in a LOT of years. Like 2002, 2001, 1995, 1991, 1988, 1982, 1978, 1975, 1974, 1970, 1967,... *all these and 39 other years were ones where their rule would keep you from increasing your withdrawal at all to match inflation and keep your buying ability constant. (FWIW, the average inflation rates for those years I just mentioned was 5.8%.)

Let's look at what those two rules would have done to us in the early 1980s.

Say we needed $40,000 to live on, and followed their model when retiring in 1979.

Inflation in 1980 was 13.91%, but we can only increase spending 6%, so our shortfall means we are living on $40,000 * 94% or $37,600 in constant dollars -- i.e., this is our spending ability based on our spending as of when we retired.

In 1981 inflation was "down" to 11.83%, and we are still capped at a 6% adjustment. The arithmetic puts our spending ability at $35,344.

In 1982, inflation dropped all the way to 8.39% -- but the portfolio lost money, so rule 2 kicks in, and says we can't take any adjustment for inflation. Yikes -- our spending ability for 1982 is just $32,378 that year.

Retired just 3 years and we are already having to live on nearly 20% less than we planned!*

There haven't been 6%+ inflation years since 1982 (although we've had several 5%+ years), so the cap doesn't affect us after that year. But 5 of the next 20 years -- one year in four, rule 2 got us. Every time that rule 2 kicks in, we take a pay cut in the amount of that year's inflation rate.

Oh yeah -- and in their definitions of rules one and two, they say "There is no 'make-up' for a 'capped' inflation adjustment. " and "There is no 'make-up' for a missed increase."

So those "pay cuts" are permanent -- we can't ever make them up.

10 years after retirement, we are living not on $40,000 in spending power, but on $31,000. *The 1990s were good to us, so by 22 years after we retire, we're only down to living on $27103 -- with no increase in spending ability ever, according to the model.

This scenario is our most recent period, not some ancient example from days of the great depression. I question a model that in the most recent 22 years would have our standard of living permanently cut by 32%...

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So sure -- a 6% withdrawal rate can be "safe" if you are willing to only adjust your withdrawals to match cost of living increases when (a) your portfolio is up and (b) the inflation was fairly low, and absorb permanent pay cuts one year in four with no chance of regaining lost ground...

Ouch!
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Re: Safe Withdrawl Rate -- 6%
Old 03-18-2006, 09:52 AM   #7
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Re: Safe Withdrawl Rate -- 6%

Hmmmm

Yeah but but - I was working through all those years mentioned and my pay raises didn't* keep up with inflation and I was forced to cope. Of course - in the longer stretch they caught up and then some.

My ER budget has sort of a fixed core cost plus frivolous which can vary.

Even so - a return of some of things I experienced in the 70's and 80's would be chewy to say the least. Unfortunately I don't get to vote on that - just try to adjust when/if it happens.

heh heh heh heh - makes spreadsheets kind of fun huh?

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Re: Safe Withdrawl Rate -- 6%
Old 03-18-2006, 09:56 AM   #8
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Re: Safe Withdrawl Rate -- 6%

Thanks for the analysis dory! - Interesting.

So - you can start with initial 6% withdrawal if you are willing to severely tighten your belt in the future during some bad times.

Or, you can start with initial 4% withdrawal and live with your tightened belt (33% lower standard of living) from the get go......

I guess it depends on which you scenario you would rather live through?

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Re: Safe Withdrawl Rate -- 6%
Old 03-18-2006, 09:59 AM   #9
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Re: Safe Withdrawl Rate -- 6%

Quote:
Originally Posted by unclemick2
Hmmmm

Yeah but but - I was working through all those years mentioned and my pay raises didn't keep up with inflation and I was forced to cope. Of course - in the longer stretch they caught up and then some.

My ER budget has sort of a fixed core cost plus frivolous which can vary.

Even so - a return of some of things I experienced in the 70's and 80's would be chewy to say the least. Unfortunately I don't get to vote on that - just try to adjust when/if it happens.

heh heh heh heh - makes spreadsheets kind of fun huh?
Not a good comparison. When we were working, we had our essential costs of living, our really important but discretionary expenses, our retirement savings set-asides, and "play money".

In the bad years, a lot of us probably dropped the play money first, then reduced how much we were setting aside for retirement.

So at least among the group that was living below their means and saving, few took significant hits to their lifestyles.

(All in constant dollars, of course -- if your current dollar retirement investing only increased by 12% in 1980, then you were reducing your investments in constant dollars.)

After retirement, few if any of us have any new retirement savings set-asides, and many of us have already reduced some of the "play money" expenses in exchange for early retirement. So there is no "buffer"...
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Re: Safe Withdrawl Rate -- 6%
Old 03-18-2006, 10:04 AM   #10
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Re: Safe Withdrawl Rate -- 6%

Quote:
Originally Posted by audreyh1
Thanks for the analysis dory! - Interesting.

So - you can start with initial 6% withdrawal if you are willing to severely tighten your belt in the future during some bad times.

Or, you can start with initial 4% withdrawal and live with your tightened belt (33% lower standard of living) from the get go......

I guess it depends on which you scenario you would rather live through?

Audrey
Well, it's more like don't start until you can afford it...

And the model described doesn't call for tightening your belt just during the occasional bad times -- it calls for tightening it then and never loosening it . . . sort of like one of those seat belts that tightens but won't loosen...

In the 4% rule, the opposite is true. As has been discussed numerous times elsewhere in the forum, you never have to tighten your belt, but you can loosen it -- also permanently -- whenever conditions allow. To read more about that issue, see the messages around...
Quote:
Originally Posted by dory36
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...)
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Re: Safe Withdrawl Rate -- 6%
Old 03-18-2006, 10:05 AM   #11
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Re: Safe Withdrawl Rate -- 6%

Quote:
Originally Posted by audreyh1
Or, you can start with initial 4% withdrawal and live with your tightened belt (33% lower standard of living) from the get go......
Or you can start with a sufficiently large and more diversified portfolio where 4% is more than sufficient for your standard of living, as well as surviving both inflation and market cycles. *At that asset level, a 6% SWR would be so over-the-top that you'd feel like Paul Allen aboard his yacht.

Or you can work part-time (in my opinion, perhaps the ultimate lower standard of living).

My point to Soon in his "Hi, I am..." post is that Guyton's article still doesn't reflect all the ways that retirees can mess with their retirement income/spending. *None of us want to spend all our time crawling through dumpsters or working, but a little time of each can go a long way in a bear market. *The safest approach, especially for a job that doesn't seem to be totally unbearable, would be to accumulate more assets to support not having to take a SWR on the bleeding edge.

Guyton may never have an SWR. *He might keep doing this type of research until he wakes up dead. *Judging from the number of SWR discussions on this board, he can safely assume lifetime employment in this research field.
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Re: Safe Withdrawl Rate -- 6%
Old 03-18-2006, 10:23 AM   #12
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Re: Safe Withdrawl Rate -- 6%

Heh heh heh heh heh heh

I think some other posters had better weigh in on this one - I made some serious adjustments to my lifestyle in my aggressive pursuit of frugal.

Your point about constant dollars is well taken though - I maxed my tax deferred available plans thru the period 'in then current $' not constant dollars adjusted for inflation.

I also cheated in ER - a modest non cola pension at 55 and now early SS at 62. Going forward from here could get interesting.

How willing to stick with the Bear -'agile, mobile, and hostile' - has yet to be tested.
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Re: Safe Withdrawl Rate -- 6%
Old 03-18-2006, 10:35 AM   #13
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Re: Safe Withdrawl Rate -- 6%

This is more like it!!!!!!!!

I really appreciate Dory36's comments.* The inflation effect is very real.* I went back to the article to confirm the 6% inflation cap and I confirm it's there.* For some reason I thought he changed that from his first article.

I charged back to FIRECalc and ran the $40,000 withdrawl from $1,000,000 for 40 years with 5 yr treasuries.* That leaves an average residual of $8,266,000 (in today's dollars I think).* That's money I would like to have available to spend.

Guyton has made a stab at the concept but the questions are still there.* What happens without the 6% inflation cap?* The concept of 10% raises or cuts is manageable along with a freeze now and then.* The number of these are documented in his article and appear to be reasonable.* Total purchasing power (over the 40 years) is also protected pretty well.* What he didn't say is how often would the inflation cap kick in or how that would impact the actual purchasing power during the life of the plan.

Whoever said that Guyton has a job for life hit it on the head.


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Re: Safe Withdrawl Rate -- 6%
Old 03-18-2006, 10:43 AM   #14
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Re: Safe Withdrawl Rate -- 6%

Or you can run the simulators, see if you have a reasonable chance of making it even if theres a major downturn, get a rough idea of what kind of spending levels you can sustain, then just be reasonable and prudent about it after that.

I still dont know how I made it through 3+ years of ER without ever hearing about withdrawal rates.
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Re: Safe Withdrawl Rate -- 6%
Old 03-18-2006, 12:20 PM   #15
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Re: Safe Withdrawl Rate -- 6%

Great thread, lots of stuff here.


Dory,
Guyton does outline a "prosperity rule" that allows withdrawal rates to "catch up" in the event the portfolio recovers:

- The prosperity rule applies in years with a withdrawal rate more than 20 percent below the initial withdrawal rate.
- Under the prosperity rule, the current year's withdrawal is increased by 10 percent. The other decision rules in effect are then applied to this increased withdrawal amount.
- This increased withdrawal amount becomes the basis for determining the next year's withdrawal.

One has to wonder, though, if anyone in the real world could/would actually implement all of these rules.

Your point on inflation is a good one. But I fully intend to cut spending in the face of raging inflation or bear markets. It seems foolish to me to do otherwise, notwithstanding the results of back tested withdrawal scenarios. unclemick also brings up a good point that wages didn't exactly keep pace with inflation either, at least not initially. And remember the "misery index" was invented because unemployment was also high. So folks like my father had to simultaneously manage both out of control inflation AND unemployment. Like many others, my family got through it by aggressive belt tightening.

While it's true that retirees may have less financial flexibility to deal with adversity then working folks, this can, and should be planned for. I think Dory summed it up perfectly by advising Audrey not to "start [retirement] before you can afford it."

Which brings me to a grave concern I have with the work of folks like Guyton. It seems to me that many people looking to push the WR as high as possible may be doing so in an attempt to retire with an undercapitalized plan. This is particularly dangerous if they are already living a lean standard of living (again in an attempt to speed retirement). A high withdrawal rate coupled with a high equity concentration and little fat in the budget sounds like a ticking time bomb.

I'm more of a belt and suspenders kind of guy. My idea of a sound retirement plan includes a withdrawal rate below 4% so that you have a good shot at increasing your standard of living during retirement. It also provides extra security against lower than expected market returns and "invisible" inflation. You should also have a healthy bit of easily identifiable fat in the budget that can be cut if needs be - something similar to CutThroat's 2x subsistence living methodology. And finally, some source of alternative income so that you don't have to lean quite so hard on the portfolio, especially during bad years.
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Re: Safe Withdrawl Rate -- 6%
Old 03-18-2006, 12:22 PM   #16
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Re: Safe Withdrawl Rate -- 6%

Guyton and Klinger propose the Prosperity Rule which allows you to increase withdrawal after bad times:
Quote:
Since such increases...
This is contrary to what dory36 posted in this thread.* There is a rule to help make up for lost ground.

Quote:
The prosperity rule offsets this drawback. In fact, it generates significantly more raises than the cuts from the capital preservation rule. Moreover, at several initial withdrawal rates, the prosperity rule actually allows the purchasing power maintained to exceed 100 percent.
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Re: Safe Withdrawl Rate -- 6%
Old 03-18-2006, 12:23 PM   #17
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Re: Safe Withdrawl Rate -- 6%

Quote:
Originally Posted by dory36
Well, it's more like don't start until you can afford it...
Well, yeah, that IS the bottom line.

Don't start with a "bleeding edge" SWR.

Audrey
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Re: Safe Withdrawl Rate -- 6%
Old 03-18-2006, 12:28 PM   #18
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Re: Safe Withdrawl Rate -- 6%

Quote:
Originally Posted by audreyh1
Well, yeah, that IS the bottom line.

Don't start with a "bleeding edge" SWR.

Audrey
OTOH, if we stick to the 4% SWR rule, many of us will die beforehand. If we could predict our deaths, for some of us the SWR would be 20% or more!
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Re: Safe Withdrawl Rate -- 6%
Old 03-18-2006, 12:59 PM   #19
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Re: Safe Withdrawl Rate -- 6%

Oh I believe in resetting the SWR during retirement as is appropriate.

No sense in leaving an excessive estate behind......

Audrey
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Re: Safe Withdrawl Rate -- 6%
Old 03-18-2006, 02:09 PM   #20
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Re: Safe Withdrawl Rate -- 6%

Ah, but there's the rub.

My father died at 79 with over $300K that he never touched.* He worked until he was 65.* He retired with no savings.* He lived off his social security and a postal pension.* He was so afraid of running out of money he never spent or risked any of his cash.* Since it turned out he was investing for his 5 kids, he could have invested more aggressively but I would rather of had him enjoy himself more.

How do you start with as high a standard of living as you can that will still allow for a high probability of portfolio survival?

The other thing I've seen and I've also seen data to support is the drop off in spending as one ages.* The data says that your spending drops 15% at age 65 and every 5 years thereafter.* The last thing I want is to start retirement eating beans and rice to stay at a 4% WR when at 85 I don't have any desire to spend the fortune I've amassed.




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