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Old 10-20-2014, 11:25 AM   #21
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I felt a lot safer with a lot less money when I didn't have two young children
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Old 10-20-2014, 11:26 AM   #22
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For years I have quoted "the Big Red Eject button" number...that is the number that if you had it you could quit immediately at any age and never work again. It was the totally safe number by my calculations and the number was $5M. Since I never got that much I don't know if it really worked. I will retire soon on much less and assuming no catastrophic collapse I should be safe...but if I had the $5M I would know I was
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Old 10-20-2014, 11:38 AM   #23
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Something that one could live off at WR of about 2.0%-2.2%.

Since that kind of WR is quite safe....
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Old 10-20-2014, 11:55 AM   #24
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I see what you are saying and think you are in good shape. If left alone the money should double a couple times and support you safely from maybe age 55 on.

You now can now just work minimal jobs and live like a bum or college student for the next 20 years or continue saving and working and retire (completely) earlier.


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Old 10-20-2014, 12:19 PM   #25
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The more you have, the more you need to feel safe. A while back, I read a survey of affluent families with net worth of mid 7 figures, and many said they needed an 8-figure number to feel safe.

While I do not have that kind of money, now that I have a feeling that my time is going to run out before money at the rate I am spending, my perspective all changes, and I do not worry about money any more.
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Old 10-20-2014, 12:27 PM   #26
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Did others have a "safe" number, that once they go there, you just knew you were going to be ok no matter what?
I don't think there is a safe number for "no matter what". But assuming no apocalyptic events and/or total economic collapse, and assuming normal inflation rates, then my safe number was when I realized I had saved enough to live in the lifestyle I wanted without having to invest my money in "what I consider" higher risk investments to maintain that lifestyle. While, I do invest in the markets, precious metals and collectables, it's with money that I can afford to lose. Most of my money is in fixed income assets backed by the FDIC spread out to stay below the insurance limits. Sure there's still risk of hyper-inflation and/or total economic collapse but that's how I got to my safe number.
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Old 10-20-2014, 12:36 PM   #27
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I distinctly remember in my late 30s when the 401K hit $400K. Our total NW at the time was probably around $500-600K. I remember thinking, "This thing might actually work out." I'm not sure if that's what the OP meant by "safe number." But it was a motivational milestone that re-ignited my commitment to FIRE. There were many more milestones after that. I'm not sure why that one stuck in my head. But after that point, there seemed to be an unstoppable momentum that didn't exist before.
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Old 10-20-2014, 12:53 PM   #28
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... after that point, there seemed to be an unstoppable momentum that didn't exist before.
Yes.

For me, the unstoppable momentum was called the bull market of 1983-2000.
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Old 10-20-2014, 12:54 PM   #29
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There must be a number when you get over it, further saving is about wealth, not necessities.
That is an interesting comment because it accurately reflects my thinking when I first started thinking seriously about retirement. The very first spreadsheet I did was with an investment portfolio worth $630k. At the time it was possible to invest in long term bond funds yielding 6%, and with 3% annual inflation being a reasonable expectation I felt it was realistic to project 3% inflation adjusted returns.

That was, of course, a very primitive calculation compared with some of the sophisticated planning I see from others on this forum, but it convinced me that $630k in investments, plus my expected pension and SS, was enough to retire on immediately, if I so desired. Any amount above that was for luxuries. And that's how I managed my investments for a number of years. I invested $630k in a bond heavy portfolio that happened to have similar allocations to what Vanguard's Retirement Income fund has today. Any new money went into a much more aggressive portfolio that was almost 100% stocks. I didn't use your term "safe number", but I guess that's close to what I was thinking. So I had the rather odd safe number of $630k. It would be higher today, since I would adjust it upwards each year based on the change in CPI from the previous year.
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Old 10-20-2014, 01:09 PM   #30
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35x annual expenses. I want to keep our average withdrawals under 3% for a 40 year retirement.

We got there earlier this year.
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Old 10-20-2014, 01:14 PM   #31
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I think the tax status of the safe number makes a difference. The OPs 500k in a 401k would be very different than the same amount in an after tax account. Especially in an income tax state.



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Old 10-20-2014, 01:26 PM   #32
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Something that one could live off at WR of about 2.0%-2.2%.

Since that kind of WR is quite safe....
And it also depends on how one lives. Where's MasterBlaster and his suggestive illustrations when we need him?
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Old 10-20-2014, 01:27 PM   #33
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Congratulations on getting to $500K at such a young age. Also, depending on how the market cooperates, you might get to $1M a lot faster than you think. I think I first broke the $500k mark in early 2010, just before turning 40. I briefly popped the $1M mark for about a month over the summer, so in my case, it took a bit over 4 years. Haven't added it up lately, but I think I'm down to around $940-950K now, after the market turmoil we've been having.

As for that "safe point", I think I'm there, more or less right now. If I lost my j*b, I wouldn't be in a big hurry to get another. And if the economy took a downturn, I'd probably be okay just getting some kind of part time job to get me through the rough patches.
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Old 10-20-2014, 01:31 PM   #34
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My safe number must be able to yield 3k/month to pay for my living expense. Right now, the $ number isn't the issue, its my age. I need to reach age 55 to be able to qualify for early retirement pension and access my 401k with no penalty. There's plenty of money sitting in 401k, just no way to get at it without uncle same taking 1/2.

Once DW and I reach age 55, we will qualify for $3500 in pension (combined/pretax) which solves the living expense issue. Also will have access to our 401k, projected to be approx 1.5 mil, and no mortgage. I'm handcuffed by age.
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Old 10-20-2014, 02:11 PM   #35
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I see that you are 49. When my DW quit work at 50, I entertained the idea of ER, but it was tough for the same reason you described. Our after-tax stash was not enough to tide us over till 59-1/2 for IRA/401k withdrawal. Plus, our children were still in school. I would need to make SEPP withdrawals, but the rule was too rigid and restrictive.

By me working a few more years longer than my wife, the problem went away. I put my children through college with no loans, built up more after-tax savings, and got closer to that 59-1/2 age to boot. And spending down my stash during the 2008-2009 market would mean sleepless nights.

OMY is not always bad.
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Old 10-20-2014, 02:12 PM   #36
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Like others, our safe number is the amount of assets needed to live off for the rest of our lives, using a SWR of around 2.5%. For us, that equates to $2.4 million in investable assets.
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Old 10-20-2014, 02:13 PM   #37
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My retirement plan depends on coasting. My goal is to save aggressively and hit $1.5M in retirement accounts at 47. I'm hoping we have a better market than the first decade of my career ('99-'09) and it will grow on its own. I am going to have to put all my disposable income towards college bills for at least 8 years (and possibly a couple years of loans).
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Old 10-20-2014, 02:41 PM   #38
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That, OTOH, sounds like a pretty extreme belt-and-suspenders approach to me. (Please don't take that personal, Senator.) You'll make your heirs very happy one day.
Nothing personal taken. No real heirs, other than a sister who is older and some neices and a nephew. Maybe I will go the Anna Nicole Smith route... UPDATE: Not the Anna role, the old guy.
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Old 10-20-2014, 03:43 PM   #39
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Maybe I will go the Anna Nicole Smith route... UPDATE: Not the Anna role, the old guy.
That sounds like fun.
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Old 10-20-2014, 04:01 PM   #40
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My safe number is $1.5M. Similar to what has been mentioned earlier in the thread, this level gives a 2% withdrawal rate to supplement my pension to meet our planned budget, and will not force us to take SS right away at age 62. Anything above that will let us live a more extravagant life (if we so choose).
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