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Old 01-29-2012, 11:27 AM   #21
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Hi Andy, I'm so glad you are doing this work. The tool deserves to be continually evolving as it is a wonderful resource.
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If you do not want to do this normalization and still want to keep this in $'s, I'd suggest a semi-log graph so that the down lines are more readable. I really do want to know how bad it could have gotten in history before it got better (those lines that go down and then back up). There would have to be a finer set of grid lines going horizontally so that values could be read off the Y-axis.
That sounds like an excellent idea. It's nice to see those big numbers, but I suspect that others are like me in this regard - they really are focusing on the survival side of things, not the 'gee, there's a 33% chance I'll die rich!' side. But you could still see that, this would just give much more resolution on the lower end.

Another useful output along these lines - how about breaking the output into decile ranges? So in addition to the graph, you would see something that says the lowest 10% of outcomes are in the range of $A-$B, the next 10% in the range of $C-$D, the highest 10% show the gadzillionaires, etc. Some of those numbers would be negative if your survival rate was less than 100%.

Some people are visual and love graphs, others hate them and need numbers and text. Providing both seems simple enough (I think).

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Old 01-29-2012, 11:54 AM   #22
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Those other graphs would be fun. Just don't eliminate any; give us a choice of how it should be displayed, or display them all.
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Old 01-29-2012, 12:54 PM   #23
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Just another view. I think the chart is OK as is, there isn't much you could do to make a chart with that much data readable. I've also thought the text summary above the chart is the point, the chart is just to show whether the plan ever failed (below zero) - as it says. And it shows conceptually how wildly variable the outcomes can be, better than words can. Just my 2 cents...
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Understanding the charts below: Don't try to follow any individual line -- with most scenarios, there are just too many of them. But if you look at the mass of lines, and the zero axis, you can get a clear visual representation of how frequently your strategy would have failed (dropped below zero) or succeeded. The objective of presenting the information this way is to allow you to get a "big picture" sense of the way your strategy would have performed historically.
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Old 01-30-2012, 05:28 PM   #24
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4) The spreadsheet output does not seem to work. Does not seem to work on Firecalc 3.0 either. Bummer.
This has been fixed.
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Floor and Ceiling spending option.
Old 01-31-2012, 09:16 PM   #25
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Floor and Ceiling spending option.

I think FIRCalc can have option of entering floor and ceiling spending levels. Floor spending level will be withdrawal when portfolio has a bad year and ceiling spending will be withdrawal in a good year, both levels are indexed for inflation. One can specify portfolio return percentage to decide if a year is a good or a bad return year.

My ER forum posts suggest that people tighten belt during bad years and resume normal course in good years. I guess this will also greatly up the SWR since portfolio is not withdrawn when it is already low, allowing it to grow in (hopefully) following good years.

I was dreaming of three spending levels also, the good, the bad, and OK. This may be too complicated to implement and may confuse users.
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Old 01-31-2012, 09:49 PM   #26
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I think FIRCalc can have option of entering floor and ceiling spending levels. Floor spending level will be withdrawal when portfolio has a bad year and ceiling spending will be withdrawal in a good year, both levels are indexed for inflation. One can specify portfolio return percentage to decide if a year is a good or a bad return year.

My ER forum posts suggest that people tighten belt during bad years and resume normal course in good years. I guess this will also greatly up the SWR since portfolio is not withdrawn when it is already low, allowing it to grow in (hopefully) following good years.

I was dreaming of three spending levels also, the good, the bad, and OK. This may be too complicated to implement and may confuse users.
+1

I'd like to see more flexibility for entering expenses; a lot more flexibility. I respectfully suggest you take a lesson from Fido's RIP tool on expenses.

Also, I like the tabs better than scrolling btwn pages. With tabs, one doesn't have to scroll thru every single page to get to the one sought.

Great to see you doing this work.

Thanks!
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Old 04-20-2012, 10:57 AM   #27
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Is the FIRECalc development continuing?

I notice that my recent test did not bring up the spreadsheets (links on results page).

Also would be good to see the assumed spending levels which might be in one of those spreadsheets.

If the developer needs testing or comments I'd be glad to supply more.
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Old 04-20-2012, 12:32 PM   #28
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I notice that my recent test did not bring up the spreadsheets (links on results page).
Make sure to click on the investigate tab and check the box to provide data in spreadsheet format. See the attachment for location of these.
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Is the FIRECalc development continuing?
In the last push on FIRECalc we cleaned up a lot of stuff but made zero changes to the logic (code) that powers the results. We then applied a new look/feel to the front end form which collects the data (link). What we discovered is that the new look which is more of a simple walk through process lacks space for providing users with details about each field. The currently live version is loaded with helpful text about each field and we need a way to show that while also keeping things simple. I feel the new skin looks nice but lacks the ability to show details about each field in an efficient manner.

Our plan is to go back to the drawing board to try and come up with another revision that would have a simple form on the left (about 2/3 of the space) and then an area on the right (1/3) of the space which would display text about each field when you click on it. Our designer has a 5 week old baby and has limited time at the moment. No ETA on the next iteration of the front end design is available at this time.

Keep in mind the above is all just front end input changes and does not change any of the calculations.

When it comes to the logic of what is going on with the calculator, I have yet to find a programmer capable and willing to tackle this project at a reasonable cost. It's a big project and needs to be done right.

To be honest, many other calculators have sprung up in the decade since FIRECalc came on the scene, many of which were built with multi-million dollar budgets by the large custodians. It would be unrealistic to think that we will be able to expand the logic of the calculations to handle some of the more sophisticated modeling that some of those other calcs will do with such a limited budget. I recall a discussion on here where people were discussing what they like from each and FIRECalc was respected for what it does but if you want to dig deeper into more complex scenarios then maybe one of the others would be better. IIRC one was not available to the public, only clients of the custodian.

Once we get the next iteration of the front end done then we will look at the change requests and knock out any low lying fruit. After that we will have to analyze the code and see what can be done to re-factor it to an architecture that will allow for changes to be made more easily.
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Old 04-20-2012, 01:55 PM   #29
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To be honest, many other calculators have sprung up in the decade since FIRECalc came on the scene, many of which were built with multi-million dollar budgets by the large custodians. It would be unrealistic to think that we will be able to expand the logic of the calculations to handle some of the more sophisticated modeling that some of those other calcs will do with such a limited budget. I recall a discussion on here where people were discussing what they like from each and FIRECalc was respected for what it does but if you want to dig deeper into more complex scenarios then maybe one of the others would be better. IIRC one was not available to the public, only clients of the custodian.
I am not sure I totally agree with this. I've tried most of the calculators out there and still always come back to FIRECalc. Many are deficient in not letting you have varying spending. Others are so complex that I just gave up particularly if the interface was not appealing (ESPlanner).
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Old 04-20-2012, 02:41 PM   #30
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Make sure to click on the investigate tab and check the box to provide data in spreadsheet format. See the attachment for location of these. ....
Hi Andy, I was referring to not being able to get the spreadsheets in the development version. FIRECalc 3.0 works fine in this regard.

Thanks for the update on your ideas and scheduling.
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Old 04-21-2012, 12:52 AM   #31
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To be honest, many other calculators have sprung up in the decade since FIRECalc came on the scene, many of which were built with multi-million dollar budgets by the large custodians. It would be unrealistic to think that we will be able to expand the logic of the calculations to handle some of the more sophisticated modeling that some of those other calcs will do with such a limited budget. I recall a discussion on here where people were discussing what they like from each and FIRECalc was respected for what it does but if you want to dig deeper into more complex scenarios then maybe one of the others would be better. IIRC one was not available to the public, only clients of the custodian.
To be honest, many of the other calculators that have sprung up in the decade since FIRECalc came on the scene...

... have been crap.

For example, USAA spent a lot of time and effort developing a calculator that's the most user-friendly system I've ever used. It works great for newbies who are easily discouraged by more complicated calculators. But I wouldn't use it more than a couple times before I'd be looking for something more sophisticated... like FIRECalc.

But we're willing to check out the ones that you think are doing more sophisticated modeling, and give you feedback on whether FIRECalc should aspire to those lofty sophistications as well.
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Old 04-21-2012, 04:12 AM   #32
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It has been a few years since I looked at retirement calculators in depth but I agree with Nords don't mistake money spent by a big company as being an indication of quality. As I learned the hard way at big companies most web software development project consists of 3 levels of management, a project coordinator, a QA person, and one guy in cube writing Javascript between doing work on his other three projects.

To me the single most important thing about FIRECalc is that use historical data not a Monte Carlo simulation So as long as it is kept update with current data and the performance of various asset class, my donation was money well spent. The one thing that I think would be very beneficial is to include international stock as an asset class, although I realize data is easy to come by for foreign stock.s
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Old 04-21-2012, 05:33 AM   #33
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But we're willing to check out the ones that you think are doing more sophisticated modeling, and give you feedback on whether FIRECalc should aspire to those lofty sophistications as well.
We've discussed this in other threads, including the one on FIRECalc vs Fidelity's Retirement Income Planner. There are several folks on the forum, including me, who use the Fido RIP tool more frequently and find it more useful. I suggest the OP try it if you haven't used it before. I like a few things about it better than FIRECalc: more spending forecast flexibility, stores your info so you don't have to re-enter it every time, provides more ways to view you results (what ifs, cash flow, etc). I do like and use FIRECalc but, primarily as a check against my RIP results; and they do correlate, at least in my case.
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Old 04-21-2012, 09:29 AM   #34
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We've discussed this in other threads, including the one on FIRECalc vs Fidelity's Retirement Income Planner. There are several folks on the forum, including me, who use the Fido RIP tool more frequently and find it more useful. I suggest the OP try it if you haven't used it before. ...
Do you have to open an account at Fido to save and reuse your inputs?

BTW, for others the tool link is here: Retirement Income Planner - Fidelity
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Old 04-21-2012, 10:51 AM   #35
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We've discussed this in other threads, including the one on FIRECalc vs Fidelity's Retirement Income Planner. There are several folks on the forum, including me, who use the Fido RIP tool more frequently and find it more useful.
Thanks, I hadn't used Fido RIP since 2004 (my very old data was still in there, though I don't have accounts with Fido anymore), so it was fun to update and run again now retired. I am printing the 33 page report now. I'm always interested in another POV, and it's certainly better than most online calculators. FIRECALC, Fido RIP, Vanguard Portfolio Analyzer & ORP all have their merits IMO...

I wish I knew where to get comprehensive asset class returns, inflation, etc. data to build my own.
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Old 04-21-2012, 11:14 AM   #36
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Is there an app?
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Old 04-21-2012, 09:18 PM   #37
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Is there an app?
Fidelity does have an IPad App but, it doesn't include the retirement tool as best I can tell.
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Old 04-29-2012, 08:29 PM   #38
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I tried the new version: it looks sharp, but I am a bit computer-challenged. When I wanted to go back and try another year, the first backward click gave me the "investigate" page, but the next back click gave me the "external link" page. Ought I be able to go backward--or what am I missing? W2r I think was the one who told me with the old version to use the "close results page" button, and I liked that.
However, many many thanks for putting this thing up!!!!
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Old 04-29-2012, 08:50 PM   #39
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This thread has a useful discussion of Firecalc vs. Fidelity RIP:

Firecalc vs Fidelity RIP

I've been using the RIP for the past several months as my work retirement accounts are with Fidelity and I like how it saves your basic data.

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Old 04-29-2012, 09:20 PM   #40
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I tried Fidelity RIP just recently. It seemed to be flawed, for my use anyway:
1) the tax assumptions it made were incorrect and could not be overridden
2) it's use of my personal data did not help in directing the tax assumptions

For my needs a better set of tools is FIRECalc + ORP.

In the following thread I brought up a few things about ORP that I have struggled with: Is ORP right about this? . But ORP did make me consider the bigger picture regarding portfolio cash flows and taxation.
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