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Firecalc- old and easy or new and complex?
Old 04-09-2008, 08:39 AM   #1
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jIMOh's Avatar
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Milford, OH
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Firecalc- old and easy or new and complex?

I referred a person from another board to firecalc. They looked at it and said it did not work for them.

I went back and checked and it was not the same firecalc I used when I first came to this site. I liked the v1 or v2 version better because of the simplicity.

Not sure if and when a new version will come out. Most of my comments are on usability and not functionality. I will suggest how to improve the usuability, but there is usually more than one way to solve a problem.

Usability- I like the tabs at the top, but it was not clear to me I needed to use all tabs to get a good readout. I thought each tab was it's own calculator for a different result the first time I went through v3 yesterday.

My suggestion to fix this is to list all inputs on one page (front page) then use tabs to break down the meaning of each input.

I thought some of the asset class input was "off" because asset classes were missing. REITs, Mid Cap stocks, foreign bonds, I bonds, and commodities come to mind. I own all of above now except REITs, but could not input an allocation or expected return into them.

My suggestion would be to allow me to input BOTH an % allocation to an asset class and % return of that asset class.

This way if I want a portfolio of 20% large cap, 10% mid cap, 10% small cap, 15% foreign large, 5% foreign small, 5% emerging market, 10% government bonds, 5% I bonds, 5% corporpate bonds, 5% foreign bonds, 5% REITs and 5% Gold/Silver I can do that.

If it's too much to back test the performance of all the above, just allow around 12 entries for asset classes or investments. Allow user to input avg return, std deviations and % allocation and have Firecalc spit out results.

Another issue the bucket approach. Many people on the board talk about a cash bucket A for current expenses, bucket B for less frequent expenses (new car, new roof) and bucket C for long term growth. Allowing user input would allow me to enter returns and %allocation to each bucket.

The main issue with the person I referred here was he needed an accumulation calculator, not a draw down calculator. I did not realize fully that firecalc did not have an "accumulation" built in. Meaning I have 160k now, put 7k into 401k, 5k into Roth and 4k into a taxable account each year, how much will I have at year n+20?

In another thread I suggested to account for taxes in the withdraw models of firecalc (100k in a Roth is worth more than 100k in a 401k). Allowing the draw down models of firecalc to factor this in would be extremely helpful.

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Old 04-09-2008, 08:56 AM   #2
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Join Date: Jun 2002
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Since the creator of FIRECalc is retired and apparently enjoying a spreadsheet-free life these days, I wouldn't hold my breath while I waited for the next update. But since everything has it's price, what would you be willing to pay to get a free program changed to meet your desired design parameters?
Numbers is hard.

Retired in 2005 at age 58, no pension

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