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My Own Retirement Calculator
Old 02-13-2020, 02:55 PM   #1
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My Own Retirement Calculator

I searched the internet and couldn't find a spreadsheet that would fit my needs so I spent all day and built my own.

I wanted to build a spreadsheet that would include:

cost of living (linked to my actual budget spreadsheet which was cool)
emergency padding for each year
current post and pre tax investments
a standard rate of return on investment (I used a conservative 3.5%)
inflation rate (I used 3%)
tax rate for each year
Medicare kicks in at 65 (and reduces my cost of living budget)
SSN kicks in at 67 (used actual SSN projected rates)
IRA RMD kicks in at 72 (used the RMD calculator to get actual %)

I can play with the standard rate of return, inflation rate and cost of living by a click of a button. I also didn't purposely include my house or vacation house in the model nor do I have an investment properties. But I guess I could add it if I wanted in the future.

Ran the spreadsheet from my age today at 56 to age 90 just to see all of the data and it was fascinating. I even built it so I could factor in lower cost of living after age 75 because we all slow down a lot and realistically so does the spending.

I am sure a spreadsheet/calculator exists like this somewhere, but like I said it was fascinating to do that exercise and just see every single datapoint and be able to play with it in a realistic fashion. Allows me to now sleep at night that I have the plan nailed and now realize that I am completely fine on my FIRE and if I hit 90 I am still going to die with a lot of money in the bank.

Curious, what did I miss on the spreadsheet? I *think* FIRECALC does something like this already, but like I said before, I wanted to see the actual year by year data and be able to play with all of the factors to see how the model would change if inflation moved up or my cost of living went up etc.

Just thought I would throw this out to the forum for feedback.

And the greatest thing? Being FIRED I actually have the time to burn all day building this
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Old 02-13-2020, 03:14 PM   #2
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I'll bet you learned a lot by doing this, and you have a better understanding of your finances and how the various factors affect you.

The downside that I've found, is that sometimes I have errors, and instead of having a whole user community to find them, I'm the only one. Just for example, I had something wrong in my 2019 spreadsheet for taxes, Roth conversions, and staying under the ACA subsidies. Luckily it was a small error (which was why I didn't notice it until comparing estimates to actuals), and I had enough buffer that it didn't cost me the ACA subsidy, but it did cut into that buffer.
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Old 02-13-2020, 03:23 PM   #3
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Well with Firecalc, one is effectively calculating their own tax burden, so some of your features one would need to calculate themselves and then input into Firecalc as part of their spending.
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Old 02-13-2020, 03:29 PM   #4
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Yes, great way to learn and fill the ER time, but I've found Pralana, built on Excel, covered all these requirements and more. Far more granular than firecalc. After using it, I quickly realized that as much as I'd like to build my own Excel spreadsheet to handle my situation, it would be quite an effort to catch up to Pralana's features and I've built many Excel applications in the past. If nothing else, you could check out the free version to validate some of your work.
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Old 02-13-2020, 04:32 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by gbronc View Post
Yes, great way to learn and fill the ER time, but I've found Pralana, built on Excel, covered all these requirements and more. Far more granular than firecalc. After using it, I quickly realized that as much as I'd like to build my own Excel spreadsheet to handle my situation, it would be quite an effort to catch up to Pralana's features and I've built a many Excel applications in the past. If nothing else, you could check out the free version to validate some of your work.
I didn't know Pralana was out there. THANK YOU for this. I will dig into it and compare notes. Super excited to see where my model had issues.
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Old 02-13-2020, 04:34 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by RunningBum View Post
I'll bet you learned a lot by doing this, and you have a better understanding of your finances and how the various factors affect you.

The downside that I've found, is that sometimes I have errors, and instead of having a whole user community to find them, I'm the only one. Just for example, I had something wrong in my 2019 spreadsheet for taxes, Roth conversions, and staying under the ACA subsidies. Luckily it was a small error (which was why I didn't notice it until comparing estimates to actuals), and I had enough buffer that it didn't cost me the ACA subsidy, but it did cut into that buffer.
I am sure I am going to have a few errors, but I padded it very conservatively to ensure if there were errors, they weren't devastating. This exercise was more about discovery then being accurate down to the penny.

But you are correct, I learned a great deal about my situation, the effects of certain variables and the best of all a peace of mind knowing that my financial model is more then enough to take care of us thru our 90s...
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Old 02-13-2020, 05:32 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by SeattleRocks View Post
I am sure I am going to have a few errors, but I padded it very conservatively to ensure if there were errors, they weren't devastating. This exercise was more about discovery then being accurate down to the penny.

But you are correct, I learned a great deal about my situation, the effects of certain variables and the best of all a peace of mind knowing that my financial model is more then enough to take care of us thru our 90s...
My experience was same as yours. Building a model spreadsheet I learned where I might have problems and many more things. Also gave me a good understanding of our assets and financial situation today and down the road. Then I worked through the fidelity tool and found my spreadsheet was pretty close. I have found however that projections donít always match what happens when life happens.
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About those variables
Old 02-13-2020, 09:36 PM   #8
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About those variables

At some level, I see value from being able to vary your investment returns and vary cost of living adjustments over time.

But realistically this seems to be a bit of a tail-chasing exercise. Presumably we all expect our investment portfolio to return more than the inflation rate over time. So that seems like a constant to me, not a variable for modelling purposes

That and the fact that we actually have no idea what either figure will be over time. Of course you can assume low investment returns and high price growth and scare yourself to death.

I personally find it much more useful to model tax outcomes and raw cost changes which are driven by changes in circumstances, rather than those driven by general increase in prices. But I recognize there may be some important consideration that I am missing here.
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Old 02-13-2020, 09:54 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by SeattleRocks View Post
I searched the internet and couldn't find a spreadsheet that would fit my needs so I spent all day and built my own.

I wanted to build a spreadsheet that would include:

cost of living (linked to my actual budget spreadsheet which was cool)
emergency padding for each year
current post and pre tax investments
a standard rate of return on investment (I used a conservative 3.5%)
inflation rate (I used 3%)
tax rate for each year
Medicare kicks in at 65 (and reduces my cost of living budget)
SSN kicks in at 67 (used actual SSN projected rates)
IRA RMD kicks in at 72 (used the RMD calculator to get actual %)

I can play with the standard rate of return, inflation rate and cost of living by a click of a button. I also didn't purposely include my house or vacation house in the model nor do I have an investment properties. But I guess I could add it if I wanted in the future.

Ran the spreadsheet from my age today at 56 to age 90 just to see all of the data and it was fascinating. I even built it so I could factor in lower cost of living after age 75 because we all slow down a lot and realistically so does the spending.

I am sure a spreadsheet/calculator exists like this somewhere, but like I said it was fascinating to do that exercise and just see every single datapoint and be able to play with it in a realistic fashion. Allows me to now sleep at night that I have the plan nailed and now realize that I am completely fine on my FIRE and if I hit 90 I am still going to die with a lot of money in the bank.

Curious, what did I miss on the spreadsheet? I *think* FIRECALC does something like this already, but like I said before, I wanted to see the actual year by year data and be able to play with all of the factors to see how the model would change if inflation moved up or my cost of living went up etc.

Just thought I would throw this out to the forum for feedback.

And the greatest thing? Being FIRED I actually have the time to burn all day building this
Any survivors you should plan for?
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Old 02-14-2020, 03:10 AM   #10
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Pralana looks intersting but we only have Google sheets. Any suggestions other than buy excel?
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Old 02-14-2020, 07:07 AM   #11
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Pralana looks intersting but we only have Google sheets. Any suggestions other than buy excel?
We purchased office 365 desktop PLUS 2019 edition for a pittance on eBay and have been using it for over a year with no issues. Excel is included.
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Old 02-14-2020, 07:32 AM   #12
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Pralana looks intersting but we only have Google sheets. Any suggestions other than buy excel?
The price looks too good to be true, but this eBay link for MS Office may be similar to ShokWaveRider's suggestion. $6.99 for MS Office Pro Plus 2019.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Microsoft-M...AAAOSwga9eDfnE
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Old 02-14-2020, 07:36 AM   #13
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The price looks too good to be true, but this eBay link for MS Office may be similar to ShokWaveRider's suggestion. $6.99 for MS Office Pro Plus 2019.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Microsoft-M...AAAOSwga9eDfnE
This was interesting. From the eBay link:

Quote:
eBay Policy States:
"OEM, bundled, or recovery software may be listed only if it is included along with the original hardware, such as the motherboard, hard drive, or computer sold with the OEM software." - Therefore, this sale includes the original broken beyond economical repair computer and motherboard.
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Old 02-14-2020, 07:39 AM   #14
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This was interesting. From the eBay link:
Ah, that's how they get around the license issue. Thanks.
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Old 02-14-2020, 07:57 AM   #15
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I have had a similar type excel spreadsheet for years. I have also compared it's results to various models over time and it's usually in the ball park. What I like about it most is it helps me identify areas of my financial streams that I do not fully understand. Leading me to more research on a particular subject. Every time I learn something new, I check to make sure my spreadsheet is correct and modify as needed.
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Old 02-14-2020, 08:31 AM   #16
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I created from scratch my own retirement planning spreadsheet that I have been using for a few years as it has everything I want and need with everything laid out the way I want it.
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Old 02-14-2020, 11:07 AM   #17
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Any survivors you should plan for?
Good catch, but for me, there are no survivors that need to be taken into consideration for this model so its pretty simple and straightforward.
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Old 02-14-2020, 11:35 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by SeattleRocks View Post


cost of living (linked to my actual budget spreadsheet which was cool)
emergency padding for each year
current post and pre tax investments
a standard rate of return on investment (I used a conservative 3.5%)
inflation rate (I used 3%)
tax rate for each year
Medicare kicks in at 65 (and reduces my cost of living budget)
SSN kicks in at 67 (used actual SSN projected rates)
IRA RMD kicks in at 72 (used the RMD calculator to get actual %)

I can play with the standard rate of return, inflation rate and cost of living by a click of a button. I also didn't purposely include my house or vacation house in the model nor do I have an investment properties. But I guess I could add it if I wanted in the future.
./.
Curious, what did I miss on the spreadsheet? I *think* FIRECALC does something like this already, but like I said before, I wanted to see the actual year by year data and be able to play with all of the factors to see how the model would change if inflation moved up or my cost of living went up etc.
A well crafted spreadsheet does give one a good, detailed view of the factors affecting retirement finances. One thing it doesnít capture or reflect is asset market volatity. While an average rate of return might be 3.5%, actual returns will be higher some years and lower others. How the portfolio is impacted by withdrawals in down years affects portfolio survival rate. This is very difficult to model on the spreadsheet and one of the important features of FIRECalc.
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Old 02-14-2020, 11:58 AM   #19
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A well crafted spreadsheet does give one a good, detailed view of the factors affecting retirement finances. One thing it doesnít capture or reflect is asset market volatity. While an average rate of return might be 3.5%, actual returns will be higher some years and lower others. How the portfolio is impacted by withdrawals in down years affects portfolio survival rate. This is very difficult to model on the spreadsheet and one of the important features of FIRECalc.
Totally agree. That's why I run many calculators including FIRECalc. For me it wasn't a perfect science I was after. Transparently, I found it was a really good exercise to go through to just learn and do some modeling and through it I became a lot more educated.

Things like massive downturns, negative interest rates, bond defaults, etc. etc. just aren't predictable.

For me, I am a worrier and my wife says I over think everything and FIRE for me was a complete psychological battle between the heart and mind. My career was my identity yet I know it was killing me with stress. Going through this spreadsheet allowed me to come to peace that we are going to be OK and have enough and now I at least have a plan.

I would encourage all people considering FIRE to go through this exercise and also utilize FIRECalc and other tools to sound up the thesis.
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Old 02-14-2020, 01:42 PM   #20
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IRA RMD kicks in at 72 (used the RMD calculator to get actual %)

[snip]

Curious, what did I miss on the spreadsheet?
I'm not sure what you meant by the parenthetical phrase, but your RMD is based on the prior year IRA ending balance and the divisor from the RMD table. Your actual RMD will therefore be dependent on what you predict your IRA balance to be, which will in turn depend on your rate of return assumption.

Since you asked, that's one of the things that you may have not coded correctly in your spreadsheet.

You're probably aware that the IRS may be publishing an updated RMD table sometime in the next few years which will probably have the effect of lowering the RMD amount (by increasing the divisors) to reflect the fact that people are living longer these days.
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