Welcome to the board, SurfDaddy. I'm not Bob but I've saved one of his PMs that digs into the numbers for my hypothetical series of market returns. I've edited this for brevity & clarity but I've left the numbers alone. So heeeere's Bob:

"If a string of bad years ensues, you would be ratcheting dollars withdrawn down by 5% each year in nominal terms, __and__ therefore also eating inflation (having to make do without inflation adjustments).

The 95% rule historically has rarely kicked in more than a couple years in a row, so while the long multi-year grinding down would be painful, it has rarely happened.

First off, forget inflation in your calculations. My approach just goes with the SWR and the portfolio value.

Start with $1 million. Withdraw 4%, $40k, at the beginning of the year. The market is up 5% that year so $960k grows at 5% to $1,008,000.

2nd year, withdraw 4% of $1,008,000 = $40,320 leaving $967,680. The market grows at 2% through the year to $987,033.

3rd year, withdraw 4% of $987,033 = $39,481, leaving $947,552. The market gets whacked at -5% leaving you with $900,174 at the end of the year.

This is where the 95% rule would kick in for this year: A straight 4% of the $900,174 would be $36,006. Using the 'whichever is greater' approach, calculate that 95% of my last year's withdrawal of $39,481 is greater: it is $37,506. So withdraw that greater amount giving yourself a bit of a break. This guy is busy trying to earn $5k this year, to supplement his gap from $40k, as well as to compensate for four years of inflation that is starting to bite him. But he doesn't mind -- the $5k isn't much and he knows by doing this he is preserving his portfolio's survival rate much more assuredly than if he were gobbling away at his principal in order to provide himself a perfect inflation-adjusted annual spending rate while ruining his long run chances of financial survival.

To finish off that year, he takes $37,506 from $900,174 leaving him with $862,667. The market is up 6% so the portfolio grows to $914,427.

The next year, he takes 4% of $914,427, which is $36,577. This is greater than 95% of $37,506 ($35,630) so he goes with that and keeps his part time job for another year and hopes for one of those nice revert-to-mean years which will bring his portfolio back over the inflation-adjusted $1 million and get him back on track."

Nords here again: The 95% rule executed twice in a row becomes 90.25%, which is a pretty substantial whack, but by the second year it's entirely possible that you've put off the second Caribbean vacation and cut back on other expenses. (And note that the 95% rule might actually give you MORE money than your portfolio's straight 4% withdrawal rate.) Under Bob's system, with two bad years in a row, you might even have gotten a j-j-j-j-job to tide you over. (Sorry, I have a hard time saying that word without stuttering.) The idea is to not ER with such a thinly-capitalized portfolio that you have no room in the budget to cut back (or chase a paycheck) occasionally. Even the most anal retentive analytical of us engineers would add a fudge factor into our ER budget to account for surprises, so that 5-10% budget slack would hopefully ease the pain of having to implement the 95% rule two years in a row.

Now to the important question: Regarding your username, where do you surf?