Retirement can be a daunting prospect for many individuals, especially when it comes to calculating expenses and income. In fact, most people do not know how much they need to retire. However, with the right guidance and tools, it is possible to break down the elements that go into that calculation using some actual numbers.
To start with, it is crucial to have a clear vision of what retirement looks like, including where you want to go and how much it will cost. Let's say, for example, that you need $80,000 per year to live the life you want, with some inflation adjustments. This figure should stem directly from your retirement vision. In the first year of retirement, you need $80,000, or $6,666 per month, including taxes but no more savings
Once you have established your retirement expense need, the next step is to calculate your withdrawal rate. The benchmark rule of thumb withdrawal rate is 4%, as suggested by Bill Bengen. This means that if you have a $2 million portfolio, you can withdraw $80,000 per year for 30 years. However, it is important to note that this is just a starting point, and there are more dynamic spending approaches that can make your money last longer. In addition, Bill Bengen's data only supports a 30 year retirement and is based off data that reflects the worst market scenarios.
It is also crucial to consider any fixed income sources, such as social security, that you may have. For example, if you are taking an additional $40,000 per year from social security, your retirement account distribution need would decrease from $80,000 to $40,000. This means that if you still use the 4% calculation, your portfolio should be $1 million.
However, it is important to remember that this is not the whole story. Unexpected expenses, also known as spending shocks, can occur during retirement, and it is essential to have a plan in place to deal with them. This is where a more dynamic spending approach, such as Guyton's guardrails, can be especially valuable. This method allows for bonuses on great years and a little pay cut on bad years based on the initial withdrawal rate.
Calculating retirement expenses and income requires careful planning and consideration of various factors, including your retirement vision, withdrawal rate, fixed income sources, and spending shocks. By taking the time to work through these elements, you can ensure that you have a solid plan in place to enjoy a comfortable retirement.
One important aspect of retirement planning that is often overlooked is preparing for spending shocks. These are unexpected expenses that can arise outside of your regular monthly or annual expenses. Examples of spending shocks include medical bills, home repairs, and long-term care expenses.
To prepare for these expenses, it is important to have a solid retirement plan in place that takes into account the potential need for additional funds. This means calculating your retirement expenses and income carefully, including your fixed income sources such as Social Security and any pensions you may have.
It is also important to consider your withdrawal rate, which is the percentage of your portfolio that you withdraw each year to cover your expenses. The common rule of thumb is the 4% rule, which suggests withdrawing 4% of your portfolio each year to cover your expenses. However, this may not be enough to cover unexpected expenses.
As analyst Wade Pfau describes, spending shocks can deplete your portfolio quickly if you are not prepared. For example, if you have a $1 million portfolio and withdraw $40,000 per year, your portfolio is already allocated to income. If you have a spending shock and need to withdraw a couple hundred thousand dollars, your withdrawal rate will increase, putting your portfolio at risk of depletion.
To prepare for spending shocks, it is recommended to add additional funds to your retirement plan. This means calculating how much you may need for unexpected expenses and adding that amount to your retirement savings. In the podcast, the speaker suggests adding potentially $450,000 to your retirement savings to ensure that you have enough to cover unexpected expenses.
In conclusion, planning for spending shocks is an important aspect of retirement planning that should not be overlooked. By taking the time to carefully calculate your retirement expenses and income and adding additional funds to your savings, you can ensure that you are prepared for unexpected expenses and can enjoy a comfortable retirement.