Do you have a "survival" retirement number?

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Orange_Philosophy
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Re: Do you have a "survival" retirement number?

Post by Orange_Philosophy »

I have three retirement numbers.

All three use the same basic level of expenses but cover EVERYTHING I would need to "live" including an eating out budget, tolls, car maintenance, dog care, mobile phones, cable, internet, etc. These are my floor. My second two are amounts of money that I could "burn" each month based on an annual fixed withdrawal amount. The first is a somewhat generous monthly allowance and the second is a comfortable amount of spending money each month that I'd never want for anything given I don't have expensive tastes in cars or travel as I've already been there and done that.

I crossed the floor level about a year ago and I'm closing in on a moderate monthly allowance. I want to meet my stretch goal, though, and that will require the overall market to continue in the 7.5% nominal along with very modest continued investment for the next 3-4 years. If there is a significant pullback, I'll just work longer until it recovers.

Once in retirement, the slush fund will not always get spent and if the market tanks, I'll cut back to my floor.

I'm not going to continue beyond my "stretch" goal as I would much rather have some play money when I'm younger and more fit than lots of play money and too old to play.
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AerialWombat
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Re: Do you have a "survival" retirement number?

Post by AerialWombat »

Yes. $300,000.

Without context, that number means nothing to anybody but me. But that was long my survival number. Blew past it just a few years ago, and am well on my way to 10x that.
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AerialWombat
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Re: Do you have a "survival" retirement number?

Post by AerialWombat »

placeholder wrote: Thu Jun 17, 2021 1:00 am Why would you retire to a substandard life?
Some of us have been bankrupt and homeless. Having a floor that is kept in cash and near-cash helps us sleep better at night, knowing it’s enough to never put us back on the street.
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pseudoiterative
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Re: Do you have a "survival" retirement number?

Post by pseudoiterative »

Meg77 wrote: Thu Jun 17, 2021 10:50 am [...]
Stage 4 – Financial Security. You have enough investment income to cover basic, bare-bones living costs.
Stage 5 – Financial Independence. You have enough investment income to cover your current lifestyle.
Stage 6 – Financial Freedom. – You have enough investment income to cover BIG dreams and upgrade your lifestyle.
[...]
I like this framing. I suspect some people may get the largest increase in freedom going from stage 3 to stage 4, as in stage 4 one can quit a despised job and replace it with some other occupation that pays less but is a more rewarding and agreeable use of time.

edit: actually, i think maybe i don't have enough imagination. For some people the largest increase in freedom would come from hitting Stage 2 or Stage 3.

Fun example:
My cost of living was about $1000/month, and I was earning $1800/month. I did this for two years, and saved up $12,000. I was 22 years old.

Once I had $12,000 I could quit my job and become a full-time musician. I knew I could get a few gigs per month to pay my cost of living. So I was free. I quit my job a month later, and never had a job again.

When I finished telling my friend this story, he asked for more. I said no, that was it. He said, “No, what about when you sold your company?”

I said no, that didn’t make a big difference in my life. That was just more money in the bank. The difference happened when I was 22.
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calwatch
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Re: Do you have a "survival" retirement number?

Post by calwatch »

My survival retirement income is being able to live in my house paying current recurring expenses and not working. It includes utilities, home cooked food, insurance, and property taxes. It does not assume any cost cutting beyond current frugality, like switching to restricted data cell phone plans, cutting subscriptions, or limiting my diet to the cheapest food at the supermarket and fast food coupon deals. I assume that I would manage income for health care through the ACA, manage taxes by limiting myself to the 10% tax bracket, and take my pension early at 50, so I multiply that by 20 and it comes out to about $500,000. At 50, my pension would be more than sufficient to be a "survival" number, although I do anticipate to upgrade my lifestyle since I'm no longer tied down to a location within a reasonable commute of work.
placeholder
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Re: Do you have a "survival" retirement number?

Post by placeholder »

AerialWombat wrote: Thu Jun 17, 2021 11:06 pm
placeholder wrote: Thu Jun 17, 2021 1:00 am Why would you retire to a substandard life?
Some of us have been bankrupt and homeless. Having a floor that is kept in cash and near-cash helps us sleep better at night, knowing it’s enough to never put us back on the street.
What does that have to do with retirement?
1moreyr
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Re: Do you have a "survival" retirement number?

Post by 1moreyr »

RickBoglehead wrote: Thu Jun 17, 2021 8:06 am
Admiral wrote: Thu Jun 17, 2021 7:12 am
I don't think it's a pointless spreadsheet exercise to look at various very low RoR over many years and explore whether you can live reasonably well in retirement based on current savings rate and portfolio value. In fact I think it's useful. I know that I do not "need" to spend $40k a year on travel. I plan to do so, but that doesn't mean I can't live pretty well without doing it.
So you would consider retiring when you hit that lower number? Unlikely.

Big difference between identifying that some of your spending is not necessary and having a lower target. Yes, I have spending that I could cut out if I had to. No, I have no survival number.
It's not about retiring to be a pauper. I did this exercise myself when deciding to retire.. It's not about what I want to live on. it's what I can live on. If you are a conservative Boglehead, or fearful and stuck in the 1more year syndrome (note the screen name :oops: ) this can help get you over the hump.

if the market collapses by X% can I still survive? If the answer is yes, it's one more piece of data to make the leap. When March 2020 hit and my portfolio dropped $500-$600K I realized i could still retire and would be fine. This helped me leave Megacorp 5 months later. I took another gig (for one more year :D ) but that only has 6 months left.

So you can either run the numbers and see what the bottom is to get comfortable or wait until the next 100 year Pandemic (God forbid :shock: )
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etfan
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Re: Do you have a "survival" retirement number?

Post by etfan »

AerialWombat wrote: Thu Jun 17, 2021 11:02 pm Yes. $300,000.

Without context, that number means nothing to anybody but me. But that was long my survival number. Blew past it just a few years ago, and am well on my way to 10x that.
$300,000? I'm assuming other sources of income are in place to make that possible?
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AerialWombat
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Re: Do you have a "survival" retirement number?

Post by AerialWombat »

etfan wrote: Fri Jun 18, 2021 7:44 pm
AerialWombat wrote: Thu Jun 17, 2021 11:02 pm Yes. $300,000.

Without context, that number means nothing to anybody but me. But that was long my survival number. Blew past it just a few years ago, and am well on my way to 10x that.
$300,000? I'm assuming other sources of income are in place to make that possible?
Nope. I could survive -- the point of this thread -- on $300,000 for the rest of my actuarial life. And not just as a "bridge" to Social Security, either -- I'm talking without Social Security. And no, I don't mean living in a cardboard box under a bridge. There are plenty of Americans that scrape by on $10k a year in this country, and plenty that live well on $10k a year overseas, too. There are many other threads on frugal living, so I'll leave it at that. Or, just go read the Mr. Money Mustache blog.
Last edited by AerialWombat on Fri Jun 18, 2021 8:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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etfan
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Re: Do you have a "survival" retirement number?

Post by etfan »

dziuniek wrote: Thu Jun 17, 2021 7:14 am I mean, you're just asking for a lean retirement number.
A standard here will be impossible to compute for everyone, as everyone's cost of living is vastly different.
Additionally, your luxuries might be someone's bare minimums for retirement.
It does seem theoretically possible to compute.

1- House payment or rent
2- Car
3- Weekly groceries
4- Standard utilities.

That's it. You can exclude any special expenses due to disabilities or health conditions as those would be vastly different depending on the individual, but I don't think the typical baseline i described is unreasonable.

Everything else beyond that is specific to the individual's preferences and need not be part of the baseline.

Notice that No. (1) assumes the house is not paid off because the baseline by definition assumes zero assets (besides the baseline amount we're talking about).

We can also exclude Social Security and pensions. The point is: once we have that standard baseline number, each individual can then deduct from that number their specific situation (paid off house, pensions, etc) and also add to that number their specific needs (such as health conditions).

I think the number would be very useful as a "sanity check" for people, a starting point.
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dziuniek
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Re: Do you have a "survival" retirement number?

Post by dziuniek »

etfan wrote: Fri Jun 18, 2021 7:57 pm
dziuniek wrote: Thu Jun 17, 2021 7:14 am I mean, you're just asking for a lean retirement number.
A standard here will be impossible to compute for everyone, as everyone's cost of living is vastly different.
Additionally, your luxuries might be someone's bare minimums for retirement.
It does seem theoretically possible to compute.

1- House payment or rent
2- Car
3- Weekly groceries
4- Standard utilities.

That's it. You can exclude any special expenses due to disabilities or health conditions as those would be vastly different depending on the individual, but I don't think the typical baseline i described is unreasonable.

Everything else beyond that is specific to the individual's preferences and need not be part of the baseline.

Notice that No. (1) assumes the house is not paid off because the baseline by definition assumes zero assets (besides the baseline amount we're talking about).

We can also exclude Social Security and pensions. The point is: once we have that standard baseline number, each individual can then deduct from that number their specific situation (paid off house, pensions, etc) and also add to that number their specific needs (such as health conditions).

I think the number would be very useful as a "sanity check" for people, a starting point.
Then it's the expenses you listed times 25. Done.
Get rich or die tryin'
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etfan
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Re: Do you have a "survival" retirement number?

Post by etfan »

dziuniek wrote: Fri Jun 18, 2021 8:00 pm Then it's the expenses you listed times 25. Done.
We need that number, per state, per year, going forward 50 years or so to account for inflation. :)
mathwhiz
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Re: Do you have a "survival" retirement number?

Post by mathwhiz »

There are lots of reasons someone might have to do this. Any kind of black swan event could happen like your health goes and can't work anymore, or you can get divorced and lose half your money, you are laid off and your mental health spirals and you never recover and on and on and on...the world can be a cruel place filled with misfortune and misery.

Some easy things to do is sell your home in a HCOL area and move to a LCOL area. It might mean an adjustment in lifestyle but if you can extract home equity by downsizing housing costs and move to an area with lower costs and a simpler life it can greatly improve your finances. I'm sure someone selling a $1 Million home in NY to DC metroplex corridor and moving to Tennessee can extract some great quality of life improvements if they need to conserve cash.
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burt
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Re: Do you have a "survival" retirement number?

Post by burt »

MAKsdad wrote: Thu Jun 17, 2021 8:59 am I don't have different numbers for anything. Financially independent, to me, means that I can support the type of lifestyle I desire. Period. There's no "skinny" or "fat". I mean, if I have more than my minimum number, obviously I'll be able to spend more. But unless there was some crazy event, I would have no desire to retire into a lifestyle that was less than how I live now, while working.
+1
I retired when I had enough savings to maintain my working standard of living.
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Wiggums
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Re: Do you have a "survival" retirement number?

Post by Wiggums »

It’s possible that people had a retirement portfolio goal number, but had to evaluate the current portfolio balance upon job layoff or illness.

I would not project a minimum retirement portfolio value as a standard practice.
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wander
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Re: Do you have a "survival" retirement number?

Post by wander »

Yes, that is the sume of payments from our 2 SS and 1 pension accounts.
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dziuniek
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Re: Do you have a "survival" retirement number?

Post by dziuniek »

etfan wrote: Fri Jun 18, 2021 10:55 pm
dziuniek wrote: Fri Jun 18, 2021 8:00 pm Then it's the expenses you listed times 25. Done.
We need that number, per state, per year, going forward 50 years or so to account for inflation. :)
+ guns, ammo
+ anti-zombie plow for the truck
+ we can add masks to this now
+ calclulate the amount of lifestraws one needs in retirement

:twisted:
Get rich or die tryin'
Normchad
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Re: Do you have a "survival" retirement number?

Post by Normchad »

I have not figured it out concretely, but I do sort of think of these things. I wouldn’t plan to retire to a substandard life. But I do want to know “hey, if I got fired today and never worked again, would I be okay?” For me, that is why it’s a useful exercise.

When I was younger though. I thought of a minimum salary I needed to pay all my bills. It gave me a sense of peace knowing that if I had to, My wife and I could work full time at McDonalds and pay all our bills. Luckily it never came to that, but for me it was useful as well. And maybe thinking through that helped shape my behavior; as I am still reluctant to take on recurring expenses.
ikowik
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Re: Do you have a "survival" retirement number?

Post by ikowik »

Yes I do, in a way. Our "Essentials" number is a target to achieve, using inflation-linked safe income stream, that we can live on for long periods. But no frills. So it includes housing, taxes, groceries, transportation, health care, utilities and some wiggle room for miscellaneous items. I arrived at this number from tracking our itemized expenses over several years. No vacation, gifts. I know we can live on it as we have done it earlier in our life. So I started to relax once I realized we can meet this number using a pension, social security, TIPS and I-Bonds.

There is also a second "Essentials" number- this would the number for a survivor after one of us dies. I am the one who has a pension, and that will be cut to half for my spouse once I die; and she will have only one (my) social security income; and will be paying taxes at single-rate. This was the second number to hit using inflation-linked income streams.

The at-risk portfolio invested in the market is for "discretionary", nice-if-we-have expenses. Meeting the "Essentials" numbers allowed us to take on more risk with our investments.
bovineplane
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Re: Do you have a "survival" retirement number?

Post by bovineplane »

I dont have any real numbers. Course I dont plan all that far in the future. No idea how I know what tomorrow brings, next year, 10 years. Our income has increased steadily the last 10 years but it may not for the next 10.

My number has and always will be whatever number I have when I get there. We will save as much as we can until then. Whatever number I have when I retire will be my survival number.
lws
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Re: Do you have a "survival" retirement number?

Post by lws »

No. Never had a number. Lived frugally, saved like mad, and hoped for the best. Lady luck has been good so far.
MAKsdad
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Re: Do you have a "survival" retirement number?

Post by MAKsdad »

bovineplane wrote: Sat Jun 19, 2021 8:14 am I dont have any real numbers. Course I dont plan all that far in the future. No idea how I know what tomorrow brings, next year, 10 years. Our income has increased steadily the last 10 years but it may not for the next 10.

My number has and always will be whatever number I have when I get there. We will save as much as we can until then. Whatever number I have when I retire will be my survival number.
This only works if you plan to work until 65 though, right? I mean, I want to retire at 45, so it's pretty important to know the numbers.
Reamus294
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Re: Do you have a "survival" retirement number?

Post by Reamus294 »

We are 10 plus years out and just started an estimated lean, regular and fat fire that I’ll probably update yearly. The three options give me a range that makes me feel much better about vs one number. I am hoping it will help provide me some perspective as we get closer…what am I giving up now to be FI earlier, or is working a couple more years worth it down the line, or can we downshift the last few years. I can plan all I want but life is full of curveballs.
bovineplane
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Re: Do you have a "survival" retirement number?

Post by bovineplane »

MAKsdad wrote: Mon Jun 21, 2021 8:50 am This only works if you plan to work until 65 though, right? I mean, I want to retire at 45, so it's pretty important to know the numbers.
Not really. The issue is my lifestyle would have to adjust to whatever number I end up with. Unfortunately I cant predict the future. Id love to retire at 45 (few more years). Maybe Ill work until 65. My brother in law was diagnosed with oral cancer without any risk factors at 50. Mother nature gets a vote in my retirement timeline unfortunately.

My number will always be whatever it is when I retire. More obviously being better.
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etfan
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Re: Do you have a "survival" retirement number?

Post by etfan »

mathwhiz wrote: Fri Jun 18, 2021 11:13 pm ... or you can get divorced and lose half your money...
Just half?
Some easy things to do is sell your home in a HCOL area and move to a LCOL area.
Actually that was not even part of a "survival" plan but rather part of the normal plan.
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etfan
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Re: Do you have a "survival" retirement number?

Post by etfan »

Normchad wrote: Sat Jun 19, 2021 7:41 am When I was younger though. I thought of a minimum salary I needed to pay all my bills. It gave me a sense of peace knowing that if I had to, My wife and I could work full time at McDonalds and pay all our bills. Luckily it never came to that, but for me it was useful as well. And maybe thinking through that helped shape my behavior; as I am still reluctant to take on recurring expenses.
I need to do the path to figure out if Social Security plus McDonald's* is a viable survival retirement plan.

* For both food and work.
phxjcc
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Re: Do you have a "survival" retirement number?

Post by phxjcc »

etfan wrote: Thu Jun 24, 2021 7:47 pm
Normchad wrote: Sat Jun 19, 2021 7:41 am When I was younger though. I thought of a minimum salary I needed to pay all my bills. It gave me a sense of peace knowing that if I had to, My wife and I could work full time at McDonalds and pay all our bills. Luckily it never came to that, but for me it was useful as well. And maybe thinking through that helped shape my behavior; as I am still reluctant to take on recurring expenses.
I need to do the path to figure out if Social Security plus McDonald's* is a viable survival retirement plan.

* For both food and work.
Respectfully, the assumption that you can work AT ALL, anywhere at all, is not a good one to make.

Disability, illness and/or other issues may prevent you from doing so.

The number you need to figure is the number for simple homeostasis.....water, food, warmth, safety.
After that shelter would be good.
A permanent shelter even better.
Indoor plumbing would be great.
A motor vehicle even better.
Assuming you own your shelter and your vehicle a modest amount, definitely below $1,000 per month, is doable.
I did it for two years--after I was disabled and sick, payed off, and did not know when I would be seeing any income.
A treat? Carl's, Jr. when they had coupons.....but only once a month.

"You don't know what you can do until you are forced to do it."

Therefore, I have very little patience with the Princes and Princesses on this site that cannot conceive of "making do" with less than $3 million in retirement.

Pull-eeeze.
dboeger1
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Re: Do you have a "survival" retirement number?

Post by dboeger1 »

Seeing as how homeless people survive with essentially no income, technically not much is needed at all. I guess one interesting alternative is for those interested in homesteading. With paid off land and the ability to grow and harvest one's own food, expenses could be close to just property taxes. Whether that's really a meaningful distinction is up for debate considering the opportunity cost of buying land and supplies and the similarity between produce and income. I think the difference is more in the level of independence/sustainability/self-sufficiency/resilience/isolation/etc. as opposed to actually financial optimization. My wife and I have discussed buying some land to grow our own food on in retirement because we enjoy growing and cooking fresh vegetables, and I think it would be cool to minimize our dollar-based food budget in retirement, but I also don't think that would be any more optimal to just investing and buying groceries except in the most unlikely disaster scenarios resulting in food shortages. I do think it could be one of those things where you derive significant benefit from replacing just part of your experiences, like maybe we wouldn't cut out groceries completely or try to go totally off the grid, but instead aim to grow >80% of our food and then meet the rest of our demands from our investment portfolio. This would significantly reduce the risks of both external food shortages and the challenges of disconnecting entirely from mainstream society. I think it's be pretty awesome to have both a sizable investment portfolio but also core expenses of just a few thousand dollars per year.
Paul78
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Re: Do you have a "survival" retirement number?

Post by Paul78 »

Three*

First one is an age which is 62. If I work until 62 my pension plus social security (starting at 62) would sustain my lifestyle. So even if I go crazy with my investments and lose everything I can still retire at 62 and live whatever I have left maintaining my current lifestyle.

2nd one is also an age 57. This is when I can retire and keep my health insurance and be able to start collecting my pension immediately. I already (assuming my current investments at least keep pace with inflation) have enough saved to be able to retire at 57 and have a slight bump to my lifestyle.

5 million (in todays dollars). If I reach that number I would feel confident just to retire off of that. But to be frank that number is basically impossible for me to reach as my investments are too conservative for that type of number.

*in my current situation as unmarried with no kids. Obviously the math will change a ton if either of those two change.
Paul78
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Re: Do you have a "survival" retirement number?

Post by Paul78 »

dboeger1 wrote: Thu Jun 24, 2021 8:58 pm Seeing as how homeless people survive with essentially no income, technically not much is needed at all.
I would presume the OP meant more a number you could live an "acceptable" lifestyle off of. And yes some people can do that off of little more than property tax (ie those that live basically 100% off the land) and some would want 500k a year to spend. Just depends on what you personally find "acceptable". I highly doubt anyone that post on bogleheads would find homelessness acceptable.
MoonOrb
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Re: Do you have a "survival" retirement number?

Post by MoonOrb »

No, this doesn't help me plan and this isn't the type of thing I have anxiety about so this type of framing isn't necessary for me as some type of coping mechanism.
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etfan
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Re: Do you have a "survival" retirement number?

Post by etfan »

phxjcc wrote: Thu Jun 24, 2021 8:51 pm Therefore, I have very little patience with the Princes and Princesses on this site that cannot conceive of "making do" with less than $3 million in retirement.

Pull-eeeze.
It was a tongue-in-cheek comment. I actually have previously reached the sad realization that it takes $3 million.
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etfan
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Re: Do you have a "survival" retirement number?

Post by etfan »

MoonOrb wrote: Thu Jun 24, 2021 9:27 pm No, this doesn't help me plan and this isn't the type of thing I have anxiety about so this type of framing isn't necessary for me as some type of coping mechanism.
On the one hand, I am baffled by the comments that say this concept is useless. Even if you consider it nothing more than a milestone, it seems like a nice milestone to identify and reach.

But on the other hand, I also understand why they feel that way. I've also been thinking that perhaps the "survival retirement number" is WHATEVER the number is when you retire. Presumably, you reached that number and you failed to reach your desired number. At that point point, you just have to work backwards: Look at what that number is, and figure out how to survive! What other choices will you have then? So, in that sense, the number may be useless/meaningless today.
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Padlin
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Re: Do you have a "survival" retirement number?

Post by Padlin »

I came up with a "needs" and a "wants" number when determining how much I needed to retire as opposed to an X number that many here use. The wants was what I based my bridge amount till SS kicks in @ 70.

8 years later, the market being what it has been, the bridge bucket now contains both needs and wants. Although I find it nice to know our SS will cover our "needs".

I'm taking it my needs is your survival.
Regards | Bob
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JoeRetire
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Re: Do you have a "survival" retirement number?

Post by JoeRetire »

etfan wrote: Thu Jun 17, 2021 12:26 am Investment planning often revolves around a certain amount of money you need for 25 years to meet your desired standard of living.

I wonder if anyone also figured out a few other numbers that can be used as milestones prior to reaching the desired number.

For example, one milestone could be the desired number minus vacations and other luxuries, but still includes the basics of middle class living (car and decent house). Perhaps a milestone far below that would be a survival number where you don't need food or housing government assistance (!) but you can't afford much else.

These numbers should also be standard and not dependent on anyone's specific case (if we exclude desired luxuries and chronic medical conditions). But they are obviously dependent on the location where the person will be retiring.
I'm not sure I understand the point.

If you have a "number" that equates to a comfortable retirement, you would strive for that.
Of course if circumstances dictate, you'll need to settle for less. Why is another number useful? What would you do differently with these other numbers that you wouldn't do without them?
Just remember: it's not a lie if you believe it.
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Re: Do you have a "survival" retirement number?

Post by pennywise »

MAKsdad wrote: Thu Jun 17, 2021 8:59 am I don't have different numbers for anything. Financially independent, to me, means that I can support the type of lifestyle I desire. Period. There's no "skinny" or "fat". I mean, if I have more than my minimum number, obviously I'll be able to spend more. But unless there was some crazy event, I would have no desire to retire into a lifestyle that was less than how I live now, while working.
+1

When we (I)* started planning our retirement financial profile, the number was what would provide a life fully equivalent to the one we were living pre-retirement: expenses covered, niceties/luxuries included, a bit left over to go into the saving account. IOW, a seamless transition from employment money stream to retirement money stream. And we (I)* wanted to fund that lifestyle by relying on our steady income sources: two pensions and two social security benefit.

So far-two years in-it is working out great. We are about to start spending in a big way for a full house remodel and new cars, but the funds are in place and income continues to be on track and sufficient. If we need additional resources, we have additional income sources that are financial backstops but again, we don't need to count on that to accomplish our financial retirement goals.

*As long as there is money to buy gas for the boat and to repair the boat, my husband considers his financial plan complete in its entirety :wink:
MAKsdad
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Re: Do you have a "survival" retirement number?

Post by MAKsdad »

bovineplane wrote: Thu Jun 24, 2021 6:30 pm
MAKsdad wrote: Mon Jun 21, 2021 8:50 am This only works if you plan to work until 65 though, right? I mean, I want to retire at 45, so it's pretty important to know the numbers.
Not really. The issue is my lifestyle would have to adjust to whatever number I end up with. Unfortunately I cant predict the future. Id love to retire at 45 (few more years). Maybe Ill work until 65. My brother in law was diagnosed with oral cancer without any risk factors at 50. Mother nature gets a vote in my retirement timeline unfortunately.

My number will always be whatever it is when I retire. More obviously being better.
But if you know what number you need to maintain your current lifestyle, you can make an informed decision about whether you can retire at 45, 55 or 65.

I certainly wouldn't feel comfortable retiring at 45 unless I knew that I could maintain my current lifestyle...which means I need to have a "number" in mind, and not just leave it to chance.
MoonOrb
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Re: Do you have a "survival" retirement number?

Post by MoonOrb »

etfan wrote: Fri Jun 25, 2021 12:32 am
MoonOrb wrote: Thu Jun 24, 2021 9:27 pm No, this doesn't help me plan and this isn't the type of thing I have anxiety about so this type of framing isn't necessary for me as some type of coping mechanism.
On the one hand, I am baffled by the comments that say this concept is useless. Even if you consider it nothing more than a milestone, it seems like a nice milestone to identify and reach.

But on the other hand, I also understand why they feel that way. I've also been thinking that perhaps the "survival retirement number" is WHATEVER the number is when you retire. Presumably, you reached that number and you failed to reach your desired number. At that point point, you just have to work backwards: Look at what that number is, and figure out how to survive! What other choices will you have then? So, in that sense, the number may be useless/meaningless today.
Yes this is basically how I see it. I will never choose to retire at a "survival" level so it does not help me to know what this level is because I won't be planning for it. The only time I'll ever find myself in a "survival" retirement is if I am unable to work. In that case, retirement will essentially be forced upon me and I'll have to survive with whatever I have.

I imagine there can be an emotional or psychological benefit to realizing that you're approaching or have crossed over some imaginary threshold where, if you could not work/generate more income again, you could exist in some type of subsistence mode. I think that's great for people who feel like knowing this helps them! But there are, I am guessing, lots of us out there who don't get any meaningful comfort or satisfaction from this. So I feel like if it is helpful in any fashion for people to contemplate and calculate this "survival" number, they might as well do it.
dknightd
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Re: Do you have a "survival" retirement number?

Post by dknightd »

I think you should plan to survive no matters what happens.
If you value a bird in the hand, pay off the loan. If you are willing to risk getting two birds from the market, invest the funds. Retired 9/19. Mortgage payed off 5/21. I have some 0% loans to pay off.
Marseille07
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Re: Do you have a "survival" retirement number?

Post by Marseille07 »

MoonOrb wrote: Fri Jun 25, 2021 9:42 am Yes this is basically how I see it. I will never choose to retire at a "survival" level so it does not help me to know what this level is because I won't be planning for it. The only time I'll ever find myself in a "survival" retirement is if I am unable to work. In that case, retirement will essentially be forced upon me and I'll have to survive with whatever I have.

I imagine there can be an emotional or psychological benefit to realizing that you're approaching or have crossed over some imaginary threshold where, if you could not work/generate more income again, you could exist in some type of subsistence mode. I think that's great for people who feel like knowing this helps them! But there are, I am guessing, lots of us out there who don't get any meaningful comfort or satisfaction from this. So I feel like if it is helpful in any fashion for people to contemplate and calculate this "survival" number, they might as well do it.
Yeah, unless one actually plans to walk, a survival number doesn't mean much. I'm probably there already but I don't feel comfortable with this knowledge.
Charon
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Re: Do you have a "survival" retirement number?

Post by Charon »

etfan wrote: Thu Jun 17, 2021 12:26 am These numbers should also be standard and not dependent on anyone's specific case (if we exclude desired luxuries and chronic medical conditions). But they are obviously dependent on the location where the person will be retiring.
You appear to be asking about federal poverty guidelines: https://aspe.hhs.gov/2021-poverty-guidelines

For example, for one person in the contiguous 48 states, using a standard 25X multiplier, this number would be $322,000 in 2021. (This would decrease with expected money from Social Security.)

Now, when people on this forum say that they could just barely get by on a number 3x higher than this, they appear to be mistaking "survival retirement" for "lean FIRE". Lean FIRE means having an okay life, but scaling back from what you have right now. This is very dependent on the person and what kind of life they're used to. "Survival retirement" means you are housed and not starving. (Also, it doesn't depend on where you live, because if you can't survive in the Bay Area, then you move. You can't be picky when trying to survive.)

The utility of contemplating such a number is breathing a sigh of relief when you pass it. Nobody would choose to FIRE at this number.
Last edited by Charon on Fri Jun 25, 2021 3:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Topic Author
etfan
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Re: Do you have a "survival" retirement number?

Post by etfan »

Charon wrote: Fri Jun 25, 2021 3:05 pm You appear to be asking about federal poverty guidelines: https://aspe.hhs.gov/2021-poverty-guidelines

For example, for one person in the contiguous 48 states, using a standard 25X multiplier, this number would be $322,000 in 2021. (This would include any expected money from Social Security.)

Now, when people on this forum say that they could just barely get by on a number 3x higher than this, they appear to be mistaking "survival retirement" for "lean FIRE". Lean FIRE means having an okay life, but scaling back from what you have right now. This is very dependent on the person and what kind of life they're used to.
Is it fair to assume that an average/standard "Lean FIRE" number for most people would be 3 x $322,000 (adjusted for inflation)?
Charon
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Re: Do you have a "survival" retirement number?

Post by Charon »

etfan wrote: Fri Jun 25, 2021 3:11 pm Is it fair to assume that an average/standard "Lean FIRE" number for most people would be 3 x $322,000 (adjusted for inflation)?
The median individual income in the US is a bit over $30k/year. So I'd say use that times 25 for an average FIRE (and probably call it lean, since most people aren't saving too much or living in too much luxury).

The median income on Bogleheads is noticeably higher than this.
flyingaway
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Re: Do you have a "survival" retirement number?

Post by flyingaway »

Maybe I can see it as a minimum number that I might encounter AFTER I retire when a market crash hits. We also need to assume that the market may stay that low for a period of 10 years.

That number is a half of my number at the retirement.
pasadena
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Re: Do you have a "survival" retirement number?

Post by pasadena »

No. I'm not really willing to "just survive". I do have a "rent for life" number when my normal, target number includes buying a home with no mortgage upon retirement.
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