FIRE Projections Question

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Hristo Botev
Posts: 62
Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2018 3:42 am

FIRE Projections Question

Post by Hristo Botev » Mon Aug 06, 2018 9:27 am

How do I calculate whether money in non-tax-advantaged accounts will last us until we can access tax-advantaged retirement accounts?

Specifically, running some spreadsheet projections it appears that our quickest route to FI would be to aggressively attack our mortgage, putting about $5K/mo. extra towards principle, and about $3K/mo. into post-tax index funds; while also maxing out 401k plans, HSA, and kids' 529 plans. This would have our mortgage paid off by February 2022, and I think this would have us FI a little over a year later, in May 2023 (when I'm 45), when our PPI (excluding home equity and kids' 529 plans) would be enough to cover our monthly expenses (given that our housing expenses would no longer include P/I for a mortgage). But by focusing most of our non-retirement/non-tax-advantaged savings on the mortgage as opposed to post-tax index funds, the projections would have our index fund account at about $550,000 in May 2023. Acknowledging that this would be more than sufficient for many of the people on this forum to live off indefinitely, our expenses (even when streamlined) are nowhere near ERE standards, given we have elementary school kids and we choose to put them in parochial school, among other things.

Assuming our monthly expenses at FI (i.e., when I'm 45 years old, and my wife is 44) are as follows:
  • Housing: $960* (property tax, insurance, HOA, utilities)
  • Kids: $2,577 (tuition, aftercare,** 529 contributions, random school/extra-curricular stuff)
  • Everything else: $845 (phones, dog, food, consumables, car, clothing, entertainment, gifts, travel, internet)
  • Total: $4,382
And assuming that at FI we retire completely and have no additional income coming in (though the chance of that happening are about 0%), my question is: how do I figure out whether $550,000 will get us to whenever I can access tax-advantaged retirement accounts?

(*) Obviously, we have choices here. E.g., once our kids move from the school they are at to high school (in another part of town), we may choose to rent out our paid-off home and move into an apartment closer to the kids' high school. B/c our home is in a highly-sought-after public school district, I suspect we could get rent that would cover not only the $960 in housing expenses but also most of our own apartment rent, as the kids' high school is in a less desirous and therefore cheaper part of town--bringing our housing costs close to $0.

(**) Recognizing that we won't have to pay aftercare costs when the kids get older, I'm nevertheless continuing to factor in the number as I suspect that the aftercare money will get eaten up in kids' extra-curricular activities and other kids'-related stuff.

classical_Liberal
Posts: 375
Joined: Sun Mar 20, 2016 6:05 am

Re: FIRE Projections Question

Post by classical_Liberal » Mon Aug 06, 2018 10:34 am

Cfiresim, Firecalc, and Portfolio charts will all run historical passive asset allocation simulations for you. They vary in length and depth of data, so read up on the sites. In your case it might be beneficial to run two separate scenarios, one for posttax $ up until 60, and one 60 and later with pretax assets being allowed to grow (taking into consideration changes in tax obligations in withdrawal).

IMO, Portfolio Charts, in particular, can help you visualize how different passive asset allocations can be beneficial for each of your "buckets" based on the goals you have for those assets. Of course, these are only tools and the future will likely not mirror the past in exact fashion. Many here have, at least some, actively managed (some self, some not) assets as well.

Hristo Botev
Posts: 62
Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2018 3:42 am

Re: FIRE Projections Question

Post by Hristo Botev » Mon Aug 06, 2018 10:56 am

Perfect; that I was looking for. Thanks!

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Tyler9000
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Location: Austin, TX

Re: FIRE Projections Question

Post by Tyler9000 » Mon Aug 06, 2018 8:06 pm

FYI -- just because you have money in a tax-deferred account does not mean you are prevented from accessing it before normal retirement age. Google "Roth conversion ladder".

But to the spirit of your question, try playing with this withdrawal rates calculator: https://portfoliocharts.com/portfolio/withdrawal-rates/ Enter your AA, and it will show you the historical safe and perpetual rates for any investing timeframe. Since you'll be 45 when you plan to retire early, look at where the orange line intercepts the 15 year retirement length. That's the worst-case withdrawal rate (since 1970) that would have sustained your taxable portfolio until you had easy access to the rest of your money at 59.5. The future could always set a new worst case, but that's a pretty reasonable baseline to plan for.

Hristo Botev
Posts: 62
Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2018 3:42 am

Re: FIRE Projections Question

Post by Hristo Botev » Tue Aug 07, 2018 10:02 am

@Tyler9000: Thanks!

I suspect that this discussion is largely academic, as I really can't imagine that I'll get to 45 and both me and my wife will decide that we no longer want to work, at all, while we still have kids in the house. I think it's more about just knowing when we can officially deem ourselves to be FI.

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