Pleb's Journey to Financial Independence

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pf101
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Location: Portland, OR
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Postby pf101 » Sat Aug 04, 2007 7:29 pm

Baker wrote:I was just looking at the IRS site regarding "substantially equal payments" its a little more involved than just skimming interest off the account every year.


Boy is that an understatement. And, if you mess it up, the penalties can be huge - up to 50% of what you should have taken. SEPP can be great but be careful. If you're planning on retiring early, it's better to save more in a Roth or taxable since you can access that at any time.

pleb
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Postby pleb » Sun Aug 05, 2007 8:51 am

This doesn’t' seem as complicated as you guys are making it out to be. I do understand that you need to be careful to follow the rules and file all appropriate paperwork, but the 72(t) rules seem to be quite flexible and generous.

Let's do an example. Suppose for the next 11 years I save an inflation adjusted $15.5k/year in 401k, $4k/year in Roth, and $20k/year outside of retirement accounts. Suppose also that all accounts do not grow at all, they just keep up with inflation.

I would be 35 with:

401k: 19k (current) + 15.5k * 11 = 189.5k

Roth: 4k (current) + 4k * 12 = 52k

Non Retirement: 0 (current) + 20k * 11 = 220k

Total: 461.5k (in today’s dollars)

with 25 years to live before 59.5 with full access

Based on this calculator http://www.finance.cch.com/sohoApplets/Retire72T.asp at age 35 with $189.5k in 401k, I could throw off anything between: $3.9k/year (minimum required distribution) or $14.2k/year (fixed amortization with current max allowed reasonable interest rate). And I get to choose the amount, with the only problem being I'm locked into the choice until age 59.5.

I can also take out the $52k that I contributed to the Roth whenever I want. Say I take out $2k/year for 25 years. So each year I could get pretty much any amount I want to up to $16.2k/year from my retirement accounts (with the caveat that I can't change my amounts from year to year easily).

But there's not even any reason to start taking from the retirement accounts. The better strategy is to burn through all $220k of the money outside of the retirement accounts, taking me as close to 60 as possible. Hell, if the non retirement money ran out, I could then drain the $52k of Roth, and only after that start doing 72(t).

It's definitely true that if you had nothing but a 401k things could get tricky, but as it is there seems to be tons of flexibility to me. After running through this math, I'm more convinced than ever that it's reasonable to pretend that retirement accounts are accessible for the purpose of retirement projections.

PS: pf101 after re-reading your comment you do mention the importance of Roth and taxable for flexibility. This is another topic, but I think that even if you plan to retire very early, you still want to max available retirement accounts more than contribute to your taxable accounts (although you definitely want both). The crux of my argument for this is 1) tax advantages and 2) 72(t) seems quite flexible as expounded on above.

pleb
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September 1st Wallchart

Postby pleb » Sat Sep 15, 2007 5:15 am

Image

I'm pretty disappointed with how August went. I thought I would hit an all-time low in expenses without my $330 car payment and $85 student loan payment. Instead, I stayed about where I've been. The big unusual expenses were about $150 extra in food (I'm stocked up for September), $175 on exercise and hiking stuff that I've thoroughly enjoyed, and $100 at nucharge for a flier startup idea.

September is not looking like it will be particularly good either between my sister's wedding and a pair of $100 trail running shoes I'm just itching to buy. Perhaps in October I will drop below my $1666/month goal.

My income distribution pie chart has gotten worse and worse as the market dropped because I'm counting investment income as savings and counting investment losses against my savings. I reinvest my investment income automatically, so conceptually it is the same as savings to me, and if I'm going to count savings this way, I need to do the same with losses.

pleb
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October 1st Wallchart

Postby pleb » Mon Oct 01, 2007 6:15 pm

Image

September was a good month.

For the first time since I started tracking, I hit my expenses goal of spending less than $1666 per month, despite spending $200 on a wedding gift, $100 on trail running shoes, and $80 on an ipod shuffle. From this point on I believe I will be able to hit that goal every month except for months with significant unusual expenses such as my upcoming 15,000 mile car checkup or a foreseeable month in which I will purchase a new computer.

I started cooking my lunches this month which is healthier and cheaper.

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jdroth
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Postby jdroth » Mon Oct 01, 2007 7:44 pm

Wow. I like these charts. How are you producing them? Quicken can produce some nifty graphs, but not like your wallchart...

jac
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Postby jac » Mon Oct 01, 2007 9:24 pm

He said he's using Google Spreadsheets (/Excel). I'm pretty impressed with them too, I might start doing a couple for myself!

pleb
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Postby pleb » Tue Oct 02, 2007 6:17 am

jdroth wrote:Wow. I like these charts. How are you producing them? Quicken can produce some nifty graphs, but not like your wallchart...


jac wrote:He said he's using Google Spreadsheets (/Excel). I'm pretty impressed with them too, I might start doing a couple for myself!


Right, my charts are created by a Google Spreadsheet. The nice thing about Google Spreadsheets and Excel is that you can use them to do pretty much anything you can think of. The main downside is that the spreadsheets can take quite a while to setup.

What really tipped the scale in favor of Google Spreadsheets for me is the fact that I can update it from any computer with internet access. I've taken advantage of this many times, with updates from my work computer and dad's laptop.

Another nice thing about Google Spreadsheets is that it's improving much faster than Excel or Quicken or other tools. When I started, Google Spreadsheets didn't even have graphs.

A new feature of Google Spreadsheets that I haven't added yet is the ability to do lookup in Google Finance from a cell. This means that instead of checking the balance of my Roth IRA every month, I could just set a cell to be "=X shares of VTIVX" and it would automatically keep up to date. I don't know why I haven't set that up yet, because it sounds awesome.


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