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March 31, 2012


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Doug Nordman

I have one of those spreadsheets too! It feels good to do your own independent check.

When I started looking for mistakes in our numbers with financial advisors, it only took 2-3 phone calls to realize I was more on top of our situation than they were. One of them suggested keeping withdrawals below 3%. Sure enough, that worked on the spreadsheet and on our budget. That was the only nudge we needed.

Two years later I found Bengen and the Trinity Study and the rest of the research...


Ahhh, the spreadsheet. I have one. It sounds remarkably similar to yours. I find comfort in the construct. I find comfort in updating it. It takes me to 100, as yours did.

Hurray for the spreadsheet geeks!!!


I confess I leave "that" spreadsheet to my husband and our financial planner - my expertise is on managing and maximizing our annual retirement budget - but I do know it takes us to age 100, with a good chunk of change still left to pass onto our two daughters.

Our budget worksheet has allocations for absolutely everything, including an accrual for large ticket items like replacement vehicles, or major home repairs or remodels. I am confident we've taken absolutely everything into consideration in our budget, and left ourselves ample leeway to live well, but bob and weave as necessary.

Which begs the question as to whether we should spend more now instead of leaving our daughters an inheritance. The truth, however, is we are so satisfied with the lifestyle our current retirement budget provides it seems unnecessary to ratchet our spend upward at this point. Plus, I appreciate the peace of mind having a projected surplus provides at this point in the game (49 and 56 respectively).

Retired Syd

@Doug and CanadianMD: I suspect there are a few more of us spreadsheet-loving geeks out there too.

@Tamara: I've been reading your budget posts this morning, they are great and I'm directing readers there in my next post about building the budget. Just for the record, you may not have charge of this particular spreadsheet, but I think you still qualify as a spreadsheet geek with all that budget analysis.

And yes, not too many people view having money left over as a major concern, usually they are more concerned about the converse.


When I was getting serious about my ER back around ~2007, I expanded a crude spreadsheet o better estimate my budget in ER. I basically used my current budget but eliminated my commutation expenses and FICA taxes while increasing my outlay for health insurance. What I had to find in 2007-2008 was an individual HI policy which I could reasonably afford.

But, as I mentioned in a comment to one of Syd's other threads, my ER budget to get me to age ~60 when the first of my "reinforcements" would kick in would be the most important. I saw a surplus in the first few years but eventually a deficit in my late 50s but still leaving me greatly intact at that time. What I also did was to run a longer-term ER budget through Fidelity's Retirement Income Planner which gave projections through age 92. The main graph there showed me that the most difficult years would be those in my late 50s but after that my projected surplus grew a lot with SS and my frozen company pension kicking in.

I review this spreadsheet frequently, as I have different worksheets for both the short term (one year) and the medium-term as described above. The medium-term also has two inflation figures I can try out different scenarios - one for health insurance and medical expenses and the other for everything else. I can also separately assign different rates of return to each of my investments.

Having worked with spreadsheets for 23 years came in handy. Works well for me.

Chyna Wehunt

You look so blissful during your retirement years! I can tell just by looking at your photo… Btw, everyone will eventually retire. That's why it is advisable to secure a health insurance before it happens. My colleague just did, and she already has a source of income for her medical treatments, as she has a minor case of diabetes. I feel for her, and I'm glad she found a way through it.

Cara Larose

That's a brilliant idea. Making a spreadsheet to manage your retirement and financial accounts, would make it easier to check if you have the right accounting of your expenses and savings. It can also help you avoid buying unnecessary things. By the way, you look so jolly and beautiful in your photos. Good luck with your plans!

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