Realistic retirement numbers
Now mid-career, I have been doing some math and adjustments to my retirement planning. One question that always gets asked is ‘When can I retire?’. This first boils down to ‘How much money do I need to have to retire’ (then in what ways can I arrange/distribute that money in a tax/minimal penalty way)
You read a lot about FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early) folks that are ‘retiring’ in their 30’s. I say ‘retiring’ in quotes because it’s not your traditional retirement. The idea is that you carefully examine and reduce expenses to the point you are saving up to 70% of your income, and then retiring when your expenses reach the return on savings/investment. While there are variants, many folks are retiring on around $1M (or even less) in the 30’s to 40’s.
As a frugal person myself, I have been intrigued by the FIRE movement, but often found their calculations and assumptions to be very optimistic. Aggressive FIRE calculations work well in low-inflationary, 8% return markets we’ve had for the last 20 years. They do much worse in high inflation and lower returning markets that are being predicted the next 5-10 years.
Enter Brian Fry, a certified financial planner, who ran a bunch of interesting simulations to give you a much more realistic set of values if you want to retire at certain ages to ensure income well into retirement. I found his assumptions (listed in the artcle) to be MUCH more realistic than the $1M and retire numbers that I often see come out of FIRE calculations.