The end of July effectively marks my the completion of my second year of retirement. I retired having some idea of where I was going but no finely thought out plan. I knew the size of my portfolio, the risk of my portfolio, the expected reward. I really didn’t know my cost of living, so I started with an assumption of 10K/mo, about half of what my portfolio supposedly would support. It was a pretty good estimate but actually a little generous. My actual spending came in at about 9K/mo on the average.
I devised a method using Mint to accurately track my expenses. I also stress tested my budget to find out what tightening my belt actually felt like. Armed with real budget data and real variability data, I could then project what my need would be in full retirement. I look at my retirement in terms of epochs. Each epoch has it’s job to fulfill in my financial life. Prior to retirement was accumulation split into 2 sub epochs pretax savings and brokerage account savings. I maxed out my pretax to about age 50 and then realized what I was doing was maxing out my tax bill in old age. I had a brokerage and began aggressively funding the brokerage. I knew I had to move some money from TIRA to Roth to save myself from progressive taxation and living off brokerage money turned into cash was just he ticket. I also was fortunate to Tax Loss Harvest which helped my tax bill come Roth conversion time.
Epoch 2 was to retire. I completed my last SS payments, rustled up some health insurance, I was on Medicare the family on Liberty Healthshare, and said goodbye to my medical career. Epoch 3 was to map out a plan for Roth conversion, with the goal of converting the most TIRA at the least taxes. Epoch 4 was coming to understand how to optimize my portfolio. As I worked through the Roth conversions. I came to see partial Roth conversion was a more efficient model. In this epoch I subdivided my portfolio according to what I expected from each account type in retirement. I owned Brokerage, TIRA, Roth, Cash, Tax Loss Harvest and at age 70 I will claim SS. Each of these had their own tax treatment so I optimized along tax guidelines to minimize taxes as time passes in epoch 4 and this will further extend to epochs 5 and 6.
The brokerage mixed with tax loss harvest is the source of cash to live on while Roth converting and the money to pay the taxes of conversion. The TIRA provides funds to convert into the Roth. I discovered that leaving myself a small TIRA (500K) was most efficient. The small TIRA will contain money in stocks and bonds in a 20/80 ratio, which will have slow steady and controlled growth. I will let it go to RMD and the TIRA will act like an inflation adjusted annuity, throwing off a couple K/mo basically forever (at least till I’m dead and my wife is dead). My second source of income will be SS, first my wife will claim, then I will claim we will use it together and then upon my death she will claim survivor benefits. Topping of my income will be a little from the brokerage about a 2% WR or less. This setup will keep me in the 12% bracket for 15-20 years. The Roth provides insurance. It will remain closed to grow unmolested until there is an emergency. In an emergency it will fund the emergency without decimating the rest of the portfolio. Each account has it’s job protecting my future.
I analyzed how much I was going to need to live for the 20 years post full retirement using an inflation adjusted amount from my budget, which should be a fairly true estimate and it’s 2.7M inflation adjusted over 20 years. This is an important step because it ties need to reality in epoch 5. I have more than 2.7M so I have no need to over risk my portfolio. Less risk means a better chance of success. Living out those 20 years is epoch 5.
Epoch 6 happens when I die leaving my wife to fend for herself. When a spouse dies taxes can go up 2 brackets in addition to a loss of 1 deduction and part of SS income. Here is an instance where one might open the Roth. Also in the case of chronic debilitating disease the Roth serves it’s purpose as a money source. It took the better part of 2 years to make and implement this plan. This plan has a 99% chance of success despite its moving parts
Otherwise my life is full. My children fare well, my wife and I are closer than ever. I was dealt a little medical set back but am getting along in my recovery. My time is my own and there are a billion interesting things to do, including getting 8 hours sleep per day. The plan is unfolding precisely as planned. I picked a good time to retire. The economy is up as is my portfolio. The county is stable despite the news media’s insistence we are blowing up. I’m enjoying opining on his blog and others… I wouldn’t go back to work on a bet! Once optimized there’s nothing left to do but live a good life. Despite all my missives, hi jinx, conversions, tax payments and 2 years of spend down, I have more today than when I retired.
Life’s been good to me so far! We’ll see what the next year holds.