The topic I want to direct your attention to is the matter of spending budgets in retirement. The typical calculators direct us to input our investment account information and declare our expense budget. The output from these calculators shows us how much money will remain in the investment accounts at the end of our projected lives (another input parameter). This is incomplete and a bit backwards. What we really need to do is to identify all of our income streams and investment accounts, accurately define our expenses for housing and medical insurance, and project healthcare and/or long term care expenses in the future. Then, have the program determine our discretionary spending budget for our projected lives. We can then best consider how to use our assets to meet a standard of living within our means.
One way to rephrase the above is this: Don't tell me what your expenses are, let's instead determine what the discretionary expense level is that you can afford and not run out of money. When we know that we can consider 1) how do we want to spend our discretionary budget, 2) would we want to vary our standard of living while in retirement, 3) finally, that we have prepared for potentially significant expenses later in our retirement (before we spend all of our savings).
Being able to identify in advance the guidelines for spending over our life in retirement is the right way to proceed. This method helps us understand how and when to use our retirement savings to meet a standard of living we can afford. We should not rely on overly simplistic calculators, or rules of thumb such as spend 4% per year of our investment savings, and expect these to adequately prepare us to determine how much we can spend in retirement. One final note, you don't need an expensive financial plan to determine these guidelines. Contact me to learn more.