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EdLaFave

What does FIRE community say about required portfolio size?

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There has been a lot of FIRE talk here recently and I’m reading some of their blogs.

What does the FIRE community say about how many years worth of expenses you need to retire at, let's say, 35?

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I’ve created a few detailed budgets that are based on historical personal data and might reflect how my life unfolds.

Depending on the budget used, I’ve got somewhere between 27-34 years worth of expenses, which would represent a withdrawal rate between 2.9% and 3.7%.

I haven’t thoroughly read the FIRE community, but it seems they’d declare me financially independent.

I tend to agree with that, but the conservative part of me feels it would be “safer” to have 32-42 years of expenses, which would represent a withdrawal rate between 2.4% and 3.1%.

Any thoughts or insights?

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In case anybody stumbles on this monologue thread, my initial analysis seems to indicate that with a stock heavy portfolio:

A normal retiree can be safe by withdrawing 4% of their portfolio per year. This is widely known and conventional wisdom that the data/math supports. 

An early retire can most likely be safe withdrawing 3.5% of their portfolio per year, but it seems to me 3% is really where you want to be if you can force yourself to work a bit longer.

...I’ve read folks argue that 4% is still safe for early retirees, but for a variety of reasons I won’t get into, I disagree. I agree that 4% is likely to be successful but a hypothetical 51% chance of success is both likely and unacceptably risky. So from a safety perspective, I personally wouldn’t feel comfortable at 4% as an early retiree.

...a final note from my initial analysis, even small differences in the withdrawal rate have a big difference. So if you retire, especially if you’re young, and safety is important to you...then you need to watch your budget closely, much more closely than you may have in your working years.  

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