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Quick Skips:
0:32 Health Care & ACA considerations
1:52 Which spreadsheet to use
2:25 Reviewing my retirement budget & expenses
6:52 Income side of retirement budget
7:50 importance of making it personal
8:08 discussion on my SWR
9:01 expenses are factored post tax

When you realize that retiring early is not only possible but within reach for anyone you will be motivated to start cutting your lifestyle and saving as much as you can. Once that initial excitement wears off you’ll realize that some of those cuts are not sustainable for the next 50 years of your life.

Most bloggers and content creators in the FI/RE community focus on your retirement having a similar spend rate and budget to your current lifestyle, but is that realistic for everyone?

For me, my retirement expenses will be drastically different than what I spend today. Today I spend a lot on food while traveling for business, far more on transportation, having contractors work on my home and other conveniences that I willingly pay more for while I can make money rather than do them myself.

When I retire, I intend to focus more on outdoor recreation, doing home improvements myself, buying and maintaining a hobby car, cooking from scratch and far less travel than I do now. In other words; my spending in retirement will look nothing like what I spend today.

In this video we will create a retirement specific budget where you can dream big for all the awesome activities you will have time to focus on when you don’t have to worry about a paycheck.

Setting realistic expectations for a 40+ year retirement is crucial
Be honest with yourself on what you would want to spend
Be conservative with variables such as health care
If your income is low enough under today’s rules you may qualify for heavy subsidies – don’t plan on this though
Use a budget tool to plan
I use 2 different budget documents – 1 for NO house payment, 1 for a house payment
Let’s look at my goal retirement budget – The one without a house payment
Before we jump in too hard it’s worth noting that I am planning on a 4.5% or 5% safe withdrawal rate. This is because I have a pension that I am not factoring in at all. If I were to cash it out I would go below the 4% SWR and if I let it ride will cover 75% of these expenses at age 60.
You’ll see that many categories are very personal to me and that’s important
I like to break things down into deep detail to help me get my high level number
I originally had entertainment much lower but once I listed everything out I realized it needed to be much higher to be realistic
I prefer to list expenses as averages rather than getting every month exactly right.
Since I plan on having a 2 year cash buffer there is no reason to get each month exactly right – the whole year is what’s important rather than getting each month exact
Everything here post tax – With a low enough income and leveraging the ROTH conversion ladder I expect to have minimal taxes and my entire budget is after tax.
Everything here is pretty close or even higher than my current spending –
Once you fill in all your categories go over to the summary page and see how much you intend to spend
You can then go back and make changes if needed
Then the math is simple – Calculate that amount with a safe withdrawal rate of 3-5% based on your situation and that’s your goal number. As soon as you have that saved you are done forever.

Using a budget calculator that is specifically designed for your retired lifestyle will make you much more confident that your goal number is accurate.

It can be easy to have the goal of living as lean as possible so you can reach the goal faster but it’s important to be realistic of what amount you need to lead a happy and fulfilling life for 40-50 years of retirement. If you need 1-3 years of additional work to ensure that lifestyle is the one you want then that is worth it compared to the time you’ll reap those benefits.


Ramsey Solutions financial expert Chris Hogan on how Americans can set a budget, tackle their debt and boost their retirement savings.

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