Variable Percentage Withdrawal (VPW) for Canadians

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Re: Variable Percentage Withdrawal (VPW) for Canadians

Post by AltaRed » 24 May 2014 22:07

Shakespeare wrote:
With some planning and saving, there's no need to worry so much about retirement
Bill Bernstein pointed out a number of years ago that there is no point in planning above about 80% confidence because stuff happens in the other 20%.
My experience has been way off anything I would have imagined 10-15 years ago pre-retirement. A divorce, new location, new partner. Now spending perhaps twice as much as pre-retirement and doing so intentionally. That wouldn't work for those without the flexibility/resources to do so but I think the point is many things can and do change in retirement as I have also witnessed with friends and acquaintenances my age.
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Re: Variable Percentage Withdrawal (VPW) for Canadians

Post by Sugerman » 24 May 2014 22:13

Shakespeare wrote:
If one holds a majority of their savings in a registered (tax-deferred) plan, then one loses some control over the amount(s) withdrawn after a certain point.
Although that is true, there is no need to spend the excess: that is, it's a taxation issue not a withdrawal issue.
Very very true! In fact, it occurs to me that perhaps an "optimized" withdrawal strategy will seek to extract additional funds early in retirement whereby the excess could be held in a TFSA until the later stages of retirement. This plan really only works if you happen to have large enough room in your TFSA to hold the excess amounts that you don't spend. If your TFSA isn't large enough, you could still keep the excess in a non-registered account.

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Re: Variable Percentage Withdrawal (VPW) for Canadians

Post by longinvest » 24 May 2014 22:13

Springbok wrote:
longinvest wrote: One definitely does not need as much as 70% of pre-retirement income during retirement to preserve the same living standard.
Hmm - I know that is what some people say. But I think it is a myth for many.

I can't think of anything we spend less on in retirement.
Same or higher house expenses, same or more cars, same food and drink. But having more time, we spend a lot more on many things like recreation and travel.

Those 70% or even 50% figures that are quoted probably assume we are still paying off mortgages , putting kids through school etc. But Pre-retirement to me is the period from say 50 to 65. By that time we have already disposed of many of those expenses and are hopefully accumulating the savings we need to retire.
We're in the second half of our 40's. With our paid-off home, our annual spending is now less than 50% of our combined take-home paychecks (after all deductions, including taxes, pension contributions, and more) without depriving ourselves. We're just relatively frugal. We invest the rest. Based on this, it is obvious that we definitely won't need more 50% of our gross income in retirement to preserve our current standard of living. Of course, we would happily enjoy a higher standard of living if we had more than 50%! We just don't need to worry so much about it.
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Re: Variable Percentage Withdrawal (VPW) for Canadians

Post by freedom_2008 » 24 May 2014 22:54

I think that Springbok possibily mistook "longinvest" 70% of pre-retirement income as 70% pre-retirement spending , by what he said "I can't think of anything we spend less on in retirement.".

Of course one has to spend less than ones income, to be able to retire early. We spent about 1/4 of our after-tax income when we were working, and live the same life style with similar amount spending now in retirement (about 1/2 of our portafilio generates, have no pension, and still are some years away from CPP and OAS).

If one always needs less than what ones' investement generates (via dividends, interests, coupons, and CG, but NOT the market gain on paper), why would the person even need to worry/think about the withdrawl rate during the retirement?
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Re: Variable Percentage Withdrawal (VPW) for Canadians

Post by SQRT » 25 May 2014 09:58

Springbok wrote:
longinvest wrote: One definitely does not need as much as 70% of pre-retirement income during retirement to preserve the same living standard.
Hmm - I know that is what some people say. But I think it is a myth for many.

I can't think of anything we spend less on in retirement.
Same or higher house expenses, same or more cars, same food and drink. But having more time, we spend a lot more on many things like recreation and travel.

Those 70% or even 50% figures that are quoted probably assume we are still paying off mortgages , putting kids through school etc. But Pre-retirement to me is the period from say 50 to 65. By that time we have already disposed of many of those expenses and are hopefully accumulating the savings we need to retire.
Agree. I think most people do their best to save for retirement but when the time comes(often not of their choosing) they do the best with what they have. For many this will be 50-70% of pre retirement spending, but through necessity not choice. Others, (many on this forum) have planned better and find themselves able to spend more in retirement then before. We are truly lucky to be in this position.

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Re: Variable Percentage Withdrawal (VPW) for Canadians

Post by SQRT » 25 May 2014 10:08

freedom_2008 wrote:
If one always needs less than what ones' investement generates (via dividends, interests, coupons, and CG, but NOT the market gain on paper), why would the person even need to worry/think about the withdrawl rate during the retirement?
Probably right although in theory divs could decline and create the need to spend "principal" . However, if you only spend "income from your portfolio" the bigger issue becomes what to do with your legacy. In our case we are also in this position but I keep deferring the question of legacy by thinking I will at some future time find something worthwhile to spend more on. Been retired for 8 years now and apart from more realestate(got enough now) new cars, travel, etc which are still within the portfolio income, the only thing looming is assisting my daughter buy a house in very expensive Toronto. If the equity market continues strong over the next 20-30 years legacy would be unreasonably large. Good problem to have.

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Re: Variable Percentage Withdrawal (VPW) for Canadians

Post by steves » 25 May 2014 12:09

Another issue comes to mind..... how do you handle discontinuities and windfalls such as a loan finally being paid off in 10 years time, or a future inheritance? or do you?
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Re: Variable Percentage Withdrawal (VPW) for Canadians

Post by longinvest » 25 May 2014 12:49

The whole idea of VPW is to not die with a huge pile of unspent money, as we are not interested in leaving a huge inheritance. A spend interest and dividends or a constant-percentage of current portfolio plan was not a good match for us; that's why I worked on developing a different plan.
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Re: Variable Percentage Withdrawal (VPW) for Canadians

Post by longinvest » 25 May 2014 12:52

steves wrote:Another issue comes to mind..... how do you handle discontinuities and windfalls such as a loan finally being paid off in 10 years time, or a future inheritance? or do you?
How do you plan for a future inheritance? Do you know when people will die, and how much will be left by that time (maybe they'll need expensive care before dying)?

Personally, I do not plan for unexpected windfalls. I try to do the reverse: plan for unexpected disasters (house and car insurance, long-term disability insurance, etc.). Even VPW is actually a plan for surviving unexpected bad markets without crippling spending during good years.
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Re: Variable Percentage Withdrawal (VPW) for Canadians

Post by chufinora » 25 May 2014 14:40

Longinvest - thank you for posting this. I have a couple of questions comments about the sheet:-

1. When using the Canada data set am I right in assuming % domestic stock is Canadian Equity, and that US stock is considered international?
2. The default asset allocation assumes no cash? i.e.. what is not equity is bonds part of my strategy is to hold 3-5 years of cash to cover market dips - so I put this ahead of bonds. (One can argue cash in HISA is really FI but I think in your model the return rate is different.
3. I think it would be useful to have a random returns option - whereby the years are randomized. I want to get a feel for what my sequence of returns risk is.
4. What is the simulation statistics box returning? (Median and minimum inflation adjusted values)

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Re: Variable Percentage Withdrawal (VPW) for Canadians

Post by steves » 25 May 2014 15:14

longinvest wrote: How do you plan for a future inheritance? Do you know when people will die, and how much will be left by that time (maybe they'll need expensive care before dying)?
Some people have a very good knowledge of such a future inheritance, and for those who don't, there is always the 'what if' option. Or how about the situation where the subject can quantify future events..... such as selling the family cottage or downsizing their PR.
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Re: Variable Percentage Withdrawal (VPW) for Canadians

Post by longinvest » 25 May 2014 15:16

chufinora wrote:Longinvest - thank you for posting this. I have a couple of questions comments about the sheet:-

1. When using the Canada data set am I right in assuming % domestic stock is Canadian Equity, and that US stock is considered international?
Domestic = Canada
Iternational = 50/50 US/EAFE
2. The default asset allocation assumes no cash? i.e.. what is not equity is bonds part of my strategy is to hold 3-5 years of cash to cover market dips - so I put this ahead of bonds. (One can argue cash in HISA is really FI but I think in your model the return rate is different.
I don't model cash, as I assume that emergency funds and cash reserves are not part of the portfolio.

It's also simpler to come up with an inflation-adjusted growth trend for the portfolio (for VPW's calculations), as the loss trend of cash is very dependent on unpredictable very-long term inflation.
3. I think it would be useful to have a random returns option - whereby the years are randomized. I want to get a feel for what my sequence of returns risk is.
That looks difficult to do in a simple macro-less spreadsheet. Maybe you should ask Norman Rothery to add a VPW spending model to his nice Asset Mixer. :D
4. What is the simulation statistics box returning? (Median and minimum inflation adjusted values)
For each chart year, it tells you about the inflation-adjusted median and minimum withdrawal amounts for the (complete or incomplete) retirement starting on that year.
It tells you what was the inflation-adjusted minimal withdrawal during the simulated retirement, as well as the median of inflation-adjusted withdrawals.

The actual simulation, on the left, shows nominal dollars, as year-to-year CPI numbers exhibit an unreal volatility that is not really experienced by the retiree. That's why I also show a nominal withdrawal graph that includes a separate inflation line.
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Re: Variable Percentage Withdrawal (VPW) for Canadians

Post by longinvest » 25 May 2014 15:53

steves wrote:Some people have a very good knowledge of such a future inheritance, and for those who don't, there is always the 'what if' option. Or how about the situation where the subject can quantify future events..... such as selling the family cottage or downsizing their PR.
That makes sense.

Here's a proposition. For simplicity, let's assume that I'll receive $100k in 10 years at age 65 (and that I'm now 55), and that I use a 50/50 asset allocation.

VPW tells me that, at age 65 (with 35 years of depletion), I can withdraw $4,840 (4.8%) from a $100k portfolio on the first year.

Then, I would try to figure out the required portfolio size to bridge the 55-64 years. I would enter a depletion period of 10 years in VPW to get a start percentage of 11.6%. This would give me $4,840/11.6 = $41,724. I would round that up to $45k, and I would set aside this part of my portfolio (keeping it invested 50/50) and apply a 10 year VPW on it, until I get the $100k.

Of course, this assumes that I want to deplete the money and that I have, otherwise, secured other streams of income to cover the basics, as the withdrawals won't be fixed at $4840 per year; they'll vary up and down, depending on markets.

Would that work?
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Re: Variable Percentage Withdrawal (VPW) for Canadians

Post by CROCKD » 25 May 2014 16:24

Longinvest
chufinora wrote:1. When using the Canada data set am I right in assuming % domestic stock is Canadian Equity, and that US stock is considered international?
I have downloaded and did a test run with the spreadsheet.
How can I make this a Canadian version such that % domestic stock is Canadian Equity
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Re: Variable Percentage Withdrawal (VPW) for Canadians

Post by longinvest » 25 May 2014 16:28

CROCKD wrote:Longinvest
chufinora wrote:1. When using the Canada data set am I right in assuming % domestic stock is Canadian Equity, and that US stock is considered international?
I have downloaded and did a test run with the spreadsheet.
How can I make this a Canadian version such that % domestic stock is Canadian Equity
I don't think that I understand your question. Currently, Domestic is 100% Canadian when you select the Canada data set, and 100% US for the Simba and Shiller data sets.
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Re: Variable Percentage Withdrawal (VPW) for Canadians

Post by CROCKD » 25 May 2014 16:47

Sorry. Just noticed that there was an option on the spreadsheet to select the Data Set under Backtesting Parameters.
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Re: Variable Percentage Withdrawal (VPW) for Canadians

Post by freedom_2008 » 25 May 2014 16:51

longinvest wrote:The whole idea of VPW is to not die with a huge pile of unspent money, as we are not interested in leaving a huge inheritance. A spend interest and dividends or a constant-percentage of current portfolio plan was not a good match for us; that's why I worked on developing a different plan.
I see and I think I finally get it :) .

SQRT wrote: Probably right although in theory divs could decline and create the need to spend "principal" . However, if you only spend "income from your portfolio" the bigger issue becomes what to do with your legacy. In our case we are also in this position but I keep deferring the question of legacy by thinking I will at some future time find something worthwhile to spend more on. Been retired for 8 years now and apart from more realestate(got enough now) new cars, travel, etc which are still within the portfolio income, the only thing looming is assisting my daughter buy a house in very expensive Toronto. If the equity market continues strong over the next 20-30 years legacy would be unreasonably large. Good problem to have.
Just a couple days ago, someone who was very sick asked me, "what is the saddest thing in life?" I thought it would be living without love and/or to be loved. So I was shocked when he told me what he thinks; it would be dying without spending all the money he has. I understand some, as he is never married and has no children of his own, but couldn't underatnd why it is sad to leave money for others to use, if one does not need all. Plus he seems to be in contstant worrying that others would "steal" his money and how would he spend them everyday.

We did give lots when we were working, as we were making good salaries and my company matched 1:1 (plus the company founder matched another 1 to a limit) under a cap. We do give now as well when we see a need, and probably will do more when we get older. So far we only have spent time to plan and make sure that we have enough to live on before we stopped working, but having left over is never a problem with us, good or bad. That is why I didn't quite understand about this withdrawl rate thingy, thought it is a self-created stress and work, unless one has relatively tight (to what they need) retirement funding, forced or planned.

Now I understand that for some, they may not want to leave any, redardless they need the fund or not (and for some others, they may want to leave a certain amount).

p.s. Life is short, if we keep living in the constant worrying between do we have enough and how much do we leave or not to leave, it would be a bit too much for us (ourselves). :wink:
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Re: Variable Percentage Withdrawal (VPW) for Canadians

Post by SQRT » 26 May 2014 09:38

Leaving a large legacy needn't be a concern for some (most?) people. It is just that a lot can be accomplished if some planning goes into it. For example, is there a charity or two that might really accomplish good things, or is an heir in need of funds, or should a scholarship be established, or a foundation created? Obviously the more you might leave, the more you might think about this. My issue is timing and quantum. We currently have a relatively large portfolio all in equities that could easily multiply by 3-10 times over the next 30 years if we don't sell any stock. Probably too much to leave to a single heir without some planning as to how it would be used.
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Re: Variable Percentage Withdrawal (VPW) for Canadians

Post by AltaRed » 26 May 2014 10:30

I think other than setting aside some funds for certain family members where it would be specifically helpful for them (a boost to the daily struggle but not enough to cause them to slack off), funds not otherwise likely to be needed by oneself should be given away while alive to favourite causes. One can get a lot of satisfaction of out seeing one's favourite causes benefit from generous donations. I already have 3 local organizations on my list in the few short years we have been in our current location, and once I have done a bit more research on them and have become a bit more involved personally, I foresee providing them with generous annual donations.
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Re: Variable Percentage Withdrawal (VPW) for Canadians

Post by SQRT » 26 May 2014 16:05

AltaRed wrote:I think other than setting aside some funds for certain family members where it would be specifically helpful for them (a boost to the daily struggle but not enough to cause them to slack off), funds not otherwise likely to be needed by oneself should be given away while alive to favourite causes. One can get a lot of satisfaction of out seeing one's favourite causes benefit from generous donations. I already have 3 local organizations on my list in the few short years we have been in our current location, and once I have done a bit more research on them and have become a bit more involved personally, I foresee providing them with generous annual donations.
Agree with your sentiment but I think the challenge is knowing how much you need and thus how much is surplus and can be given away when alive. This also makes "just spend the income" problematical in that giving money away will reduce your income which you may need. So a safe withdrawal scheme or variable withdrawal scheme still seems necessary at some point I think.

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Re: Variable Percentage Withdrawal (VPW) for Canadians

Post by AltaRed » 26 May 2014 16:19

True, but I was mostly responding to your prior comments about not knowing what to do with your surplus. I know there is a lot of grey between 'getting by' and having a 'comfortable cushion', but there has to be a point in one's later years especially where, if one does not spend all one's investment income each year and the unrealized capital gains continue to accrue, it makes a whole lot of 'feel good' sense to start doling it out in a measured way on an ongoing basis.

Legacies (and the size of them) tended to be a badge of pride, honour and/or bragging rights especially amongst the older generation, e.g. my parents for example, but I would hope most of today's baby boomers would have a different frame of mind.
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Re: Variable Percentage Withdrawal (VPW) for Canadians

Post by SQRT » 26 May 2014 16:46

AltaRed wrote:True, but I was mostly responding to your prior comments about not knowing what to do with your surplus. I know there is a lot of grey between 'getting by' and having a 'comfortable cushion', but there has to be a point in one's later years especially where, if one does not spend all one's investment income each year and the unrealized capital gains continue to accrue, it makes a whole lot of 'feel good' sense to start doling it out in a measured way on an ongoing basis.

Legacies (and the size of them) tended to be a badge of pride, honour and/or bragging rights especially amongst the older generation, e.g. my parents for example, but I would hope most of today's baby boomers would have a different frame of mind.
Well put. For now we are just spending the income and watching the portfolio grow. I am only 63 and spouse 56 so hopefully we have a while to decide what to do. The size of my daughters inheritance is certainly not something I am trying to maximize although I would certainly like to give her something that would give her more freedom and fulfillment. As I said, good problem to have.

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Re: Variable Percentage Withdrawal (VPW) for Canadians

Post by like_to_retire » 26 May 2014 17:00

AltaRed wrote:True, but I was mostly responding to your prior comments about not knowing what to do with your surplus. I know there is a lot of grey between 'getting by' and having a 'comfortable cushion', but there has to be a point in one's later years especially where, if one does not spend all one's investment income each year and the unrealized capital gains continue to accrue, it makes a whole lot of 'feel good' sense to start doling it out in a measured way on an ongoing basis.
We've talked about this before, and I remember disagreeing with you somewhat, especially on the wisdom behind doling out money now to your children so you can appreciate and enjoy the effect it has on their lives while you're still alive. I suppose if you were super rich, it may not matter, but for many of us who find that their yearly budgets are quite a bit lower than their income and often toy with perhaps giving away the surplus to their children, I think you need to be careful about stretching yourself in light of the fact that you may need a bucket of money for health reasons. You probably won't, but why not cover yourself until you pass on, and whatever is left, the kids or whoever can have the leftover?

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Re: Variable Percentage Withdrawal (VPW) for Canadians

Post by AltaRed » 26 May 2014 17:17

I am not thinking about children/family nearly as much as I am about organizations that could use some ongoing help on a regular basis. Not necessarily big dollars but something that would help keep them viable on an ongoing basis.

Examples of a few of my current favourites:

http://www.myra-trestles.com/ We and guests bike this and other sections of the railbed.
http://www.kettlevalleyrail.org/ I might throw in money to help buy rolling stock and/or additional new track as part of a major fundraiser
http://www.burrowingowlbc.org/
http://www.sorco.org/
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Re: Variable Percentage Withdrawal (VPW) for Canadians

Post by Springbok » 26 May 2014 17:32

The Million Dollar Journey Blog also thinks we can retire on a low % of pre retirement income.

http://www.milliondollarjourney.com/how ... -think.htm

I think he is quite young. Wait until retirement actually comes :)

PS: He uses the 4% rule, which given the rest of the guesses that have to be made seems reasonable to me.

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