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Hi Speedy,

Would scenario 1 be able to catch up to scenario 2?

Scenario 1 never catches up to Scenario 2 until you take into account post-retirement tax saving.

(NOTE: I know there are other differences between Roth and Traditional - but I am ignoring them for now to determine merely which would give the most retirement income.)

I don't quite understand this because in order to determine which would give you the most retirement income one would have to take into account the post-retirement tax savings on the Roth account.

I have a different set of issues than you do, and 5 accounts that are/will all be treated differently tax-wise, either pre or post-retirement. I've used a lot of the online calculators, but none seemed to be able to take all of my unique circumstance into account, so I wound up building my own retirement calculator in Excel (I'm not a guru :-).

Also - for post-retirement tax estimating - any tips? Or should I just come up with this number out of thin air?

I can only tell you what I did: First I determined what my estimated living expenses will be in retirement. I started with my current living expenses, decreased those expenses I know I won't have (like a mortgage). Added expenses that I don't have currently (like medical). Once I had this number I applied a compounded inflation rate to it over the course of my lifetime (from right now to age 95). That gave me the amount I have to withdraw each year just to live. I then applied the current Federal tax tables to the withdrawal amounts (inflation adjusted) to determine total withdrawal needed. I've seen some calculators that adjust the tax rates for inflation, but since I've never seen the Feds do this in my lifetime, I'm not counting on it for my retirement. Naturally you have to estimate how much of each withdrawal will be taxable--easy for some accounts, i.e. totally taxable from a deductible contribution TIRA, totally non-taxable from a Roth, but if you have a non-deductible contribution TIRA or an annuity it gets more complicated. And unless you want to ignore Social Security completely, you have to calculate, based on what your taxable withdrawals are each year, how much of your SS will be taxable. As you can imagine, this can quickly become quite complicated.

I have a retirement spreadsheet that I downloaded from somewhere back in 2000. It uses 1999 tax rate tables, so you'd have to adjust these, plus quite a few other things if you'd like to use it. If you'd like I could email it to you, just so you have an idea what you're in for!


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