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<<Would everyone who wishes please post the highest yearly percentage they are comfortable withdrawing... at least in the early years of retirement? For purposes of keeping it simple, let's not take into account any cost of living increases in that percentage. (And, if yours is a real-life example, so much the better!)>>

Scott Burns has a column in the Dallas paper and he wrote some columns about sustainable withdrawal rates and the "Trinity Study" (as mentioned in an earlier post) - here's a link to his writeup of the study:

http://www.scottburns.com/wwtrinity.htm

As an example, a 100% stock portfolio invested for 25 years at a 7% withdrawal rate (adjusting the withdrawals for inflation and deflation) had a 59% success rate, meaning that 59% of the time for all 25-year periods between 1926 and 1995, you won't run out of money. If you wanted at least a 90% chance over 25 years, you'd have to withdraw 3 or 4%, no matter what the stock/bond mix. If you look at the period 1946-1995 instead and ignore inflation, you have a 100% chance of success at 7% with a portfolio of at least 50% stocks. There are a bunch more variations in the numbers, but basically you choose your assumptions and take your chances. If you get lucky with what year you retire, you have estate problems. If you don't, better make sure you're on good terms with your children.

For my money, I think the 5% withdrawal rate is a conservative target, so if I want 100,000/yr to live on, I'd want a 2,000,000 portfolio, with around 10-15% (2-3 years) in bonds or cash. If I can get a "mere" 11% a year for 25 years, I'll have something like $15 million left over, after my 100,000/yr withdrawals. (My calculator doesn't do fancy stuff like inflation-adjusted withdrawals; suffice it to say that even if my withdrawals increase, I'd better start giving it away if I don't want the government to take it.) As long as you don't hit some really bad years right at the beginning, the 5% withdrawal level seems sustainable indefinitely, no matter how long you live.

This is theoretical, though, as I'm looking at another 10-15 years of "accumulation" before retiring - so take it as just one fool's opinion.
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