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OK, orv, I'll produce the data, though I hope you will understand that I prefer not to use actual dollar amounts. I hope the following will make sense and answer your questions. BTW, the only reason I can do this is because I'm completely anal and have years of budget and portfolio data. I've been retired 4 years. Not a long time, but it's been a bumpy one portfolio-wise, and I'm still comfortable. I think I've gotten more experience in those 4 years than I would have if I had retired in a "quieter" decade.

HOW much does one need to start with

I started with 29 times my budget (at the time). I'm a bit risk adverse, so I padded my budget and my portfolio. I didn't want to do bare bones on 4%. Besides, I plan to live more than 30 years and my portfolio does not match the S&P 500. Both of those aspects lowers the max withdrawal rate.

how you have fared since you started

Yep, my portfolio is down a bit, just like lots of people's. Right now I'm at about 26.5 times budget, but remember, my budget is still padded. I haven't stinted my lifestyle in any way, though, over time, my spending tends to go down. As with most people, the scary things are unknown costs coming out of the blue. This is one reason for the budget padding. For instance, my spending is down 12% from last year. Even though we've added a family member (adorable grandson) other costs didn't materialize: pet costs were normal (no amputated tails this year) and my 14 year old Acura (135,000 miles) was a good girl among others. I did spend more on charity and a new dining room table (growing family). Taxes were way down, and I wouldn't be surprise if this goes with the economic cycle. Like a lot of people, I prefer to sell stocks near their tops <g>, so I didn't have a lot of capital gains this year - mostly dividend income. I'm part of the LTBF school (long term buy and forget). Taxes are actually the hardest thing to budget because it can be so erratic year to year.

So I'm still perfectly comfortable with living off my portfolio. And I think I'm reasonably covered for the future - DH agrees (he does his own stock analysis), and he's never heard of intercst. Something catastrophic would change that, of course, but I don't think any percentage would be "safe" then.


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