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Assume you were forced to retire at 55 and not at your choosing. Gov't considers it best that people over 55 have paid their dues and jobs are for the younger generation only. What is the minimum annual withdrawal number you think would be tolerable for you if your significant other was gone. Household of 1. Use 2019 numbers. Includes pensions, SocSec, Savings, everything.

Again, not what number you would like to have -- but at what point do you not think you could manage below.
I could be happy < $35k
$35-$45k
$46-$55k
$56-$65k
I'd need more than $65k for sure

Click here to see results so far.

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Interesting question, and one that DH brings up from time to time. He points out that his father lived on less than $20k per year, but he was disabled and made use of every available program out there which really helped. When this comes up because DH cannot believe that I've budgeted for us to spend so much in retirement, I always ask if he wants the life his Dad had to live on that amount.

My Dad and his wife also live on a very low amount, though more than FIL, and do quite well. But they also live in senior housing (not assisted living), so I know it is possible to live on a lot less than what we have budgeted, but we choose not to do that.

If you want to know what you can live on as a minimum, then I'd do a straw man budget to see where the money will go.
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Way too many variables to pick a specific number or range. I recommend you reframe your question to exclude some variables such as: no mortgage and no rent payment, no car payment, include or exclude retiree healthcare coverage. You included SS but SS doesn't start at 55 so it isn't really relevant. Your pension may be more than enough at 55 to cover the minimum. In my experience working with those that receive government pensions, the basic needs are easily covered for an individual. Heck, air traffic controllers often have six figure pensions with forced retirement at 57.

If I were to assume no mort, rent, or car payment and that I was going to receive a retiree govt healthcare plan, then I would assume the "minimum" (which is very different than your "I could be happy" choice), to be roughly $25k.* If I had to pay for my own healthcare and all my income was taxable as income, then I would probably need an extra $5k to meet basic needs.

*I am further assuming low(ish) property taxes of 1-2% of property value and no McMansion.

What would make me happy in the same situation (and who is happy with the minimum?) would easily be double to triple that.
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For both of us, I've budgeted $68,000 for retirement. I somewhat naively figure that I can live on 1/2 of that, given a few small sacrifices. I would move into a smaller place, hence lower utilities, lower property taxes & insurance. I would only keep one car. There aren't too many categories that I couldn't cut in half or close to it. So, yeah, I think I could make do on around $35k if I needed to.
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I currently live on less than $35k/yr. That includes some disposable expenses. I don't feel held back by income.

Single, share an apartment, paid off car, LBYM. Health insurance is covered.

I could get by on $20k. I think that would not really be a happy place, though.

If I lived alone and had to cover health insurance, $35k would be ok. But not much room for "disposable expenses".

🙂
ralph
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If I didn’t have to worry about health insurance or anyone but myself, and didn’t plan on traveling much, I could easily make it on $20k a year or probably even less. But I happen to live in a very low COL area; my property tax, for example, is only about $500 a year. House is paid for, etc. Hopefully if I need a new roof or something like a big car repair in this scenario, I’d have some $$ in reserve to take care of it.

Health insurance—although some on this board don’t think it’s important—is the big unknown for me and is what keeps me from knowing my true number. I have a rough idea of what an ACA policy would cost.
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well, the question is a bit wrong. First, it asks what you get by on. Then the first answer is "I could be happy with".....

Getting by and being happy are not the same!

When I was doing extensive retirement planning before I retired (using some on line calculators no longer around), I ran scenario after scenario of what could happen - from interest rates of 2% to 10%, to stock market returns of 2% real to 8% real (above inflation), etc.

I had three living scenarios...all involved staying in my current 4 bedroom house (paid for)......

1) Absolute min budget. Eat at home 95% of the time. One car and drive it till the wheels fell off. Almost no travel other than one trip a year at holiday time back east. No cable, no newspapers, no magazines, cheapie cellphone, no new ham radio stuff. Internet but cheapie. (there were dial ups back then)..... That was in 1999 about $30,000 and it covered basic housing costs, utilities, taxes, health coverage ($500 a year back then), dental exams, etc.

2) Mid level budget - have money to eat out several times a week, lots of travel by car, newspaper, magazines, cable TV, cellphone/data plan, maybe international trip every now and then Lots of hobby equipment (ham radio stuff), etc....... $45-55K

3) More than that..... $>55K...... all the fun I wanted, whenever I wanted, wherever I wanted.....ham radio goodies, etc.


and it turned out that at that time, even with a 1968 type date retirement (the worst case year to retire)........ I was in case #3 barring some even worse calamity.

But I ran all the scenarios and budgets just to see.

If I sold my house and second car, moved to a lower cost of living place, I could probably get by on $25,000 a year but it would not be so fun. SS and one pension provide that.

Of course, now the RMD kicks me well above case #3 plus......then I add on investment income.

Can't complain too much. Life is good. Still kicking at going on 73.

when I got out of college, I lived on $9,280 a year salary and saved 1/3rd of that paying off car and student loan.....but that was a while back.....


t
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At 55 I’ll still have 3 kids to support (eldest will be a freshman in college)... > $65k
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I could be happy < $35k

It's a difficult question, because cost of living can vary significantly across the country.

For myself, I've gotten most of my withholding back almost every year for the past 13 years (when I quit working), usually with just the standard deduction. My taxes are easy. Just five 1099's every year (RMD, SS, INT, DIV). 90% of my savings is in IRAs, so taxable INT and DIV are minimal.

But even when I was last working, my living expenses were about $700 to $800 per month. My major expense was $300 for my association dues. My nephew now lives in my old condo and tells me that is just over $350 now.

It helped that my major recreations were reading, TV, movies, music...all of those are far cheaper today, between streaming services and Kindle books.
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My wife can spend >$65k/year by herself.

--Tom
:-((((((((((((((((((
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Mehhhhh . . . Most people would learn to live on what they had to. What's the option? To die?

I lived for many years with very little money, so I know I could. But I'm not in the least bit interested in finding out how little I could live on now.
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Mehhhhh . . . Most people would learn to live on what they had to. What's the option? To die?

</snip>


Talking about the "Magic Number", one thing that has fascinated me is how few things I'm finding of value to spend money on.

For example, I could easily afford a $4,000 Business Class ticket on a 10 hour flight where Economy costs $1,500. But, is that crappy little lie-flat bed in Business Class really worth an extra $2,500 on a 10 hour ride? Maybe it makes more sense to book a $1,000 night room in London to sleep off the affects of the flight and save $1,500 (not that I'd spend $1,000 on a hotel room.)

I might pay an extra $200 for a lie-flat bed, but not $2,500.

intercst
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Intercst:"or example, I could easily afford a $4,000 Business Class ticket on a 10 hour flight where Economy costs $1,500. But, is that crappy little lie-flat bed in Business Class really worth an extra $2,500 on a 10 hour ride? Maybe it makes more sense to book a $1,000 night room in London to sleep off the affects of the flight and save $1,500 (not that I'd spend $1,000 on a hotel room.)

I might pay an extra $200 for a lie-flat bed, but not $2,500."

--

I second that. For a 10 hour flight, you're normally going to get served dinner...an hour after take off - so they can push drinks meantime........then you get dinner and by the time it is done, you are 2 hours plus into the flight. THen it's dim lights and snooze time for 4-5 hours not that you can sleep all that well on a plane....then they wake you up after 5 hours to give you a breakfast and coffee.......and then make preparations for landing 45 minutes before you land since likely it will be half an hour at slower speeds getting into some EU airport. So you are 10 hours into your trip. Then you land and it might be 2 hours to get your bags, get through customs and wait for a train into downtown London. So you are now 14 hours into your trip. By the time you get to downtown London, it is 15-16 hours into the trip.

Depending how you did it, it might be getting dark soon - and you'll be trying to figure out whether it is time to sleep or not. so you grab some dinner.

Then you try to sleep. It's 5 or 6 or 7 or 8 time zones.....and it takes about 1 day per hour to adjust to the new time zone. it will be a couple days till you are in sync.

Next day is not much better but keep busy.....you'll be ready for bed at 5pm.....

Yeah, I could fly business class too.....but not for a 250% premium. Think once I flew business class to EU for work.....but most of the time it was economy......

Got upgraded once to first class on a JAL flight from Tokyo to Bangkok.....very very nice....just had economy seat.....but economy was fully booked so they moved me to business class....then to First Class..... only 5-6 hour flight but enjoyed it........

Now, I really think twice about even thinking of airline travel. Just too much hassle for what you get. Have seen enough EU.....and the ABC tours - Another Bloody Church...Another Bloody Castle.....Another Bloody City Center........after you've seen 20 of each.....no need to go to Prague to see their 'castle' and 'church'...... and 'city center'...... or any other city.

Seen the canals of Hamburg and Amsterdam. No need to go to Venice to see theirs. Or their church.

I travel and stay at Days Inns and Super 8 and similar. Attend a few conventions at Hiltons (at convention rates, typically $80-$100 a night). Not going to spend $130-$180 a night for a motel room that I use for 10 hours at most.....plus the Hiltons and such don't even include free breakfast.....

The best deals: Nice Super 8 in El Paso TX...still under $50/night...... Super 8 Fredericksburg TX......under $45 including breakfast. Most are now $60,70,80 and sometimes even 90 bucks a night.

Oh...well Alaska can run you $150 at the Motel 6 in Anchorange and $165 at the Super 8. Same for Fairbanks Super 8.....maybe even higher now. Haven't been there in 10 years.....


t.
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I might pay an extra $200 for a lie-flat bed, but not $2,500.

That one really grates on you, doesn't it?

I say if you don't find value in it, don't purchase it. Some people spend their money to purchase airplanes, some buy guns and ammo, some like to eat out at expensive restaurants, some buy new cars every one or two years, some pay landscapers to mow their lawns and trim their trees and shrubs, some buy hundreds of channels of expensive cable/satellite TV 'entertainment', . . . Others horde the surplus produced by their investments and take pride in not increasing their lifestyle to match their investment earnings. (They will be happy to die with the most, I guess).

It seems like adults with their own money can spend it (or not) however they want. And since we're all different, it makes sense that we'll all see different values in different things. For example, the travel experiences you seek and schedule constraints you have may be absolutely without any value to other travelers and vice versa.
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Talking about the "Magic Number", one thing that has fascinated me is how few things I'm finding of value to spend money on.

For example, I could easily afford a $4,000 Business Class ticket on a 10 hour flight where Economy costs $1,500. But, is that crappy little lie-flat bed in Business Class really worth an extra $2,500 on a 10 hour ride? Maybe it makes more sense to book a $1,000 night room in London to sleep off the affects of the flight and save $1,500 (not that I'd spend $1,000 on a hotel room.)

I might pay an extra $200 for a lie-flat bed, but not $2,500.

intercst


In terms of the actual plane ride - it is never, ever worth it.

I'm nearly 6'4" and have flown across the pond (Atlantic) more times than I can count over the past 28 years. My long legs have never fit in coach/economy, but who cares? I sit there regardless. Can we say "Hello, man spread city!"? 8-10 hours of a transatlantic flight is well worth any discomfort for me compared to paying any extra money in spite of being able to afford upgrades. Even on occasion when they gave me a "free" upgrade, it was seriously not that different. Meh. I could sing an opera the next day in either country no matter what I went through on the plane due to the lack of legroom and difference in food service.

Instead, invest the difference in price over the course of a travel/working career and it is amazing what a few extra inches length/width robs one for returns over decades of returns.

Glad to hear that many companies forbid their employees from flying business or 1st class. Those are the companies I want to invest in as they are watching their expenses.
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BruceBrown writes,

Glad to hear that many companies forbid their employees from flying business or 1st class. Those are the companies I want to invest in as they are watching their expenses.

</snip>


Some 35 years ago when I worked for Exxon, we flew First Class on international trips. But I always said I be willing to split the cost of the upgrade with the company and fly coach, if they'd give me the cash.

intercst
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"I might pay an extra $200 for a lie-flat bed, but not $2,500.

That one really grates on you, doesn't it?

I say if you don't find value in it, don't purchase it. Some people spend their money to purchase airplanes, some buy guns and ammo, some like to eat out at expensive restaurants, some buy new cars every one or two years, some pay landscapers to mow their lawns and trim their trees and shrubs, some buy hundreds of channels of expensive cable/satellite TV 'entertainment', . . . Others horde the surplus produced by their investments and take pride in not increasing their lifestyle to match their investment earnings. (They will be happy to die with the most, I guess).

It seems like adults with their own money can spend it (or not) however they want. And since we're all different, it makes sense that we'll all see different values in different things. For example, the travel experiences you seek and schedule constraints you have may be absolutely without any value to other travelers and vice versa. "

*****************************************************

Methinks you'd enjoy the Living Below Your Means board.
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Methinks you'd enjoy the Living Below Your Means board.

???
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I second that. For a 10 hour flight, you're normally going to get served dinner...an hour after take off - so they can push drinks meantime........then you get dinner and by the time it is done, you are 2 hours plus into the flight. THen it's dim lights and snooze time for 4-5 hours not that you can sleep all that well on a plane....then they wake you up after 5 hours to give you a breakfast and coffee.......and then make preparations for landing 45 minutes before you land since likely it will be half an hour at slower speeds getting into some EU airport. So you are 10 hours into your trip. Then you land and it might be 2 hours to get your bags, get through customs and wait for a train into downtown London. So you are now 14 hours into your trip. By the time you get to downtown London, it is 15-16 hours into the trip.

When someone basically says flying in coach on long flights is not big deal, I usually find out that person is short.

PSU
who is tall
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Methinks you'd enjoy the Living Below Your Means board.

I fly in business on most international flights and I do live below my means.

Methinks you need to find a place for your broad brush.
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one thing that has fascinated me is how few things I'm finding of value to spend money on.

If you are into teeny computers and teeny electronics stuff, you can find lots of value for dirt cheap these days. Aliexpress mainly, banggood, but also sometimes ebay.

Raspberry PI credit-card computer for $3.14 (on sale) to $30. Microcontroller computers for $1.50 to $5 (ESP8266 & ESP32) *complete* with WIFI and Bluetooth. Audio modules for $0.50, stereo amplifier (3W) for $1.00. Mono amplifier for $0.60. LED strings for $3-$10. Hook them up to one of the above for a multi-color dancing display. 7-color, color cycling LEDs for 2 cents. (50 for $1). Electric outlets controlled by wifi or your smartphone $6.
3v to 5V boost voltage converter module, 39 cents each, 5-12 V to 3V or 5V voltage regulator 16 cents each. 5 mega-pixel video camera for Raspberry PI, $5. LI-ION battery charger board, 27 cents each. 128x160 touch-screen LED display, $3.

I don't know what I'm gonna do with half this stuff, but it's so cheap I can't pass it up.

$50 will buy enough stuff to give you 6 months of messing around with it.
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When someone basically says flying in coach on long flights is not big deal, I usually find out that person is short.

Best $125 we ever spent was an upgrade to Economy Plus on a Lufthansa(United) flight from Frankfurt to Houston. 11 hours in the air. Economy Preferred gets you extra legroom. Best $250 we ever spent was the same upgrade from San Francisco to Sydney, 15 hour flight.

But, geese, now I got an ad for flights from SFO to SYD---$665 round trip. Crazy. Cheap enough to pop down there for a long weekend. Costs $560 SFO to Miami.
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My long legs have never fit in coach/economy, but who cares? I sit there regardless. Can we say "Hello, man spread city!"?

You should pay me for using part of my seat. Or you should buy two seats if you are overweight or have a stupid man-spread.
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I tried Valium the last time from Rio to PDX. Worked like a charm.
I also have a prescription for restless legs, which I only experience on airplanes.
I use about 10 of the pills a year, only on flights.
They give this stuff to Parkinson's patients or some form of it. It has the word "levadopa" in it.
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p.

When someone basically says flying in coach on long flights is not big deal, I usually find out that person is short.


Ditto. And narrow of butt and shoulders.
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MoneySlob responds to post:

BB: My long legs have never fit in coach/economy, but who cares? I sit there regardless. Can we say "Hello, man spread city!"?

MS: You should pay me for using part of my seat. Or you should buy two seats if you are overweight or have a stupid man-spread.


Cool. Leg length shaming right here on the Fool boards. ;-)

Weight - people have control over. Height - not so.

Weight's not an issue with me. I'm 6'4" and weigh 175-180. My inseam, on the other hand, is 36". Legs tight together - I barely fit in most seats without knees hitting the seatback in front of me. As soon as the person in front of me reclines their seat, I am forced to go into man spread, or turn into an English side saddle position. That means every beverage cart that goes up and down the aisle smacks my knee cap.

I usually pick an exit row or bulk head row as a result. Outside of that, shame on. I'm not paying any extra money for my inseam just because genetics have led to my long legs and height while the airlines have continually decreased the distance between rows of seats to accommodate more passengers per flight. My wife, who is a foot shorter, sits next to me and never complains. So there's that. :-]

Feel free to design the seats and distance between them on an airplane, or take it up with the executives who make decisions on profit margins and how many seats are on an airplane, or complain to a steward for another seat, but I'm remaining in coach no matter how long my legs are. It's not a problem I created in spite of any shaming that makes you feel better.

Not that I wish for you to be assigned to sit next to a few really tall guys that are 6'5" - 6'11". But if you do end up in that situation - enjoy your flight...

BB
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"Methinks you'd enjoy the Living Below Your Means board.

??? "

*****************************************

That board has quite a few discussions on the relative merits
of spending on various items as well as discussions on how to
whittle down the costs of some activities.
Good board - particularly for folks who like seeing options
in approach.

Howie52
One of the boards I like to read.
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"Methinks you'd enjoy the Living Below Your Means board.

I fly in business on most international flights and I do live below my means.

Methinks you need to find a place for your broad brush. "

********************************************************

Don't know what you are referring to - the board is a good one and
is generally not pushing folks one way or another.

Howie52
It was a serious suggestion - based on your writing I suspect you
would enjoy some of the threads.
Not all - but some.

If you take offense or don't feel the desire - don't go there.
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Best $125 we ever spent was an upgrade to Economy Plus on a Lufthansa(United) flight from Frankfurt to Houston. 11 hours in the air. Economy Preferred gets you extra legroom. Best $250 we ever spent was the same upgrade from San Francisco to Sydney, 15 hour flight.

I virtually always fly at least Econ Plus. Those extra few inches of legroom are worth their weight in plutonium. On the rare occasions I'm flying in Smushed Class for anything other than a puddle jumper, it's...challenging (and I'm short with short legs). Most airlines allow you the opportunity to upgrade from a regular coach seat after you've purchased, and sometimes the cost is very reasonable.

On most domestic flights, I don't find First Class to offer much more than Econ Plus. However, for international flights it's a huge difference (although if you can't get the upgrade discounted, it's Not Cheap). That said, on many international flights United's Business class has those layflat bed pods that make a huge difference, and to my mind "Global First" is really not much better than that, so if you're upgrading then you may not have to go all the way to the very bestest class. Be sure to check the type of plane and seating arrangements before going for an upgrade.

And yes, I've flown middle seat Economy from Athens to the States (on barely any sleep, no less), Business class with the layflat pod from Frankfurt to Houston (about 12 hours, very much worth it), Global first from DC to Frankfurt (slightly better than Business class but IMHO not really worth much extra cost), old style "lazy-boy recliner type seat" business on numerous occasions across the Atlantic and once across the Pacific (which is fine but much prefer the layflat bed myself), and First Class on many occasions domestically (usually on mid-size planes like 737's and Airbus 319s and 320s), as well as Econ Plus LOTS of times and smushed class when I can't avoid it.

-synchronicity
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It was a serious suggestion - based on your writing I suspect you
would enjoy some of the threads.
Not all - but some.

If you take offense or don't feel the desire - don't go there.


Funniest post ever - I started that board.
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at what point do you not think you could manage below.

obviously i could manage if i had no choice. people do that all the time.

c.
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Assume you were forced to retire at 55 and not at your choosing...at what point do you not think you could manage

There are too many variables to answer:
-Cost of Living where you live now (if you want to stay there because of family / relatives)
-Health stuff...I know a few people who are on drugs that they have to buy outside of insurance, to the tune of >$2000 per year
-House paid off yet? Car paid off?
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