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Welcome dbranch56. We're glad you could join us.

Note there are both 401k boards (Foolish 401ks) and Retirement Investing boards in Fooldom. They tend to be monitored by serious investors. I think you will get more informed responses there. Retired Fools board tends to be a bit more social.

Sounds like you are well on your way to a well planned (and well earned) retirement. Good for you.

Let me offer a few comments--

I must be a king of fools as I do not follow the mainstream advice of having only 10% of savings in the stock market when you actually retire.

I'd be very surprised if you found this advice posted on Motley Fool. The wisdom here is that most of us expect to be retired for 30 yrs or more. Hence, you need the better returns expected from equity investment to keep up with inflation and make your funds last throughout your retirement.

Traditional TMF advice for those retired on investment income is 1) limit your annual withdrawals to 4% of net investable assets to make your funds last 30 years. And 2) protect your stock investments from forced sales in a down market by keeping 5 yrs of living expenses in a laddered maturity bond portfolio. That implies a max of 20% of assets in fixed incomes and if you are far below 4%, it can be much smaller.

Of course all of this has to be adjusted for your income needs and your risk tolerance. One size does not fit all. It needs to be customized to your comfort level. But high equity investments are generally better if you know how to manage them and are prepared to accept the risks involved.

Do not let the 10% penalty for early withdrawal scare you

Fools would usually suggest your set up a 72t distribution plan. This allows you to take penalty free distributions from your 401k or IRA before age 59-1/2 on a schedule calculated to last your life expectancy. That usually means they allow abt 3% of your funds per year. Once begun, you must continue for the longer of 5 yr or to age 59-1/2. And bad things can happen if your accounts runs out of funds and cannot make the distributions. You get assessed a penalty for all previous distributions. (Or a professional can help you cancel the plan, but the paperwork is not easy.) But its best to keep your investments conservative.

Total up all your known bills for a year along with your best guess for variable bills, and place this amount into funds and other easy access saving tools.

Yes, after your children are on their own, you should be able to get good numbers on your living expenses from your checking account and credit card records. You know your income and take home. To double check, how much of your money can you account for? Where does it go? Then what will change in retirement. Don't forget health insurance. Medicare. etc etc.

Younger couples often use their current salary as a basis for early estimates. That can be a good start in that situation. But 50+ families usually are paying into 401k and IRAs planning for retirement. Those needs cease when you retire.

Sounds like your system works for you. But if you have questions or want to discuss details, feel free to post 'em.
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