Problem with Conventional planning start date

Why can't you choose 2014 (ie, current year)?


dan royer's picture

I believe it needs a year to set spending targets. It's still going to do some smoothing, but the conventional planning will pretty much just show the folly of setting your own discretionary spending targets.

Well, folly or not, telling me to spend $3,250,000 in 2014 in order to spend $90K/annum until 2045 seems silly. I think it's because the program always wants you to die with $0. I think you should consider an estate planning module in future upgrades. Most people would at least like to see what it would take to do that. I do think you can "trick" the program to do that anyway, but why not make it a clear feature of the program -- I think many people would find a "legacy" module valuable.

Are you using conventional planning with these results? It seems like you must be. As Dan says, putting in an estate/bequest should push some of this spending to later in life. Or you can try the standard of living approach on the other thread.

If your goal is to have the $2M estate there are other ways to do this.


dan royer's picture

There is an estate feature. There's a folder on the left called "estate" and you can set an estate for both spouses. I don't know your database of course, but if you set a spending target at 90K, then of course--as you say--the only way to spend down to zero is to spend 3.2M in the first year. I didn't meant to be flip, but that's the problem with conventional planning; namely, people and planners pick a target, a spending amount, that is way off the mark so they die with too much money or the spend it all early and die broke. If one want to leave money, then as you say, use the estate. But don't just guess at the target when this software will figure it out for you. That's all I meant.

Bryan and Dan, thanks for your replies. The problem with the the "estate" feature is that it makes me buy a ton of expensive life insurance, well into my 80s, in order to fund the bequest. I think this is true both in conventional planning and economic planning. It might be sound mathematically, but realistically, no one is going to spend $100,000 a year on term life in their 80s. Dan gave me a workaround the life insurance issue, which was to set the last few years of standard of living very high, like a 1000%. While that does work, you really have a situation where the program is not that useful/user-friendly for addressing a very common concern, ie., if I want to leave my kids $X, how much can I and the little lady spend each year. It's doable, but you have to fool the program, which is not user-friendy IMHO.

dan royer's picture

But maybe you are not quite getting my point--or rather the point of view of the program, which is as you say--mathematically correct. When the program is "making" you buy insurance, this is not just a "good idea" or "it might be wise" thing to do--it's saying you simply can't afford to leave that much estate UNLESS you do. So it's not something you want to ignore or write off as a fussy program. It's telling you that's the only way possible to sustain the living standard. Or in another words, I agree that no one would spend $100K on life insurance, so thus they would lower that estate amount to something that their personal economy cold afford and sustain through age 100.

Using the Estate feature to model your question about leaving money to kids allows you to be sure that if you or your wife die in any given year from now through the future, then that money is available to give away in that year AND the survivor's living standard does not take a hit at all.

Remember, there is Estate for both husband and wife. So you have to think, OK, if I die two years from now, would we want to go ahead and pay out that estate amount even though there is a survivor? If so, then using Estate is the right thing to do. Then of course that survivor's estate would then pay out again in the event of his or her death some years later. So two estates means two pay out dates of distinct sums of money. I assume you already got that, but just wanted to make sure. Remember too, that the value of the home is left when you both die unless you specifically model selling it earlier.

Not to further complicate what you are already feeling is too complicated, but there is also contingent planning--a feature I would at least look at. This can impact those insurance amounts quite a bit. In short, it allows you to adjust events such as special expenditures contingent on someone's death. So to take a trivial example: say there is a special expenditure of $30K for a new car four years out. You could use contingent planning to not create that special expenditure in the event of the husband's death (since, for example, the wife was against buying the new car in the first place and would not follow through with that plan).

Or, as Brian or someone mentioned, don't use Estate at all and instead raise the living standard for the last three or four years of life which will lower the living standard in the years leading up to that.

Yes, this planning does get complicated some times, but it seems worth doing to me.

There are typically multiple ways of looking at any given situation and often more than one way to use the tool to meet your specific requirements. In your life insurance thread there were two potential options which had enough $$ to fund a $2M EOL estate/bequest and, since you have enough assets day 1, life insurance is not recommended (per test profile).

The flexibility of the tool does leads to complexity which makes the forum so valuable. Another user may want the identical end scenario ($2M estate), but have very little in the way of current assets or some other difference. In that case, their results would likely be quite different from yours and they may find another method (such as Estate) more appropriate.

Edit - regarding life insurance, the recommendations are for your exact profile. Since I can't see it, I can only guesstimate what's going on, but here goes...

- For the "Estate" profile, since you have a large amount of assets day 1, some of these are being spent down to increase your consumption. If you or your spouse die at year X (from now to end of life), you would need life insurance to maintain your consumption and ensure the $2M estate at EOL. This directly leads to Dan's LI comments above.
- For the "living standard" and "special expenditure" approaches, the program reduces consumption until it is needed late in life. Since your assets always remain high, there is no trigger for LI.

While each of the options can work (among others), ESPlanner is not inherently an "optimization" engine that automatically tells you which approach is best. Experimentation and hopefully useful forum feedback can help you improve your profile and results.

Hope this is helpful.


dan royer's picture

Agree with Brian here. And for the original post, make sure that it's not simply recommending 100K of life insurance (as opposed to charging 100K for life insurance in the total spending report). I've seen people misunderstand this before. But you probably understand it right . . . but just in case.

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