Results of Optimization Challenge #2

Hi Brian,

I posted a comment in the original thread, and then realized it might be missed because someone would have to search for that thread in order to see the new comment. So I thought I'd repeat my post here...

I didn't participate in optimization challenge #2, but would be interested in seeing what others did to raise the living standard of the default profile. Have revised databases been posted somewhere for all to download and view? I don't recall seeing any posts discussing the strategies that others used to optimize the living standard of the default profile.



p.s. - Does anyone know how if there is a way to search the discussion forum for new posts to older threads? The old forum used to indicate new replies to each thread.


dan royer's picture

I believe that on the front page of the Question Form there's a rectangle or button for "sort by comment date" and that will put newest comments at the top (instead of newest posts). but if someone posts a comment, it will still show as unread "new content" at the top right. So you could have just put this in the other thread as well.

I didn't yet get to the challenge either. I love the idea, I just seem to always have something crowding out the time.

I don't want to hijack that idea, but I wonder if it would be as instructive, or more instructive, to post case studies.

Hi Dan,

I added some comments below. I'm wide open to ideas on how to help people get more out of the software. There's a place for both case studies and profile optimization. I really think the insights of the ESPlanner user community can help everyone in these areas and is largely untapped at the moment.

Regarding the "sort by comment date", I click on that every time I log into the question forum. Nice feature.


Hi Rick,

My hope and intent was that multiple people would participate and share ideas that we all could use. I know it's an effort and tough to make the time, but I've definitely found it worthwhile and learned some new techniques that I will use in real life.

So far, in two challenges, Dan is the only one to join in other than myself although perhaps other people have followed along without posting. If you have ideas to make this more interesting/valuable or other ways to get at least a few people interested enough to participate, that would be great. I'm up for doing another challenge although it is a decent amount of effort to set up and if there isn't enough interest, then it's not worth it. Maybe 1 month isn't enough time or people don't yet see enough value or are not aware of this opportunity?

Regarding your specific question, my plan was to post my final (optimized) database along with comments on my thought process. Since no one else joined in, I'm not certain if I'll do that or not for this round.

Regarding Dan's comment about the case studies, I see them as complementary to optimization. I've gone through every ESPlanner case study along with Larry's book "Spend 'til the End" to get ideas on how to leverage different parts of the software to smooth and increase living standards while managing risk. The case studies are helpful in understanding individual areas.

I see profile optimization as making use of the full suite of software capabilities in an integrated manner. The thought process is different as a change in one area has an impact in other areas. Understanding the specific profile's constraints and the interaction between different variables/changes becomes very important.

For example, in this optimization challenge, here are some of the areas I used:

- 529 plans
- Housing
- Social Security
- Pension/Annuities
- Key ages of contributions/withdrawals
- Amounts, timing, and location of contributions and withdrawals
- Roth conversion
- Etc.

An individual lever can make a significant difference, but used in the right combination they become much more powerful to address your specific needs and wants. In this challenge, the results show a much higher and smoother standard of living with less risk. It added up to an over 11% increase for life or the equivalent of working over 3 more years for each spouse.

Case studies are great and probably help more people overall so I'm definitely in favor of more of these. However, in my opinion, they don't fill the optimization niche.

If you or others are interested in keeping this going and helping us all get even more value out of ESPlanner, I am definitely interested.


For what it's worth, I have been noticing these optimization challenges and I think they are a great idea since they would show how to improve consumption/SOL in various scenarios (as I understand it) which may be similar to real life scenarios for some folks. It would be fun to participate, but right now I just can't spare the time. I retired last September, and there will be some point in the future when I will likely have the time. But that might be a ways off as I am busy with a bunch of stuff I had on my list to do for when i retired! It would be great if there could be a running summary (concise as possible) of the challenge results mainly showing what was done to improve the consumption for the given scenario. I would think it would be a great reference and learning tool, sort of like the case studies. My 2 cents.


Hi Tom and Rick,

I posted the optimized profile and some comments on the optimization process on the original thread here:

Thanks for sharing your interest.


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