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What Do Millennials Know?

A spate of recent think-pieces, news segments, and even a forthcoming documentary film have popularized an internet subculture called the “FIRE” movement (which stands for “Financial Independence, Retire Early”). In a nutshell, FIRE is about achieving financial independence earlier in life via extreme frugality and accelerated retirement savings. Its adherents (typically Millennials) report saving as much as 50-70% of their gross income each year, in a bid to accelerate the point at which their investment portfolio can support their modest annual income needs, freeing them from traditional work obligations.

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How Much Can I Safely Spend from My Portfolio?

This is among the most common questions we receive from clients, many of whom are either already retired or nearing retirement. It is an important issue and one that often prompts investors to seek out professional help from an advisor. But first, let’s lay out some basic terminology: What is the ‘net spending rate’? This number is defined in relation to your assets. First, add up all your annual expenses from last year. Make any needed adjustment(s) to get a more realistic amount if you feel that some items were over or understated. If you were still working, adjust for that as well. Subtract from these expenses any income that you receive from sources other than your portfolio: social security benefits, annuities, pension, rents, alimony, etc. The difference between the two is your net spending, i.e. the amount you’ll need to draw from your portfolio. The net spending rate is simply this number expressed as a percentage of your portfolio’s value.

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Just keep swimming

Dory, a character created by Pixar Animation and played by Ellen DeGeneres in the movie Finding Nemo, is a wide-eyed, blue tang fish who suffers from short-term memory loss. At one point in the movie, she finds herself lost and gets out of trouble by not panicking and telling herself to just keep swimming.

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