Using the early retirement calculator at Networthify I crunched the numbers for early retirement with an expense level of $500 a month. This was mostly an academic exercise since I can’t currently live on that low of an amount and that probably won’t change. The calculator lets you input a number of variables and it is interesting to see how the numbers change depending on which variables are changed.
For the $500 monthly expense scenario, I put in an income of $25,000 and yearly expenses of $6000 and a current portfolio value of $30,000. The calculator uses a 5% annual return on investment and a 4% safe withdrawal rate by default, although these variables can also be changed. I chose to leave them unchanged. The results for this scenario state that I could retire in 5.3 years and I’d have a 76% savings rate. If I reduce the savings rate down to 50% it would take me 14.3 years to retire. Even if I changed my annual return on investment from 5% to 10% it would take me 10.9 years to retire with a 50% savings rate. At the 76% savings rate changing the annual rate of return on investment from 5% to 10% it would take me 4.6 years to retire. Doubling my annual rate of return on investment would only let me retire a few months earlier based on a 76% savings rate. These calculations make it clear that your savings rate is much more important than your annual return on investment when you are saving a large percentage of your income.
If I were to increase my income to $50,000 a year (which is a much more plausible scenario than reducing my expenses to $6000 a year) I would be able to retire in just 2.5 years based on $6000 of annual expenses. Using a more realistic expenses level of $12,500 a year I would be able to retire in just 6.6 years at that income level. Increasing my income from $25,000 to $50,000 would allow me to retire almost 8 years sooner.
Using the early retirement calculator shows that I shouldn’t be overly concerned about my annual return on investment. What I need to focus on is keeping my expenses low and increasing my income.
Has anyone else used an early retirement calculator to see when they could retire?