64 Comments

  1. Your doomsday plan is quite optimistic! I plan on my retirement account being completely unavailable to me until I am over 70 years old, no government benefits and a radical reversal of the tax advantages of dividends in my “doomsday” scenario.

    For reference I live in Australia.

    BTW kudos for responding to every single comment so far, not every blogger does. It shows some real dedication

    • Mr. Groovy

      Hey, Pat. I hear ya. I probably should be more pessimistic. But just think that technology and sound judgement will win out in the end. In other words, it will be very bumpy, but we’ll muddle through. Thanks for stopping by, Pat. It’s always great hearing from our down-under cousins.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Hey, Jamie. Love your game plan. Depending on the government or a company to fund your retirement is definitely playing with fire. Mrs. Groovy and I planned for retirement with the assumption that Social Security wasn’t going to be there for us. So now if Social Security does survive, it will be a nice bonus to our annual income. Thanks for stopping by, Jamie. We love hearing from people with a refined appreciation for tinfoil hats.

      P.S. Sorry for the late reply.

  2. This is smart advice. My dad and I have pretty opposite worldviews, but he has a lot of very sound money advice and this is a big theme of his. Don’t count on anything being there for you, from entitlements to promised tax advantages. One thing I think we agree on is that most politicians do not have the courage to be honest about the difficulties that lie ahead and that, however painful, we should be dealing with now. From climate change to the national debt. Getting re-elected always trumps honesty about future catastrophes. That is on both sides of the aisle.

    • Mr. Groovy

      “One thing I think we agree on is that most politicians do not have the courage to be honest about the difficulties that lie ahead and that, however painful, we should be dealing with now. From climate change to the national debt.”

      Thank you, Linda. Those two sentences say it all. Very true and very sobering.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Haha! Haven’t listened to that album in ages. Just listened to Tumbling Dice on YouTube. Great stuff. Thanks for the reminder, Dave. I really appreciate it.

  3. Mr. & Mrs. G,
    Its always good to plan for doomsday then you are covered no matter what. I try to do this as well but in the back of my mind I am praying we have at lease a little bit of the ‘lollipop and rainbow’ situation going on. I am getting to the point where I feel like I can only do my best to get there and whatever happens, happens. I am in pretty good shape but I need to move south and reap the cost of living benefits (5-7 years before this happens). I really like planning through different lenses as you are doing. It gives a sense of security that you have covered all bases. Good post, thanks for sharing.

    -Brian

    • Mr. Groovy

      I totally agree, Brian. As long as one applies a little critical thinking to one’s situation, one will likely find a satisfactory option. For us, moving to North Carolina proved to be very beneficial. And despite being in a good place now, we’re still considering fail-safe options. If things get really bad here, will have no problem moving to, say, Panama or Thailand.

  4. Groovy concept 🙂

    I’ve been thinking a lot along these lines recently as I’ve looked at our financial picture. What if I lose my job? What if the market tanks?

    This isn’t because I’m a doomsday prepper or a paranoid conspiracy theorist. I’ve found most times that understanding the worst case allows me to find adjustments that benefit me not just in that scenario but even in the lollipop scenarios as well!

    • Mr. Groovy

      Awesome, Chris. I love it. Understanding where you’re vulnerable is key. You then make the necessary adjustments to protect against those vulnerabilities. Sometimes this will mean going with the Eve of Destruction scenario. At other times, the Lollipop scenario will be appropriate. Either way, though, you got things covered. Thanks for stopping by, my friend.

  5. Jon tends to have a lollipop attitude, but in practice is conservative with our projections. His lollipop vision goes further than just us :).

    I’m a bit more pessimistic. I don’t count on social security (although if Medicare goes away….). I try to look out for the future, but I realized that the biggest thing our plan depends on is for both of us to be functional. And that fact probably means we need to reexamine our life insurance situation.

    • Mr. Groovy

      I’m with you, Emily. I just can’t look at our national debt and chronic underfunding of state and municipal pension plans and not see a giant entitlement bubble. So things are going to get rough. But those who live below their means and take care of their health will be in the best position to ride out the coming poop-storm.

  6. I have a bit of a moto here. Plan for the worst, hope for the best. Lollipops is all nice and good, but you never know which way it will go. It’s better to be prepared.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Nailed it, FTF. In four eloquent and pithy sentences, you captured the essence of my post. Thank you, my friend.

  7. I’m taking a middle of the road approach at the moment. It feels a bit like a cop out, but I’m not sure I’m going to stay in my current job long enough to collect my pension anyway.

    I’ve always been of the opinion that hoping for the best and planning for the worst is a fairly sensible idea.

    • Mr. Groovy

      No cop out at all, FS. How many years are you away from being vested? Holding on for a couple of years to secure a mini pension may not be a bad idea. A little mail box money is better than no mail box money, after all. Either way, though, I’m sure you’ll make a wise decision. Like you pointed out, “hoping for the best and planning for the worst” is a very sound strategy. Best of luck, my friend.

  8. I’m 43 and I always tell people that I am not relying on any assistance from anything… I am assuming social security will not be there and I won’t rely on it. A lot of people, like my dad, seem to get annoyed that I say that, but would he rather me be in a position where I am relying on that? I also used to be a Federal employee. I have considered going back to finish a few years to get a minimum pension, but like you said, there is no guarantee, and I don’t need it. I’m at a basic FI level now, so why give up my freedom for a possibility?

    • Mr. Groovy

      You are so right, PP. Those who expect nothing are rarely disappointed. And let’s say your worst fears don’t unfold and Social Security is still around spitting out stipends to the elderly. You’re in an even better position. Social Security is now a monthly bonus that you can use to spoil your grandchildren or yourself. Not a bad turn of events if you ask me. Thanks for stopping by, my friend. It’s always great hearing from another rugged individualist.

  9. A lot of the benefits and perks that you’re getting right now seems plentiful because everything is very rosy and there is a lot of “value” everywhere. But I think it’s smart to take an approach where things are overvalued and overpriced. It can all come crashing down in an instant. So it’s definitely better to have a bigger nest egg!

    • Mr. Groovy

      “But I think it’s smart to take an approach where things are overvalued and overpriced. It can all come crashing down in an instant.”

      Wow, T. You put it much better than I did. Does anyone remember 2008? Does anyone remember 1989 and the fall of the Soviet Union? One minute things look seemingly invincible, the next minute everything has gone to crap. Nothing that man creates is immune to decay and sudden collapse. Thanks for stopping by, my friend. You shared a lot of wisdom.

  10. Wit and wisdom abound here as usual. 🙂 As Michael mentioned, we are planning for the worst and hoping for the best. I just checked our projected social security income numbers last week, and if, on the very off chance, social security still exists when we retire we could live off that alone. Alas, given the current state of the federal economy, we’re not banking on those paychecks. We’re lucky to have pretty decent sized retirement accounts in place (our largest one is “guaranteed” a 5% ROI and no losses as it’s from Rick’s days as a firefighter), however, we will keep on saving and working toward multi-millionaire status, just in case.

    • Mr. Groovy

      You’re an American hero, Laurie. You’re not depending on others being coerced by the government to secure your financial future; you’re depending on yourself to secure your financial future. Would that more Americans had your attitude and gumption. Bravo to you and Rick.

  11. Always a great idea to run best case/worst case scenarios on your financial plan. I love the names you’ve given to them, it makes the concept so much more interesting. Preparing for the worst case can make a huge difference if you’re hit with an unexpected event, even if it’s different than one of the ones in your worst case scenario

    • Mr. Groovy

      “Preparing for the worst case can make a huge difference if you’re hit with an unexpected event, even if it’s different than one of the ones in your worst case scenario.”

      Exactly! You nailed, Liz. Thank you.

  12. What a fun post!

    We have no pensions so Ha! they can’t be cut or taken away (give me effing lemons and I’ll show you some f*$king lemonade).

    We’re not relying on SS either, so I guess it is safe to say that we’re not going the unicorns and rainbows route when it comes to planning for FIRE.

    • Mr. Groovy

      How wonderful it must be to not be dependent on manna from the government! I love the cut of your jib, Mrs. BITA. May your tribe grow exponentially.

  13. I love that you are not sticking your head in the sand with the assumption that things are going to be fine or the gov’t will bail you out. I think it’s incredibly smart that you are including these haircuts in and it’ll definitely be interesting to see how Obamacare gets tweaked in the future b/c at some point it will need to get tweaked.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Agreed, MSM. Obamacare and many other entitlements will be tweaked over the ensuing years and decades. Our job is to be rational and prepare for the worst. I think if you approach things with the attitude that you’re not entitled to other people’s money, you’ll be in good shape. Thanks for stopping by, my friend.

  14. I know people who think they’ll be able to retire on a government pension alone, so they aren’t saving… Yikes!

    I have no pension to worry about and I don’t include Social Security in our future plans. For better or worse, it’s all riding on our shoulders! LOL

    In terms of a song, the best I can do is The Moody Blues, “It’s Up To You.” Substitute “retirement” for “love” and it sort of, kind of works.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Oh, god, Claudia. Now you got me bingeing on The Moodies. “I’m looking at myself, reflections of my mind, it’s just the kinda day to leave myself behind.” Haven’t listened to It’s Up To You in ages. It could be the retirement anthem for Millennials. Thanks for stopping by, Claudia. “Breathe deep the gathering gloom. Watch lights fade from every room.”

  15. We are taking the pessimistic approach and assuming no entitlements. I’m all for over-preparing!

    Alan has a small pension, but a few years ago, his company offered up the option to have the pension money diverted to the company 401k – if we chose to do so. We didn’t think twice – so besides the company match, we get his pension money directed into the 401k each month.

    • Mr. Groovy

      I love it, Amanda. Glad you and Alan took advantage of the pension diversion. I honestly think you’ll have less worries with the 401(k). My grandfather got burnt, not once, but twice with private pensions. And Mrs. Groovy and I approached FIRE with the same assumption you guys have regarding entitlements. We’re not counting on them, but if they’re there when the time comes, they’re a bonus–the cherry atop our retirement sundae, if you will.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Oh, wow, Amy! What a great synopsis of my message. Why didn’t I think of that? Plan for the worst, hope for the best. The Sunshine of Destruction route. Now what 60s song personifies that? The Byrds’ Turn, Turn, Turn?

      A time to gain,
      a time to lose.
      A time to rend,
      a time to sew.
      A time for love,
      a time for hate.
      A time for peace,
      I swear it’s not too late.

      Thanks for stopping by, Amy. You made my day.

  16. I love your “Reality Adjustment”. Still one of the best insults to throw at someone when they have their head in the clouds is “You need a Reality Check!” Retirement is no different. I think many plan for the best case scenario and forget that shit happens and can often get smeared across the best laid plan. I too have a similar method to my FI madness having 3 different numbers to strive for. Right now I am halfway to my middle tier number. I’ll keep pushing on and hope to hit the 3rd and highest tier in the next 5 years…all shit aside. 😉

    • Mr. Groovy

      Amen, cuz. A good reality check never hurt anyone. And when it comes to retirement, the more reality checks the better. Here’s to hitting your 3rd tier in 5 years.

  17. Mr. Mt has a small pension from the military. But those seem somewhat off limits to both parties. It might get a hair cut but more likely the government will slowly reduce the inflation adjustments. It’s just one income source from a whole handful. Our plan is to have a 7 or 8 legged stool, so if one leg breaks we hardly notice. 🙂

    • Mr. Groovy

      Agreed, Ms. M. I think military pensions are off limits. If Congress makes any changes, it will be to ax the current pension for new warriors and put them in a 403(b) type plan. And I love your 8 legged stool plan. With that many legs, I can’t see how you guys will ever be tripped up. Great freakin’ job.

  18. In 1994 I owned stock in a Pepsi bottler, a telephone company, and an state-owned oil company. After 7 interest rate hikes, my portfolio was destroyed. The reason is the stocks were all in Mexico (Gemex, TelMex, and Pemex).

    Why is this relevant?

    I think your real worst case scenario is the correlation of your big 3 entitlements and the enormous fat left tail it produces on a bad day. You rightfully site “that Millennials grow a pair” as a risk. That risk is more amplified at the margin than you estimate for, IMHO.

    I’m wrong if your “worst case” is only 1 standard deviation out–not so bad a “worst case”.

    Any way, that’s why I prattle on about entrepreneurship! Really a great post. Kudos and good luck!

    • Mr. Groovy

      Hey, man, I love your prattling. Great point on the 1 standard deviation. If that’s the worse it gets, we can rightfully count ourselves lucky. Right now I can’t see how the Millennials will develop the stones to throw the Boomers under the bus. Millennials have been so marinated in socialism that they actually view Social Security and Medicare as the hallmarks of our society. But 30% payroll taxes will surely foment some apostasy. The only question that remains is this: how many Millennials will revolt against the church of big government?

  19. Who lies more? Politicians or Corporations? I read somewhere that corporations lie more. It makes sense because politicians are puppets, lobbyists are the strings, and corporations hold those strings.

    It would be a wise thing to plan for the worst and hope for the best. Another wise thing to do would be to stay as far away from crooks as possible 🙂

    • Mr. Groovy

      Whoa, Michael! That’s a tough one. I’d go with corporations as well. And I like your suggestion to stay as far away from the crooks as possible. That’s one of the reasons why Mrs. Groovy and I are buying some land and building a little cottage. We hope to go partially solar, raise chickens, and do some gentleman farming. We’ll never be 100% self-sufficient, but we’ll be less dependent on politicians and their corporate masters than we are now.

  20. A nattering nabob of negativity??? Nice alliteration, and appropriate to look at “worse case” sensitivities.

    My wife and I have done the same, and have decided to work 1 year beyond “FI” before we “RE”.

    The primary reason: Downside Risk. Great post.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Thank you, Fritz. And thank you for appreciating the downside risk that we all face. I got my fingers crossed, but I can’t see how our country manages to rectify all these promises with reality. I see a very hard landing in our future. But then again, Otto von Bismarck is purported to have said that “God looks after fools, drunks, and the United States of America.” Let’s hope that Otto had a keen understanding of divine providence.

  21. We don’t have pensions and aren’t counting on Social Security, so hopefully we’ll be able to self-fund and if any of the lollipops come we’ll be able to donate more to our favorite causes.

    • Mr. Groovy

      You’re very wise, Julie. Social Security will be there, but sadly in a much diminished form for you. I see two scenarios playing out. Either they’ll remove the income cap on Social Security contributions like they did with Medicare, or they’ll begin to means test Social Security benefits. The notion, then, that you’ll get back anything close to what you put into the system is a pipe dream. Good thing the majority of doctors in this country are a kind and altruistic bunch. If they weren’t, and they all decided to do a giant “Atlas shrugged” in mass, we’d be in deep doo-doo.

  22. I will technically get a pension from my W2 career. I’ve been assured it will still be there when I’m ready to use it, but I don’t factor in it or Social Security. Should those still be around in 30 years, I’ll be super set. If not, I won’t be up-set haha

    • Mr. Groovy

      Nice, Gwen. You made my day with your “super set” to “up-set” line. That’s gold. And I wholeheartedly agree with you. Prepare for the worst and you will rarely be disappointed or caught off guard. My grandfather never depended on his private pension. And fortunate for him that this was the case. Company officials mismanaged the pension fund and he ended up getting a benefit worth pennies on the dollar. Meh.

  23. I’m not holding my breath on my pension. Since I always exclude it (even the money I’ve paid in), retirement calculators make me want to break out in hives. I definitely have some work to do to get us to a place where we can completely push the thought of pensions from our minds.

    That being said…it sure would be a nice surprise!

    • Mr. Groovy

      Hey, Penny. I wish I could sugarcoat it, but your state still has the most underfunded pension system in the nation. I would count on 50% of the promised benefit now. That’s hard to swallow, I know. What is the teachers’ union saying about it? Is there any possibility that the union would accept larger class sizes and adjunct teachers if the savings were plowed into the pension shortfall?

  24. Robert Baden Powell would probably be mortified by your taste in music, but would love your approach to retirement planning. After all, Be Prepared was his motto.

    I too am preparing for the worst but hoping for the best. I don’t have a pension to worry about about but I don’t think Social Security will look the same 25 years from now, so that’s not in my calculations at all. If I do get to claim it then that’ll be icing on the cake. May we both be wrong.

    Peace out Boy Scout!

    • Mr. Groovy

      LOL! No, indeed. He was probably more comfortable singing “Camptown Races” and “When Johnny Comes Marching Home.” And I agree with you. While Social Security will certainly be tweaked over the next 25 years, it’s in relatively good shape. The real problems are Medicare, Medicaid, and public pensions. In order for them to meet their future obligations, we’ll need to make some serious cuts to education and defense.

  25. Gosh, I don’t know on your questions. I definitely think there is an underlying bubble of some sort (pensions, social security, higher education, housing, etc.)

    At some point it has to come crashing down… but when?

    For the reasons you mentioned above, I’m trying to build up a sizeable emergency fund and pay off debt. I don’t want to be caught in a rough place. In addition, this should give me the flexibility to move jobs or start my own company if need be.

    Thanks for sharing… scary stuff on the horizon

    • Mr. Groovy

      Agreed, Erik. When the poop hits the fan, those with no debt and a solid emergency fund will be in the best position to muddle through the adversity. Sadly, it will get very ugly for those who aren’t prepared. Sigh. Thanks for stopping by, my friend.

  26. Sadly, I kind of agree with you. Not that it should affect your “daily” mood, but I do think you need to prepare yourself for things not going even remotely smoothly…to the best of your ability. I’m still waiting for the lollipop method of me meeting Mr. BATB and having him already be fully into financial independence so I’m not relying just on myself. I’m kidding..sort of! 🙂

    • Mr. Groovy

      Now I’m really pissed. As a smart, beautiful, and financially sophisticated woman, you should’ve been scooped up a long time ago. What the heck is the matter with the American male? Has this fickle creature gone totally insane?

      P.S. Mrs. Groovy and I are old and lame. What does Mr. BATB stand for? Is it Mr. Bold-And-The-Beautiful?

  27. I love any approach to finances that incorporates music. And I wholly approve of creating both optimistic and pessimistic plans.

    I’m actually surprised that your pessimistic plan isn’t more pessimistic. I actually would probably go with the same expectations that you have for a pessimistic plan, so it’s not that I disagree…just expected more pessimism on government programs. 🙂

    For example, why a 50% cut in Obamacare subsidies? Why not a complete dismantling of the subsidies and a return to a 2008 healthcare system?

    Sure, if Social Security doesn’t get shored up and changed, it will pay out around 79%, but what if they shore it up by means testing it based on wealth? Your million dollar portfolio will make you look a lot wealthier than the median American with their $7,000 in retirement savings.

    I feel weird making those suggestions, and again, I wouldn’t actually make those considerations in my pessimistic plan. Just curious as to why you seem to be more optimistic about the future of government entitlements than your other writing would suggest. 🙂

    • Mr. Groovy

      Haha! Good question, my friend. Here’s why I didn’t go full-monty on the pessimistic side.

      1. We can save a lot of money by reducing our military empire. Europe can defend itself if it wants to.

      2. The internet will eventually disrupt education like it’s disrupted newspapers, entertainment, and brick-and-mortar retail. High schools aren’t teaching anything you can’t teach yourself online for free. Higher education’s idea of a credential–a bachelor’s degree requiring 40 classes in which at least 20 are superfluous–is a tremendous waste of time and money.

      3. The majority of Americans believe healthcare is a right. And if push comes to shove, they’d rather deny our military and education bureaucracies than return to our 2008 healthcare system.

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