Friday, 8 February 2019

Managing Retirement Drawdown

As a 46 year old now in Early Retirement it seems worthwhile to now share more detail on how I have as tax efficiently as possible tried to build my wealth so that I run out of life before I run out of wealth.  For some time now at a high level I’ve used the following approach, which of shared on a number of occasions, to know when to pull the trigger.  Track my spending religiously then adjust that spending to add new expected retirement spends while subtracting non-retirement spends such as costs associated with work.  With my retirement spending defined at £24,000 per annum I then retired when that spending was the lesser of 85% of dividends received from the portfolio or a safe withdrawal rate of 2.5%.

This sounds relatively simple but it’s actually a more complicated problem than that as I actually have my wealth and earnings sitting in four buckets which have differing rules, including the age with which I can gain access.  These are:
  • £225,000 sitting in savings accounts ready for a home purchase.  This is accessible now.
  • £521,000 sitting in savings accounts, NS&I index linked savings certificates (ILSC’s) as well as bonds, gold, listed property and equities within trading account and ISA wrappers.  This is also accessible now.
  • £578,000 sitting in bonds, gold, listed property and equities within pension wrappers.  This currently cannot be accessed until age 55.
  • A State Pension promise according to my latest forecast of £5,353 per annum.  The current government promise is this is accessible at age 67.

So all in that’s wealth £1,324,000 and a government ‘promise’ of £5,353 annually at some point in the future.  Let’s look at each of these in turn.

£225,000 Home Purchase

We are currently renting but intend to buy and the money sitting in savings accounts ready for the purchase has no access restrictions.  The risk I carry here is if house prices rise at a rate greater than the interest after tax I can earn then I’m losing housing opportunity.  If my interest after tax is greater then I’m winning.  I see this approach as a less risk than if I invested this wealth into bonds, listed property or equities as the likely erosion should be gradual when compared to what bond and equity markets can do over a relatively short period.  That said I don’t want to wait too long.  From where I sit today there are no negatives to buying as if house prices fall we still have the home where if they rise we are losing quality of life that will come from our dream home.  We’ll therefore be buying as soon as we find a region to call home.  That might be Cyprus but we won’t know that for a few more months.

So far so good.  I have enough wealth to buy a home.

Monday, 14 January 2019

2018 In Review, Let Decompression Commence

A place to reflect, near Adonis Baths, Paphos, Cyprus
The fourth quarter of 2018 contained the pivotal moment of my FIRE journey so far – FIRE day.  Financially it represented the transition from rapid wealth accumulation to hopefully well managed wealth decumulation or drawdown.  As I write this though more importantly it also represented the start of what seems to be called the decompression phase of retirement and I’ll freely admit I’m finding this really difficult.  Prior to FIRE I had 60 – 70 hours a week either commuting or in the workplace where I would be seeing new data that would require action every 15 to 30 minutes.  I would then be paid reasonably well for this effort on a monthly basis with some being spent to live well while the majority was saved.

Now we get to do what we want when we want and there is no need for urgency but also if we want to eat I now need to withdraw from my wealth that will only be renewed passively.  I can’t speed it up without taking more investment risk.  So what emotions have I been experiencing?  Initially, mainly a lot of stress caused by giving a good work handover and pushing too hard on our relocation plans to Cyprus.  That has now subsided with us now having been here for about 6 weeks.  After the stress left I experienced euphoria!  I’d done it, I can now do whatever I want and am free to be where I want when I want.  That also has now subsided.

So what am I experiencing right now?  That’s have we done the right thing and should we persist.  There is certainly some fear in there as well.  Fear of running out of wealth, fear of not having enough wealth to meet our quality of life ambitions for the next 40 or so years, fear of my skills quickly becoming stale and not being able to re-enter my career when that occurs...  At one point I even thought about asking my employer if they’d take me back and I have also looked briefly at what jobs are out there.  Thankfully, I’ve bitten my tongue and moved on for now.

Tuesday, 1 January 2019

2018 HYP Review

A little over 7 years ago (late 2011) I started to build a UK High Yield Portfolio (HYP).  It was a much talked about strategy back in the Motley Fool forum days and today still gets plenty of attention on the Lemon Fool forums.  I continued building the portfolio until July 2015 by which time I’d amassed 17 shares across multiple sectors.  That included a token amount of Royal Mail Group (ticker: RMG) during the initial public offering in 2013 and the spin-off of S32 by BHP in 2015.

Today the portfolio is down to 16 shares because of the forced Amlin sale in 2016.  It was set up to be close to a low tinker portfolio with only a few mechanical rules that would be triggered if there were big changes to a share.  For example if the actual value of a holding became 50% larger than the median share holding I would sell 25% or if the actual dividend yield dropped below 50% of the FTSE All Share (I’m looking at you Pearson, ticker: PSON, although I didn’t follow my own rules when they cut the dividend in late 2017 and the share price is up 27% since making me think my rules might actually be rubbish).

There were no buys (or sells) in 2018 (making the maths pretty easy this year).  The complete HYP and the respective values of each share are shown in the chart below.  The purchasing rule that I followed was the amount of the next purchase was the median share value of the current portfolio (with the exception of RMG and S32).

Retirement Investing Today High Yield Portfolio
Click to enlarge, Retirement Investing Today High Yield Portfolio