The Quiet Millionaire: Part 3 - Money for Now, Money for Later


You've figured out how to have positive cash flow (aka spend less than you earn) for now; but will you have enough money for later? Funding for future requirements, such as retirement, is crucial to financial success, according to The Quiet Millionaire author Brett Wilder. He states:

"...while you may not be having a current cash flow problem paying your bills, you may have a future cash flow problem without even knowing it by not saving enough for future obligations."

So how much do you need to save? I’ve created a Funding for Retirement spreadsheet (downloadable, customizable in Excel) and Q&A guide that will help you find out.


What does "Funding for Retirement" do?

It helps you figure out how much money you’ll need to save for retirement based on a set of assumptions.

What are assumptions?

They are educated guesses about the future based on what you’ve experienced in the past or think is likely about the future. For the spreadsheet to be useful, you’ve got to make some reasonable assumptions, such as:

  • Projected Annual Needs: $70,000
  • Annual Growth of Investments: 10%
  • Conserve Rate: 5%
  • Inflation Rate: 2%

What is the "conserve" rate?

It's the investment rate you'll likely earn after you've retired, when you want to conserve your assets.

How do I use the spreadsheet?

Enter the following values into bolded cells:

  • Projected Annual Needs
  • Investment Growth Rate
  • Conserve Rate
  • Inflation Rate
  • Your Age Now
  • Your Age at Retirement
  • Your Balance Now

Everything else is calculated for you. The most relevant number is the PAYMENT needed TO REACH your targeted BALANCE.

The schedules are just for fun. They show 1) how your investments will grow over time and 2) how you will use your investments in retirement. I put them together to check my calculations.

Can "Funding for Retirement" help guide my financial planning?

Yes, but mainly it is a tool to give you an idea of how much you should be saving each year. And, you can play "what if" by changing assumptions (see how investment rates can dramatically change annual payments needed, how one or two more years of working can help build your assets, etc.).

In the spreadsheet example, if you are 30 years old, plan to retire at age 65, have saved $20,000, think you will earn 10% each year while saving for retirement and 5% each year while conserving your investments, project annual inflation at 2%, and need $70,000 per year (in today's dollars) to live, then you'll need to save $8,241 per year. Using a "what if" scenario, if you grow your investments 12% per year, then you'll need to save $3,923 per year; 15% growth will require only $20.

What if I will be getting a pension or Social Security payments?

You can adjust Projected Annual Needs to reflect your additional needs only (projected annual needs less annual pension or Social Security income).

Why doesn't the spreadsheet have a place for taxes?

A few reasons:

  1.  If you funded your retirement using a Roth account (consult your tax pro for more on income and annual contribution restrictions), you won't have to pay taxes when you withdraw your money.
  2.  You can add taxes to your Projected Annual Needs -- use the following formula: Projected Annual Needs/(1-Tax Rate); as an illustration, if your Projected Annual Needs = $70,000 and your effective tax rate is 20%, then you will need $87,500 to support your planned lifestyle.
  3.  I'll be discussing Mr. Wilder's insightful ideas on tax planning for retirement in a separate post.   

Will my investments earn 10% every year for 30+ years?

Probably not. Some years, you may earn more; some years, less. Still, you can get a general idea of how investment growth will impact your portfolio value.

What is cool about this spreadsheet?

You can change the assumptions and update it every year if you'd like. Also, you can download it for free!

Is there anything quirky about the spreadsheet?

Sort of -- I designed it so that you can enter retirement ages of less than 65 and up to age 70, and so that you will run out of money at age 100 (you receive the investment return at the beginning of your 100th year). Also, some cells are not used in all of the calculations so that I could offer options for retirement age.  

Defining what you want out of life and, more specifically, your money is covered in The Quiet Millionaire: Part 1 - What is Important about Money to You?  and an honest look at your spending habits is discussed in The Quiet Millionaire: Part 2 - Major Obstacles to Financial Success. Mr. Wilder gives an even deeper discussion about retirement planning in Chapter 14 of his book The Quiet Millionaire, which I will cover in an upcoming post. (Note that I have received a copy of The Quiet Millionaire so that I could review the book for Wise Bread readers).

You may or may not be able to save all of the money you need to fund your retirement this year but getting started with any money at all will allow you to begin accumulating wealth; the Funding for Retirement spreadsheet can help chart your path and measure your progress.

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Guest's picture

It would be spiffy if the annual contributions weren't constant but instead increased with inflation...

Julie Rains's picture

That may take me a while but in the meantime, you could download and make changes based on your situation -- perhaps one spreadsheet to determine the original calculation (payment per year) for a starting point on the new spreadsheet, which you create and then enter contributions manually to see how you could lower your payment now and increase it by a certain percentage each year. (I can more easily customize a spreadsheet for an individual with fixed assumptions than I can create a spreadsheet that allows multiple variables). Hope this helps for now.