The Epic Tool You Need To Retire Early Like a King!

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In my last post, I introduced a tool that guides you to becoming a millionaire. I mean, who doesn’t want to become a millionaire, or more?

But what happens once you reach $1,000,000? What do you do now? Is $1,000,000 even your ultimate goal? Are you really financially independent with $1,000,000?

One of my first blogger friends, Sara, from Gathering Dreams mentioned this point about the tool from last week: “I wonder if the annual contribution should go to zero when you reach your desired retirement age?”

She brought up an excellent point, so thank you, Sara!


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New Version of Our Tool

Sara’s comment prompt my fiance and I to FIRE up this tool (hmm… no pun intended).

So, now you have it — from a “millionaire” tool to a retirement/financial freedom tool!

Get your updated version here! I will explain later how to use it. Or you can skip over to the section below, “How To Plan Your Retirement with Our Tool.”

This newer version doesn’t only show you how to achieve $X amount of net worth (e.g. $1,000,000), it will also show whether you’ll have enough money to support your lifestyle once you decide to retire or become financially independent. That’s, of course, assuming your following predictions are correct:

1) Life expectancy

2) Average return on investments

As I mentioned in my previous post, nothing in life is guaranteed. You can certainly prepare for the controllable such as your earning power, when you start saving, and how much.

As for the uncontrollable, the best you can do is take on calculated risks (i.e. market returns and life expectancy).

Remember, you’re looking at long-term returns. I found this CNBC article where financial advisor, Ric Edelman says investors with long-term goals, such as retirement, should buy stocks now.


Financial Independence & Retirement Planning

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Overall, how and when you retire will ultimately depend on how much you save and your desired lifestyle.


According to this article, “How Much Money Do You Need To Retire,” at Sun Life Financial by Kevin Press, he mentions what Cindy Crean, Assistant Vice-President, Private Client at Sun Life Global Investments (Canada) Inc. and a certified financial planner, says:

Everyone’s situation is so different that I don’t think you can apply an estimated percentage. For example, if you’re living in an expensive city like Toronto or Vancouver and you decide that what retirement looks like for you is to move to a smaller community, your expenses at retirement are going to be greatly reduced. You need to really look at what retirement means for you and what your expenses are going to be.


Generally speaking, Press says that you will likely spend less when you’re retired compared to your working years. That makes sense because, by then, your mortgage would be paid off. On top of that, your little rug rats will move out and become independent.


Or, maybe they will choose to move out because of your nagging!

Haha, just kidding!


Anyone a Rugrats, or All Grown Up (Sequel of Rugrats) fan?


Anyway, in all seriousness, Press provided in his article the 2016 Sun Life Canadian Retirement Now Report that shows the average retired Canadian lives on 62% of their pre-retirement income.

According to most articles you find online, financial experts will say you need about 70% to 80% of your pre-retirement income to retire comfortably.

Using 70% as an example, if you earn a salary of $80,000 before you retire, it is recommended that you’ll need 0.70*$80,000=$56,000 in cash flow per year to retire.

However, in this article by David Aston, he writes:

“I get so upset when I hear advisers telling clients they need 70% to 80%,” says Annie Kvick, a certified financial planner and associate with Money Coaches Canada in North Vancouver. “I’ve had clients come to me at 67 and they’re still working because their adviser told them they didn’t have enough. When I looked at how much they really needed, I found they could have retired five years ago.”


So again, depending on your desired lifestyle, this number will vary for different people. Let’s discuss more of this in the next section!


Like what you read so far? Pin this image below onto Pinterest!

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How To Plan Your Retirement with Our Tool

Now, I can finally explain how to use the tool we created for you.

If you haven’t grabbed your free copy yet, here it is! Remember, it’s desktop friendly.

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Whether you’re aiming to retire early or reach financial independence, you can use this tool as your guidance. Hopefully, this calculator will prompt you to start early and help you make better financial decisions. 

Again, your plans may change down the road, but the spreadsheet should give you a rough idea of how much you’ll need.

But before you use the spreadsheet, ask yourself these questions:


1) How much will my desired lifestyle cost per year once I retire? Be honest with yourself when you answer this question.

For example, your mortgage may be paid off, and your kids become independent. But perhaps you want to travel the world and enjoy the finer things in life. This may result in an increase in spending (more than you expected) compared to a simple laid back lifestyle. So, it’s important to be true to yourself when you’re planning.


2) Starting today, how much do I need to save per month/year to reach my goal of 1)?


3) What is my assumed long-term rate of return on investments per year? Referring back to my previous post, John Heinzl, a writer from Globe and Mail, recommends 8%. However, I would recommend using 7%, in nominal terms. To adjust for inflation, I would personally go with 4% to 5%.


Related: How To Make Mr. Compound Interest Your BFF and Take Advantage of His Sexiness!


Let’s take a look at an example:

early retirement / retirement calculator

We will assume numbers are in real terms using a 5% rate of return.

Based on the spreadsheet’s example, suppose you start saving $1,200 per month at age 25.

Assume you start with $0 initial investment (as seen in “Initial Investment” field). In other words, you start off with no debt and no assets. However, if you already have $5,000 invested in the markets, input $5,000 in that field.

Let’s also assume you want to start withdrawing money from your nest at age 55, your desired retirement date. For simplicity, let’s say your desired lifestyle will cost you $3,500 per month (“Monthly Withdrawal” field) once you retire. This automatically calculates to $3,500*12=$42,000 per year (“Annual Withdrawal” field).


Now, if you scroll all the way down, you will see that as you spend $42,000 per year until age 100, your portfolio will still grow and work for you. At age 100, you will see that your portfolio still grows to $2.038 million (“Investment Balance” field). Wow!

retirement calculator / retire early


However, check out this CRAZY thing…

What if you increase your monthly spending (“Monthly Withdrawal” field) from $3,500 to $5,500 per month? Assume everything else is unchanged except for this field.

Note that this new lifestyle translates to $5,500*12=$66,000 per year. Again, we’re still assuming an uncertain rate of return of 5% per year, in real terms.

Look what happens when you increase your monthly spending by $2,000 (i.e. from $3,500 to $5,500)!

retirement calculator / retire early / retirement dream

This simulation tells you that your nest would be used up by age 81, going onto age 82!

By age 82 onward, you would have nothing to support your future spending, assuming that you still live.


As you play with this spreadsheet and plan your retirement, you will notice that your output/result (i.e. “Investment Balance”) is extremely sensitive to your inputs (time, savings, withdrawal, rate of return assumption, etc.).

With that said, save yo a$$ by making sure your inputs are sexy! That is…

– start saving and investing as early as you can (controllable)

– hustle yo’ a$$ off (the younger, the better) to earn more and make that moo-la work for you (controllable)

learn how to save (and spend) money the sexy way! (controllable)

develop a RICH mindset (very controllable)

– take on calculated risks with your investments (uncontrollable, but be wise with your decisions)


Longevity Risk

In the above, we mentioned that there are many input variables you can control (saving, earning more, developing the right mindset, etc.). But there are also things we cannot control such as the stock markets.

Another thing you cannot control nor predict is how long you will live. This is defined as longevity risk.

To learn more about longevity risk and retirement income planning, read this summary from the CFA Institute.

Despite these uncontrollable events, it’s still important to learn what they are and incorporate them into your retirement planning. I know $hit happens, but you should do what you can to protect yourself.



Need help with saving money so that you can reach financial independence sooner?

Download the fail-proof budget binder that helped us save over $700,000!

As y’all know, my fiance and I were inspired by Gail Vaz-Oxlade’s money makeover shows and that’s how we learned about her clever budget strategy. Having that said, we followed her savings strategy and that’s how we were able to save over $700,000 within 7 years! To help you master your savings, we created our version of her fail-proof budget plan just for you! Yes, it’s 100% FREE!

In this budget kit, we included a monthly budget tool that keeps track of all your income sources plus expenses. With income in the picture, it’s easy to see how much you can allocate to both your fixed and variable expenses. To make your life easier, I also included a section where you can record your monthly investment contributions. This separate “investments” section will come in handy when you read about my third step below.

Aside from the budget tool, we also made these pretty weekly printables that will keep your budget and savings on track. These free printables were made to give you instant results to boost your confidence in your financial journey.


This budget kit is only exclusive to my subscribers, so grab your FREE copy here!



Many people dream of becoming a millionaire, so they make that their target number. But is a $1 million nest egg even enough to retire? Yes and no since it really depends on your desired lifestyle. Some people are able to retire happily with $500,000 while some may require $5 million!

In other words, there’s no one-size-fits-all.


Whatever that number is, you can use our tool to find out how much you need to retire comfortably. To give you a rough idea, you’ll need to input the following numbers into the spreadsheet:

1) Age you start saving (the earlier, the better).

2) When you plan to retire or reach financial independence.

3) How much you plan to save per month. If your savings plan fluctuates, you can convert that to yearly savings, and manually input it into the “Annual Contribution” field.

4) Your return on investment assumption.

5) How much you plan to spend per month during retirement. Similar to 3), you can adjust your numbers to annual, and manually input this into the “Retirement Withdrawal” field.


Nothing is set in stone. I mean, who knows, you may even change your plans over the years. But overall, we hope this tool will help you reach your goals.


Over to you

So, readers, are you excited to plan for retirement and/or reach financial independence?

What’s your planned lifestyle?

Are you looking for a simple laid back retirement life?

Or, are you looking forward to driving a Ferrari and travelling the entire world in style? Man, I wonder how much I’ll need to save in order to roll in that kind of lifestyle?? Ah, time for me to crunch in the numbers!!

Again, here’s your free retirement calculator! Happy planning, you fin$avvy readers!


Disclaimer: I am not a certified financial advisor or planner. I’m just a fun and cute fin$avvy panda carebear who loves talking about money and finances. You should not treat this as professional advice. All content on my blog is for fun, and a way to document and share my financial journey. Before making any financial decisions, please consult a professional advisor or planner.


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  1. Panda!

    Agree with the one size doesn’t fit all concept – you have to measure/re-calculate for every change that occurs and factors of life that are thrown your way!

    Ah man – daydreaming about retirement. A part of me thinks I’ll be one of those grandmas that do daycare for their grandkids and be super happy cooking and tidying up while my super successful son (who is 3, so he’s got a ways to go) will be running the world with his equally successful and smart wife.

    Annnnd the other part of me thinks I’ll be the traveling grandma that ain’t got time for nobody! “Here’s a postcard of me and my whale site-seeing trip kids!”

    Or, I’ll just be running one of thee biggest online blogs out there by age 40 and be happily retired. 🙂

    Clearly, I better save at least 3 versions of the tool on my desktop… life A, B, C, D ….

    1. Haha it’s always nice to day dream!

      You’ll be the coolest grandma in town with one of the coolest blog. You’ll be reminiscing and reading your old posts/comments from 2017/2018/2019/2020 etc… and be like to your hubby mr DS, “hey, remember that panda? I wonder where she went.. along with her husband and mr. Compound interest??”

      Haha by then, all these blog posts are gonna be so old skool. I wonder how all of this will get archived?? 😂😂😂😂😂

  2. Panda, I have had my own long term financial planning tool called my “quit now” spreadsheet for many years. It can be really motivating to play with the numbers to see what is financially possible and when. I encourage everyone to use your tool if they do not have one of their own. FI is great. Do what you want to do, whatever that is. Tom

  3. I agree, everybody’s retirement is different and one size doesn’t fit all. I hope everybody has or uses your spreadsheet so they know how much they will need.
    Some people think once they hit FI, they are done and never have to do anything again. But in reality retirement is very fluid and you still have to be involved and update your financial/investment plan. Spreadsheets make planning a lot easier.

    1. Hi Steve!

      I agree the spreadsheet makes it easier. The great thing is that you see numbers in front of you and you’ll have a rough estimate.

      Also, in the earlier years of financial independence, you don’t necessary have to use money from the nest portfolio. You can still let 100% of it grow. And just take a job you love or enjoy and not care much about the pay as long as it can fund your desired lifestyle! If you make more than expected, great… more to feed the best as you’re living the life lol… am I just a dreamer? Hahaha…

      But that is true freedom!!

  4. @fin$avvy panda: When it comes to retirement, I agree that no one-size-fits-all. You need to plan well ahead, and revise your plans every now and then as needed.

    Thanks for the mention and this additional great tool!

    1. Oh yeah, I feel like my fiancé and I are so indecisive at times. We’re revising our numbers a lot and looking at what ifs…

      if we decide to move to Niagara Falls or a cheaper city not too far from Toronto, the story changes and becomes much easier to achieve independence.

      But the fact we want to live here, it’s a big price to pay. For now, to be closer to family and friends, also work a decent salary is worth it. We shall see what happens down the road!

  5. Wow EPIC post!

    Nice pin too! I am so wary of the withdrawal rate, I would NOT want to run out of money at age 82! That’s when you will need to be spending a lot of money. Long Term Care doesn’t come cheap especially if you are opting for a private facility (they are $5000-$10,000 a month) or wanting to hire someone to care for you in your home.

    Haha, yes I recall I liked watching Rugrats. Now I have the theme song in my head. Thank you, thank you very much haha…

    1. Lol definitely not want to run out of funds as long as we live. I’m wondering what happens to those who live well over 100?? I’m sure that was not planned for.

      I remember as a lil girl I would love watching rug rats after school. The early 90s were the best years! I remember watching YTV and all those cartoon shows. Why couldn’t our lives now be the same stress-free style as a kid’s life?? Wouldn’t that be awesome? Now that’s true freedom hah!

    1. Thanks for the additional resource, Caroline!

      Tbh, my fiancé and I haven’t read into true retirement too deeply yet (I.e. cpp, oas, and all the rules and stuff). We should bc it’s so important to plan ahead and be aware. It wasn’t until I read Enoch’s 101 retirement guide, that I was like… huh, interesting… I remember reading about them but never nailed the details in my head.

      And you’re right… there are some older generation millennials that still live with their parents today. And I’ve heard about some Gen x doing the same. So to answer that, it will probably depend too… maybe your kids will just love you sooo much, they couldn’t move out without you! But hey, maybe they become so rich that they will be taking care of you by then… hint hint: tell them to start investing super early 😊😉

  6. Hey Panda,

    Awesome post and tool! Just recently, Lily and I started making these kinds of retirement calculations (we’ve been saving for years, but not with retirement projections in hand). The issue we’ve been having is that, depending on some variables, the numbers can change a lot.

    For example: to include or not include Social Security (as you mention); inflation adjustments; Lily’s pension (I don’t have a traditional pension, but she does).

    I’ve also been thinking a lot about the mortgage issue (it’s our biggest expense). I wonder if it’s a good idea to consider the potential retirement income from a reverse mortgage, or even from selling our house (if we decide to downsize at that time).

    Lots of things to think about!


    1. Hi Miguel!

      There’s definitely a lot of options! Our first world problem is having too many of these options lol!!

      The reverse mortgage is definitely an option if you want income. But I personally haven’t heard many ppl taking on this approach.

      I personally would feel iffy selling my house to the bank (Must be a psychological thing in my head lol). Tbh, I’m not familiar with it at all because I always thought about either down sizing or moving to a more affordable city. The last two just seem simpler and more common, but likely because I haven’t read into reverse mortgages, so maybe that’s just a mental short cut I’m taking as I speak now haha.

      With you as a lawyer and both planning for retirement, you and Lily are set either way!! I wish my fiancé and I were making that kinda income!!! 😊

  7. I think I would like the laid back style for retirement with a sprinkle of traveling once a year or every other year. Some traveling overseas but I would mainly do cruises and RVing. With that in mind, I may need to do a couple versions of your spreadsheet to have an idea of how much I need when retirement arrives for us because we haven’t bought a home yet so mortgage will be coming into play.
    BTW, I do remember the Rugrats cartoon on Nickelodeon back in the ’90s!! Tommy Pickles all the way!!

    1. RV’ing would be nice! Were you inspired by making sense of cents? It does seem like a very chilled and down to earth lifestyle. I would love to experience that as well!

      Definitely play with the numbers. It will give you a better idea and it can actually cause less stress (at least that’s how we felt).

      If it causes more stress, that’s good too because you’ll know what you have to do in order to meet your retirement expectations. For example, if your savings are short, then you’ll have to find ways to cut or earn more to hit that target savings. Ultimately achieving your end goal of retirement.

      Once you buy your house, remember NOT to include any of that as your investment in the spreadsheet if you never plan on selling it (I.e. don’t include house value in the initial investment; I know some do and will never sell). However, the mortgage, property taxes, maintenance, etc. will lower your savings.

      But again, as long as it’s comfortably affordable, you’re good to go. Based on your expense reports I see, you’re like one of the best savers, so I’m sure you’re going to rock your retirement plan!! 😊

      And yessss to Tommy Pickles lol!

  8. Wow we are for sure close in age with the Rugrats reference!

    Great tool and way to reverse engineer the plan. Everyone should start out with the end in mind.

    A clear path on how to achieve something is oh so needed.

    1. I think I might be 3 years older than you, but I guess still within that age group generation of Rug Rats!!

      I even remember Power Rangers, Hey Arnold, Doug and Patty, Reboot, etc. Okay I think I’m reminiscing the old times too much now haha!

  9. I love to crunch numbers and I think that it’s great that you upgraded the tool to take the withdrawal factor into consideration. Regardless if you are budgeting now or for retirement, the number one thing to do is to live within your means.

    When it comes to our finances, the two most important factors that we can control are our spending and savings. If we have these two factors working for us, we will definitely increase our chances of long term financial success.

    1. Hey Leo!

      I definitely agree that it’s important to live within your means. If someone really wants a lavish lifestyle, then they will have to find a way to get rich so that they can still live below their means.

      At the end of the day, the question is really how do you want to retire? What kind of lifestyle makes you happy… 🙂

  10. LOVE this new tool! And thanks for updating it for me 😉
    It has all the options!

    Still unbelievable to see what Mr. Compound Interest can do for you, even when you stop your contributions and don’t overspend!
    They should really teach this stuff at school, like when you are really young and knowing this will could make a massive difference to your savings!

    I can’t wait to get to the withdrawl stage, while standing on a beach somewhere and/or travelling around the world.

    One can dream right? Especially knowing that the dream isn’t too far!! 🙂

    1. I’m glad you love it and find it useful!! <3

      I know they teach this stuff in school, but their approach is way too boring and not very practical. No kids or students will want to learn about compound interest with a boring and ugly looking formula!! The school needs to make this stuff more interesting haha!

      Your dreams will eventually come true! I can already feel that your blog is going to become one that generates $1,000,000 per year!!!!

  11. It’s so important to know the financial number you need to obtain financial independence. I feel a lot of people who save/invest aggressively have a hard time stopping because they don’t know what their actual financial retirement number is!

    Thanks for sharing your tool!

    1. Hey Sean!

      You’re right. I find that there are a lot of people who don’t know what they want. In other words, there’s no detailed plan nor goal. Usually, people would just say… “Idk… I wanna retire and have enough money to do such and such” but they don’t know what such and such is, nor do they know how much it costs…

      It’s so important to have a plan and goal. Although it’s not set in stone, it helps to have at least an idea.

      Hope you enjoy the tool!

  12. Puns are always intended!

    Panda, you always make such awesome-looking spreadsheets! I can make awesome spreadsheets, too, but they look boring in comparison!

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