The program is designed to show you your level of available annual discretionary spending, which is the dollar amount that you can spend after taxes, housing and other off-the-top expenses. Once you see this yearly amount as your “benchmark” you can look for ways to raise that amount by making smarter choices about Social Security, retirement withdraws, and other “efficiencies.”
This calculated available spending amount (as opposed to you telling the program what the amount is or should be) is critical because it serves as a reliable benchmark for comparing whether any financial decision improves your plan or not.
That said, you might ask:
- If I didn't spend all of the $X amount as the model shows I can spend, how much would I have left over at the end of life?
- If I want to spend less now and more later (or more now and less later), how do I create a model to reflect that?
For #1, you can enter a special expense (look under Household in the inputs) at the end of life and this future expense will lower your annual discretionary spending for each year. The special expense you enter can represent money you don't spend over the years. In other words, the program can't just pretend this extra money doesn't exist and use a lower discretionary spending. The extra money has to go somewhere. So you can show it as a future special expense.
For #2, you can use the Annual Living Standard Index in Settings & Assumptions and set the living standard to, say, 80 for a period of 10 years and then let the living standard after that rise accordingly. Or you can do the opposite: spend more now for a set time and then let the future living standard drop after that period of time.