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COMMENTS FROM 2009-2016

12/31/2016 -- Joe N.

Love your ORP tool. It is so awesome. I'm a software developer and often thought about such a tool. You must have spent a lot of time working on it.

12/29/2016 -- Bill B.

Although my career was electronic engineering I know a lot about topics related to retirement. Most of my well educated former colleagues are, by comparison, clueless about those same topics. For the most part people aren't concerned about retirement until its imminent. Exacerbating that lack of knowledge is that HR departments have outsourced the process to webinar companies. As a result I have come to the conclusion that there is a huge need for education, guidance, etc. in the domain or retirement planning, spending, etc. As I tell everyone I know - there is one tool that I recommend: ORP. The rest aren't worth the time it takes to enter the required data.

12/22/2016 -- Bill M.

Let me say you've created an incredible tool. I've worked with several calculators over the years but this is clearly the best out there! I was referred to your program via the Mr. Money Mustache blog

10/03/2016 -- Liz B.

I do appreciate how ORP allows us to see what happens with different levels of Roth conversion (of course realizing that tax rates may change....) I did read your linked article in JFP, and found that helpful.

09/08/2016 -- Life Is Good, Bogleheads.org Forum

Tell me that's not the coolest calculator I've ever seen! Thanks for that suggestion. I'll play with the numbers a bit, but initial calculations look like I'm okay.

08/15/2016 -- Wesley M.

I read a book by Ed Slott "The Retirement Savings Time Bomb . . . and How To Diffuse It". Book is filled with a lot of information for protecting your IRA and 401k against unwanted taxes and includes detailed IRS tax code issues. Recognizing the number of variables associated with individual differences, I began looking for models/calculators (similar to what you could find for maximizing social security benefits). During a web search for "optimizing retirement account withdrawals", I found a link to the ORP.

Thanks for developing this decision support tool - I am an Operations Research Systems Analyst who just retired from the Army after 32 years and now working as a defense contractor. If it remains for years to come, I'll continue using ORP to support my long-term retirement and estate planning efforts.

08/11/2016 -- David T.

A friend at work sent me the link to your site and I have used it more than any other retirement program. I have sent this to everyone who has asked about planning retirement.

08/03/2016 -- Joe S.

I've been very impressed with ORP. The fact that it has me doing ROTH conversions in the first few years was very interesting and something I had not thought of. Forcing zero for the ACA subsidy is pretty neat. I also like your idea of running it each year as a guide. Great work, really.

07/13/2016 -- Investing to Thrive

Thanks so much for commenting and pointing to the ORP tool. It is definitely more detailed than most of the calculators I referenced. And I love that you can specify whether assets are held in Roth vs. traditional accounts.

In some cases, the other calculators consider Social Security benefits but don't allow you to enter your particular number. The main thing I wanted to illustrate is that there are many assumptions that the calculators make - so it can be helpful to be aware for these assumptions and then adjust planning based on reality (which may or may not be relevant to the assumptions).

In regard to taxes, as I mentioned in the article, they are important but can be difficult to forecast - unless you take a very detailed view (it's something I'm doing but didn't cover in depth in this particular article on how retirement calculators work). Going back to the ORP tool, being able to segment assets based on taxation is helpful. Thanks again for pointing it out.

07/13/2016 -- siamond: bogelheads.org forum:

You also need to start thinking about your tax strategy in the coming few decades (yes, I mean it). When SSA and RMDs start to kick in, you're back to income taxes. Which should make you think to do some level of Roth conversion in the mean time (right after retirement). A big topic in itself (an online tool named I-ORP can really help you to start grasping the issues). Maybe something worth a few hours with a tax advisor, after doing your own homework for a little while.

07/02/2016 -- Dottie57: bogelheads.org forum:

Using i-orp can be a challenge. The first thing is to take your time and make sure you click on the various entry descriptions to make sure you are giving the right inputs. It is easy to forget to use numbers in thousands, or to enter SS in annual, not monthly amount.

Another challenge is that the standard run assumes perfectly smooth fixed return percentages for investments. Not really a problem for conversions planning where you are really just looking for suggestions on where to start/end Roth conversions and managing taxable income levels, but I think it gives optimistic spending levels.

i-orp makes the assumption that current tax rates will persist, which is generally appropriate. I am a bit more pessimistic on this, so I keep that in mind in favoring Roth conversions somewhat earlier.

i-orp has very optimistic spending levels. But the output is very interesting. And I can see how the various components work together. It is fairly easy to see how and when to convert to Roth IRA even if not using the amounts produced by i-orp.

05/16/2016 -- chuckb84: bogelheads.org forum:

...but the most useful thing to me was to learn about:

http://www.i-orp.com/parms.html

Which made it much easier to run simulations that I had been doing more laboriously using other tools. I -still- don't understand the tax issue for my situation, but the points in that thread and pointers to tools I didn't know about helped a lot.

04/31/2016 -- robert57: early-retirement.org forum:

I believe that withdrawal sources are important considerations. The level of importance depends on tax rates and the accumulated value of your tax deferred retirement accounts. You might want to run the "optimal retirement planner at www.i-orp.com to get a better understanding of the impact of RMDs and tax rates on the total value of your retirement, not to mention impact on healthcare subsidies through the exchanges.

04/18/2016 -- Whisper66: early-retirement.org forum:

Overall, [ORP is] a good tool to develop a plan you think should work reasonably or check a plan offered by an advisor. People on this board can answer questions on this tool. Also, the tool developer often monitors this board and will answer questions posed here or sent directly to him.

04/07/2016 --Jake

While taking a break from studying I thought it useful to allocate time to a subject that's been bothering me for quite some time: Creating an effective strategy for distributing our portfolio in retirement. It was while reading a blog regarding the merits of subscribing to ESPlanner, that one of the participants mentioned ORP. As we say in South Carolina, it was time to "hunt that dog". :-)

And your results were quite close to those from Fidelity's Planner. That's a good thing because validation is important in research.

I'm trying to keep cash balances low in the taxable/non-taxable accounts (portfolio) so most cash resides in regular accounts. Your tool confirmed the earlier Fidelity results and even delivered numbers representing what a bad year might look like. Quantifying the annual "restraint factor" is a first step in defining a strategy -- which by the way appears to be a daunting task made more difficult by the Social Security factor and all the questions needing answering.

So as you've made this tool available for free, you're performing a valuable service for a lot of folks.

As an afterthought .. As an IT guy, I appreciate good documentation and there aren't a lot of people that can do it right. With ORP, you did it exceptionally well. It took a lot of time and work to create an Index of data fields and then hyperlink everything.

03/28/2016 -- Randy T.

I like the tool---easy to use for a quick answer to the perennial "Am I more or less on track?" question, but much more detailed and nuanced than typical tools in that line. I especially like the inclusion of realistic spending plans.

01/28/2016 -- Eric H.:

I am enjoying my first year of retirement. The decision was made more comfortable by past analysis with I-ORP. I am now doing a yearly update of our retirement financial plans and using the I-ORP tool again.

12/28/2015 -- Patrick M.

[I am the] creator of the Retiree Portfolio Model. A few months ago I added an "ORP Comparison" page to my Excel model which allows a comparison to be made of input items and results. (I had been doing a reconciliation for a few years to give me some comfort that I didn't have some major flaws in it.) This addition makes it easier for me or users to do it.

I am updating my model for 2016 including the ORP page and noticed all the nice additions you had made to ORP recently, including allowing fixed spending levels and the ACA subsidy check. I also just added a much cruder ACA and Medicare alert to RPM as a result of concerns posters on Bogleheads seem to have over these things. I found it interesting you had already added it to ORP.

I see you dropped File and Suspend which I will do later this year. So happy to be able to simplify the model.

At this point I'm thinking about ending my model development as I see ORP doing all the things that are important to me (RPM started out as my personal retirement model), and in most cases better than I have (I do like my detailed tax bracket forecaster.) Many people at Bogleheads find and use ORP - RPM not so much (I have no idea how many have downloaded it but 60,000+ thread views might be an indicator.)

One thing I love about ORP is its simplicity. Anyone with Internet access can, within 2 minutes, have a great forecast of income, expenses and portfolio results. On the other hand, I worry about the complexity in RPM because it requires most every decision to be made by the user. I'm sure this discourages many from using it. (I thought about adding reverse mortgages to RPM after seeing it on ORP but decided the few using it was not worth the added complexity.)

Anyway, I wanted to congratulate you on all the great additions being made to ORP to make it even better. And a happy new year too!

11/25/2015 -- H.Y.

Your program, ORP, is a valuable tool for me to manage my assets during my retirement time. Thanks.

11/10/2015 -- Bill B.

FYI I just ran my model vs ORP's Inflation adjusted model ... I run out of money two years earlier in my spreadsheet model. Virtually equivalent. Excellent!

11/01/2015 -- Jim H.

I have looked at a number of planning tools from Fidelity, Vanguard, etc., and yours is head and shoulders above the rest. It is not 'dumbed down' to make the process simplistic. I have far higher confidence in the results of your planner than in any of the rest. The features I most appreciate are:

  • Clarity regarding the intention of the input parameters. This, alone, makes your planner unique. (One T.RowePrice planner asked for 'income', when they really wanted to know what your 'Expenses' were to be!!)
  • A well-documented explanation of how the tool works, including its assumptions.
  • The in-depth modeling of such parameters as inflation of tax brackets over time - obviously these are significant over time
  • Your documentation leads me to read other scholarly works on retirement planning, giving me a better understanding of what matters and what does not.

I have a detailed Excel spreadsheet with which I model my own retirement. It is great to be able to tinker with individual parameters over specific periods of time (e.g. `Roth conversions before age 70). But I always come back to using your tool to ensure that my own spreadsheet hasn't somehow gone awry!

I especially find the Monte Carlo simulations enlightening (if not frightening). Mine have shown a scary decline in annual spending over the straight ORP run. But I think I know why. I use an extremely conservative 5% return (over 3% inflation) for equity returns. In my spreadsheet, I think this is OK, but for Monte Carlo simulations, I think it is excessively negative. Bumping that return up to 6-7% leads to happier results.

No planner is perfect - life is complicated and there are many twists and turns. But knowing what your planner DOES and DOES NOT do is the best way to get solid, rational feedback from the planner.

I hope that ORP will be around for many years to come!!

10/27/2015 -- jatatoo

Good morning - I would like to sincerely thank you for providing this retirement analysis tool. It appears (in the Lifecycle spending mode) to closely match (+/-$2000 annually) consumption smoothing output from a Smart (Smartware) Spreadsheet I 've been working with since about 1985. You may remember this DOS-based software - it was an integrated package with WP, database, spreadsheet, time manager, and so on. It is nice to have confirmation that my admittedly simplistic spreadsheet was somewhat close, but the maintenance involved is getting onerous in my old age - think I will switch to your tool. :)

07/09/2015 -- Dave K.

I have been working with I-orp for my personal retirement planning for several months now. You have a great program as I have found nothing on the net that optimizes spending while minimizing taxes. I have recommended it to several of my peers.

06/15/2015 -- Clif S.

I find ORP to be helpful to assess the impact of illiquid purchases and sales options during retirement. In our case whether we can likely pay the costs of a second home purchased and held for perhaps a 10 year period without running the risk of exhausting all of our retirement funds prior to our estimated "time of departure".

05/28/2015 -- merlin3942, early-retirement.org:

Just ran my first I_ORP pass. What an amazing tool! Part of the reason I've been in "OMY" mode for a while is because I thought it was easier to just keep working than to try to figure out how to handle the withdrawal strategy on my own.

05/10/2015 -- Eric H.

I heard about I-ORP from the http://www.early-retirement.org/ . I started following this board maybe a year or so ago and saw many people used and had confidence in I-ORP so decided to try it myself. I retired this March and have a financial plan which includes a quarterly review of my finances and at least a yearly relook at things with I-ORP.

05/01/2015 -- Don G.

I want to express my sincere appreciation for your insights and sharing of your knowledge. I have been aware of your I-orp.com software for a year or two, and have recently been looking at it more seriously as I approach retirement. It is a tremendous planning tool.

04/30/2015 -- early-retirement.org:

Only suggestions I'd have are things I've learned from this board (a) use the I-ORP tool (Optimal Retirement Planner) to plan how to manage the amount of taxes on your tax deferred accounts and (2) keep your investment account costs very low so not wasting money there.

04/29/2015 -- Mike S.

I must say that I have really learned a lot and gained a lot of confidence in my own money-management capabilities as a result of playing around with ORP, Firecalc and the like. Thanks for all your great work. I will definitely hit the "donate" button! Given an advisor wanted 1% of my assets annually, a donation is cheap!!!

03/28/2015 -- weallmac

First, I want to say thanks for creating and continuing to improve I-ORP. I took an early retirement last fall, and the tool was helpful in giving me the confidence to do so.

Of the many good input parameters, one set I particularly like is the different values for current and future state tax rates, as we will be moving from no state tax to a relatively high one (for lifestyle, not for the taxes).

03/01/2015 -- Enid W

The bottom line is living a full life now and making reasonable plans for future eventualities that are unknown. In any case, I do appreciate the work you are doing and the research and calculations you make available. They have really helped me decide what level of spending is right for us.

02/14/2015 -- Jim H

This is also my opportunity to say that I have long admired and respected ORP as a monumental achievement in retirement planning.

Thank you for helping me negotiate this new (to me) version.

12/19/2014 -- Mike H

If you need any testimonials, I will be more than happy to provide one.

I have shown the ORP analysis to a financial advisor. They have their own model and close their mind to anything else even though they kind of got it when I explained the benefits. They all start with you having a budget and either doing a Monte Carlo simulation or a fixed return. I also think it is a legal issue so they will not deal with it. Real shame!!!

12/15/2014 -- Steve B

I love the tool. I have worked with a financial advisor and have used other tools, and this approach is more effective than either.

12/07/2014 -- Jerry Z

I just came across your ORP calculator and it is great! Thank you for creating and managing it. I am about 5-6 years from retirement and the calculator is providing me with some interesting information I have not found elsewhere.

11/25/2014 -- Carol M

I rely on ORP a lot, as I am in sort of a netherworld of being almost able to retire and not terribly employable at my age anyway, so this has been reassuring to me.

11/13/2014 -- Howard N

I do appreciate all you have done with your model. It amazes me how little financial advisors (including fidelity, wells fargo, vanguard and independents know or appreciate these issues. Their evaluation models are so non-custom as to be worthless.

10/27/2014 -- Lsbcal, early-retirement.org:

You might want to also run i-orp.com to get some thoughts going on with optimal withdrawals. I found it helpful but it probably is not infallible. Got me to think about things like taking a lot of Roth money out now combined with IRA and SS money to keep the tax picture nice until RMDs.

It is wise to try to think ahead some years. Of course, future tax policy is never totally clear.

10/22/2014 -- mydollarplan:

You might want to also run i-orp.com to get some thoughts going on with optimal withdrawals. I found it helpful but it probably is not infallible. Got me to think about things like taking a lot of Roth money out now combined with IRA and SS money to keep the tax picture nice until RMDs.

It is wise to try to think ahead some years. Of course, future tax policy is never totally clear.

10/02/2014 -- Susanna E.

The more I use ORP the more I am drawn in by its elegance. Today, I have been trying to decide, in a hurry, on the best strategy to convert as much into Roth as optimally.

09/17/2014 -- Mike E.

I am impressed with all that ORP is trying to cover. I have not seen such a comprehensive approach, and I find it fascinating to use. I can simply plug parameters from my own retirement spreadsheet, and get your beautiful graphs and tabulations -- as well as some alternate distribution strategie(s).

09/06/2014 -- ggbutcher, early-retirement.org forum:

This thread [tax-calculators] has hit a nerve here; I have been scratching my head over tax consequences of my tax-deferred stuff vice the pensions and SS. Sooo, I just went and ran I-ORP on my coarse numbers and, in reviewing what it thinks, I now have a much better understanding of the dynamics. When the time comes, I may decide to do things differently, but I feel I would do so with a better understanding of the consequences.

08/29/2014 -- Ted

ORP is an exceptional piece of software. I have used it for several years.

08/03/2014 -- Mike

My interest in ORP is that I found it to be the most valuable tool I found (including what two financial advisors had) and I wanted to feel comfortable that I understand what is under the hood. Being able to do this helped me understand the sensitivities of retirement planning. I also enjoyed being able to dialog with you and learn from your experience and knowledge. With the transparency you provide in the reports, it provides the ability to trust and verify (as Ronald Reagan once said!).

07/30/2014 -- Mike

I am 100% behind ORP as the best tool out there. It does not base your financial future on your wish but what can be achieved. I agree the 4% rule is a POS (technically and literally). Fooling around with a wish for

07/18/2014 -- Jay

Great program: very useful for us. Actual retirement for me within 6 months!

07/07/2014 -- Erik

Thanks for an awesome tool.

07/04/2014 -- Dennis

Thank you so much for ORP. I have told everyone about it and it has been helpful in ways I have found nowhere else.

03/07/2014 -- sengsational, early-retirement.org forum:

But I wanted to suggest i-orp.com if you have not tried it. You have probably already have all of the inputs at hand. It will probably tell you that you do not need to do the part-time [work] unless it enhances your well being from within the constraints of the model of course. Most other tools use the rule of thumb "first taxable, then IRA, last Roth", or some variation like that.

03/06/2014 -- BigFoot48, early-retirement.org forum:

I would like to thank James Welch, the creator and provider of remarkable ORP, the Optimal Retirement Planner, for his helpful responses to my questions as I worked to reconcile the Retiree Roth model to ORP. He also thought the Retiree Roth mode I was very useful, and provided a link to this thread in his website. I highly recommend everyone use his excellent tool in their retirement planning.

01/20/2014 -- Mike

I find your articles and program invaluable! I am getting ready to retire and am discussing the strategy you have for converting from an IRA to a Roth IRA as I was previously not eligible for a Roth IRA.

12/08/2013 -- Pat

Thank you for your wonderful planning tool and making it available to the world.

I created an Excel model last year for testing exploring the Roth conversion issue for myself, and decided to make it user friendly and provided it on the Bogleheads forum for others to use. Belatedly, I just realized I should be testing it against other available models and selected yours first as the gold standard, and sure enough, in comparing the results of a simple test, it revealed I did indeed have a problem with some of my conversion cell references! So I want to thank you for that too!

09/23/2013 -- binskins, bogleheads.org forum:

I have used this calculator for several years. The goal of the formula and the recommended distribution patterns are to smooth out your after-tax income over your lifetime, assuming you live to a certain age. That basically means that to get a lower tax later in life, you might pay higher taxes earlier, during the Simple IRA to Roth conversion. I think the Monte Carlo simulation is one of the features that makes it most useful and sets it apart from other calculators.

05/05/2011 -- TrustNoOne, blogleheads.org forum:

i-orp.com does raise some very important issues - issues that may be a lot more important than asset allocation. You really have 4 or 5 possible income streams all with different tax consequences and possible withdrawal paths: after tax investments, retirement accounts, social security, spouse social security and possibly pension income. I've pretty much concluded that taking out some of the money from my retirement accounts prior to age 70 makes sense as (assuming I do retire) I would be in a lower tax bracket then I would at 70 when MRD's kick in. Also, I think deferring soc sec as long as possible may make sense from a risk perspective because I would have a larger cola'd income stream in my later years. (Of course, there is a tax downside with this as well.) Optimizing all of these variables is a very difficult problem, but one that is important.

08/06/2009 -- Edward

I really appreciate this program and have been using it to see if I may comfortably retire.

06/26/2009 -- Ron

I was told by someone on the Early Retirement Forum website to try ORP. Although I am late retirement, there are useful discussions on the forum. The program has me thinking more about my tax situation.

03/19/2009 -- Len

I just stumbled across your site and am thinking I've found exactly what I've been looking for all these years. Linear programming / game theory was a favorite class in college.

Recent Comments

What's New!

New Journal Article

A Three Step Procedure for Sustainable Retirement Savings Withdrawals

Part of retirement planning is to coordinate income from multiple sources such that savings are not depleted prematurely, no large undesired surplus is left behind, and disposable income is maximized. This paper describes 3-PEAT, a practical, retirement savings withdrawal procedure that addresses these objectives.

To appear in Journal of Financial Planning on August 2017

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05/02/2017
ORP Editorial Assistance

Enough ORP users have applied their editing skills to the semi-literate prose of the ORP help documents so that it seemed time to set up a communication channel for such contributors that would be easy enough to use such that they would be encouraged to apply their skills.

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