When Can I Retire?

This is a post about Bonfire Retirement Planner, the best app for planning retirement income and taxes. Available on iPhone and iPad. Get Started Now For Free!

I've always admired the digital nomad. They are the type of person who has designed their career to be flexible so that they can travel the world and make a living at the same time. They can work on beaches and in cafes across the globe.

I've worked in the tech industry as a software engineer and engineering manager for about twenty years, but have taken a more traditional approach to my career. While I've worked at home for several years in the past, I've never taken my career on the road and tried to work while traveling.

Taking Time Off

One thing that I've done which I think works well has been to take time off between jobs. Every 5 or so years I'll take 6-12 months off from work to recharge, learn new skills, spend time with family, and work on side projects. I've worked at several startups and enjoy reading about entrepreneurship, so I usually work on side projects that have the potential to become businesses.

Since I am self-funding my sabbaticals, I've learned to be disciplined while working and have saved a reasonable amount my of income. Also, I've lost a fair amount of money in the past investing in individual stocks, so now I prefer the Bogleheads approach of low-cost index investing in the total market. This combination of saving and investing is perhaps a bit boring compared to more active investing approaches, but it is an effective way of achieving financial independence.

Financial Independence

I've been kicking around the idea for Bonfire Planner for a couple of years. I wanted to create an app that used optimization algorithms to evaluate a wide variety of financial strategies to help people (including myself) make smarter decisions about retirement and financial independence.

I wanted to know the answer to questions like:

  • How close am I to reaching financial independence?
  • If I retired now, what would my income be given my assets and savings?
  • What about if I retired in 5 or 10 years?
  • What is the most tax-efficient approach to retirement income for my situation?
  • What is my safe withdrawal rate?

Safe Withdrawal Rate

Your safe withdrawal rate is the rate at which you can withdraw money from your savings without depleting your savings during your lifetime. This rate determines your income during retirement and people usually want to know the highest possible withdrawal rate that is considered safe. The most well-known study of safe withdrawal rates is the Trinity Study which introduced the 4% rule as a suggested safe withdrawal rate.

Unfortunately, no amount of analysis will let us see the future. Safe withdrawals are linked to our perspective on risk, which varies from person to person. One person may prefer to take larger withdrawals, and higher risk, while another may choose to take smaller, more conservative withdrawals.

Bonfire Planner was built to measure the risk of thousands of potential plans, and to present to the user the best, most tax-efficient options grouped by risk level.

You can install the app on your iPhone or iPad in the App Store. You can reach us at with any questions or comments, or on Twitter at @bonfire_plan.

- Scott


  1. Mt. Hood photo
When Can I Retire?


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