New Article by Mad FIentist on WR as it applies to early retirement

I don't think this has been posted here yet:

https://www.madfientist.com/discretionary-withdrawal-strategy/?ck_subscriber_id=63359041&utm_source=convertkit&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=The+Problem+with+the+4%25+Rule+%28and+Why+You+Could+Retire+Even+Sooner%29%20-%2010861788

The word "flexibility" is so overused in FI discussion that I cringe just seeing it.

I've moved past the Mad Fientist content over the last many years as he tends to be fairly sloppy and imprecise with his arguments (for example, mixing real and nominal figures). He retired from his career while his wife was still working full time, so of course he can be highly optimistic with his chances of running out of money, he's got a spouse who is legally obligated to cover his liabilities.He does a good job explaining the basics of FIRE, particularly tax optimization, but suffers badly when it comes to dissecting withdrawal rates. For example, he's got some early articles that are overly enthusiastic about the terminal portfolio values for your average 4% retiree.

“After 30 years, the 4% safe withdrawal rate actually has a 96% probability of leaving more than all of your original starting principle.”

And he's right, but that's in nominal numbers. In real numbers it's a lot less rosy (about 80% chance of ending a 30 year retirement with 100% of original capital, going off ERN numbers).

So, given that bias, I would say that this article doesn't seem to be much better. I like their point that a truly early retiree (say, before 50) is in a life position where sequence of returns risk is plausibly managed by lifestyle factors, mostly by getting a job. It's easy enough to generate a plan of, say, retiring on 4%, with the guardrail of getting a job if the portfolio is negative after five years.

If you have a 30-year-fixed mortgage, for example, your biggest expense may not be impacted by inflation at all!

The argument that a mortgage is not inflation adjusted is valid, but they gloss over the fact that simply having a mortgage increases sequence of returns risk. If the assumption is that you retire with a mortgage rate lower than a long term bond, so you can buy a bond to pay the mortgage, then that assumption isn't spelled out clearly, and anyway, that's impossible to rely on because everybody has a different mortgage rate and long term bond yield at time of retirement. There's no analysis, just conjecture in a statement like the above.

As for their proposed discretionary spending guidelines, isn't that essentially the Guyton-Klinger approach that Karsen Jeske wrote about extensively? The biggest challenge with that approach is that if you retire at a challenging time, you'll spend decades living off your bare-bones budget. For example, if you retired in 2000 (a year excluded by the Fientist/Maggiulli analysis), you'll have spent 10 out of 12 years of your retirement with low or no discretionary spending. If that's ok with you, great, but it's not my idea of a good time.

In the end, this article just seems sloppy. It convolves an intent of a rigorous mathematic analysis with squishier human factors.