When you read the headline of this blog you were probably wondering what number I was asking you about.  Well, it’s not your phone number!  What I mean is do you know how much money (the number) you need to live the lifestyle you want in retirement without ever running out of money.  In other words how much is enough?

This is a really key question and a difficult one for most people to answer.  The reality is there are only three types of clients I have ever met.  They are as follows;

  • Not enough type clients
  • Got too much type clients
  • Just rights 

I have unashamedly taken these client types straight out of Paul Armson’s book Enough?


In his book, Paul explains that every client type has its own challenge.  

If you do not have enough then you need to make some changes.  You may need to spend less, invest more, downsize your property and/or even retire later than you planned.

If you have got too much you have a problem too.  You have more money than you will ever spend.  You can’t take it with you.  What’s more, you probably have an Inheritance Tax bill to pay.

Even if you are just right the chances are you do not even realise it, so you are working needlessly year after year when there is no need.

Paul makes the point that life is not a dress rehearsal.  You don’t get a second chance.  It’s far better to stop working earlier rather than later so that you can enjoy doing the things you like doing while you are still young enough to be able to do them.  That’s faultless logic, isn’t it?

So how do you find your number?  Well, there are a number of ways of doing this.  

There is another excellent book you may like to read appropriately called The Number by Lee Eisenberg.


It was written by an American author more for a US reader nonetheless it is a light-hearted read.  It’s only in the last quarter or so of the book that Eisenberg really gets you thinking about living a purposeful life which is the interesting part.

You can of course work it out yourself. Summarise your assets and liabilities and income and expenditure and calculate whether or not you can generate a sustainable passive income to more than cover your expenses for the rest of your life.  If you are a whizz at spreadsheets that will help.

Alternatively, you could use a personal finance app like the Wealth & Tax one or any one of a number of personal finance apps that are available such as Money Hub et al.

Better still you could ask us to create a lifetime cashflow forecast for you which will accurately show you if, and when, you can afford to retire and never run out of money up until your age 100 or later if you believe you are likely to live even longer or you are already aged 100 or older!  Our forecast will include what-if scenarios to stress test our plans such as a stay in a care home, a future inheritance or any unplanned event.  It is by far the most accurate way to calculate your number.  Without a shadow of a doubt.


In our experience clients do like to be advised when they have become financially free and can afford to retire.  Usually, they do not realise that they can afford to retire already.  Most people tend to retire when they reach state retirement age not knowing that they could have retired years earlier.

Are lifetime cash flow forecasts accurate?  Unfortunately not.  As soon as a forecast is created it is wrong because it is based on a number of assumptions such as future interest rates, inflation and investment growth rates.  However, it is far better to have a plan than not to have one at all.  What’s more, our forecasts are very conservative so, if anything, we tend to under-promise and over-deliver. Furthermore, we review our forecasts with our clients annually and regularly review our assumptions based on changing economic conditions.

Whatever you do it is important to have a plan.  As the great Benjamin Franklin once said “If you fail to plan you are planning to fail.”


So if you are in any doubt about your number and you haven’t yet asked us to create a lifetime cash flow plan for you, or you would simply like to update your existing plan, why not get in touch with us?  You know it makes sense*.


*The Financial Conduct Authority does not regulate tax advice. The contents of this blog are for information purposes only and do not constitute individual advice. All information contained in this article is based on our current understanding of taxation, legislation and regulations in the current tax year. Any levels and bases of and reliefs from taxation are subject to change. Tax treatment is based on individual circumstances and may be subject to change in the future.

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