My name is Kurt Friesen, and I’m the creator of the Index Goose website and the Index Goose Retirement Portfolio Simulator. I’m an engineer, and I became an index investor in 2013 after reading Dan Bortolotti’s book MoneySense Guide to the Perfect Portfolio – 2012 Edition. I have been an avid follower of Dan’s Canadian Couch Potato blog and podcast since then, as well as reading and following several other prominent thinkers on the topic of index investing. You can contact me here with any questions or comments about this website.
About the Simulator
The idea that became the seed for the Index Goose Retirement Portfolio Simulator was planted in 2019. Normally I prepare my own tax returns, but that year there were some complicating factors, so I decided to have an accountant review my return. After going through my tax return situation, I asked the accountant, who happens to be my cousin, if he knew any good fee-only financial planners with whom I could review my retirement planning situation. I was no longer using my prior commission-based advisor after transitioning to a DIY Index ETF portfolio. His response was something like, “Why do you need to see a planner? You’re a smart guy, just make a spreadsheet.” To all those financial planners reading this – sorry! I think there are still lots of great reasons to work with a professional planner to work out the details of one’s situation, although I’d suggest considering the potential for conflict of interest before working with someone paid on commission from investment products.
In my work as an engineer, one of the things I enjoy is transforming a large amount of incomprehensible test data into a meaningful and actionable story by plotting the results using spreadsheet charts. I’ve also been using spreadsheets with charts for tracking and maintaining my personal index ETF portfolio. I wanted to answer for myself whether there was a better rule-based approach to retirement spending that could allow for safe retirement withdrawals without being overly conservative in delaying retirement or limiting spending. It seemed to me that the fixed withdrawal rules such as the 4% rule tend to under-utilize the portfolio, delaying retirement and/or limiting spending more than necessary, with a high probability of a very large balance at the end. I also wanted to understand what impact a semi-retirement period might have on my retirement outcome.
Since I expect to receive pension money later on in retirement, both from CCP (Canadian Pension Plan) and the workplace pensions that my wife and I have in place, it made sense to me to view a portion of our retirement savings portfolio as bridge to cover the period until our pension income starts, delaying the pension payments as much as possible to make them larger when they start. I started playing with some ideas for a variable safe withdrawal formula at that time, testing it against historic stock and bond returns that I could find. As I made progress with this approach and gained some insight into my own portfolio situation, I decided perhaps I should share this tool with others online, and here we are.
About the Index Goose Name
In Aesop’s fable “The Goose that Laid the Golden Eggs“, the story is told of a cottager and his wife who had a goose (or hen) that laid a golden egg every day. Supposing that the goose must contain a large lump of gold, they killed it, but found nothing different from any other goose. The couple, who hoped to become rich quickly, thus deprived themselves of the day by day wealth they would have otherwise accumulated more slowly.
At the same time as I was thinking of turning the retirement portfolio simulator into a web based tool, my 12 year old son had just sketched a picture of a goose. The thought occurred to me that a golden egg laying goose may be a good mascot for a website related to index investing. Like the goose in the fable, a portfolio of index funds may seem pretty ordinary and unglamorous, but if you take care if it and don’t get greedy, it can provide a reliable source of long term income.
If you are in a position to plan for a comfortable retirement, please consider being generous with your financial resources. Not to me, I’m doing fine. Find a few charitable organizations that help those who are less fortunate, or that align with your values and are working to make the world a better place. Include these organizations in your annual spending plan, and consider including them in your will.
A few of the organizations I’m happy to support are:
Mennonite Central Committee
Inner City Youth Alive