Countdown to Financial Freedom – A SavvyReview

Countdown to Financial Freedom: Your Path to a More Meaningful, Active, and Vibrant Retirement

Paperback: 202 pages

Publisher: Balboa Press (2016)

Mark Avallone is the founder and President of Potomac Wealth Advisors, LLC, an independent financial advisory firm, serving clients through holistic financial planning and wealth management. In Countdown to Financial Freedom, Avallone offers practical guidance to help readers pursue financial freedom and the ideal retirement.

Early on Avallone informs the reader why he wrote the book. I don’t believe anyone would argue with his two primary observations. First, many Americans are working hard and yet feel that their financial goals seem out of reach. Second, there is a tremendous amount of canned advice out there. His goal is to provide a comprehensive resource in plain language that describes the current economic challenges facing the middle-class while also offering strategies for all phases of the reader’s financial life.

While in many ways his analysis of middle-class challenges (chapter two) and hurdles to financial freedom (chapter four), and other topics covered in the 202 pages, was interesting and spot on, for me the most interesting, and useful, part of the book is chapter three, What Is Your Unique Formula™? Avallone believes so strongly in the idea and process, he had the phrase trademarked.

Avallone notes, “Everyone’s formula for calculating their desired retirement income, and the journey they will take to reach it, is unique.” I absolutely agree with his assessment. That has been my experience as well.

In fact, over the years I have developed my own formula and developed a retirement planning worksheet which allows me to plug-in the variables and update as desired. My key variables include the following: current savings, pensions (current and future), Social Security, annual savings rate, projected annual rate of return, projected annual inflation, number of years to retirement, and the projected withdrawal rate.

Appendix A outlines the calculation to determine your Unique Formula™ which involves Avallone’s key variables: expected assets at retirement, sustainable withdrawal rate, current retirement savings, monthly savings, expected inheritance, annual pension amount, Social Security income, growth rate less inflation rate, number of years to retirement, and number of years until receipt of inheritance.

It’s easy to see that the formulas contain most of the same variables. As you might expect, I was eager to plug my numbers into his formula and compare the result (projected retirement income) to that derived from my own formula established in my retirement planning worksheet.

My Unique Formula™ Variables

With my numbers applied as the variables, I used a regular calculator and the compound interest calculator at Moneychimp (my favorite online calculator) to get the Unique Formula™results.

How did they compare? My worksheet, with my established formulas, informs me my current projected annual retirement income is $198,312.16 while Avallone’s Unique Formula™ calculates my annual projected retirement income as $200,777.26, a difference of only $2,465.10 annually. Interesting indeed.

Final Thoughts

Avallone does a nice job of putting retirement planning in perspective and breaking down the process. Most importantly, he recognizes that everyone’s formula for calculating their desired retirement income, and the journey they will take to reach it, is unique. The formula provided for calculating the reader’s unique retirement income, an essential component of retirement planning, works well.

Countdown to Financial Freedom is available at Amazon in Kindle, hardcover, and paperback formats.

Blogger-in-Chief here at RetirementSavvy and author of Sin City Greed, Cream City Hustle and RENDEZVOUS WITH RETIREMENT: A Guide to Getting Fiscally Fit.

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