In the previous post, I discussed how to compute the taxable amount of your social security income (SSI). Which is unfortunately a bit complicated, but we got it done.
The next step is to figure out how to pay no (or minimal) taxes on that taxable amount of your social security, which is vital for the Tax and Penalty Minimization (TPM) method described in the Withdrawing Money After FIRE post.
You’re probably thinking “uh… doesn’t the definition of taxable mean you’ll pay taxes on it?”
A couple years ago my wife and I were procrastinating yet again on selecting a health care plan option. Specifically, which of two plans to select for her and our son that were offered by her company. My health insurance is super simple: I’m fully covered, no premiums (ignoring dental and vision). But hers was hard! There’s a huge amount of information to consider, from premiums to deductibles to co-pays to co-insurance rates to tax-savings to traditional vs high-deductible plans to how much to put in your FSA or HSA…. Insane.
I got fed up with trying to eyeball this decision. So, I broke out Python! I managed to script up and plot a wide variety of scenarios, and as a result the decision finally became clear. I love Python and plots – I’m definitely an engineer to the core.
So if wife and I are FI, why are we still working?
Well, as I wrote in “FI Explained”, Financial Independence does not equal Early Retirement. When we started seriously pursuing FI after I obtained my PhD in 2016, we never set a goal to retire in our 30’s, even though theoretically we could retire if we wanted to.