How good are you at estimating?

Strategic decision-making often requires you to estimate current and future quantities. Here’s a quiz to see how good you are at it. For each quantity below (2009 data unless noted otherwise), make your best guess. Don’t try to find the answers, just guess. World camel population Annual consumption of popped popcorn in the US (quarts) GNP … Continue reading How good are you at estimating?

A new view on your data: Pivot Tables

Excel’s pivot tables reorganize, categorize, and summarize your data dynamically however you want. Look at it one way, then in seconds, look at it another way. It has a lot of features, but the basics alone are powerful. Today I’ll show you how to use it on a simple example. Let’s take the example from … Continue reading A new view on your data: Pivot Tables

There’s a lot of data here, but how can I make sense of it?

Once in a while I find myself with a lot of really good information that I'd like to use. Great! Put it into Excel. Not always so easy, even if it's already computerized. I ran across this recently in looking at Medicare payments for doctor visits. The mymedicare.gov site tells you everything about each of … Continue reading There’s a lot of data here, but how can I make sense of it?

What if you could visualize your financial future for the coming year?

Happy new year! This is a time for looking back and for looking ahead. How did you do financially this past year? Was it what you expected? What do you expect in the coming year, and the years ahead? If you could magically produce a spreadsheet that could help you look ahead, what would you … Continue reading What if you could visualize your financial future for the coming year?

Welcome to Monte Carlo. Is retirement a gamble?

Well, yes. Spending during retirement, or saving for retirement (or anything else, for that matter) is fraught with uncertainty. In my last post I featured a spreadsheet that randomly shows you possible year-by-year outcomes of a spending plan. If you invest $2 million at 4% with a standard deviation of 2.5%, it seems you can spend … Continue reading Welcome to Monte Carlo. Is retirement a gamble?

Investment returns are uncertain. How much savings do I really need to retire?

A couple posts back, I looked at how much you could spend each year if you retired with 2 million dollars invested at 4%. (Answer: About $80,000, increasing each year for inflation). But how do you know you can get 4% year-after-year for 30 or 40 years? You don’t. Any investment has good years and … Continue reading Investment returns are uncertain. How much savings do I really need to retire?