Bug Or Design Simplification?
I have found an anomoly in the treatment of "Dollars" vs "Today's Dollars" in association with ongoing use of ES_Planner.
I have used the program for about 18 months now and have found it very useful. I tend to never enter updated profiles from scratch due to the large amount of data entry involved -- 40 years of SS work payment history, and a large number of Special Expenditures as I enter all of my medical and other insurance expenditures as such. Because of the large data entry volume, I have always copied existing profiles to new ones in order to perform new MC Calculation reports.
There appears to be a problem at the end of each year as I start to calculate my next year's recommendations for consumption, savings, and account withdrawals. For example, I have now copied my last 2010 profile to a new one called "2011 Base Plan". In order for dollars to work out right for next year, I delete all Special Receipts and Expenditures for 2010 and then use the Customize screen to set the calculation starting date for 2011. When doing so, I would have expected entries in the Specials folder to be recalculated for inflation.
As an example, If I am spending $10,000 for a Student Loan in 2010, I will be paying $10,000 in 2011 also since payments are fixed and the entry was made into ESPP as "Dollars". (This is less money in real terms due to inflation but in 2011, it is still $10,000 in 2011 dollars.) However in the 2010 plan, the 2011 (future) payments are reduced in real terms by the inflation rate I have set. If this were to be left for the next year as ESPP does now, ESPP would think I should only be paying 10,000/IR for this loan in 2011.
It would appear that the user is expected to delete all fixed dollar Special Expenditures and re-enter them each year for new estimates. That recalculates the effect of inflation on the amounts entered. I would have thought (and desired) that ESPP would drop the old year's data deflated amounts and restart a fixed dollar expenditure when starting a new year. The same behavior might be expected when a profile is desired to be set up for some future year.
I understand this could get ugly for coding into the UI. Is this handling of carrying fixed dollar amounts into a new year a bug or an overt design simplification in the program? Is there a case study showing the recommended way to use ESPP profiles across multiple years?