Looking to retire with $1 million? You might want to aim higher


Telling someone how much to save for retirement is tricky because everyone’s situation is different, which inevitably means they will need different amounts. Someone retiring to Los Angeles and planning to travel the world will probably need more than someone who wants to relax on a ranch in Montana. However, there are good baselines you can start with and then adjust to suit your retirement aspirations.

A common way to determine how much you will need in retirement is to first determine how much you will need each year using the 80% rule. The 80% rule says you should plan to have 80% of your annual income in retirement to maintain your current lifestyle. Given this rule of thumb, here is the annual retirement income a person should aim for based on their current income:

Annual revenue Target annual retirement income
$50,000 $40,000
$80,000 $64,000
$100,000 $80,000
$150,000 $120,000
$200,000 $160,000

Data source: author’s calculations

The most important thing is to adjust the numbers to suit you. If you know you will reduce your lifestyle in retirement, you can reduce the percentage you need. If you know your retirement lifestyle will be an upgrade, you might want to add to the percentage to be on the safe side. For many people, even adjusting the annual amount they’ll need in retirement, $1 million in savings probably won’t be enough.

How much will you need in total?

The 80% benchmark is good for determining how much you need each year in retirement, but it doesn’t tell you exactly how much you’ll need in total. But don’t worry, there’s a rule for that too: the 4% rule. The 4% rule states that retirees should plan to withdraw 4% of their savings each year, adjusting for inflation each year, without outliving their savings. Using the 4% rule, you would multiply your target annual retirement income by 25 to get your target total savings.

From our example above, here is the total target savings based on different incomes:

Annual revenue Target retirement income Targeted Total Savings
$50,000 $40,000 $1 million
$80,000 $64,000 $1.6 million
$100,000 $80,000 $2 million
$150,000 $120,000 $3 million
$200,000 $160,000 $4 million

Data source: author’s calculations.

If we follow the guidelines of the 4% rule, $1 million in retirement savings would only be ideal for someone earning $50,000 or less. For perspective, the median earnings of men and women who work full-time, full-year are $61,417 and $50,982, respectively, according to the latest US Census.

Today’s environment may require adjustments

Since its inception in 1994, the 4% rule has been a great way for people looking to get an idea of ​​their ideal total savings. But given today’s economic environment – like inflation rates we haven’t seen in over four decades – retirees might be better off adjusting the baseline by 4% more. almost 3%. According to a recent Morningstar report, an initial withdrawal of 3.3% would give someone with a 50/50 portfolio of stocks and bonds a 90% degree of certainty of not outliving their savings.

Traditionally, here’s how it would work: if you saved $2 million for retirement, you would withdraw 4% in the first year ($80,000). If inflation increased by 3% the following year, then you would withdraw $82,400. If it increased by 2% the following year, you would withdraw $84,048. While this method has worked in the past, with an 8.5% year-over-year inflation rate, increasing withdrawals by such a high percentage will increase a retiree’s risk of running out of money. .

To adapt to current conditions, retirees can either drastically reduce their spending or aim for higher savings to maintain their current lifestyle. The former is usually easier because it’s easier to cut expenses than to find extra money to earn and save. However, some people may find that they can afford to save more for retirement and have not done so. Anyway, the most important thing is that you are flexible and able to adapt to schedules. It might not be your ideal choice, but it’s better than surviving your retirement any day of the week.

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