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How Much Do I Need to Retire Comfortably?

How Much Do I Need to Retire Comfortably?

| October 17, 2022
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It weighs on our minds from time to time throughout our working years: Do I have enough in my retirement accounts? Is it growing fast enough? How do I know when I have enough? If you want to get a ballpark number, you can use the 4% rule. For this rule, if you want an annual retirement salary of $80,000 a year, you would need a retirement account with $2 million ($80,000 / 0.04).

No matter the number, life will always throw curveballs when it comes to retirement. As much as we try, we cannot always plan our retirement out exactly to the letter. And the idea of “comfortable” will vary from person to person. It could mean travel, living someplace warmer (with a higher cost of living), or it could just mean spending more time with friends and family. No matter what you want retirement to look like, let’s take a look at some factors that will affect what you need, and how you need to get there.

When Will You Retire?

Your age (now and in retirement) is one of the most significant factors to consider when determining how much money you need to save. If you want to retire early, you’ll have fewer years to save for a longer retirement. And if you start claiming Social Security benefits before full retirement age, you’ll also have to factor in a smaller monthly benefit amount.

The state of the stock market can also play a role in how much money you need and how long your money lasts. A Vanguard study found that you have a 31% higher chance of running out of money if you retire near or during a bear market. Of course, you have no way of knowing if you’ll be in a bear or bull market when you retire—but this is a scenario you must account for in your retirement planning. 

What Will Life After Working Look Like?

Have you thought about the type of lifestyle you want to have in retirement? If you know you want to travel, play golf, or spend time with your grandkids, you need to factor in what that looks like and how much it will cost.

For example, if you plan to travel, you’ll need to consider: 

  • Will you be traveling stateside or internationally?
  • How often do you want to travel?
  • How would you like to get there? (e.g., car, plane, or RV)
  • Where would you like to stay? (e.g., 5-star hotel, Airbnb, with family members)
  • Will you be traveling with your family? Would you like to cover their expenses too?
  • Will you maintain your primary residence? If so, who will watch your house and maintain it while you’re gone?

Even if your dream is simply to spend time with your grandkids, you’ll still need to think through your expectations and expenses. To some people, “spending time with grandkids” means babysitting a few times a week. To others, it means footing the bill for all-expenses-paid trips to various destinations of their choosing. Whatever it is you want to do with your time, map out the details so you can have a clear picture of how much you’ll need to make it a reality. 

Will You Still Have Some Income During Retirement?

Working during your retirement is a great way to stay active, keep your mind sharp, and maintain a sense of purpose. Some retirees choose to build a second career through consulting. Others decide to pick up a low-stress, part-time job at a family office or retail store. No matter what you do, if you plan to work during retirement, you won’t have to save as much to live comfortably. 

Will You Have Debt During Retirement?

Bringing debt into retirement has two major drawbacks: 

  1. It reduces the amount of cash flow you have for housing, travel, hobbies, and other non-essential purchases.
  2. It can potentially drain your retirement savings quicker, which means you may run out of money or have to adjust your lifestyle down the road.  

If you carry debt, take a close look at what you owe and figure out how much cash flow you’ll need in retirement to cover these expenses. Some people prefer to pay off any high-interest consumer debt before they retire. Others will take it one step further by paying down their mortgage and auto loans too.

How Will Healthcare Costs Affect Me in Retirement?

Right now, you most likely have health insurance through your employer. When you stop working, you’ll need to have a plan for healthcare coverage another way. You may be able to hop on your spouse’s plan, if he or she is still working. Or you can get coverage through the healthcare marketplace. You qualify for Medicare starting at age 65, but even then, you may want additional coverage to pay for prescription drugs, dental care, eye exams, and other expenses. 

Retirees sometimes fail to fully plan for expenses during the later stages of retirement, and medical care often tops the list. It’s estimated that retirees will use 15% of their income for health expenses, and the average retired couple could see healthcare expenses of approximately $300,000 after age 65. Don’t let this be a planning oversight that prevents you from retiring comfortably!

Will You Have Any Dependents?

Your kids may be grown and out of the house by the time you retire, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll stop supporting them financially. Over 79% of parents said they still give financial support to their adult children (ages 18 to 34), according to a Merrill Lynch study, and the COVID-19 pandemic caused a boomerang effect, with 67% of adult children still living at home with their parents after returning home in need of financial help.

And even if you aren’t helping your kids out with daily expenses, you may want to contribute to their weddings or down payments on home purchases down the road.  

Where Will You Live?

Housing may be your biggest expense in retirement. And even if your home is paid off, you might want to consider downsizing to a smaller place that requires less maintenance and has cheaper utility costs. 

To save even more, you can think about relocating to an area that has an overall lower cost of living.  

What Is Your Family’s Health History?

The average 65-year-old man has a 35% chance of living until age 90; that rate goes up to 46% for a woman the same age. And while life expectancy is unpredictable, if your family has a strong history of living to age 90 and beyond, your chances may be even greater than these odds. In this case, you’ll need to determine if your planned retirement savings will last long enough. 

Similarly, if you have known health conditions and/or a family history of health problems that could affect your life span, you’ll want to consider this too. 

Your Unique Retirement Needs a Unique Plan

It would be nice (and much less complex) if the amount needed for your ideal retirement came down to a simple formula or percentage. On the contrary, to apply to your unique situation, your magic number requires a deep dive into your financial situation, family history, and goals. 

At Match Point Financial, we do more than offer financial services. We provide comprehensive financial planning in the context of a long-term partnership with you. Our experience has taught us that to develop and maintain a successful working relationship through which we can help you pursue your financial and lifestyle goals, it is vital for everyone to be clear on what to expect. We want our clients to know they can expect not only personalized services but also clear communication and transparency every step of the way.

To contact us, call 352-207-8014 or schedule a complimentary phone call using our online calendar or check out our online risk assessment tool to discover your risk number: Free Portfolio Risk Analysis.

About Chris

Chris Reed is a financial advisor and the founder of Match Point Financial. Since 2002, he has been helping people make informed choices with their money and pursue their financial goals and objectives. He started his career with MetLife and has continued seeking to provide his clients with the best possible service through A.G. Edwards, UBS, and, finally, through partnering with Cetera Advisors LLC and forming his own independent firm in 2010. Learn more about Chris by connecting with him on LinkedIn or register for his recent webinar: Are Your Old 401(k)s Collecting Dust and Losing You Money?

Financial Advisor: Securities and advisory services offered through Cetera Advisors LLC, member FINRA/ SIPC, a broker/dealer and a Registered Investment Advisor. Cetera is under separate ownership from any other named entity.

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