Do You Know Your Retirement Number?

Written By Jeff Hindenach
Last updated June 13, 2018

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March 18, 2016

Simple. Thrifty. Living.

How financially ready are you for retirement? If you don’t have a clue, you’re not alone. According to the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, only one in 10 people know how much money they’re going to need in order to retire comfortably.

Once you stop working, all you’ll have to live on is your retirement savings, your social security and pension/benefit payments and, if applicable, investment dividends. It’s crucial to remember that you won’t be adding to your monthly income, unless your dividends or benefits rise substantially, or unless you take a part-time job to supplement your income.

According to most financial advisers, if you want to retire comfortably, you should aim at replacing at least 80 percent of your work income during retirement. This means that if you make $50,000 a year, you should ensure that you’ll have at least $40,000 a year to live on once you’ve retired.

Here’s how you can determine your retirement number, or the amount of money you’ll need for a comfortable retirement:

1) Make a note of your current age and your prospective retirement age.

2) Calculate your current income.

3) Determine how much money you’ve saved.

4) At your current income and rate of savings, calculate how much you’ll be able to save by the time you reach retirement age.

5) Factor in the amount of your monthly Social Security check when you reach retirement age.

6) Factor in other sources of income such as pensions, benefits and investments.

• Use an online retirement calculator. This will factor in your age, income and savings according to the current rate of inflation, and give you an idea of how far you need to go to get on track.

• Multiply by 12. Financial advisers recommend multiplying your salary by 12; the result is the amount you should have saved for retirement. If you make $40,000 a year, you should aim to have $480, 000 saved for your retirement.

• Reconsider your retirement age. If you retire at 70, your Social Security payments will be much higher than if you retire at 62.

• Don’t forget taxes. Make sure to have enough money earmarked to cover them each year during your retirement.

• Make sure to invest. Investing in a 401k or an IRA account is easier than you think. Talk to your employer about a 401k plan, or if you want to handle your retirement personally, you can open an IRA account through many online investing sites, including Wealthsimple, TD Ameritrade and E*Trade.

If your retirement number indicates that you won’t be able to replace 60 to 80 percent of your current income by retirement age, you’ll want to find ways to boost your retirement savings. By calculating your retirement number now, you’ll have a better chance of getting on track in time to make a difference in your financial future.

About the Author

Jeff Hindenach

Jeff Hindenach is the co-founder of Simple. Thrifty. Living. He graduated from Bowling Green State University with a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism. He has a long history of financial journalism, with a background writing for newspapers such as the San Jose Mercury News and San Francisco Examiner, as well as writing on personal finance for The Huffington Post, New York Times, Business Insider, CNBC, Newsday and The Street. He believes in giving readers the tools they need to get out of debt.

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