By Jack Kelly
If you are at a certain age—starting about mid-30s—you’re probably starting to think about how the hell you will ever retire.
The days of loyal devotion, working at a big corporation for 20-plus years with the expectation of receiving a reasonable pension and gold watch, are long over. Most companies today don’t offer company-funded pensions at all. You are on your own to find a way to fund your retirement. However, there’s one big difference. If you work for the government, you can thank the rest of us taxpayers for funding your guaranteed retirement, along with lush benefits, whereas we don’t have either one of them.
It used to be that the *number* was about $1 million. That’s what people getting on in their careers start to banter about—how much do you need to say f*k it, I’m done and outta here. We will debate what’s the right number to say goodbye to all the headaches and aggravation, quit your job and start enjoying your life.
You’d be surprised to know that there are about 12 million Americans who are worth over $1 million. That was once a huge sum held by a precious few. It’s still a substantial amount. However, the new $1 million is $3 million, according to retirement planners.
A back-of-the-envelope calculation requires you to take out about 3% or 4% of your saved money each year. On $1 million that works out to $30k to $40k per year. If you live in any major city, it doesn’t go far at all.
You have to factor in where your money is stored. If it’s in the stock market, your nest egg could crater if we have another financial crisis. If it’s in the bank, you’re only getting about 1%, so you’ll be eating into your savings faster. If there is inflation, your money will be worth less as prices increase. You also have to worry about exorbitant healthcare costs. God forbid you get a serious illness, like cancer, and you can become bankrupt or lose a big chunk of your hard-earned savings.
In addition to navigating and managing your career, you need to start planning for your future when you’re young. If you’re not so young, you’ll need to catch up quickly.
It might be too late for you. But for those starting out, here’s some advice.
Live at home longer to save as much as you can early on. Move to a lower-cost place that you can rent or buy more cheaply. Put the most amount possible into your company 401(k), especially if they offer matching. Make sure you’re aware of the debt level and earning potential of a potential spouse before you get married. If you can turn back the clock, don’t take on too high of a college loan or pick a major that can’t earn you a living.