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How Much Do I Need to Retire Comfortably?

How Much Do I Need to Retire Comfortably?

February 14, 2024

So do not worry, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?” For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Matthew 6:31-34

For many pre-retirees, one question that keeps them up at night is “Will I have enough to retire comfortably?” A recent survey revealed that 36% of respondents have “little to no confidence” in having financial security in retirement, or that they will even be able to retire before the age of 70. That is a significant statistic. Would you consider yourself in that category? The good news is, as Christians, we don’t have to worry as we put our hope and confidence in the Lord, who is faithful to provide. Even still, it’s important to plan and prepare and to be good stewards of the resources we have. 

As you get closer to retirement, you may be wondering exactly how much you will need to have the retirement you desire. While most experts say to expect to spend between 55-80% of your pre-retirement annual income per year during retirement, many other variables can affect that number. Consider the following questions when determining your “magic number” for your ideal retirement.

What’s Your Ideal Retirement Date?

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. 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 Do You Want Your Retirement Life to 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 Earn an Income in 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. 

How Much Debt Do You Carry?

Bringing debt into retirement has two major drawbacks: 

  1. It reduces your cash flow 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.

What Kind of Healthcare Coverage Do You Expect to Have?

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 $315,000. 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 with a lower cost of living. For example, the cost of living in Orlando, FL, is only 3.3% higher than the national U.S. average, whereas the cost of living in Los Angeles, CA, is 76.2% higher than the U.S. average. As you can see, where you live can make a huge impact on the overall cost of retirement.

What Is Your Family’s Health History?

The average 65-year-old man has a 40% chance of living until age 90; that rate goes up to 50% 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 Plan

This may seem like a lot to consider when figuring out how much you will need to retire. Unfortunately, there is no “magic number” that can give you this answer. Every situation is unique and so you must take into account all these factors to determine how much you need to comfortably retire. Thankfully, as Christians, we can take hope in God’s word, which tells us not to worry about these things because God knows our needs and will provide for them (Matthew 6:31-34). 

At EagleFlight Wealth Management, we provide financial planning from a Biblical worldview. Our mission is to help you become a better steward of the resources God has put in your care, including your retirement savings. By delegating your wealth management to us, you can be confident that we will steward your money with care and integrity. To get in touch to schedule an introductory meeting,call (765) 288-1927 or email barry.hickey@cfdinvestments.com

About Barry

Barry Hickey is the founder, managing partner, and financial advisor at EagleFlight Wealth Management, a financial services firm based in Muncie, Indiana, helping people live and retire with dignity and financial peace by planning their financial future with a biblical worldview. Barry has been in the financial services field since the mid-1980s. In 2006, inspired by Isaiah 40:31 (“They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary.”), Barry became an independent financial advisor and founded EagleFlight with the mission to help people plan for their financial future, find financial freedom, and fulfill the mission God gave him.

Born and raised in Muncie, Barry graduated from Muncie Southside and served in the Marine Corps during the Vietnam War. He holds a Series 6, 7, 63, and 66 securities licenses and the Indiana Life and Health Insurance License. He also holds the Accredited Asset Management Specialist℠, Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor℠, Certified Kingdom Advisor®, and Retirement Income Certified Professional® designations. 

Outside of work, Barry enjoys reading, watching football and baseball, and spending time with his wife (Carla), children (Kristin, Ryan, and Lauren), and grandchildren (Emmi, Cate, Ben, Maddie, Sophia, Bella, and Brady). His favorite Scripture is Matthew 6:33, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” To learn more about Barry, connect with him on LinkedIn.

Advisory Services are provided through Creative Financial Designs, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor, and Securities are offered through CFD Investments, Inc., a Registered Broker/Dealer, Member FINRA & SIPC. 2704 South Goyer Road Kokomo, IN 46902 (765) 453-9600 EagleFlight Wealth Management is not an affiliate of Creative Financial Designs, Inc. or CFD Investments, Inc.

Barry Hickey offers Advisory Services through Creative Financial Designs, Inc., a Registered Investment Adviser. Barry Hickey and Ryan Hickey offer Securities through CFD Investments, Inc., a Registered Broker/Dealer, Member FINRA & SIPC, 2704 S. Goyer Rd., Kokomo, IN 46902. 765-453-9600.