You might need $3 million to retire at age 65 (if you are 28 years old today, which I am). See how I came up with that number below.
The purpose of this post is not to scare you into thinking you’ll never save $3 million dollars. It’s to expose you to how to think about how much you need to save for retirement. You might not need $3 million. But how much do you need and how do you calculate that?
Most people have no idea how to save for retirement, how much to save, where to save that money, etc. In everyone’s defense, there seem to be a lot of questions and it seems daunting to learn. But in reality, it is not that difficult to invest your money for retirement. I have already written a blog post about how you should invest in a target date fund in your 401k (as much as you can a year) and call it good. You (may) not need any other investments.
But a good question people should have is “How much do I need to save for retirement?”
If you were to retire today some people say you need $1 million.
That number is created by using the 4% rule, meaning you can withdraw 4% of your money a year to live off of. $1 million x .04 = $40,000 a year to live off of (plus social security).
It can also be called the 25x rule. This means you need 25x the money you will need each year to live saved. If you want to live on $40,000 a year 25 x $40,000 = $1,000,000
This is fine for today’s retirees, but for people between the ages of 20 and 30 we might have a different number to shoot for.
We have to consider inflation. To account for inflation any number of year from now there is a very simple formula.
1.03^37 = 2.98
(a quick review of powers, 1.03^37 means 1.03×1.03×1.03… 37 times)
What do the above numbers mean?
.03 shows an inflation rate of 3% per each year (which is a historical average of US inflation)
37 = 37 years in the future (when I’ll be 65)
2.98 gives you the answer of how much less money will be worth in those years (inflation).
So 37 years from now it will take $2.98 dollars to buy something that costs $1 today.
So you can take today’s money $1,000,000 and multiply it by the inflation rate 2.98 and get that you’ll need $2,980,000 (or basically $3 million) in 2054 to equal $1,000,000 today.
And that is why you might need $3 million dollars to retire.
So the basic formula
1.03^ (years until you turn 65) x how much you want to live on per year in today’s dollars x 25
(1.03^37) * $40,000 x 25 = $2,985,226
This means you would need $2.9 million dollars ($3 million) to retire.
Of course, this doesn’t take into account the fact that many basic services of today like food, healthcare, housing, transportation, will likely cost less in the future. You might not need near this much saved! But then again, you might. It never hurts to over plan. If you find yourself in a position with too much money you can always give it away.
I don’t want to scare people away from saving for retirement if they don’t think they’ll have $3 million. As this CNN article says, even though a lot of people say $1 million today the average person who’s 65 only has about $148,000 saved which would be $148,000 x 2.98 = $441,000 if you were to retire in 37 years. Now we agree that like CNN said, $148,000 is probably a little low, but not starving low. So you likely want to shoot for between $441,000 and $3,000,000. Use the rule of 25x to think about how much you might need to withdraw from your investments but also remember to account for inflation!
If anyone would like to review their own personal retirement numbers with me don’t hesitate to contact me. I really enjoy reviewing these numbers with anyone.