How Much Does a Comfortable Retirement Cost?

How Much Does a Comfortable Retirement Cost?

| November 11, 2022

Even if you love your career, the dream of one day clocking out for good is strong for many—especially after the additional stress of the last couple years. But what does it take to retire comfortably? Most experts say to expect to spend between 55-80% of your pre-retirement annual income per year during retirement. Does this answer suffice? 

Countless variables need to be taken into account, and who’s to say what “comfortable” even means? Your version of a comfortable retirement likely won’t look just like your friend’s or neighbor’s. You might be planning to spend your golden years close to your hometown, near family and friends. Or maybe you want to travel the world or move to a warm, sunny climate. Whatever your retirement goals, it’s important to have an idea of how much they will cost you. We’ve compiled the following 8 questions to help you determine your unique number for your unique 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. 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 we’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 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.

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 $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. 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 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

Wouldn’t it be nice (and much less complex) if the amount needed for your ideal retirement was just a one-size-fits all 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. 

We at T.A. Holland & Co. strive to simplify financial management and prioritize your unique needs, including how much you need to save for your ideal retirement. Beyond that, we also equip you with everything you need to be confident in your financial decisions. By delegating to us, knowing we will steward your money with care and integrity, we take the burden off your shoulders so you can live without financial worry within a personalized retirement plan. 

If you’d like to partner with a financial planner who can help you find the right balance between living the life you want and safeguarding your nest egg—and makes you their number-one priority along the way—reach out to us today. Contact us at info@taholland.com or 617-523-5656 to schedule a complimentary appointment so we can get to know each other.

About T.A. Holland & Co.

T.A. Holland & Co. was founded in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1920, and serves individuals and businesses throughout the country. We provide cutting-edge financial services with a broad array of solutions to help our clients grow and preserve their wealth. We have seen good and bad economic times. Through it all, T.A. Holland & Co. has thrived by always making the customer our #1 priority. We get to know you and understand your needs so we can provide you with the proper guidance and strategies. Our senior vice president, John Hellmuth, has been at the helm of T.A. Holland’s financial services since 1990, but he doesn’t do this job alone. He is joined by his two children, Lindsay Hellmuth and Thomas Hellmuth. As CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ practitioners, our financial services team has the knowledge and experience to help you solve your most pressing financial challenges. To learn more about how we can help you, visit our website and reach out to us at (617) 523-5656 to schedule a complimentary get-acquainted meeting.