How much will be enough?
It’s a common enough question to ask when saving for retirement. How much will I need? Is, unfortunately, a complex question without an easy answer as each person asking it will have a totally different backstory and portfolios. That being said, there are some basic numbers, for example, $285,000 is what experts estimate a retired couple will need to cover healthcare costs (not including long-term care!). 1
Some experts say, to retire well, you need somewhere between $1 million and $10. 2 But the reality is, depending on where you live, how you live, your health, and your lifestyle, you could be comfortable with much less than that. If you have the constant fear that your numbers are just not adding up, let’s break things down a little.
Making Ends Meet
Retirement is expensive, there’s no getting around it. Factoring in that everything costs more and people live longer, it’s no wonder you may worry that you have enough for your ideal retirement. Baby Boomers will be entering retirement with more debt and fewer savings than the previous generation. One-third of Boomers have no savings, and for those that do, the average is around $200,000. 3
More retirees have a mortgage as well. On top of that, only a sliver will receive a guaranteed pension, meaning Social Security will be the main source of income for a lot of folks. This also corresponds with the rise of 401(k) where workers were put in charge of managing their own retirement savings. The good news is, if you practiced some forward thinking, have a realistic budget for your retirement, and are on track to meet that budget, then you are probably right where you need to be.
When you’ve been Scrimping and Saving it’s hard to Switch to Spending
If you’ve been in a saving state of mind for a long time, especially if you were raised with austere depression-era financial values, turning off the saving switch may be harder than you thought. Saving to save to the point that it stops you enjoying your retirement, makes the whole enterprise fruitless. You worked hard so that you could live well and comfortably down the line. It may take a little while to adjust to the more-out-than-in lifestyle of retirement, but we will go over some ways to help.
Tips to Calm Your Fear: Make A List
The first tip is simple and free (we knew you’d like that!). Make a list. On this list detail everything you have saved, anything that is owed, all of it. Now look at the list and figure out what you’ve written down that causes that anxious not enough feeling. You may be able to lessen the stress by focusing on that thing that makes you worried. If it’s not having enough liquid assets for example, then you can buckle down, sell off some stock, or downsize, and start socking away more cash. If it’s a debt, then you can move that to a priority position and work toward paying it down. If the entirety of your list gives you stress, the next step is to seek a professional of some sort.
Tips to Calm Your Fear: Get Help.
A certified Financial Advisor, especially one with a focus in retirement planning could get you on the right path and help combat your fears. If the money anxiety is more than crunching numbers but goes deeper into who you are, then you may want to seek out a Financial Therapist. If the money is only an aspect of the fear, talking to a therapist may also help manage the anxiety.
Tips to Calm Your Fear: Get Moving
If you have enough invested and the worry about retirement persists, another top is to get moving. Exercise is a smart investment. It’s a stress reliever, improves overall health, and incorporating 15 minutes of exercise daily can add years. Making an investment in your physical health is a good, money-saving investment, as the healthier you are the more you'll save on future healthcare. Changing your lifestyle to incorporate better eating, exercise, and regular health checkups are just as important as a healthy bank statement in your later years. What’s the point of saving if you are too sick to spend it? Having a sense of purpose can be motivating and happiness bringing.
Tips to Calm Your Fear: Get Out There
Spending less time being Scrooge and more time investing in your community will do wonders for your perspective. Think back to all the things you wished you’d done but hadn’t the time, working, raising a family, etc. Now is the time to get back to that list. Travel, learn an instrument, volunteer, get a dog, whatever will connect you and bring joy to your life. Taking a few moments a day to practice gratitude and reflect on all that you have, all the good and positive things can slowly rewire your brain to be more positive. The more you focus on what you have the less time you have to worry about what you don't. Your retirement is more than a bank statement and the more you know what you want to do, the better you can budget to do it. Good luck and happy retirement!