Maybe you have a pretty simple strategy for retirement savings: Every year, you deposit the legal maximum into an IRA. Or maybe you contribute just enough to your 401(k) so you can take full advantage of employer-matching.
But are you saving enough? Will you have accumulated enough wealth by retirement to continue living the lifestyle to which you’ve grown accustomed?
Citing a recent survey by Ameriprise Financial, Fox Business reports, “There’s a significant ‘emotional disconnect’ between the retirement goals of many Americans (say, a cushy lifestyle packed with travel) and their current retirement realities.” Fox adds that the gap between actual savings and the amount needed to afford the comfortable life is roughly $250,000.
So how do you avoid the gap? There are formulas out there to help you gauge whether you’re on track to the retirement you imagine. AARP recommends that, by retirement age, you have nine times your salary in savings. So if you’re retiring from a position that pays $100,000 a year, you should have $900,000 in your war chest if you want keep living the $100,000 lifestyle. AARP also offers a chart with guidelines as to how much you should have in savings at ages 20, 30, 40, 50 and 60, along with amounts for different incomes.
For a more in-depth analysis, AARP also offers a retirement calculator that asks you to input factors such as the amount you’ve saved, your age, your retirement target-age, your Social Security contributions, your annual retirement savings contribution, and so on. The calculator will take this data and project how much you’ll have saved by retirement as well as how much money you’ll need in order to retire to your current standard of living.
Financial expert J.D. Roth recommends a different strategy. “Basing your retirement needs on income is like basing your fuel needs on the size of your car’s gas tank,” Roth writes in Time magazine. “To get a better idea of how much you should save, base your projections on your current spending patterns. Your spending reflects your lifestyle; your income doesn’t.”
Whichever formula you go by (Time links to several other retirement savings calculators), keep in mind that the earlier you start saving, the better off you’ll be. The compounding of interest over the long haul (Ally Bank compounds daily) can mean all the difference.
Are you on track with your retirement savings? Do you expect to spend more, less or about the same in retirement as you do now?