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How to make it to the big number

By Judy Martel · Bankrate.com
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Posted: 6 pm ET

When you think about the amount of money you need to retire, it may seem like an overwhelming task to hit the target number, especially in this sluggish economy and volatile stock market conditions.

Whether your number is $500,000, $1 million or $10 million, instead of thinking of it as a lump sum, break it down into the various components that make up your monthly and yearly income.

If you were to draw the recommended 3 percent to 5 percent from a lump-sum investment of $1 million, for example, that adds up to $30,000 to $50,000 in yearly income, or $2,500 to just more than $4,000 per month.

So how would you make your monthly number? The average Social Security payment is a little more than $1,200 per month. If you have a company pension, add it to the pot. Depending on your company plan and how long you were employed, it could be a significant addition or even get you to your required monthly income. After that, tap into your after-tax savings and, finally, pretax retirement accounts to make up the remainder.

Once you've done this exercise and determined your income needs on a monthly or yearly basis, you might be surprised at how close you are to your number. Don't forget that you'll still need investment growth through the retirement years, so plan for that in your portfolio. And some expenses, such as health care, could increase, even as other expenses, such as commuting costs, decrease. Make sure your budget projections are realistic and that you have a plan, such as returning to part-time work, if you fall short.

Have you thought about how you'll meet your retirement number?

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1 Comment
Dmitry
May 31, 2012 at 6:50 pm

Actually, you will need Social Security, pension, AND a million to retire and that's if you are retiring right now.
Do not forget that retirement can be just like mortgage - a 30 years ordeal, may be even longer for those who retire early.
The health WILL deteriorate, and costs of treatment WILL go up.
The inflation will double your basic expenses over 25 years, while your investments may or may not compensate.
Social Security may get cut, and pension may get affected by company's default.

Now go and enjoy your retirement.