We asked readers to tell us how much they think they'll need to retire comfortably. Here's a sampling of their responses:
I believe my wife and I will need about $370,000. By carefully tracking expenses and finding inexpensive ways to entertain ourselves and meet our needs we should be able to live off the interest from low-risk government bonds. For example, we recently bought a used dishwasher for $45 at Habitat for Humanity's store. The work clothes we wore today cost us a combined $33; my shirt is 20 years old. We have three cars, the youngest of which is 13 years old. We may replace them with one car, or even none. We both project retiring by age 50 at the latest.
- John R., Richmond, Va.
My ONLY hope of retiring is to remarry. I am self employed with zero savings, in debt to the IRS and the state of Georgia for past-due unaffordable taxes owed. Retire? What's that? When you read my obit, I've retired.
- Helen, Atlanta, Ga.
An individual net worth of $3 million or $4 to $5 million as part of a couple. This assumes a pleasant residence in the Bay Area (where I currently live and plan to retire), which is paid off and a second rental home paid off, which provides cash flow. This may still be too modest since I plan to retire in 20 years. Also assumes the potential to live until 90 and not working at all for the 30 years between 60 and 90.
- Barbara, Fremont, Calif.
Unless my six numbers come up, I'm screwed.
- Daniel C., Albany, N.Y.
I believe that most people ready to retire are more worried than they need to be about their financial situation. What counts is not how much of a nest egg you have accumulated or even how much your pension is, but how well you can adjust to less money coming in. In other words, it's not how much you make but how much you spend that matters. I have been retired for 12 years and find that my expenses are less than I had planned for. So, forget the gloomy forecasts and enjoy your retirement!
- Serge P., Albany, N.Y.
The concept of retirement is a relatively new one in the history of man, an invention spawned pretty much by big companies trying to retain loyal employees. Not that the idea was a bad one, but the idea has come and gone. I plan to "work" in some fashion until I can physically no longer do so. By "work" I mean generate some type of income. However, if I HAD to name a figure for retirement, I would have to say $1 million might do it, as that would generate an income of about 50K a year, and I could live frugally on that amount.
I am 26 years old and honestly believe that retirement will not be an option for me no matter how much I accumulate for my nest egg. With the rising costs of fuel, utility expenses and health care I think that I will be lucky if I am only working one job when I am 75 years old.
- Chad, Russellville, Ark.
Being only 25, it's hard to determine how big of a nest egg I will need. With the unsure, shaky future of Social Security, the pressure is on for all age groups to make smarter decisions on what to do with their money. Myself, I consider on the lucky end. I started investing early by buying a house and finding a good renter, and purchasing empty property to hold onto, Not to mention the savings account and the 401k. I figure to probably need $1.5 million when I retire. I might be on the right track, but I still worry about the economy and what the dollar will even be able to buy in 30 years when I get to enjoy the retirement.
- Rachel,Plano, Ill.
Rowing down Retirement River without a paddle: That will be me shortly. I wasn't able to save enough and now my rollover is losing money.
- Marilyn S., Greensboro, N.C.
Most people concentrate on the amount of savings they will need to retire comfortably. My husband and I officially retired this year. The most important decision we made was to pay off our mortgage. The money saved is like a pay raise. We have also minimized our other debt like time payments, credit-card balances, etc. Believe it or not, we are living very well on our Social Security benefits and have disposable income of $1,200 a month!
- Carol O.,Mesa, Ariz.
I think I will need a net worth of $8 million. We plan to move to the Midwest in the summer and spend three months or so in Florida in the winter and travel in a diesel pusher.
- Randy C., Seattle.
I truly have no idea, and that's the scary thing. I work for a regional Bell, and our pension (not the greatest amount of money, but still) benefits were "realigned." A modified 401k has replaced it; but the vagaries of the market and the limited number of choices (must be company stock until age 55) make financial planning absolutely terrifying. I am fortunate enough to be able to save the maximum allowed, but the current trend of an "ownership society" mentality (and corporate fiscal policy) makes me very uneasy. The pendulum will of course swing back and forth, but the future is not looking too bright.
- Matthew J., Guilderland, N.Y.
I do not intend to retire. My job is not work because I enjoy it.
- Emer Posadas M.D.,San Marcos, Calif.
I only have $13,000 in stock and $1,000 in savings. So I am just sitting on all of it. I am retired and I only receive $1,550 in income each month. It’s enough for house payment, utilities, and HMO payment. Since I don't make car payments or there's no cell or cable TV. I am 73 and in perfect health. I mow my own lawn and clean my own house, my pleasures are simple and I prefer reading to mentally handicapped TV programs. … As an older person I think your demands are much lower and you just don't go out and max credit cards. You buy food where it's a value and I boycott restaurants entirely.
- Helen M., Sacramento, Calif.
My husband officially retired in 2000 with two teenagers still at home. We way underestimated the amount needed. I am in my 50s looking for full-time work, but have found only part-time work. We have wiped out our retirement trying to exist.
- Alanna N., Menifee, Calif.
More than I'll ever have. We've always worked for small companies with no pension or 401k, and made just enough to take care of our family modestly. There has been no extra. We are just starting to put money away and we are in our mid-50s. We hear and read about this investment strategy and that and I wonder where we missed the train. But we've always taken care of ourselves, never had the luxury of any help from anybody and we'll find a way. But why not address folks like that — you guys act like everyone has a million dollar 401k out there.
-Pat, Haverhill, Mass.
My nest egg projection is based on the following assumptions. (1) Home is paid for, (2) Children are educated, (3) My wife and I will modestly travel and pursue hobbies, (4) Our nest egg will afford us good health insurance. I estimate $3.5 million in liquid/revenue generating assets with 4 percent annual payout rate.
-Glenn, Charlottesville, Va.
Nest egg? LOL. I am struggling to keep from sinking, as is, in these wavy seas. That nest egg is being eaten for food, tonight at dinner. And I am an adjunct English professor licensed — and self-employed — as a trim carpenter in a market that has gone belly-up. I'm hoping to get a part-time job loading trucks in the evening for UPS. How's that for my master's degree at work? There is no nest egg for this 45-year-old. I've spent most of this past year readying my novel for print (acting as my own copyright attorney, to boot!) only to have my publisher pull out at the last moment because of my anti-Bush rhetoric. I thought I was doing well enough last week just to save my truck from being repossessed. The economy is bad; the outlook, worse. This country is officially broken.
- Roger F., Naples, Fla.
I "retired" three years ago when my Social Security kicked in, but I continued working because my wife and I can't live on the Social Security checks we both receive. We put our house up for sale in 2005 hoping we can live on the income we'll make when we invest our equity. Wrong timing ruined our plans. We've taken the "house for sale" down a long time ago after the brokers kept asking us to lower our asking price. ... Meanwhile, I continue working. My wife and I maintain the house in as best a condition as our resources will allow. We don't take vacations anymore. We just take weekend trips to the next state and return home before sundown to avoid hotel expenses. … The future is not so dim yet for us but what about the others who are now in the middle of this nightmare?
- Rene G. Peekskill, N.Y.
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