This article was originally posted on NY Daily News, written by contributors Alex and Ken Sutherland. You can access that article by clicking here.
How much is enough to retire?
What’s important? What are your passions? What’s going to fill your time?
Maybe you will sell your home and travel around the world! Or maybe downsize and spend lots of time with children and grandchildren. Perhaps you will volunteer or focus on a hobby like gardening or woodworking.
Defining your “ideal” retirement first can help you with the pressing and more anxiety-driven question that comes up so frequently:
Try this simple exercise to help you out. First, define your ideal retirement lifestyle and start to put a number to it.
When we think of your “number,” we are referring to the monthly income you will need each month deposited into your checking account to pay your bills and enjoy the life you want.
Compare that to your monthly lifestyle cost now. Will you travel more or less? Use your current lifestyle expenses as a baseline to help you determine how much you’ll need for income when you retire.
We often find that for every client that spends less in retirement, we have clients that spend more.
Keep in mind, retirement isn’t one size fits all. A lot of clients want to spend more earlier in retirement while they are younger and healthier and then cut back later in retirement.
Your lifestyle might change through retirement and each lifestyle stage will likely have different income needs.
Now that you have your number — an estimate of your monthly retirement income needed — you then can begin identifying your known retirement income sources.
You’ll want to spend some time looking up your Social Security benefit amounts, and your income from pensions or real estate. You then subtract your known monthly income sources from your monthly need and you now know what you need to draw monthly from your assets.
Don’t forget to think about inflation and taxes!
We can make this sound pretty simple when we, as advisers, do this for people every day. However, for many people approaching retirement this analysis can become bewildering, in part because the transition you are about to go through is so significant.
If you are uncertain about all of your retirement decisions and their consequences — such as income tax strategies, Social Security and pensions decisions, investments options, and insurance needs — then it will be challenging to really have peace of mind and enjoy retirement.
The value of meeting with an investment adviser that specializes in retirement planning goes beyond their ability to calculate numbers for you.
Their greatest value is in helping you more confidently enter and enjoy this exciting chapter of life.