Is $4.3 million the new “retirement number”?

How big a nest egg do you need to sustain your retirement?

It’s a popular question, and it seems we are always seeing a new op-ed or survey offering some new “magic number” that will make everything come out just fine. Of course it’s an oversimplification — for one thing, “retirement” itself is no longer an absolute — but it’s still worthwhile to check in on the topic now and then. This is particularly true as SuperAging takes hold: the longer you live (and the more active you want to continue to be), the more money you will need.

As reported here, the new “retirement number” may well now be in excess of four million dollars.

That factoid comes from a recent New York Life survey. Although the survey dealt mainly with the topic of inheritance — how much money people were expecting, how they planned to use it — there were several important data points about retirement and retirement funding:

  • Taking all adults together, they predicted they’d need $4,342,378 in savings to retire “comfortably.” But if we look only at the subset of Baby Boomers, they predicted they’d need $2,158,345.
  • OK, but how much do they actually have? The numbers are shocking. Taking all adults together, the average amount of savings is only $135,161. Taking the Baby Boomer subset, the average savings is $223,498. In other words, massive underfunding of retirement needs.
  • Not surprisingly, therefore, almost 40% (36%) feel less prepared for retirement than their parents were.
  • Equally unsurprising, they see earning income as the only solution. 26% said they plan to go back to work part-time, and 19% said they planned to explore “alternate income streams.” A quarter said they would downsize their home and lifestyle.
  • More than half agreed that inflation has negatively impacted their retirement plans. Over a third said their credit card debt has increased in the past year.

We can debate whether or not $4.3 million is really the “right number,” or if there is such a thing as a “right number” in the first place. You should read the New York Life survey article because it has an excellent discussion of this question. For our purposes, in the fast-growing world of SuperAging, it’s clear that there is a growing mismatch between:

— Living into your 90s and beyond (and remember, that threshold is continuing to expand)

— Being able — before age 67 (the “traditional” Social Security demarcation) — to stockpile enough money to sustain that lifespan

Thus, the urgent need for a SuperAging financial strategy — a strategy that probably includes continuing to work, full or part time. We have lots of ideas in the book, and it’s a topic we will continue to follow closely, and update continually, here on our website and in our newsletter.

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