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  • Writer's pictureMark Fonville, CFP®

How Long Will My Retirement Money Last? A Comprehensive Guide to Secure Your Financial Future


How Long Will My Retirement Money Last? A Comprehensive Guide to Secure Your Financial Future


Retirement is a stage of life that many people look forward to, envisioning a time of relaxation, travel, or pursuing long-held passions.


However, one crucial question often lingers in the minds of those approaching retirement: how long will my retirement money last?


With people living longer than ever and the cost of living constantly on the rise, it's essential to plan for a financially secure retirement.


The challenge lies in estimating the longevity of your retirement money, as various factors come into play, including savings and investments, withdrawal rate, retirement age, life expectancy, inflation, health care expenses, and lifestyle choices.



This comprehensive* guide aims to help you better understand these factors and provide strategies to ensure your retirement money lasts throughout your golden years.


By following the ideas in this article, you will not only gain valuable insights into retirement planning but also learn about tools and resources that can assist you in making informed decisions.


Ultimately, our goal is to help you enjoy a worry-free and financially secure retirement.


Factors Affecting Retirement Money's Longevity


Several factors can impact the longevity of your retirement money. Understanding these factors will enable you to make more informed decisions and adapt your financial plan accordingly.


Retirement longevity refers to the length of time your retirement savings and income sources will last during your retirement years. It is a critical aspect of retirement planning, as ensuring that your financial resources last throughout your lifetime helps maintain financial security and peace of mind in retirement.


Here are several factors to consider.


Savings and Investments

  1. Amount saved: The more money you've saved, the longer your retirement funds are likely to last. It's essential to start saving early and consistently to maximize the amount available to you in retirement.

  2. Types of investments: Different investments come with varying levels of risk and potential returns. A thorough investment portfolio review can help ensure your retirement money lasts longer.

  3. Diversification: Spreading your investments across various asset classes (stocks, bonds, real estate, etc.) can help mitigate risk and provide more stable returns over time.

Withdrawal Rate

  1. Safe withdrawal rate concept: The safe withdrawal rate is a percentage that represents how much money you can withdraw from your retirement savings annually without running out of funds. Historically, a 4% withdrawal rate has been considered safe, but recent studies suggest it may need to be adjusted based on your specific circumstances.

  2. Adjustments for personal circumstances: Factors such as life expectancy, market conditions, and personal risk tolerance can influence your ideal withdrawal rate. It's crucial to assess these factors and make necessary adjustments.

Retirement Age

  1. Impact on savings: The age at which you retire affects the amount of time you have to save for retirement and the length of time your retirement money needs to last. Retiring later can provide you with more savings and a shorter retirement period, reducing the risk of outliving your money.

  2. Impact on Social Security benefits: The age at which you claim Social Security benefits also plays a significant role in your retirement income. Delaying your benefits can lead to a higher monthly payout, which could help your retirement money last longer.

Life Expectancy

  1. Estimating personal life expectancy: Your individual life expectancy will determine how long your retirement money needs to last. You can use online tools or consult with a financial advisor to estimate your life expectancy based on factors like family history, health, and lifestyle.

  2. Planning for longer life spans: As life expectancies continue to rise, it's essential to plan for the possibility of living longer than average. This may involve adjusting your withdrawal rate, investment strategy, or other financial planning aspects.

Inflation

  1. Effect on purchasing power: Inflation erodes the purchasing power of your money over time, meaning that the same amount of money will buy less in the future. It's essential to factor inflation into your retirement planning to ensure your money lasts.

  2. Adjusting retirement planning for inflation: You can help combat inflation by investing in assets that tend to keep pace with or outperform inflation, such as stocks or inflation-protected securities.

Health Care Expenses

  1. Long-term care: The cost of long-term care, such as assisted living or nursing home care, can quickly deplete retirement savings. Planning for these expenses is crucial in ensuring your retirement money lasts.

  2. Medicare and other health care costs: Even with Medicare, retirees often face out-of-pocket health care expenses, including premiums, deductibles, and co-payments. Budgeting for these costs is essential for maintaining your retirement funds.

Lifestyle and Expenses

  1. Retirement goals and priorities: Your desired retirement lifestyle will directly impact how long your retirement money lasts. Luxury vacations, hobbies, and other discretionary spending can increase your overall expenses, requiring more substantial savings or a reduced withdrawal rate to make your money last.

  2. Budgeting and controlling expenses: Creating a realistic retirement budget that accounts for both essential and discretionary expenses is a crucial step in ensuring your retirement money lasts. Regularly reviewing and adjusting your budget can help you stay on track and make necessary changes as your financial situation evolves.

Understanding these factors and their impact on your retirement money's longevity is essential for successful retirement planning. By considering each of these elements and making informed decisions, you can develop a financial plan that helps ensure your retirement money lasts throughout your golden years.


In the following sections, we will discuss how to calculate how long your retirement savings may last and strategies for addressing these factors and optimizing your retirement finances.


General Rules of Thumb to Calculate How Long Your Retirement Money Will Last


So, how long will my retirement money last, you ask? There are a few general rules of thumb that can help you estimate how long your retirement money will last.


Keep in mind that these guidelines are not a one-size-fits-all solution, there is no guarantee, and it's crucial to consider your unique financial situation and adapt your plan accordingly.

  1. The 4% Rule: This rule suggests that you can withdraw 4% of your retirement savings during the first year of retirement and then adjust this amount annually for inflation. Following this guideline, your retirement funds are projected to last for about 30 years, assuming a well-diversified investment portfolio with a mix of stocks and bonds.

  2. The 25x Rule: This rule proposes that you should have saved 25 times your annual retirement expenses before retiring. With this amount saved, you can withdraw 4% of your savings each year, as mentioned in the 4% Rule, and have a high likelihood of your funds lasting for 30 years.

  3. The Multiply by 12 Rule: To calculate your annual retirement income, you can multiply your desired monthly income by 12. Then, subtract any guaranteed income sources, such as Social Security or pensions, to determine the amount you'll need to withdraw from your savings each year.

  4. The Rule of 110 or 120: To determine your investment allocation, subtract your age from 110 or 120 (depending on your risk tolerance) to estimate the percentage of your investments that should be in stocks. The remainder should be in more conservative assets like bonds. This rule helps you maintain an age-appropriate level of risk in your investment portfolio, which can impact the longevity of your retirement money.

While these rules of thumb can provide a starting point for estimating how long your retirement money will last, it's essential to use retirement calculators, conduct additional research, and consult with a financial advisor to create a personalized retirement plan tailored to your specific needs and goals.


Strategies for Ensuring Retirement Money Lasts


Implementing effective strategies for managing your retirement finances can help you ensure your retirement money lasts. Here are some key approaches to consider:


Creating a retirement budget

  1. Assessing current expenses: Begin by evaluating your current expenses and identifying which will continue into retirement and which may change. This will help you create a realistic budget.

  2. Anticipating future expenses: Account for potential future expenses, such as increased health care costs, home maintenance, or travel, in your retirement budget.

Maximizing Social Security benefits

  1. Delaying benefits to increase payout: Waiting to claim Social Security benefits until your full retirement age or even later can result in a higher monthly payout, helping your retirement money last longer.

  2. Strategies for married couples: Married couples have additional options for maximizing Social Security benefits, such as claiming spousal benefits or coordinating when each spouse claims their benefits.

Diversifying investments

  1. Importance of asset allocation: Maintaining a well-diversified investment portfolio with an appropriate mix of stocks, bonds, and other assets can help protect your retirement money from market volatility and generate long-term growth.

  2. Rebalancing portfolio over time: As you age, you may need to adjust your asset allocation to reflect a more conservative approach. Regularly reviewing and rebalancing your portfolio can help you maintain an optimal mix of investments.

Managing withdrawal rate

  1. Adjusting withdrawals based on market performance: In years when your investments perform well, you may be able to withdraw more, while in years with poor performance, you may need to reduce your withdrawals to preserve your retirement money.

  2. Setting a flexible withdrawal rate: Adopting a flexible withdrawal rate that accounts for market conditions, life expectancy, and other factors can help ensure your retirement money lasts.

Considering annuities

  1. Types of annuities: Annuities can provide a guaranteed income stream for a set period or for life, helping to protect against the risk of outliving your money. There are various types of annuities, including fixed, variable, and indexed, each with its own benefits and drawbacks.

  2. Pros and cons of annuities: While annuities can offer financial security, they may also come with high fees and limited flexibility. Carefully weigh the pros and cons before incorporating annuities into your retirement plan.

Planning for health care expenses

  1. Long-term care insurance: Purchasing long-term care insurance can help cover the costs of assisted living or nursing home care, protecting your retirement savings from being depleted by these expenses.

  2. Health savings accounts (HSAs): Contributing to an HSA can provide tax advantages and help you save for future medical expenses, ensuring you're better prepared for health care costs in retirement.

By employing these strategies, you can optimize your retirement finances and increase the likelihood that your retirement money will last throughout your golden years.



Now let's dive into tools and resources to help you plan and make informed decisions about your retirement finances.


Using Retirement Calculators and Tools


retirement calculator

Retirement calculators and other financial planning tools can be invaluable in helping you estimate how long your retirement money will last and identify areas where adjustments may be needed. Here's what you need to know about using these resources:


Introduction to retirement calculators


Retirement calculators use your input data, such as age, income, savings, and desired retirement age, to estimate how much money you'll need in retirement and how long your current savings will last. Many calculators also take into account factors like inflation, Social Security benefits, and investment returns.


Factors to consider when using calculators


While retirement calculators can provide useful insights, it's important to remember that they are based on assumptions and estimates. Be cautious about relying solely on calculator results and consider the following:


  1. Limitations of calculators: No calculator can predict the future or account for every possible scenario. Use calculators as a starting point and supplement their results with additional research and professional advice.

  2. Varying assumptions: Different calculators may use different assumptions about factors like investment returns, inflation, and life expectancy. It can be helpful to use multiple calculators to compare results and gain a broader perspective.


Popular retirement calculators


There are many retirement calculators available online, each with its own unique features and focus.


Some popular and easy to use options include:

  1. Covenant Wealth Advisors' Retirement Calculator

  2. Vanguard's Retirement Nest Egg Calculator

  3. T. Rowe Price's Retirement Income Calculator

  4. Fidelity's Retirement Score

  5. Social Security Administration's Retirement Estimator Experiment with various calculators to find one or more that best suit your needs and preferences.

Problems with retirement calculators


While retirement calculators can offer valuable insights into your financial preparedness for retirement, it's important to recognize their limitations.


Firstly, these calculators rely on assumptions and estimates, such as inflation rates, investment returns, and life expectancy, which may not accurately reflect future realities.


Secondly, they typically cannot account for all individual variables or unexpected life events that may impact your retirement finances. Additionally, different calculators may use varying methodologies and assumptions, leading to discrepancies in their results.


Third, and this is a big one, free calculators and even calculators you pay for often have serious limitations when it comes to evaluating taxes in retirement. Taxes can be your biggest expense. Unfortunately, proper tax planning often requires advanced planning retirement calculators generally not made for the individual investor.



For example, at my firm Covenant Wealth Advisors, we spend an extraordinary amount of time and money on advanced systems, training, and staff to provide proper and accurate retirement tax planning strategies to our clients.


Therefore, it's essential to use retirement calculators as a starting point rather than as the sole basis for your retirement planning. Supplementing these tools with additional research, professional advice, and a thorough understanding of your unique financial situation will help you make more informed decisions and create a more robust retirement plan.



Consulting with a financial advisor


While retirement calculators and tools can provide valuable insights, consulting with a qualified financial advisor can offer personalized guidance tailored to your specific situation.


An advisor can help you refine your retirement plan, suggest strategies for optimizing your savings and investments, and provide ongoing support as you navigate your financial journey.


Just be sure that you arm yourself with the best questions to ask a financial advisor about retirement so you can maximize your time together.


Using retirement calculators and tools can help you gain a better understanding of your financial situation and make informed decisions about your retirement planning.


However, it's essential to supplement these tools with additional research and professional advice to ensure you're on the right track toward a financially secure retirement.


Conclusion


Planning for a financially secure retirement is a crucial responsibility that requires proactive decision-making and continuous evaluation. By understanding the factors that impact the longevity of your retirement money and employing effective strategies to address these challenges, you can help ensure a comfortable and worry-free retirement.


The importance of flexibility and adaptation cannot be overstated. As your financial situation, market conditions, and personal circumstances change, it's essential to adjust your retirement plan accordingly. Utilizing retirement calculators and tools, as well as seeking professional advice from a financial advisor, can provide valuable guidance in making these adjustments.


Ultimately, the key to a successful and financially secure retirement lies in taking control of your financial future and making informed decisions based on your unique needs and goals. By following the insights provided in this comprehensive guide, you'll be well on your way to create a retirement plan that stands the test of time and allows you to fully enjoy your next chapter in life.


Do you want to make your retirement money last? Schedule a free retirement consultation with one of our CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER professionals today!


We serve clients across the United States.

 
Mark Fonville Certified Financial Planner

Author: Mark Fonville, CFP®


Mark is a fiduciary, fee-only financial advisor at Covenant Wealth Advisors specializing in helping individuals aged 50 plus plan, invest, and enjoy retirement without the stress of money.


Forbes nominated Mark as a Best-In-State Wealth Advisor* and he has been featured in the New York Times, Barron's, Forbes, and Kiplinger Magazine.


 

Disclosure: Covenant Wealth Advisors is a registered investment advisor with offices in Richmond and Williamsburg, VA. Past performance is no guarantee of future returns. Investing involves risk and possible loss of principal capital. The views and opinions expressed in this content are as of the date of the posting, are subject to change based on market and other conditions. This content contains certain statements that may be deemed forward-looking statements. Please note that any such statements are not guarantees of any future performance and actual results or developments may differ materially from those projected. Please note that nothing in this content should be construed as an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to purchase an interest in any security or separate account. Nothing is intended to be, and you should not consider anything to be, investment, accounting, tax, or legal advice. If you would like accounting, tax, or legal advice, you should consult with your own accountants or attorneys regarding your individual circumstances and needs. No advice may be rendered by Covenant Wealth Advisors unless a client service agreement is in place. Hypothetical examples are fictitious and are only used to illustrate a specific point of view. Diversification does not guarantee against risk of loss. While this guide attempts to be as comprehensive as possible but no article can cover all aspects of retirement planning. Be sure to consult an advisor for comprehensive advice.

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