Monday, March 30, 2015

What are the odds you’ll have a comfortable retirement?

Just a few weeks ago, I suspect that many of you prepared your brackets for the NCAA basketball tournament. Hopefully, you’re doing well and have correctly picked at least some of the Final Four.

I can say one thing with absolute certainty, though. Not one of my readers has a chance of finishing with a perfect bracket. That’s because a DePaul University mathematician calculated that you have a one in 9.2 quintillion chance of having a perfect bracket. And I’m sure I don’t have quite that many readers.

For those of you not familiar with the term “quintillion,” it’s a number that has six commas in it. Remember, in math a comma separates every three numbers. For those who may be mathematically challenged, quintillion is a number that is so large it’s almost impossible to get your arms around it. It makes a trillion seem like child’s play.

So don’t feel too badly if, in the next two weeks, you’re eliminated from having a perfect college basketball bracket. Instead, you can put your efforts toward building a nest egg that has not one, but two commas in it. It’s something that many of you have an entire working career to accomplish. Let me explain.

Fidelity, the well-respected mutual fund giant, administers countless 401(k) plans throughout the country. They recently disclosed that the average 401(k) balance at the end of 2014 was $91,300. One comma.

They also indicated that the average annual employee contribution combined with the employer contribution totaled $9,670. For participants that have been in the Fidelity program for ten years or more, the average balance was just shy of $250,000.

Again, these numbers are just from the plans that Fidelity handles, but they show me that people understand that it’s extremely important to set funds aside for retirement. Unfortunately, it also shows that most people are not saving enough to enjoy a comfortable retirement.

That’s why the commas are so important to the equation. This may startle a lot of readers, but I think many households are going to need a nest egg with two commas in it. That’s right, they’ll need at least $1,000,000 to maintain a comfortable retirement lifestyle.

I’m not talking about a luxurious retirement, simply one that can keep a retiree self sustaining for such items as health and long-term care needs, senior housing and all the other expenses that crop up, often deep into the retirement years.

As I previously mentioned, the average Fidelity deposit was just over $9,600 per year. Broken down, that’s $800 per month. If an investor saved $800 per month and attained a hypothetical, yet very reasonable rate of return of five percent per year, and did it every year during their working career of 37 years, the likelihood of having two commas in their retirement nest egg is very high.

Often I kid and say that, when it comes to spending, if you’re drilling down to the decimal points, you can’t afford to retire. Conversely, when it comes to retirement savings, the more commas in your nest egg the more likely you are to be financially secure during the retirement years.

Statistically speaking, you will never achieve a perfect basketball bracket. But if you save consistently for financially secure retirement, it’s a slam-dunk.

No comments:

Post a Comment