130% of Current Income in Retirement?!

Original post

There is a new study out with some very surprising estimates for how much money we will need in retirement… and it isn’t good news.

How does 130% of our current income sound?

If that feels a bit high to you – about 50% more than what the experts were telling us last year – then you aren’t alone. The old estimate for what we needed in retirement was 70% to 80% of our working life income.

In the past when a number was this far out of whack, I wrote it off as some financial planner’s way of increasing their assets under management. But there might be something to this…

How could it have suddenly gotten so expensive to retire?

Saturday happened! It seems that early in retirement, people are acting and spending like every day is Saturday. Shopping, spending, you name it – we’re doing it as if every day is the weekend. And the bigger-than-anticipated spending is focused in just a few areas: dining out, digital services, travel, entertainment and weddings.

The average wedding in the U.S. costs $25,764. And we’re often the ones footing the bill for our children.

Throw inflation into the mix – which most people have ignored entirely in their planning – and the Center for Advanced Hindsight at Duke University says that we will need a whole lot more money in our golden years than we thought.

And adding to the problem is the fact that we’re in a bull market that won’t die. The extra cash that has been flowing from it has fueled spending. That’s usually a good thing, but not when there aren’t any more paychecks coming in!

Whether it’s that cool car you’ve always wanted or the expensive golf membership, our overspending will catch up to us.

The worst part of this gray hair splurging trend is that it is happening in the early years of retirement. That’s significant because it reduces the amount of money we have to generate growth and income going forward.

Most of us know that a big sell-off in the market in the first three to five years of retirement is a worst-case scenario. It’s an unpredictable event that puts a major crimp on our cash flow down the road.

It’s pretty simple math… The time it takes the market to recover and the growth lost during that time reduces how much we will have later on.

Excessive spending during the same early years of retirement does the same thing, but the cash spent is gone forever.

Take a step back and think about how many years we will be unemployed. That’s what retirement really is… 20 to 30 years of unemployment.

My father’s advice about money sticks with me to this day: Once you give your cash away, it’s gone forever.

Barring hitting the lottery, most of us don’t have any way to replace it. Don’t be in such a hurry to give it away.

Good investing,

Steve