Mar 21: BEST FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE

March 21, 2022

How much is “enough” when setting an early retirement savings target?

Writing for the GoBankingRates blog, John Csiszar takes a crack at a challenging topic – how much is “enough” when setting your retirement savings goals, particularly if you want to retire early?

“While the fantasy of early retirement sounds great, the reality can be difficult to achieve. If you retire early, you’ll need much more than a standard retirement nest egg to fund the extra years that you will be retired and not working,” he writes.

Drum roll, here – Csiszar next tells us that since a “standard” retirement nest egg should contain one million eggs (all eggs are U.S. denominated in his article), then an early retirement nest egg should cost “$2 million or more, to fund a long, early retirement.”

He then does the math. For those wanting to retire at age 40, they need to first understand that their retirement (according to Internal Revenue Service stats for the U.S.) could last around 45.7 years.

In order to have a “modest” $40,000 income for life starting at 40, you would need to save $1.84 million once you hang up the name tag for the last time.

To get that $1.84 million, he adds, you would need to start saving $92,000 a year beginning at age 20. And even if you could manage that feat, Csiszar adds, you would need to have average investment returns of seven to 10 per cent annually.

Well, OK. What about early retirement at 50?

Csiszar does the math on that idea, with the same goal of having $40,000 in income annually. Americans aged 50 at retirement can expect 36.2 more years of life, so you’ll “only” need $1.448 million in savings. And you’ll need to save $88,266 annually from age 30 to 50 to get the job done.

These are scary numbers, but let’s not overlook the fact that most Canadians will get a Canada Pension Plan (CPP) benefit at retirement, and may also qualify for Old Age Security (OAS) and the Guaranteed Income Supplement (the latter is for lower-income retirees). These don’t start at age 40 or 50, of course, but you can get CPP at 60 and OAS at 65.

The average CPP payout in Canada, according to our friend Jim Yih at the Retire Happy blog, is $645 per month. That’s $7,740 per year. If you were to retire at age 65, and live for 20 years, the CPP (assuming you got the average rate cited here) would provide you $154,800, and that’s not including the inflation increases you would receive each year.

The Motley Fool blog tells us that the average OAS payment in Canada is $613.53, or $7,362.36 per year. If you were to start collecting OAS at 65, and received this average amount for 20 years, you would have received $147,247.20. Again, that figure doesn’t include inflation increases.

These are estimates based on average payouts; what you will actually get depends on your own earnings and employment history. But the point is, these two federal programs can provide a significant chunk of your nest egg – you are not completely on your own in your savings program.

We can save on our own in registered retirement savings plans (RRSPs), and another The Motley Fool blog post shows that the average RRSP balance in the country is $101,555.

Saving a million bucks sounds impossible, but maybe, it’s not as big a mountain as it appears.

Those with company pensions as well as RRSPs, tax free savings accounts, and other savings, can get closer to the target. The value of your home can be a savings factor if you decide to sell and downsize for your golden years.

If you do have a company pension plan, be sure to contribute to the max.

With a committed approach to saving, and assuming you can get decent investment returns with low fees, we can all get a little closer to that “standard” savings level. For those without a company pension plan, consider the Saskatchewan Pension Plan, which currently allows you to save $7,000 annually toward retirement (you can also transfer in up to $10,000 a year from other RRSPs). The SPP has a stellar investing track record – the average rate of return has been eight per cent since the plan’s inception in 1986. And while past rates of return don’t guarantee future rates, the SPP has been helping people build their retirement security for 36 years. Check out SPP today!

Join the Wealthcare Revolution – follow SPP on Facebook!

Written by Martin Biefer

Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. A veteran reporter, editor and pension communicator, he’s now a freelancer. Interests include golf, line dancing and classic rock, and playing guitar. Got a story idea? Let Martin know via LinkedIn.

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