Sunday, August 27, 2006

My retirement number.. wanna see?

I bet you do. It's a whopper. Of course, everybody's is a whopper. And it's really important to factor in what assumptions you make about the world. My extremely conservative (financial, not lifestyle) assumption is that I will not get married but will have at least one child. (Because you can't always count on somebody else's income.)

Desired income in 2006 dollars: $50,000 tax-free
Desired income in 2041, 38 years from now (when I will be 60): $150,000
This assumes about 3% inflation, which may or may not happen.
Assumed income from Social Security: $0
It seems to me to be cutting it too close to the wire to have to assume that you will get $8k or $10k a year in today's money from Social Security. I don't think that it will be totally kaput, but the amount is so small that I would rather assume that it will just be extra.
Amount that I will need if I intend to retire at 60 without touching principal (probably not, but I'd like to have the option): $3 million
Amount that I actually intend to shoot for (because I don't intend to leave anybody a huge amount): $2.5 million

How I plan to get there:

I am going to try like hell to keep as much money as I can in Roth IRAs. Now hopefully someday I will make enough money to be disqualified for these (ha! haha!) but I'll probably always be able to contribute. So taxes should not be a huge issue for me in retirement. I don't know what my situation will be 401(k)-wise in the future, but I will make funding a Roth each year a priority as much as possible.

I have no idea what's going to happen in my life in the next years. In my plans, I'm basically making the years between now and 30 a big black box. I am just getting started in my career, haven't settled on a place to live, bought a house, gotten married, had any children, or any of those big milestones. I don't make much now, but I hope that I will make more in the future, and so my financial goal for between now and then is basically "save as much damn money as possible". So I actually have two "retirement numbers" - one to get to by retirement itself, and one to get to by 30 to assure that I will have a much better shot at making the real number. Thus, my goal to have in retirement-only money by 30: $75,000

Why $75,000? Well, I've played with a LOT of calculators, and I've determined that if I have at least $75,000 by 30, and growth in my accounts is at least 8%, I can reduce retirement contributions to about $5,000 per year (which hopefully will all be in a Roth) and I will land pretty close to my goal. If my return is not doing so hot, I'll be able to bump it up and get closer to the goal. But the important thing is that if I DON'T take advantage of the time that I have, and contribute serious amounts of money before I get much older, I will NOT be able to simply add a few dollars when I get older and still reach my goal. If I DON'T start now, I will need to contribute some very serious amounts of cash in order to reach even a modest income in retirement. And I'd like to have a decent income - hopefully I'll still be hale and hearty, and most importantly I'll be able to retire at a young enough age that I can still go out and enjoy the money that I worked so much to save, instead of staying home and eating stew with my dentures.

But, you say, you have no money now! You're at your first job, making the least you (hopefully) will ever make, and yet you are saving like mad! Why not wait until you are older and have more money? Well, more money does overcome inflation and (with enough) even the potential returns I might make. But the thing is, right now I also have the lowest EXPENSES I will ever have. As said above, I don't have any children, a mortgage, or even a car. In the future, I will need that higher income to pay for all these things, and it's going to be a pinch if I'm trying to save money for retirement while trying to pay for all of the necessities of an ever-expanding life. By scrimping now, I'm freeing up money in the budget of my future self - so that having an extra child or a bigger house or a second car will be something that I can financially take in stride. I'm a big planner and I try to avoid as many expensive things as possible, financially speaking - and so if none of these expensive things happen, then I can save the money and have an even nicer retirement. But if expensive things do happen, I can cover my ass now and also cover my ass in retirement. No cat food needed.


Kellie (Mrs. Thrifty) said...

It's a possible number to achieve over $75K by 30. I was able to do it with my 403(b) and it feels great. With your income increasing every year, the money does add up. I've been at my current job for 6 years now and it's been nice to see the 403 increase every year. You have an excellent plan.

freedumb said...

Kira, you can do it! I completely agree about saving as much as you can early on...then maybe, just maybe you can slow down as you get older...Good luck! FF

Matt said...

So you have $8000 now, how much per year would you need? Won't you need to contribute more than the $4000 legal limit to the Roth? (I don't want to be discouraging, I'm curious)

Kira said...

I have about $7800 in a tax-deferred 403(b) and about $1000 in a Roth. I will need to have some tax-deferred money in order to get to $75k, but I'm hoping that I'll be able to roll it over so that it's all in a Roth. Obviously I wouldn't give up an employer match at another job, but I'm going to try hard to keep as much as possible in a Roth, especially while I'm in a low tax bracket.

Bob said...

$8800 principal
$4000 added/year
8 years
10% interest


Kira said...

My intention is to TRY to get as much into Roths as possible - which includes rolling over any 401(k)s or 403(b)s I may have in the intervening years. But I will also be contributing to my tax-deferred accounts along with the Roths. I realize that $4k a year until 30 isn't enough.

Bob said...

It was just a general example - assuming a 10% average return/year.

Many mutual funds show an average return of 16% over the last 50 years. It's the investor that bails out, rather than riding out the lows, that sells out and loses money.

$8800 Prin
4000 per yr
30 yrs

That looks pretty good.

I know, I know 16% is crazy.

prlinkbiz said...

It makes me so happy to see women taking control of their finances. I am willing to bet that the more you feel comfortable with money and investing, the more you will learn about ways to make it grow- and you will reach and exceed all your goals, and long before your timeline. 16%, easy. Ever thought of using your Roth to invest in real estate? You wanna talk about some big returns... lol

Anonymous said...

I started a little later and am mostly in 401k.

Here is what I understand about Roth, 4k max a year, and up to 95k income before it starts going away.
I don't put much into Roth, because I am averaging 6.6% return on my vangaurd 500 fund. Might as well put it in ING direct, less risk.

I opt'd to max my 401k, my company also gives me 4% matching, so that gives me a nice bump even if the markets don't. So far I am doing about 8.2% on the 401k.

Love the site and content, I didn't think anyone else my age thought about this stuff. Keep up the good work.

Kira said...

Your index fund might not be doing so hot right now but remember retirement is for the LOOOOONG run. You won't get where you need to go with your money in a savings account. You can choose other funds if you think they will do better - but always have a foot in stocks at our age!

Bob said...


The contribution for Roth IRA goes to a $5000 limit in '08.

$8800 principal
$4000 added/2 yrs
$5000 added/6 yrs
@10% growth/yr

Tiredbuthappy said...

Good for you, Kira! I haven't had the nerve yet to calculate my number. Luckily, I think it might be lower than yours. I say luckily because I'm about 30 and have $34K in retirement savings, not $75K.

Drew Harrison said...

Hey, Kira! You really have a plan right there! That's nice for you! Some people really don't have those things in mind. Even if retirement is still far away, it's still important to take those things into consideration! I think it's a good thing that you had the nerve to count your number. Good job! ;)