Retiring at 40 may sound like a pipe dream. But it’s entirely within reach if you save $1 million while working. The key elements for achieving this feat are sticking to a budget and implementing a comprehensive retirement strategy. But with rising expenses, is $1 million enough? To answer this question, you must identify your expenses, including taxes and monthly debt obligations and compare them to your sources of income. Here’s how investing and budgeting can set you on the path to early retirement.
A financial advisor can also work with you to get a realistic estimate of when you may be prepared to retire.
Can I Retire at 40 With $1 Million?
Retiring a quarter-century before the standard retirement age requires careful planning. However, one rule persists for retirement no matter what age it begins: Your savings must generate enough income to cover your living expenses for the rest of your life.
These accounts are not accessible until you reach the age of 59.5. Therefore, you must research alternative retirement savings instruments to create the income you can use once you stop working.
Smartasset’s retirement calculator helps you assess how your financial situation matches your retirement objectives. You’ll enter information such as your rate of return, Social Security benefit and location to evaluate your ability to retire at 40.
How to Determine How Much You Need to Retire
Retirement always requires evaluating how taxes, expenses and income work together for you. Retiring young means having all your ducks in a row to avoid surprises or financial hardships later on. Here’s how to assess how much you need to retire:
Calculate Your Costs in Retirement
Your expenses are an essential piece of information in a retirement plan. In other words, your cost of living provides the necessary context for how you’ll retire. For example, a yacht club membership can significantly alter your budget.
Likewise, your state of residence impacts how far your dollars go each year. For example, a recent study from the U.S. Department of Commerce shows that in Nevada, a popular retirement state, the overall cost of living is 95.5% of the national average.
As a result, retirees will get a discount on living expenses (plus zero state income taxes!) for living in the state. On the other hand, Hawaii’s costs are 113.2% of the national average, meaning that retirement there will cost more.
Determine Your Income
Your tax rate decides how much income stays in your pocket. Retirees often prefer living in a tax-friendly state like Georgia or Florida because of the absence of state income taxes.
That said, your forms of income will also influence your tax status. For example, rental income from real estate incurs regular income taxes, while selling stocks for a profit incurs capital gains taxes.
In addition, healthcare expenses are a growing cost for retirees. Specifically, HealthView Services data reporting shows that a couple retiring at 65 in good health will spend about $662,00 on healthcare throughout their lives.
As a result, it’s best to plan for several hundred thousand dollars of medical expenses during retirement. Furthermore, retiring at 40 means addressing an additional 25 years of medical costs.
To do so, experts advise designating 15% of your annual income for healthcare costs. However, this amount may be higher if you have a chronic health condition.
And having children at home is expensive, whether you’re retired or not. For instance, The Washington Post states the average annual cost of child-rearing is about $17,000 per child. Therefore, it’s crucial to add this item to your budget for an accurate idea of your finances.
Identify Retirement Income Streams
With expenses accurately laid out, you can turn to your income streams. For retirement to be feasible, the $1 million nest egg must return enough income to cover your expenses. So, if you invest $1 million for a 5% return, your annual income is $50,000.
Remember, stocks are riskier than other assets, such as certificates of deposits (CDs), so diversifying your investments is critical. Otherwise, a stock portfolio that is successful this year might tank the next year, leaving you without income. In addition, you have little margin for error with $1 million; every dollar needs to provide a return.
Next, Social Security is a form of income that you’ll encounter a few decades into retirement. Because you won’t collect Social Security benefits until 62 or older, retiring at 40 means waiting 22 years to receive your first check.
So, while Social Security will be a boon in the second half of your retirement, you’ll have to get yourself there with the income you create independently.
Look at the Numbers
So, let’s look at an example combining costs and income streams. Let’s say you want to retire at 40 with one child in the house. Your life expectancy is 80, so you plan a 40-year retirement. In addition, you’ll retire in Nevada, which has no state income taxes. Here are your annual expenses:
- $22,000 for housing
- $15,000 for healthcare
- $5,000 for utilities and property taxes
- $7,000 for food
- $6,000 for entertainment, phone and internet
- $3,000 for auto upkeep and insurance
Your total annual expenses are $58,000, or $4,833 monthly.
To meet these expenses, you collect income from multiple sources: First, you purchase two rental properties for $500,000 total, which generate $4,000 of monthly income ($48,000 per year).
You also have a $250,000 savings account with a 4% interest rate ($10,000 per year) and a $500,000 brokerage account with an average return of 5% ($25,000 per year). So, your investments provide $83,000 of annual income.
Next, your income and single filing status place you in the 12% tax bracket, leaving you with about $51,040 of your real estate and savings account income after taxes. In addition, you’ll pay 15% for long-term capital gains taxes on your brokerage account.
So, your total monthly income after taxes is $72,290 annually. Fortunately, this figure is about $14,300 above your expenses, leaving a margin for when investments underperform or surprise expenses crop up.
That said, your income and expenses won’t remain static throughout retirement. Instead, inflation will drive up your cost of living each year at an average rate of 3%.
The expenses of $58,000 this year will grow by thousands of dollars after five years because of economic trends. Overall, it’s best to sock away surplus income to prepare for higher expenses in the future.
Remember, you’ll age into Social Security at 62 and receive an income bump at that time. For example, the Social Security Administration’s 2022 Statistical Supplement estimates the average 62-year-old’s monthly check to be $2,364.
Depending on your circumstances, you can decide when you reach 62 whether to start collecting this benefit or delay it for higher future income.
How to Boost Your Retirement Income
The example above demonstrates a path for retirement at 40 with $1 million. However, you must adhere to a tight budget to do so. On the other hand, you can give yourself more financial flexibility by increasing your income with these tactics:
Delay Social Security Benefits
Social Security isn’t automatic. Instead, you apply for it when you want to start collecting it. As a result, you can choose any age starting at 62 to begin collecting this benefit.
Increase Your Interest Rate
The interest rates of savings accounts and certificates of deposit (CDs) are constantly shifting to attract customers. For example, the typical high-yield savings account has an interest rate of between 0.5% to 4.15%.
So, moving money out of a conventional savings or checking account can provide more annual income. Plus, your deposits have FDIC insurance up to $250,000, meaning they have shelter from market downturns.
Understand Your Income Tax Implications
Your tax situation is unique to you, and failing to grasp the details can incur additional fees. For instance, say you want to sell some stock through your brokerage account after holding it for 364 days.
Doing so will incur short-term capital gains taxes, which are identical to regular income taxes. On the other hand, waiting a few days will put you in the long-term capital gains timeframe, increasing your taxes by 3%. So, staying on top of these transactions can help lower your tax burden.
How to Make Your Savings Go Further in Retirement
Likewise, you can maximize your savings potential to make early retirement easier. Here’s how to make your savings work for you:
Use a Budget
Although the word ‘budget’ might make your stomach churn, it’s one of your most powerful financial tools. Budgeting helps you gain control of your finances by providing a clear overview of your income and expenses.
Budgeting lets you track where your money is coming from and where it is going, enabling you to make informed decisions about your spending and saving habits.
Additionally, a budget also helps you set financial goals and work towards them. In this case, it’s your roadmap to retiring at 40. So, you can allocate resources wisely and prioritize what matters most.
Choose Low-Fee Investments
Management fees can be the death of otherwise successful portfolios. This characteristic applies to brokerage accounts, which can invest in mutual funds, exchange-traded funds, real estate investment trusts (REITs) and other funds that can have exorbitant administrative fees.
Evaluating an account’s fee structure before investing money is crucial to keeping more of your money.
Care for Your Health
Healthcare is paramount for retirement planning. It’s undeniable that every retiree will require healthcare services at some point in their journey. However, by taking proactive measures, you can determine the timing and way you receive such care.
In particular, regular check-ups and engaging in physical exercise serve as preventive measures that can substantially diminish the frequency of hospital visits, fostering physical well-being and financial stability.
Additionally, embracing part-time employment can bolster your finances upon early retirement. Pursuing this option can augment your income and counteract rising inflation. Moreover, this approach possesses the added advantage of enabling a prolonged deferral of Social Security, which ultimately translates into higher benefits later on.
Pay Off Debt
Lastly, it’s critical to recognize the dangerous grip that debt can exert upon your financial liberty. For instance, the burdensome nature of credit card balances and personal loans comes from their exponential interest rates. This predicament imposes sizable obstacles on the path toward retiring at 40.
Remember, the gains from investments seldom surpass the annual percentage yield (APY) that debts impose. Therefore, prioritizing the repayment of high-interest debts promotes financial health, whether during the prime of your career or your golden years.
Retiring at 40 with $1 million requires a strategic investment approach. Specifically, you must create a well-thought-out plan that includes various types of assets, such as brokerage accounts, savings accounts and real estate.
In addition, calculating your expenses meticulously and ensuring that your income covers them effectively is crucial. In this scenario, $1 million must last for several decades until you become eligible for Social Security. So, thinking creatively about generating income during that time is essential.
Tips for Retiring at 40 with $1 Million
- Investing $1 million for retirement means maximizing the return of every dollar during your career. Working for two decades or less means you can’t afford a mistake when investing. Fortunately, a financial advisor can help you find assets with low fees and substantial returns. Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three vetted financial advisors who serve your area, and you can interview your advisor matches at no cost to decide which one is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
- Ideally, retiring at 40 means starting off your golden years while you’re relatively young and healthy. However, your future health is unknown, especially after you become a senior citizen. So, you can prepare for this possibility by budgeting for the cost of independent living.
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