Email FacebookTwitterMenu burgerClose thin

How Long Will $200,000 Last in Retirement?


Who says you need $1 million to retire in style? Whether you started saving later in life or recently took a hit in your 401(k), a $200,000 retirement goal can be sufficient to last during your golden years. Read on to explore the crucial factors influencing financial longevity, from determining your target retirement age to analyzing your living expenses and the essential tips for creating a solid retirement plan with $200,000.

What’s Your Target Retirement Age?

Your desired retirement age is a cornerstone of your retirement plan. For example, retiring at 67 instead of 62 earns you a higher Social Security check and allows you to work an additional five years to pad your retirement account. In addition, it affects factors like healthcare, retirement length and living expenses.

Therefore, retiring on $200,000 can coincide with other goals. For example, if you aim to save $200,000 by the time you hit 65, you can retire and immediately receive Medicare benefits. This way, health insurance isn’t as much of a financial burden as it would be if you retired any earlier, meaning your money will go further.

What Are Your Living Expenses?

Your living expenses are the next crucial element of your retirement plan. Budgets usually look different in retirement and it’s vital to identify where your money will go. For example, if you pay off your mortgage by the time you retire, your monthly expenses shrink compared to when you were working. So, retiring on a modest nest egg is more realistic when you reduce expenditures, such as:

  • Living expenses: These include housing, utilities, food and transportation. For instance, if you don’t have a mortgage during retirement, you’ll still owe property taxes, HOA fees and maintenance costs. Additionally, transportation includes auto insurance and gas.
  • Medical expenses: Although Medicare provides numerous benefits, it isn’t free. So, you’ll need to afford the plan’s premiums and out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs, etc. Experts recommend allocating 15% of your annual budget to health expenses in retirement. 
  • Taxes: Your tax burden depends on your level and type of income. For example, generating rental income incurs regular income taxes, while stocks and bonds create capital gains taxes. Then, your annual income places you in a specific tax bracket, meaning you could experience different tax rates than other retirees with the same assets. For instance, say you receive $15,000 per year of investment income from your retirement account. This income is subject to long-term capital gains taxes. Fortunately, your income level places you in the 0% tax bracket for long-term capital gains. In addition, you receive $25,000 of Social Security income, 85% of which the government taxes at standard income tax rates. So, $21,250 of your Social Security income is subject to taxes. Your top marginal tax rate is 12%, meaning a total federal income tax bill of $2,330. 
  • Debt payments: Unfortunately, monthly debt obligations, such as student loans and credit cards, don’t vanish in retirement. So, carrying these into your golden years can strain your budget.
  • Recreation and entertainment: Whether you love going to the movies or traveling overseas, it’s wise to include the activities you enjoy most. As a result, your favorite pastimes, from hosting dinner parties to a monthly book club, come with varying monthly costs. 
  • Unexpected Expenses: Car accidents and broken furnaces are as possible in retirement as during your working years. So, it’s recommended to bake emergencies into your budget. 

Tips for Making $200,000 Last During Retirement

Managing a $200,000 retirement fund requires careful planning and financial strategies to make it last. Here are some suggestions to help you maximize the longevity of your retirement savings:

  • The 4% rule: Following the 4% rule means withdrawing 4% of your total retirement savings each year, adjusted for inflation. Like any rule of thumb, it’s not absolute and your circumstances will affect how it would work for you. For example, because 4% of $200,000 is $8,000, you may need more to supplement your Social Security income.  
  • Bucket strategy: This strategy helps if retirement is decades away. During your career, you divide your retirement into buckets with different risk levels. Specifically, one bucket has low-risk assets like certificates of deposit (CDs), bonds and savings accounts. These products provide less income but are highly liquid. Your second bucket has moderate-risk assets hedging against inflation: preferred stocks, convertible bonds and REITs. Then, your long-term bucket is a diversified portfolio of high-risk, high-reward stocks. This way, you have a mix of stable assets with less income and volatile assets with greater potential returns.
  • Minimize debt: Before retirement, aim to pay off high-interest debt, such as credit cards or personal loans. Reducing or eliminating debt will decrease your monthly expenses and provide more financial flexibility during retirement.
  • Consider downsizing: Housing costs are typically a significant portion of one’s expenses. If your current home is too large or expensive to maintain, downsizing can be a viable option. Moving to a smaller home or a less expensive area can free up funds for other retirement needs.
  • Continuously monitor expenses: Regularly review your budget and track your expenses to identify areas where you can save. Look for ways to reduce costs without compromising your quality of life. Consider adopting frugal habits and making smart purchasing decisions.
  • Part-time work: Working fewer than 40 hours per week during retirement can provide supplemental income, reduce the reliance on your retirement savings and offer social engagement. Alternatively, explore other income-generating activities, such as monetizing a hobby or renting out a room in your house.
  • Stay healthy: Taking care of your health can significantly impact your retirement expenses. Prioritize preventive measures, maintain a healthy lifestyle and consider long-term care insurance to mitigate potential healthcare costs.
  • Annuities: An annuity is a financial product offered by insurance companiesinstrument that pays you a guaranteed amount over a set period or for the rest of your life. A $200,000 annuity can provide livable income if you purchase it earlier in life, such as at age 45. However, waiting until retirement age to purchase an annuity of that size will likely provide less than $1,000 of monthly income. So, this strategy is feasible if you save up $200,000 early in your career. 
  • Defer Social Security benefits: Delaying your Social Security results in an 8% payment increase each year you wait. For example, a single person born in 1980 making $80,000 annually would receive $33,7759 in yearly Social Security payments by retiring at 62. On the other hand, waiting until 67 to retire increases their Social Security income to $48,426. 

Example of a $200,000 Retirement

Here’s what retiring on $200,000 might look like: say you were born in 1990 and plan on retiring at age 67. Your average annual income while working is $50,000 and your annual Social Security income will be $41,669. You withdraw 4% or $8,000, of your retirement fund annually. This conservative practice will help leave your nest egg untouched, meaning your $200,000 will generate retirement income for the duration of your retirement.

So, you’ll have $49,669 of annual income before taxes in your first year of retirement. Because part of your plan is to pay off your mortgage before retirement, your housing costs are minimal. Plus, you can pick up part-time work to expand your financial capabilities if needed.

The Bottom Line

how long will $200 000 last in retirement

Retiring with $200,000 in savings requires thorough planning and consideration of various factors. First, determining your target retirement age and managing your living expenses is crucial. Then, by following strategies such as the 4% rule, minimizing debt, monitoring expenses and exploring part-time work, you can maximize the longevity of your retirement fund. Staying healthy, exploring annuities and deferring Social Security benefits can also contribute to financial stability. Although retiring with $200,000 means sticking to a modest budget, proper planning and wise financial choices will empower you to make it last and enjoy a comfortable retirement.

Tips for Retiring

  • Making $200,000 last in retirement requires careful planning and consistent financial habits. Fortunately, a financial advisor can identify suitable assets and create a road to the retirement you want. Finding a 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 have a free introductory call with your advisor matches to decide which one you feel is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
  • If you plan to work part-time during retirement, you’re not alone. Here’s how and why you might choose to stay busy during your golden years.

Photo credit: ©, ©, ©