If you retire with $750,000 in your portfolio, how long will it last? This is one of the most important questions in retirement and the answer is, it depends. It depends on a wide range of individual factors, from where you live and how much you spend to how you invest. No one can give a general answer to this question, but we can give you a few ways to think about the issue as you plan your own retirement. And the good news is, depending on who you are, this might be more than enough money to live a comfortable retirement. If you want to better understand if it’s enough money for your own situation, consider talking to a financial advisor.
Drawdown and Spending
The first question is, how much do you plan on withdrawing per month? From there, you can do some back-of-envelope math to figure out how long your retirement account will last at a minimum. For example, take two common rules of thumb: the 4% method and the 80% replacement.
The money might last 25 years. Under the 4% method, investment advisors suggest that you plan on drawing down 4% of your retirement account each year. With a $750,000 portfolio, that would give you $30,000 per year in income. At that rate of withdrawal, your portfolio would last 25 years before hitting zero.
By contrast, the 80% method refers to planning for income replacement. Generally, financial advisors suggest that you should plan on replacing about 80% of your income once in retirement. At the time of writing the median household income in the United States was about $70,800, so you would plan for a retirement income of $56,640. At that rate of withdrawal, a $750,000 portfolio would last a minimum of 13 years.
Plan For Your Lifestyle
But first, it’s important to understand that both our 4% and 80% numbers are generic. Your personal drawdown will depend entirely on your own lifestyle and needs.
When planning for your retirement, the 80% plan is generally a good place to start. How much do you earn or, even better, how much do you actually spend and live on each year? That’s your benchmark. Then consider, how much you plan on changing your lifestyle. For example, do you live in an expensive city and plan on moving? (And will you enjoy that new, more remote life?) Do you currently have children or other dependents? Do you have expensive hobbies that are unlikely to continue as you age?
Plan for your own future spending and estimate high. Don’t just assume that you’ll slash and burn the budget, because it’s better to save a little harder now than to find yourself forced into unpleasant sacrifices later.
Investment and Growth
Okay, now the good news. Spending isn’t the only plan you need to account for. Every portfolio will continue to grow in retirement. Exactly how much will depend entirely on how you invest this money and how you manage these assets. For example, take an investor who puts all their money into bonds and lives entirely off the income that they generate. Their annual income will be relatively low, but that portfolio will also last indefinitely. On the other hand, a stock investor will post stronger returns, but they’ll need to plan for down (and even loss-generating) years.
A good way to anticipate returns is through the bond market. A rule of thumb for retirement planning is to shift your portfolio from growth-oriented assets, like equities, to security-oriented assets, like bonds, as you age. By retirement, under this plan, you will generally hold about $750,000 in bonds.
On average, a collection of corporate bonds will kick back 5% per year in interest. That’s going to do a lot for your portfolio longevity. For example, say you follow the 4% rule. Well, you don’t have to. You can upgrade that to the 5% rule and live indefinitely off the interest this portfolio will provide, but you need to live on $37,500 plus Social Security (which may not be a bad final number).
Or you could plan for the 80% method. Here, with the median income, you would draw down $56,640 while your portfolio throws off a steady 5% interest. You can’t plan for a stable interest payment each year, because you will need to draw down on the principal, but this will still significantly extend the life of your portfolio. At that rate, your portfolio will last for more than 21 years, again before adding Social Security.
Another option is an annuity. Lifetime annuities have become a popular option because of the security they provide. The insurance company, or any other company that takes it over in case of sale or bankruptcy, promises that you will receive a set payment each month for the rest of your life. You collect fewer returns than you would by investing in something like the stock market, but you can count on those payments.
Annuities post the best returns when purchased in advance. For example, putting something close to this retirement portfolio into an annuity just five years ahead of retirement can give you nearly $70,000 per year in guaranteed income for life.
But even without advanced planning, an annuity can still lock in a meaningful income. Here, putting $750,000 into an annuity at the time of retirement can generate $57,000 per year for the rest of your life, which is more than enough to replace even a median income. Although it’s important to note that this is just one estimate, your individual results can vary.
Social Security Income
Last, but far from least, plan for your Social Security income. One of the challenges with Social Security is that, contrary to popular perception, it is not a simple income guarantee in old age. Instead, it works more like an income replacement. If you lived your adult life in poverty, Social Security leaves you in poverty. If you lived your adult life in relative wealth, Social Security pays you substantial benefits.
This makes planning somewhat difficult because you don’t necessarily know how much you will receive in benefits. The more money you made while working, the more you will collect. If you begin collecting at full retirement age (currently set at 67 years old) you will receive full benefits. If you collect between age 62 and 67 you will receive partial benefits. You will receive increased benefits if you wait to collect Social Security, maxing out at age 70.
For investors looking to make relatively easy plans, our Social Security calculator can give you a good estimate of your future benefits based on age and income. But for general planning purposes, in 2023 the median retiree received around $21,000 ($1,750 per month) per year. This will significantly extend the life of a $750,000 retirement account.
For example, say you put your money into an annuity paying $57,000 per year. Taking Social Security into account, this is a $78,000 income per year guaranteed for the rest of your life. This is greater than the median working income, meaning that a standard household might actually get wealthier in retirement.
Or consider if you choose to live off the interest that bonds generate. As we noted above, on average this would give you $37,500 per year in interest payments indefinitely. With Social Security benefits, you will receive $58,500 to live on for the rest of your life.
Finally, consider our 80% drawdown. Here, we will work backward, because your plan is built around how much income you need. You are looking to generate $56,640 in income per year. With median Social Security income, you will only need to withdraw $35,640 from your portfolio each year to meet your income goals. Since this is more than the interest that a bond portfolio throws of, you can live on this portfolio indefinitely.
How long will $750,000 last in retirement? The answer is, it depends entirely on how much money you need and how you choose to invest this money. But the good news is that for an average-income household, this portfolio is more than enough to live a comfortable life.
- A financial advisor can help you build a comprehensive retirement plan. 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.
- When should you retire? It’s a complicated answer, especially because our jobs give us social and personal meaning well beyond a simple income. But it turns out there really are some best ages at which to make this decision.
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