Even people who love their job would most likely agree that its better not to work than to have to clock in every day. With that in mind, many Americans are looking to retire much earlier than the traditional age. To do that, though, requires a significant amount of money so that you can support yourself and your family throughout your long retirement. For the purpose of this page, we’ll look at whether or not $10 million will be enough to keep you afloat if you retire at age 45.
For help managing your own retirement, consider working with a financial advisor.
Early Retirement, Medicare and Social Security
The first thing to consider is that age 45 is a very early retirement. In this case you have gone full FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early). Ideally you will live around half your life as a retiree.
This is fantastic, but it also raises a few very important issues. First, as always, make sure to plan for health care spending. You won’t become eligible for Medicare for another 20 years, and you won’t have an employer to foot the bill anymore, so your health insurance costs will be considerable. If you have millions of dollars in the bank this most likely won’t be an issue, but it’s important to plan for.
Second, account for Social Security in your long-term plans. As with Medicare, if you retire at 45 this program is decades away. Frankly, you’re probably closer to your college graduation than to your first Social Security check.
You can begin collecting Social Security any time between ages 62 and 70. Whenever possible, you want to delay that first check as long as you can because your benefits increase significantly the longer you wait. Just as an example, while the median Social Security recipient receives around $23,550 per year at time of writing, you can collect a maximum of $54,660 by delaying your benefits.
Either way, though, the truth is that Social Security probably won’t factor much into your planning. If you plan on needing this money to pay your bills, the much better option is delay retirement a little longer. By contrast, if you have the flexibility to retire at 45, almost by definition you have enough financial breathing room not to rely on Social Security.
How Much Income Will You Replace?
As with all retirement funds, the question is one of income replacement. Every year you will need to receive money from this portfolio. So the question is, how much money can you get? And how much will you need to draw down from the account’s principal?
Now, the truth is, we cannot answer that for you. Income replacement depends entirely on your investment strategy, so the numbers will vary based on your personal approach. However there are a few representative models that we can look at, and they all point in the same basic direction: With a $10 million portfolio, you can live a very comfortable lifestyle without ever touching the underlying principal.
Let’s say you make the safest possible bet you can. You take all of your money and put it into the bond market. As with all investments, the numbers can range, but on average you can expect to receive interest payments of around 3% – 4% per year.
This is just interest, not the return you would make by selling or cashing out these bonds. With $10 million in holdings those interest payments would come to between $300,000 and $400,000 per year. And it’s important to remember that the only uncertainty here would come when your bonds mature and you need to buy new assets. Otherwise, your interest payments are locked in for the lifetime of the asset.
It’s generally not a good idea to sink your retirement account into individual equities, but many investors do like to keep their money in the S&P 500. While more volatile than safer assets, as long as you have the financial flexibility to weather market downturns, this has historically been a sound investment over the long haul.
On average, the S&P 500 has returned 11% per year since it first began. That’s the return you can expect if you put your money into a well-indexed S&P 500 index funds. Again, this will involve volatility. Some years you will get significantly more, other years you may lose money, but this has proven to be the long-term result.
With a $10 million portfolio, entirely invested in the S&P 500, you will generate $1.1 million per year in returns. You will have to do more active management to transfer those returns into cash, but that’s what you can expect over the long run.
Annuities are a contract that you typically make with an insurance company. In exchange for an initial investment, generally either made in a lump-sum or over time, they guarantee you a structured payout in the future. The idea here is security. You will generally get less from an annuity than you would from investing in the stock market, but you’ll get more than you would make from a bond and it’s a guaranteed by the insurance company’s credit. As long as they’re solvent, you get paid.
Annuities are specific products, so exactly what you will receive depends entirely on the company and your situation. However they can generate a lot of income for the right investor. For example, according to Schwab’s annuity calculator, if you put all $10 million into an annuity on your 45th birthday, this product would generate more than $564,000 per year in fixed payments for the rest of your life.
Costs and Lifestyle
As we noted up top, with $10 million you can generate more than enough income to live a very comfortable life. After all, even if we disregard all investments and gains entirely, this portfolio is still enough money to take out $100,000 per year, every year for the next century.
With even some modest financial management, you can generate between $400,000 and $1.1 million per year in income without even touching your underlying principal.
The question of whether or not that’s enough for you depends on your personal situation.
Among other things, if you’re retiring at 45, there’s a good chance that you still have a family and minor children to consider. Make sure that you continue planning for their expenses and needs, and particularly keep on top of any college funds. Higher education continues to get more expensive every year, so be prepared for that.
Next, look carefully at your finances and lifestyle. If you’ve saved up $10 million, odds are that you’re a very high-income household. What do you want, and what do you need? If you want to retire at 45, then prepare to make that a priority. Stay away from those boat shows, and maybe resist the sprawling vacation property, at least until after retirement when you can spend based on your retirement income. Work hard to avoid the golden handcuffs that keep so many high-earners trapped in jobs they kind of hate. On the other hand, if you have a lifestyle that you truly enjoy, then don’t force yourself to give that up. You have decades left.
The Bottom Line
At age 45, $10 million is more than enough to fund a very comfortable retirement. Whether it’s enough to fund your retirement will depend entirely on your own, personal needs. If you’re considering trying to retire at 45, take the time to consider your life and your budget to decide if you’re able to make it work.
- A financial advisor can help you make all the right moves for a successful retirement. 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 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.
- Use SmartAsset’s budgeting tool to get a sense of what your spending should be to retire early.
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