How soon do I need to start saving for retirement?

Retirement today is very different than it was half a century ago.

In the past, many received pensions from their lifelong employers after they retired. Combining that pension with Social Security and the confidence that their largest purchase (a house) would certainly be worth more every year helped create a stable retirement.

Now, pensions are almost entirely a thing of the past, the long term stability of Social Security is in doubt and many who have paid their mortgages on time for years suddenly find themselves “upside down” on their houses (they owe more than the house is now worth).

Texas Financial & Retirement suggests you need to plan ahead for 3 distinct sources of income during your retirement years:

  • Social Security
  • Retirement Plans (401k, IRA, etc.)
  • Personal Savings

Unless you win a sizeable lottery (not a good idea to count on that, since you could buy tickets for every drawing for your entire life and not be likely to win a grand prize), you need to have sufficient money saved as a nest egg to cover your expected expenses – starting from the time you retire and lasting as long as you live.

If you’re still working and you want to see how much you could accumulate by the time you retire, you might try consulting the Compound Interest Calculator at investor.gov. Type in the amount you have saved already, the amount you could add monthly and the number of years remaining until your retirement. Then you need to enter an interest rate you think you will receive on your savings. Then hit the CALCULATE button.

This helps illustrate how important it is to begin saving as soon as possible.

For example, let’s say three people decide to start saving for their retirement. Each saves $800 per month and earns 6 percent interest. Each plans to retire at age 67. But the first is 30 and has 37 more years to contribute. The second is 40 and has 27 years to contribute before retiring. The third is 55 and has only 12 years left to contribute.

Starting Age Monthly Contribution ‘Nest Egg’ at age 67
30 800 $1,221,773
40 800 $611,575
55 800 $161,951

For the one who begins saving at 55 to accumulate as much as the one who begins saving at 30, the 55 year old needs to increase the contributions to over $6,000 per month.

How soon should YOU start saving for retirement? As soon as possible, of course. But the amount you need depends on the lifestyle you want to have after you retire, other sources of income you expect to have during retirement and the age at which you plan to retire.

A financial professional like Texas Financial & Retirement can help you with that.