Million-Dollar Question: How Much Do You Need to Retire?

SAVE spelled out in Scrabble pieces
Lisa Werner/Alamy
By Sharon Epperson | @sharon_epperson

The good news is there are now more millionaires than ever. But when it comes to retirement, is a million dollars enough?

"If they want to be financially independent, retire at 65 and be able to have an income of $40,000 a year in retirement for 30 years, then it's likely that they're going to need a million dollars to retire to generate that lifestyle," said Bruce Allen, an independent wealth adviser.

Living comfortably on $40,000 a year in retirement, which would require a $1 million nest egg by the time you reach the retirement age, will depend on your expenses, investment returns and health care costs. This figure doesn't factor in other benefits, like pensions and Social Security, which can greatly boost your retirement income.

For retirees Ralph and Karen Jones, making the most out of their money meant making a big move.

"I didn't think that we could maintain the lifestyle that we wanted if we stayed in New York after retiring. Coming to Myrtle Beach was just amazing, to see the difference in what your money would buy, how much you can get for your money," Karen Jones said.

The Joneses bought their new home in South Carolina and now pay a fraction of the property taxes they once did -- freeing up funds to vacation frequently, and make big ticket purchases when they want.

The Joneses aren't your typical retirees. U.S. Census data show less than 8 percent of the U.S. population has a million dollars. Yet, many financial advisers warn even a seven-figure sum may not be enough.

Many retirees make it work with less. According to Census data, the median household income for those 65 and older is $34,000, but that's almost half the $66,000 for ages 55 to 64. In order to preserve that preretirement standard of living, financial experts say you'll need more than a million dollars.

"A million dollars could be enough, it might not be enough. It really depends upon ... what you anticipate your retirement to be and what you were earning before retirement," said Jeanne Thompson of Fidelity Investments.

That's the million dollar question.

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my house is payed for,my cars are payed for,i have no credit card bills ,i started a long time ago to save my money and invest ( and some time it was not easy to live on what i had ) but it has payed off.

June 12 2014 at 7:21 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Reico Robichaux

A million seems to be the starting point when thinking about retirement. The divide between a "comfortable" lifestyle and a "tolerable" one is steadily growing. On the other hand, the opportunities to make more money are also increasing. I look at my retirement period as a time to redirect my interests while still bringing in multiple streams of income built during the course of my life. A millionaire once told me, "You need at least 4 streams of income to live comfortably."

June 11 2014 at 6:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Don't forget about taxes in retirement. We have some of the lowest tax rates in history right now and with the huge $17 trillion plus national debt taxes are likely to increase in the future. Make sure and have some tax diversification in your retirement income sources. If you would like to know all the different types of tax-free arrangements that you can use checkout Learn how you can position your money so you can retire tax-free and truly wealthy.

June 10 2014 at 5:41 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply


School teacher at college level, published author of Construction Books and such, trip person for three senior clubs, website developer for those that cannot afford to hire one, commenter on these boards to try to help people understand his or her environment, and political supporter of one state governor, one state representative, and one local representative; how about you, what have you done lately to earn your keep?


So you say dear. But I doubt you did any of those things doll. There is one thing that I know you have done and that is post bigoted comments darling. How unfortunate for you.

June 08 2014 at 10:15 PM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply


Again I ask of you, what have you got to contribute to any conversation on these comment boards, other than you negative and hostile comments?


You have a lot of nerve to call anyone out for hostile comments dear. I have read many of your bigoted comments darling. You do think you are a know it all. You would be better suited doing something useful with your time doll. Try doing some volunteer work in your community. It couldn't hurt. I see it was difficult for you accepting the truth about yourself, and that is why you lashed out and had difficulty composing yourself, but really dearest no one likes a know it all.

June 08 2014 at 10:13 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply

Retirement's overrated and not my idea of a satisfying goal in life..I will keep working at a reasonable pace my entire life...nothing will put you in the grave faster than quitting work. Still working, spending and finishing strong.

June 08 2014 at 9:12 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

Since when does an income of $40K enable you to retire let alone live comfortably? Who can live on $40K today and not struggle? Then inflation overtime erodes the buying power of that $40K. You had better do everything you want before you retire because you won't be able to do much afterwards.

June 08 2014 at 8:39 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply

I have enough to live and travel, I worked hard and took investment chances.People is now getting Government retirement,and most do not deserve it,as they were all their lives lazy,incompetent loosers,never putting a real day,s work in their entire lives.I do not think 1 million is enough,if you want to keep your life style.I do not trust the future of this Nation under this "regime",i think USA is in decline in everything,from economy to work ethics

June 08 2014 at 7:08 PM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply

Romneycare is doing fine in the state of Massachusetts where he was once the governor. People there love it.


First off you're on medicaid so others pay for your care and always have. How do you know what the people in Massachusetts love or don't love? You're a sinkhole stater. What a dope.

June 08 2014 at 2:54 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to skcarcomed_01's comment

Good old Taxassachusetts.

June 08 2014 at 4:12 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to hattie54's comment

Oh how sad. You appear to have had a few too many dear. Perhaps it is time for you to put the cap back on and call it a night darling.

June 08 2014 at 4:38 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down

You know you've hit a nerve and posted the truth when an Obamite rates your comment down. LOL.

June 08 2014 at 2:48 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply