Chasing your financial goals for retirement is an intensely personal journey full of questions only you can answer: Do you plan to travel? Are your pursuits pricey? How long do you expect to live? Will you have enough to cover all those things and the escalating costs of health care?
But plenty of savers just want a simple target, a big round figure. That may explain why, for so long, $1 million was the standard target for would-be retirees.
But as inflation and health care costs take bigger bites, $1 million [may not cut it anymore, and many Americans currently agree they’ll need far more than that for a livable retirement.
You probably want more than a million in savings — enough to provide genuine security — but you’re also chasing a number that seems attainable. For most of us, cracking the “1%” will be out of reach.
But what if you set your sights on something a little more reasonable? Like, say, the top 10% of Americans? Now we have something we can work with. Here’s what that will take.
What it takes to be in the top 10%
According to a study by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), the average earnings of those in the top 10% of Americans were roughly $173,000 in 2020, the most recent data available.
Depending on your current income and savings each month, accumulating at least $2.5 million in retirement savings will position you to crack the top 10%. That number may seem daunting, but it’s doable — with enough planning, [smart investing]( and discipline.
Here are four tips to stay on track, but remember: Whatever your goal, you’ll need to account for those highly personal questions: your desired retirement age, your preferred lifestyle, your lifespan expectations and when you plan to tap Social Security.
Start early and invest consistently
Time is your greatest ally in retirement planning. The earlier you start saving and investing, the more time your money has to grow.
Consistently contribute to your retirement accounts, like a 401(k) or IRA, and take full advantage of any employer matching programs. By starting early and being consistent, you’ll benefit from compounding interest and investment returns, significantly increasing your chances of reaching your retirement goal.
Another simple trick: Consider raising your 401(k) annual contribution rate by a percentage point or more to coincide with your annual raise.
Read more: Are you ready for your first year of retirement? Here are 4 things you might not expect — but definitely need to prepare for
Diversify your investments
Investing wisely is crucial to building a substantial retirement fund.
Diversification helps protect your portfolio from market volatility and spreads the risk so don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Diversify your investments across different asset classes like stocks, bonds, real estate and mutual funds.
And consider consulting with a financial adviser to develop an investment strategy tailored to your risk tolerance and retirement goals.
Live below your means
Living a frugal lifestyle doesn’t mean sacrificing happiness. It means being mindful of your spending habits and making smart choices.
Create a budget that allows you to save a significant portion of your income. Cut unnecessary expenses and focus on your long-term goals. Opt for experiences over material possessions and prioritize your retirement savings.
Remember: every dollar saved today is a dollar that can work for you in the future.
Get expert advice
As you edge toward your target retirement age, consider hiring a certified financial planner, assuming you don’t have one already.
An adviser can offer crucial counsel on everything from budgeting and trimming expenses to suggesting adjustments to your 401(k) investment mix that dial back your risk as you get closer to retirement.
What to read next
This article provides information only and should not be construed as advice. It is provided without warranty of any kind.