How Much Annual Retirement Income Will You Need?

How much annual income will you need in retirement? If you aren't able to answer this question, you're not ready to make a decision about retiring. And, if it's been more than a year since you've thought about it, it's time to revisit your calculations. Your whole retirement income plan starts with your target annual income, and there are a significant number of factors to consider; start out with a poor estimate of your needs, and your plan is off-track before you've even begun.

General guidelines

It's common to discuss desired annual retirement income as a percentage of your current income. Depending on whom you're talking to, that percentage could be anywhere from 60% to 90%, or even more, of your current income. The appeal of this approach lies in its simplicity, and the fact that there's a fairly common-sense analysis underlying it: Your current income sustains your present lifestyle, so taking that income and reducing it by a specific percentage to reflect the fact that there will be certain expenses you'll no longer be liable for (e.g., payroll taxes) will, theoretically, allow you to sustain your current lifestyle.

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