Retirement: What’s your number?

Posted by on April 15, 2011 @ 1:24 am in Retirement

I’m at the stage in my career where I’m willing to contemplate the fact that retirement is on the horizon—probably in the next 10 years or so.

Increasingly, I find myself talking about “retirement readiness” with friends and colleagues who are in the same situation. Recently, I had a chance to discuss retirement with a group of Vanguard clients. I found their comments to be quite telling, and pretty much in line with what I’ve already heard from others.

While most of us would probably prefer to spend our preretirement years planning ways to make retirement more meaningful—through travel, volunteer work, spending more time with our families, or just enjoying some well-deserved leisure time—the simple, hard truth is that retirement readiness really does come down to numbers. Whatever your vision of the “perfect” retirement happens to be, your first (and second, and third!) question must be: Will I be able to support myself financially when I’m no longer working?

In my next few blog posts, I’ll take a closer look at this question. In particular, I plan to assess the latest data on how much Americans have saved, whether our current national savings rate (which recently dipped slightly after inching upward during the 2008–2009 economic downturn) is sufficient, and the troubling rise in personal debt.

In the meantime, I hope to hear from you. If retirement is in your near future, do you have a specific number—that is, minimum savings amount—in mind? How did you arrive at it? Are you on track toward reaching it by the time you leave the work force? And if not, what do you need to do to get there?

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