With so many variables to consider, how can you reasonably assure you will have sufficient funds to last for your retirement years?  Make sure to use conservative assumptions. Use conservative financial assumptions How can you ensure you’ll have sufficient funds to last your entire retirement? So many of the variables used to calculate this amount seem uncertain. What is a reasonable rate of return for your investments over the long term? How long will you live, knowing life expectancies are increasing? How much can you count on from Social Security and pension plans? If you’re concerned about running out of money during retirement, you need to be very conservative with your assumptions. Some tips to consider include:

  • Assume your retirement income needs to be at least 100% of your current income. Most rules of thumb indicate you’ll need between 70% and 100%, but figure on at least 100% to be safe. Nowadays, retirees want to travel, pursue hobbies, and live an active lifestyle, which generally means you’ll need the higher end of these estimates.
  • Add a few years to your life expectancy. You should probably plan on living until at least age 85 or 90. If your family has a history of longevity, add a few more years to these figures. While you may find it hard to believe that you’ll live that long, you don’t want to reach age 75 or 80 and find out you’ve run out of money. At that point, you might not be able to return to work.
  • Reduce your estimates of Social Security benefits. The Social Security Administration sends benefit statements every year around your birthday, telling you how much to expect in benefits. While Social Security is currently in sound financial condition, that is expected to change after all the baby boomers retire. To be safe, count on benefits that are somewhat less than the Social Security Administration is estimating and don’t plan on adjustments for inflation.
  • Cut back on living expenses now. This has a two-fold impact on your retirement. First, it frees up money to set aside for retirement. Second, you get used to a lower standard of living, which should also reduce your expected lifestyle for retirement.
  • Reach retirement with no debt. Mortgage and consumer debt payments consume a significant portion of most people’s income. Pay off all those debts by retirement and you significantly reduce your cost of living.
  • Forget about early retirement. Saving enough to last from age 65 to age 85 or 90 is a difficult task. Trying to retire at age 55 or 60 is just not practical for most individuals, unless you’re willing to significantly reduce your lifestyle. Working a few more years can go a long way in helping to fund your retirement. Those years are typically your highest earning years, so hopefully you’ll save significant sums during that period. Also, every year you work is one year you don’t have to support yourself with your retirement savings.
  • Consider working during retirement. Especially during the early years of retirement, you should consider working at least on a part-time basis. Even modest earnings can help significantly with retirement expenses.
  • Plan on taking conservative withdrawals from your retirement assets. Don’t plan on taking out more than 3% to 4% of your balance annually. Your funds should last for decades with that level of withdrawal.