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Home > What i do when i can't sleep: retirement calculations (all is not lost)

What i do when i can't sleep: retirement calculations (all is not lost)

December 4th, 2012 at 01:44 am

One would think that after three years of underemployment, my retirement savings plan has gone deep underground, hibernating until an unknown time when my savings can "spring" forth.

Although my retirement savings goal, refined by repeatedly plugging in the numbers in retirement calculators and other detailed analysis (Vanguard, Fidelity and T. Rowe Price), had been $1,250,000 for quite some time, and despite the market meltdown that was 2007, and despite continued underemployment with no end in sight, I don't feel that all is lost.

I could not sleep tonight with my infection, so I got up and was playing around with Kiplinger's nifty calculator (http://www.kiplinger.com/tools/recoup_your_savings_calculator/index.html)

This one was designed to help investors determine how many years it would take to recoup money lost in the market meltdown of 2007. You just plug in the total investments you had just prior to the meltdown. If all you want to do is see how long it will take to reach a certain balance, based on a given interest rate and level of annual contributions, it can do that for you.

So instead of using it to see how long it would take me to recoup money lost in the market meltdown (my balances show I already did that, by about $50K), I plugged in $750,000 as my new goal and the $515K I have now. I also indicated I wanted to reach $750K in 7 years, by the time I'm 60, and I assumed a very modest 5% interest rate. I was pleasantly surprised to see that I would only need to save $2,964 a year (or $247 a month) to reach that goal.

(If I plug in 6%, 7% or 8% interest rates to reach $750K in 6.5 years, I keep getting negative numbers for the monthly savings rate required, which tells me I would have to save a really minimal amount of money yearly.) This is all along the lines of what Dido told me a while back, that I could almost reach my savings goal simply by staying the course and earning a reasonable rate of return.

I could make retirement work with $750K in savings.

Just for fun, I plugged in my target number as $1,000,000, again giving myself 6.5 years, to age 60, to save it. (I don't want to work full-time for long.) Earning just 5% on investments, it would be an uphill climb. I'd have to sock away $32,207 a year, or $2683 a month.

However, if I assume a more reasonable long-term interest rate of 8% (stocks did about 15% this year), then I'd only have to save $12,180 a year, or $1,015 a month.

IF I get a job,that is doable.

Since we are approaching year's end, I decided (for fun) to do a preliminary look at my 2012 expenses. While it's not all nailed down yet, it looks like my total expenses were in the neighborhood of $32,600. At first, that number looked much higher than I expected, since I have repeatedly crunched my "bare minimum monthly expenses" at $1800. So $1800 x 12 months = $21,600 about $11,000 less.

But then I forgot my bare minimum does not include paying the mortgage since I paid that off this past August/September. So my 2012 expenses included about $4200 in mortgage principal payments; without them, my 2012 spending would be about $28,400, although that's still a good $6800 more than what I've calculated my minimum expenses to be. I should be able to dig into why my expenses were that high once I have final December numbers. At this point, nothing else besides the mortgage payments jumps out.

At any rate, my total 2012 expenses at $32,000 were lower than in any previous year since I've owned this house. More typically,when I was working full-time, my total annual expenses ranged from about $40,000 to $43,000.

4 Responses to “What i do when i can't sleep: retirement calculations (all is not lost)”

  1. mamasita Says:

    Kudos to you for planning out your retirement income realistically!

  2. Petunia 100 Says:

    Your early years of saving have really paid off for you. Even though your earning hasn't gone as planned, and even if you never invest a single additional cent, you will still retire better off than most people.

    You've done an awesome job. Smile

  3. patientsaver Says:

    Yes, petunia, you're right. My early years of savings have really stood me well. I never made a ton of money (OK, well i had 1 very good year). Most of the time, I just faithfully, consistently socked away 15% in my 401K and maxed my IRA contribution, year in and year out. That's all it really took.

  4. rob62521 Says:

    Good planning...you have a good head on your shoulders!

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