How to Determine Your Income Needs For Retirement Planning

Show Me What You’re Working With

The second step is that you have to figure out what you’ve got to work with:

  • How much have you saved?
  • How much do you have in your 401K?
  • How close are you to receiving social security?
  • Do you have any pensions?

All those factors come into play when trying to identify what your retirement-income needs are going to be. For example, I have clients who actually go back and figure out what their income need is as far as paying the monthly bills and having a little extra to play and do the things that they want to do, so that gives us a sense of where we need to be. Then we take a look at what they’ve got.

Have they retired early?

I have some clients who retire at 55, 58, 60 so there is a little bit more pressure on their retirement assets, their 401Ks, their pensions to be able to get them that retirement income. We don’t have social security to lean on, so that requires a little bit more creativity. I have other clients who retire after social security age. Some take early retirement at 62, or some continue to work until they are 65 (or 66). When we have that extra paycheck coming in per month, that gives us a little more freedom and flexibility to try to decipher what the income might be.

That’s why it’s so tough. It’s not a clear cut answer. You hear a lot of general rule of thumb where whatever 70%-80% of your current income in your working years is how much you’re going to need in your retirement years. Sometimes that is the case, but sometimes it’s not. Going back to the income needs, what about health insurance? Is that something that you’re going to have, or are you already on Medicare so it’s not that much of an issue? There are a lot of factors like that that come into play.

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